Living in a small conservative town, I am surrounded by theists on a daily bases.  As soon as they find out that I'm an atheist, they always want to start a debate with me.  Because most people here are college students, I encounter liberal Christians more often than not.  

Most of them don't take the bible literally, and basically think that the bible is one big metaphor and use it as some kind of self help book.  They usually have a good understanding of science, and don't think that science and religion contradict each other.  I will gladly debate these people about philosophy and the history of the bible, and a lot of them eventually end up abandoning it after a while.

However, there are other types of Christians that I have a hard time talking to.  I often run across people who are young earth creationist types, and have more apologist arguments than I could count.  These type of people are very difficult to debate, because the layers upon layers of bullshit explanations run so deep, that I usually don't even know where to start.  I feel like in order to debate these people, I would have to explain to them high school freshman level biology, which I really don't have time to do. 

 I can usually take these arguments apart pretty easily, but they usually don't even understand my explanations.  A lot of these people were home schooled or went to religious schools their whole life, and have no idea what is wrong with these arguments.

How do you talk to people like this?  How do you start, and is it even worth it?

Views: 115

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

You can't debate these people. For a start they don't even know how to frame a rational argument, so the very foundation of debate is missing. They are also incapable of critical thinking, or merely entertaining the notion that they may be wrong. It's a waste of time. Use them for target practice (metaphorically of course) if you must, but don't expect a satisfying exchange.
Being a former born-again Christian, now atheist, my best advice is to recommend the book, "Letter to a Christian Nation" by Sam Harris to them. The problem with Christian belief is there are dozens, if not hundreds of immoral and unethical teachings which Christians simply accept as moral or irrefutable.

Which means, when we talk to Christians, it's a process of picking apart (possibly) hundreds of teachings which they have accepted as true (being indoctrinated on a weekly basis-going to church) and so we have the huge task to go into detailed explanations about why their teachings are morally corrupt.

I have been able to find the logical arguments as to why religion is simply ancient mythology through Sam Harris' books, "The End of Faith", "Letter to a Christian Nation", "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values" and Christopher Hitchen's book, "god is not Great. How Religion Poisons Everything" and Richard Dawkins book, "The God Delusion" to help me talk to Christians.

I then have found dozens of Youtube videos by these authors which have helped me to understand the position that all religions are ancient or recent mythology, that all religions are man-made. And how religion and a progressive society does not mix.
I think books are a great way to teach people. When someone sits down to read something, I think it gets the point across better than anything anyone will tell them. I recommended some books to a theist coworker of mine a while back, and she said she's read them if I would watch this Kent Hovind dvd she had *shudder*...I did it, and I couldn't believe anyone could take it seriously. She is a lot less conservative than she used to be though, so I guess it helped.
Having them read books from the "4 horseman of the apocalypse" (Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, Dawkins as a Facebook fan site calls them), is great - IF -they would read them. Having met many glassy-eyed believers that tell me how great their god is that HAVE NOT EVER even read the bible or no more than a few of the "nicer" verses. Some people, will not or can not, grasp anything beyond simple catch phrases, repeated over and over like a mantra. That's why political sound bites of short blurbs work to where long, thought-out, critical debate is lost on most people.

Like the hook line of a popular song- it's short, it's catchy, easily recognizable, and easy to sing along with first listening. Compared to the long, convoluted, twisting and turning, complex, opaque, melodies of modern jazz and 20th century symphonic music where just listening to it is (to me) a delicious challenge. Let alone the time and study needed to learn, introspect and internalize, the much deeper and far more subtle nuanced expression.

Some people will never get it because they can't follow the story, melody or reasoning- which is sometimes very difficult. Worse still, some will stay willfully ignorant which to me seems like a self imposed mind crime. They seem afraid of stepping out from their false safety net and they end up shutting themselves off from the truly amazing natural wonders and splendors of the universe.

Good luck in your endeavors, but in all truth, to "debate" rational concepts to the delusional is a waste of your time and gives their insanity more credence and respect than it deserves. You don't "debate" unicorns, hobbits, or other fantasy creatures as subjects based in reality, and you probably won't change a mind that is not quite skeptical already. It can be fun to tweek them around sometimes and see their cheeks get red in anger at the audacity of someone that would dare even point out the glaring contradictions, inaccuracies and falsehoods of their most cherished beliefs. But, be warned, they have also been prone to physical violence for doing so.
You don't. There are times there is not point in debating some people. If you can't start at an honest premise then what's the point.
Generally it is not worth trying to win a debate with the fundamentalists, especially if they know you are an Atheist. They have been taught all their lives that you are a lost soul almost beyond saving. You’re logic and knowledge may be 100% correct but you are dealing with people who have forsaken reason. They do not know what it is. All they need is their bible and god. Any gaps in their “knowledge” are filled in with the “goddidit” argument. Imagine you are trying to explain the workings of a clock to somebody who cannot understand English. It is the same thing. Unless they learn to think with their critical reasoning brain you will never make sense. Even if you start to make sense they will stare at you blankly as alarm bells go off in their heads “Atheist alert beware of Satan”

I was debating 2 Jehovah Witnesses recently.

Me: Even if Daniel did prophesize about Alexander the Great it is only a historical record. It does not mean there is a god.

JW: But when we take all the biblical prophesies together it can only point to one thing. The bible is true.

Me: (after demolishing several of them). It still does not prove there is a god.

JW: Do you believe the Roman Empire existed.

Me: Yes. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Roman Empire existed. It is all verifiable. Museums are full of roman antiquities. I have seen their ruins in North Africa and Rome with my own eyes.

JW: And the Dead Sea scrolls also exist to prove the authenticity of the bible. So why do you deny the bible is god’s word.

Me: You analogy is invalid.

The debate continues along these lines of “logic”. No matter what I say it makes no difference. Except occasionally it does. I do not want to de-convert them. All I want to do is sow some doubt. I can see when I have been successful. That starts the ball rolling. Doubt is like a little hole in the dam. Once it starts it can’t really be stopped.

However I have found a better approach and it might be useful. It is proving very successful and is so simple.

The Rules:
You do not debate them immediately. If they ask about your Atheism turn the tables on them and tell them you would be interested in learning a bit about their beliefs. This will floor them. But instead of letting them rant on about Jesus ask them to write down what they believe and WHY they believe it. Tell them you look forward to reading it, and giving it careful consideration. Politely say goodbye and walk away. Here is something from a while back which might help. Have fun with the fundies.
I like the idea of asking them to write their ideas down. It seems like a good way to get them to start thinking. I'll have to try that, thanks. :)
Yes - they see that Atheist are not monsters. If you are willing to listen to them then maybe they will listen to you. However this will be after they have had to analyize themselves which may have already created some doubt and therefore some genuine curiousity. So there will be no need for a shouting match. I have only been using this approach for a few weeks but it is definitley working. I debate Jehovah Witnesses and Born Agains on a regular basis on my own. They are all now "thinking". Enjoy - you will learn a lot about you own views to.
I have a really rare picture.
I have a picture of Jehovah's Witness' actually inside a house.
Am I a witness? I didn't see the accident.
Not worth it, beyond a certain point people are brainwashed. If they don't know what they are really talking about and you can tell they are kind of guessing and they feel they need help. Go for it, by all means inform them. But if its not like that, no use in it. People are going to be people and ignorant as long as they can.
Again, there is no right or wrong answer to "Is it even worth it?", in my opinion. With that said, if you know the Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins arguments well enough to verbalize them, I think it is a good thing to mention as many of these things to Christians.

Why? Because these ideas are not being taught in the church. You might be the first person to speak of common sense reasons why religion has failed. Certain Christians that you talk to might have only heard the nonsensical teachings of the church and have never heard the "teachings", if you will, of science. In my opinion, and to use their words, we are "planting seeds" of reason which might not sprout until years later. Even thirty years later, like myself.

Here's something all Christians need to hear: Ancient primitive men wrote the Bible in the culture and science of their day trying to explain the world around them. And they got it wrong. All religions are man-made. And sin is a man-made concept.
Not only do they only read the good parts, but they usually only read it one verse at a time. I recently had someone quote a bible verse to me (can't remember which one, sorry), and when I asked them what they meant and if they could put it in context, they didn't even know where it came from or what it was referring to!
Bible verses have become the new fortune cookie fortunes. They don't have to mean anything, they just have to sound deep and be vague enough for anyone to be able to apply to their own life.


© 2018   Created by Rebel.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service