My name is Keath, I'm new to this website and I'm so happy to have found it.
I've been an atheist for a long time, and everyone who knows me knows my views.
Everyone except for a my very religious professor and a class full of students I have to give a 5-7 minute speech in front of. To give a perception of how religious my prof is, her email is LiveGodLoudly@example.com (I can't give her real email) either way, she talks about her church and her religion all the time during lectures. I also go to Oklahoma State University, and of course in Oklahoma, it's uncomfortably religious here.
I am so proud of my atheism and I want to try to persuade more people to choose reason over faith so I need to speak out. The title of my speech is going to be Atheism: My Out Campaign; and I want to try to persuade people in my class because it's a persuasive argument.
What would you guys discuss most in order to persuade a religious person to believe in Atheism?
TL;DR What would you say to persuade a religious person to believe in Atheism?
If you're talking to a mostly religious audience, I'd actually focus on why it's likely that the major monotheisms are all incorrect (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and how if you believe one over the other, you are making an arbitrary choice. I think the point that these religions cannot all be correct, and further that none of them are, is an easier point to make then the absence of a deity entirely. This will get them warmed up to the idea that religion is wrong, and you can end your talk by saying something like, now that you can see how weak of a foundation these three religions stand on, it's not a big leap to dismiss the idea of God altogether. You can suggest that at the very least, one should be skeptical of God's existence.
If you're set on trying to go straight for the jugular, though, and persuade people that there is no God, I would go with the idea that positing the existence of God doesn't actually help us explain anything. That's a pretty rich topic, because you can talk about how evolution explains biodiversity, different theories of abiogenesis, and different theories about how the universe came into being. Make sure to mention that it doesn't make more sense to assume that God exists and created the universe from nothing than to just say the universe itself was created from nothing.
I definitely thought about discussing not just the Christian myths but Islamism and all of those but I only have 5 or so minutes and I don't want to jumble up my speech. I'll probably just some all of it up in to 'religion.' I want to say "my enemy isn't the faithful, my enemy is the faith.' I think that's a powerful line. I'll probably post a few paragraphs of my speech up to see what you guys think
Talk about thermodynamics and evolution. Ya know, the primary concept of an almighty being coming out of itself going against the natural evolution as an introduction.
Then, you can talk about all the paradoxes of faith, the fact that holy books were written by guys who lived 5 thousand years ago (i guess it is 5, but i might be wrong), and if one of them is an evolutionist, talk about the formation of universe - the face those people make is delightful.
Don't forget to talk about all the bloody details about Church's history.
oh, btw, i meant "and if one of them is an creationist", not evolutionist :P
I know a lot about evolution and I'd love to discuss in detail why evolution makes more sense, but my class is full of people that are not too science oriented and I'd be worried I'd lose their attention. I may have chosen too detailed of a topic to try to persuade people haha. There's so much to say in such a short amount of time!
My main point I want to make is that the intricacies of the universe are too wonderful to waste your time not wanting to find out more. I want to stress that there's so much more outside of the confines of religion. I also want to talk about how religion is destructive to a society.
I also want to discuss how morals aren't created through religion, that they are very likely brought about by a growing society and are synonymous with evolution.
Like I said... too broad maybe.
I only ever watch Richard Dawkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens videos. I love YouTube for those videos. I've spent countless hours watching everything I can. I am most inspired by Dr. Tyson because I'm a nut for astronomy. Thank you for the ideas.
Awesome!! Thank you very much, Greg.
I did this. My persuasive arguments revolved around my audience's practicing religion being pointless, basically because it was dying out. I gave them a brief history of Christianity to show them how they ended up being Christian and then proceeded to show them why Christianity was dying:
1) A "watering down" of the faith in an attempt to survive in an ever-changing and increasingly progressive society (using Catholicism's becoming indistinguishable from Protestantism as an example of faith dilution, and using gay rights as an example of America's becoming more progressive-- any perceived threat that things are changing should adequately shake them).
2) how the masses were made privy to information only the privileged had been prior to the dawn of the age of information. Heavily implying without specifically stating that our society's becoming more intellectual as a result means that less people stay dumb and therefore less people believe in gods. And then remind them that the chances of their children retaining their faith throughout adolescence, much less into adulthood, are increasingly lower and lower. I'm pretty sure I also said the sentence "I'm sorry Christians, but you're dying out the way of the Native Americans" when I was talking about religion being culturally delegated to isolated regions (like the bible belt). Anything to make them feel like that society will soon ostracize them into extinction. The basic idea is "You can swim against the current, but you can't change the tide, and the tide is no longer in your favor".
3) and then I just threw up a bunch of graphs. Polls and surveys showing the rapid decline of Christianity in America in recent years.
This should open any on-the-fencers' eyes to a new perspective. But to the religious, this approach may come off as a bit arrogant. So prepare to profess complete confusion at the notion that you've offended anyone.
Hahaha dude, my hat goes off to you. I'm proud of my atheism but I feel way too damned secluded in Oklahoma to say things like that to a definitely 100% christian audience. It's awesome you've done this though. How long did you talk for?
Rule number one, do not insult your classmates or the professor by using the phrase "invisible man in the sky" or anything related. You win hearts and minds by reasoning not insulting when debating. As some people have said watch the great speeches and the great debaters. Get some ammo and examples from them and make sure you have a clear way to frame your speech and have a clear goal in mind. When I debate people I do not tell them why they're religion is wrong, or false, or unprovable because those arguments are not my focus. I tell them why I personally have chosen not to be religious or why I am against religion. Why I chose humanism. You're not trying to persuade people in 5-7 minutes to become atheists, but you are trying to explain why you are one. The two famous atheists styles I model are Hitchens and Harris. Both intellectual heavyweights to be sure. Hitchens' style is very direct, in your face no holds barred. Harris is more subtle, calmer and yet incredibly effective. He always stays calm when debating. I tend to adopt both styles and although I could never hope to be even close to the brain power of those two, they have given me many ways of framing a point. I wish you "good statistics and probability" and if you can, post your speech as a follow up!
This is one of my favorite arguments by Harris. Watch how he delivers it. http://youtu.be/HthQ6a7FZeA
I totally agree with you Robert. You don't want to go into this calling them all morons because they will be put on the defense even more so then they already will be. At that point its no longer the defense of just their faith but of their intelligence. I've known a lot of very smart people who were believers that did have the ability to be open to things. Like Robert says you aren't going to convince these people in just a few minutes to drop what they have been taught their entire lives. Your goal is to leave them with a more positive view on Atheist and therefore Atheism. Showing them that you aren't an annoying know it all and you aren't some devil worshiper sacrificing virgins can go a long way to plant some seeds of intrigue. If you come across as a normal person with a story on how and why you are an Atheist chances are there will be some people who will be able to identify with your story or be interested to learn more about why someone isn't a believer. I've known people who started out learning more about faith so they could respond to Atheists in debate and ended up deciding after learning what they did that they too were Atheists.