i disagree. demonstrating how ridiculous their thinking is and making them think better, consider their statements before making them, is to be preferred over pretending that the argument is valid and then simply tucking tail and saying you'd accept the consequences.
it doesn't have to be done in a mean, strident, arrogant, or argumentative way but it's important to show how ridiculous the argument is.
I agree that atheists cannot pretend that an argument is valid. It honestly depends on the situation. I consider debating a theist somewhat of a game. Dropping little subliminal attacks against his reasoning in most answers, while still letting him believe that he is not being cornered. Like how in my above post I implied that accepting consequences for not believing is better than believing out of fear. He does not feel threatened yet still is presented with a reasonable response. But your right, we shouldn't pretend and tuck our tails. Never =)
see, but what why leave it up to them to grasp your subliminal hints? make well formed well reasoned attacks against their logic and their statements in a way that isn't arrogant or vituperative.
i too see it as a chess game but in chess you set up your moves, you make feints, you sacrifice pawns, and you move in for the checkmate.
specifically that response doesn't show them that they are just as likely as an atheist is, assuming a god does exist someplace somewhere, to end up the hell of that god in whom they do not believe nor worship.
the statement that accepting the consequences is to be preferred over believing out of fear doesn't refute the argument. what's more, your statement is ready to be refuted by the Christian who says, "i don't believe out of fear!"
heh, its not meant to refute the question. It's meant to block it. It's an invalid question. Also, the response "I don't believe out of fear!" is not a refutation, merely a defensive statement. If a theist said that to me, I would only shrug and say that I don't believe out of fear either.. effectively solidifying that the question is logically invalid, and pointless.
i always ask the theists, before making an argument for their god, to make sure that the same argument can't be used to argue for the existence of another religion's god.
your point about how Zoroastrianism's Avesta and Scientology's Dianetics (for lack of a better analogue) provide the same quality of argument as the bible does for the Judeo-Christian god- which is to say no quality at all- is just the point i make.
if the bible is "proof" of the Judeo-Christian god then so is the Avesta "proof" of Ahura Mazda, the god of the Zoroastrians.
why they don't see this is incredible to me.
Your argument can be expanded to, "what if you're wrong? Isn't it better to believe, just in case?" This is a common Christian Apologetic argument known as Pascal's Wager, popularized by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal. It goes something like this:
"If god does exist, and you believe in Him, then you're in Heaven, and all is good. If god does not exist, and you do believe in Him, then what have you lost?"
The main argument against this "wager", and where it falls apart, is when you consider ALL of the gods out there. Which god do I believe in? Yahweh? Krishna? Buddha? Vishnu? L. Ron Hubbard? Some other god that I haven't heard of? How can I be sure I am believing in the right god? The odds are that I will pick the wrong one, so Pascal's Wager falls apart when considering the odds alone, much less any other higher philosophical arguments.