Sorry. I'm new here, but I'm already confused.
Why are people arguing the existence/non-existence of God? Honestly is anyone aware of an online conversion being made? In either direction? Has anyone EVER said, "Oh wow, I guess you're right. So there really is/isn't a God."?
To me it makes more sense debating the existence of Santa Clause - which is supported by a great deal more physical evidence. At least I've SEEN Santa Clause.
It seems that engaging in such arguments actually adds strength to theist perspectives because a logical argument should assume a reasonable basis on both sides. Whoever has the best case or makes the best argument wins.
Are there any sound logical arguments in support of God? I assume not. Why then do we argue with people who are not swayed by certainty?
More broadly, why are we here (at TA).
I think that you are missing the point of these debates. We debate religion not (on the whole) to deconvert theists but to engage the logic and rationality that as atheists we posess in spades. Debating something that you believe strongly in is enjoyable and satisfying, particularly if your argument is strong, as much of the arguments against god are.
People are swayed by internet arguments, discussions and debates, but rarely, if ever, during these events - unless the person has very little emotional investment in the outcome.
While de-conversions from a religion are usually lengthy, conversions to religion, often occur in the space of a few minutes or hours. Rational and emotional changes in beliefs and attitudes are very different processes.
Thanks Mo - I love oxymorons and yours - "Theistic Reasoning" has now replaced "Holy Jihad" as my favourite.
Yes nice oxymoron indeed, just like "freedom of religion".
However I'm curious why you would call "Holy Jihad" an oxymoron, they are quite appropriate together, not contradictory at all? "Holy Jihad" is more like a pleonasm... So in this way you get to have two favourites: a favourite oxymoron and a favourite pleonasm :)
I think we need to define "argument" to address the question at hand. If we mean an exchange of ideas or evidence between parties of differing stands on a topic, then yes, I think it is worth it. The theist gets exposed to ideas and facts that may have been hidden from them by family and friends, and the nontheist gets a look into the arguments that are the keystones of personal beliefs. Both sides have the ability to share and receive information, and that is always a good thing. I know that understanding the misunderstandings of theists helps me focus my future discussions for ever-greater effectiveness. I have had these sorts of exchanges with very entrenched religious friends of mine and they have learned from it (as have I). In fact, one of them often comes to me with questions related to science, and even religion, because he understands and respects my standards for research and for judging assertions.
If we use the more colloquial definition of argument as a nasty, defensive exchange between two (or more people), then I agree: walk away.
The OP is not why we're on this site, but why do people argue with believers :)
The whole point of faith is that it does NOT need to obey the laws of logic. Faith and belief are outside the realm of rationality. THAT is why in my view arguing with "them" is useless. And on top of that, for some atheists, the meaning of atheist is limited to stating "there is no god" whereas for others, including myself, as an atheist I reject any supernatural AND religions, including so-called "philosophical religions", which includes Buddhism and Humanism.
Well Mike, If believers simply believed in a god and left it at that, your point would be valid however, we all know that in the real world we live in, they are active on many fronts - take the "intelligent design" argument for example and their desire to introduce it as a "valid" scientific alternative to the theory of evolution, or the extensive lobbying against stem cell research, or even the outrageous fleecing of millions of dollars by television evangelists. It would be easy to simply ignore them if they weren't so hellbent (sorry....!!) on forcing very real and dangerous misconceptions on the world. To sit on the fence and say nothing is, by virtue of our silence, an acceptance/acknowledgement of the validity of their arguments, and we then become complicit in their irrationality.
Unfortunately your belief that "whoever has the best case or makes the best argument wins" doesn't hold any sway when debating religious believers. Having seen many debates by Christopher Hitchens / Sam Harris / Richard Dawkins etc, it is obvious that rational, logical arguments backed by vast amounts of scientific evidence means nothing to someone who has arrived at a belief system through emotional, non-rational means.
By the way, you have no evidence of Santa Claus. Simply because you have seen men dressed as "Santa Claus" doesn't mean you therefore have evidence he exists. If that was the case any bearded bloke dressed in a sheet claiming to be Jesus, by your definition, would be evidence that Jesus exists. (See how easy it is to fall into illogical rationalizations)?.
I can't answer for anyone else here as to why we are here at TA but for myself, I could't look my kids in the eye if I didn't at least attempt to stem the rising tide of utter bullshit and blatant snake oil pedalling that is religion.
Good points, David. I would add that religion has been working diligently for centuries to make sure that the "marketplace of ideas" doesn't function properly--to prevent the best ideas from winning. We need to counter that.
I used to be a theist, before I was exposed to all sides of the argument. I found vast amount of information, arguments and debates on the internet that helped deconvert me gradually. Don't underestimate the power of logic and reason vs. fairy tale arguments over people who are trying to find answers and think for themselves.