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).

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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.

As the great Dr. Gregory House quipped: "If you could reason with religious people, there wouldn't be any religious people."

For me, the reason for continuing to try to persuade believers of their error is the hope that my words -- along with all the other atheist arguments they've heard -- will eventually soak in and penetrate their compartmentalized minds.  Then one day, whey they're vulnerable, they'll finally take an honest look at their faith and realize we were right all along.

I've never witnessed a de-conversion but I know they happen all the time.  On that basis, I believe that espousing atheist views is worthwhile and contributes to the long-term mental health of humanity.

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.


In a way, same here, Sarah.  I was a theist as a child.  I grew up in the worst of the bible belt.  Just meeting an atheist who explained the logic of it to me was enough to de-convert me on the spot.  Religion relies on peer pressure.  Apparent unanimity of belief is necessary to ensure its survival.  Sure, some will continue to believe no matter what, but, eventually, they will be the lunatic fringe that they should be.
I believe in being as respectful of someone else's beliefs and opinions as I want them to be about mine.  I will engage in debate with a person, no matter what their belief system, as long as they can remain non-aggressive.  I began to question religion and the belief in an all poweful god when I was seven.  I asked my Sunday school teacher the following question," If Adam and Eve were the first people and there were only two of them, how did Cain and Able get married?"  I was asked to leave class.  Over my lifetime I have actively participated in a number of religions.  This experience has given me the ability to counter the "that's not what we believe" argument.  I also find it helpful to be able to point out that any one verse in the Bible can be directly contradicted with a second verse found elsewhere in the text.  On the occassion that the person I am speaking with begins to simply say, "God says..." I ask the following question, "Do you believe what you believe because it's true, or is it true simply because you believe it?"  It generally ends the conversation.
Thank you all. I wondered if I'd get any response. I'm blown away. And I've learned from every single one.

Now please help me figure out where all this systemic theism is coming from.

As human societies, we internally seek homogeneity, as opposed to diversity. Historically, every culture has had its own value systems. Within each of these societies, there was a large degree of homogeneity. It's the only way for society to function. All modern countries work fine as long as everyone is on the same footing and has access to generally the same resources. Take France for example. It used to be among world leaders on the happiness scale before their immigration problems. Is it the immigrants fault? not really, it's the government's fault for letting the situation get out of hand. Canada had extremely low crime rates until Asians rendered Vancouver uber violent and Carribean expats increased violence in Toronto. Cultural diversity as a value system is unworkable, but it is placed up front of social values because it makes us SEEM altruistic and generous about our acceptance of other cultures. In the USA's first centuries, other than slaves, most other immigrants had equal opportunity, and equal backgrounds, they were all "immigrants". But this century, the sense that there is a contradiction between the "established" culture and newcomers desires has grown ever stronger. This is natural. The only way for a society to function peacefully is to agree on a large common ground. Masses of immigrants living in squalor and in ghettos is in direct conflict with orderly social functioning.


So it is entirely natural for theists to work at effecting and/or maintaining homogeneity. Just as if atheists were to colonise a lesser-battling culture and overtake them, we'd most certainly organise our social structure around godlessness, just as Humanists would organise around human priorities and Buddhists organise on Buddhist principals.


What's interesting is that it's not about atheists being right or wrong, it's not important. The point is atheists in general are similarly interested in growing our ranks, because it favours our world view.


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