I have been an atheist since I was 15.  I am now 26, and have read the full range of standard atheist arguments.  The first one, which because it was first, probably had the most significant impact on me was George H. Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God" which I purchased on Amazon along with Judith Hayes's "The Happy Heretic."  I remember reading both books while thinking every page or two, "I considered this very point as I was losing my faith!"  Later I read books by Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and so forth.

Each book was pretty much the same damn thing, but I loved reading them because I loved to see people in "my side" making such lucid, clear, wonderful arguments.  I used those arguments when defending my atheist viewpoint to my friends.  I don't seek out argument by any means, but I certainly welcome a debate when it comes my way.  I think most people that join sites like ThinkAtheist are probably like me in this respect.  I love nothing more than the opportunity to talk about religion, and I'm anything but religious.

 

I have noticed, as I see my new atheist friend's blogs, facebook posts, and twitter conversations, that they all crave this debate.  One recent blog post was merely a two sentence invite to IM her and debate atheism vs. theism. 

 

What is it about us that makes us crave the debate so much?  What makes us read these books that merely reinforce what we already know?  I love nothing more than youtubing a Christopher Hitchens slapdown just because it gives me goosebumbs and makes me feel good that there are people out there articulating the atheist argument with such brash eloquence.  Maybe I am weird, but I don't think I am wrong. 

 

Maybe our inquisitive nature - which made us atheists in the first place - makes us more predisposed to reveling in debates, arguments, disagreements, and defenses of our view.  But that's just a theory.  ;-)

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Well, I recognize that it requires collaboration/consensus to ensure that our understanding is the best that it can be.  It's easy to miss something and come to incorrect conclusions so I like to be very conservative in my epistemic credulity.

 

I was discussing this issue just the other day and I told the guy it wasn't enough for him to find evidence that supported his view (he had an extremely over-simplistic set of tests for his belief). I told him he needed to get questions and challenges from the experts in the field as well, and I (even as a non-expert) rattled off half-a-dozen issues he had not addressed at all which completely disproved his hypothesis.

 

It's only when nobody can find any holes, the outliers in the data are accounted for, and those who accept the hypotheses agree that those who reject it are just being disagreeable and do not have any legitimate objection that we can really begin to start accepting the hypothesis as a Theory.

 

Another factor is knowing the holes and errors in bad hypotheses that are actually held by far too many people and hoping to make some small dent in the number of people holding those false beliefs.

I honestly could care less what people believe.  If they feel the need to call on a higher power to release themselves from their own insecurities by believing they can't get through life through their own power and ability, there's really nothing for me to debate.  I'm not here to change anyone else but myself.  I've never had to defend my belief, and it's probably because they know better.  I was a former assisting minister and bible school teacher, so my Lutheran, Catholic & Baptist extended family members know not to challenge me.  I've never had to debate with friends or even strangers.  I guess I have that, don't try me, you'll lose look to me! hahaha

There's "holes" in every religion, which is why they are "faith" based. Gotta have "faith" to believe in the nonexistant and/or nonproven.
Do you "care less" if people let their children suffer and die because they want to use faith-based healing and deny them medical care? That's something I care about. I also care if people don't get their kids vaccinated for similar reasons. I also care when faith groups use their ignorance as an excuse to deny rights to other human beings such as with the gay/lesbian marriage issue.

There are many other cases where I care as well.

I'm not saying YOU must care but I want to be a little more specific about what I was talking about.
I see where you are coming from.  I was speaking more on religion vs atheism.  Causes to me are a different issue, because not all atheists view causes the same.  So we can't be grouped as such.  I'm pro-abortion, because of my personal experience, and I know some that are anti-abortion.  I know some that are for vaccinations and those that are against. Some that are for gay marriage, some who are not.  These are views and choices in life, and claiming atheism doesn't leave us out of being a group that still has those with different personal/moral views.  I guess in my case, I've never run into people who's religious belief is so outrageous that it affects the lives of others.  I care, I just don't choose to make it as focus because for me charity starts at home.  I take care of mine first and foremost.  Sure I post my views on a blog post, or news story, or someone's ridiculous status msg, but I don't find myself debating.  I put in my POV and move on.
I crave debates with religious people too :) I go to Christian websites and comment on their articles. That does the trick :)

I can't speak for other atheists but I like debate because I'm tired of only hearing one side of the story, and that story is a pretty lame one, at that.

It's hilarious that you ask that... just the other day I came home piss tired, stressed, and angry from having to do an errand. Rather than going into my bedroom to collapse, I sat down on my computer and posted a 350 word response to some jackass who had replied to me on YouTube. Then, I went to sleep.

Arguments and/or debate relax me. It relaxes my mind by giving it one thing on which to focus rather than letting it roam and touch on all different sorts of stressful things going on in my life. If I can concentrate on proving some yokel on the internet wrong for some invisible audience member, or (in a good debate) exchange a healthy flow of ideas with points and counter points, my mask sort of drips away. It's like going to the gym for my mind. Weird.
I love debates. As a former catholic most of my life i already know what they are going to say most of the time. It amazes me how bible illiterate most of them are. I quote certain bible verses and they just say stuff like "I dont wanna talk about it" or "Why do you care what other people believe in, its not hurting you". But I do care. I care because religion is the cause of most wars in world history, the crusades, murdering of thousands of people throughout history just because they were thought to be witches, the catholic church sex abuse scandal etc....Their bible talks about murder, rape, incest, slavery, the bullshit story of creation and the flood and so on. If most christians would understand what their religion is really about and how it was copied from alot of other religions then i bet most of them would walk away from it. I like to debate them not to talk down to them but to help them open their eyes to it all. They are all victims just like I or most of us here were.
The process of talking it out has always helped me find where my holes are. Not working it out is like taking karate your whole life then facing a wrestler in a fight. If you don't know your weakness, you might find out at an less than opportune time.
The other side of it is that I don't get pushed around by friends. Everyone knows who I am, where I stand and that they had better be certain about bringing out the toolbox because I might just break their tools. While I don't want to be overbearing about it, I don't want to be too meek either. I've drawn a line in the sand. For me, it feels like clear communication. Enter gently.

For me it's the argument that religious law should be instated because whatever religion is true and correct.

 

I guess what I mean here is, without debate and argument, the USA (and Australia, it's like little-America here sometimes) really would be a Christian country. Abortion would be illegal. Gay marriage and equality would be totally off the table. Basically whatever the wacky christians wanted in the law they would get because they would claim it is a divine law from their god. Debating against their religion is (imo) the only way we have to say "we don't believe in your god therefore the divinity of this law is null". Same goes for other religions too of course, christianity is just the most prevalent in our societies.

 

Hope that made sense, I havn't been sleeping well lol.

As a theory?  There is not one movement of the earth that does not share these characteristics...my question back at you, why do you feel atheists are the only ones who strive to debate their own cause, there are probably more books on religion than atheism and the followers love talking about their beliefs, hell buildings fill daily on the topic...
One of the big reasons certain people on the internet actually become active on forums, blogs and the like is because they are of this type of personality. We should never confuse people actively engaging on the internet with a larger population of any kind. So the answer is "that's why we showed up".

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