I can't help but feel at a disadvantage here. It seems every time religion comes up in my discussions with others, it always melts into me constantly defending my atheism, while every point I bring up is brushed off for another shot at my 'godlessness.' I try to help these people, but how can I when I can't get any information to them at all.

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I've given up, because I realize they're no more interested in hearing my points than I am about hearing theirs.

BUT-- I always make it clear I have many reasons to disregard their faith which I've realized over years of study and that the only reason I won't discuss them is for the sake of harmony. (I don't want 'em thinking I'm afraid of their "logic," or their big bubba in the sky!)
Crazy christians, for example, have mastered the technique most effective in debating....even they probably don't know they're doing it...they immediately fire off questions your way, am I right? Well, that's a very effective method of getting one's opponent off guard, as it were. It's the most obnoxious thing, but they do it all the time. Turn the tables. Remember, in sales, the first one to speak is the loser! Always be closing...the ABCs of sales, and in this case...winning a debate!
Or... don't debate. I avoid the religious discussion like the plague. It's not good for the blood pressure. I actually read a very interesting study that polled folks on their beliefs from "Very Religious" to "Atheist." The religious tend to be "trusting" (a nice word for "gullible"), less educated people whereas the non-believers tend to be skeptical older white males with at least a bachelor's degree, though most had a master's degree or higher. So, while this information does not help you during a little chat with religious friends, you can at least think to yourself that you're smarter than they are. (j/k-- kinda) It's not a battle anyone can win. Live by example. Christians are brought up to believe those without theism are blood-drinking child-eaters who cheat yearly on their taxes. It's generally quite the surprise when they discover someone moral, kind, etc. is a (gasp!) atheist. Oh, and you can also reproduce and raise little atheists. That's my plan. :o)
And, it's a good plan! I've learned to pick my battles because it's easier on MY blood pressure! As long as they don't attack my atheism, I'll keep quiet about their religious nonsense....with strangers, anyway.
It's hard to pick my battles while living in Arkansas, everyone here wants to attack my atheism.
I feel your pain, Christopher, because right now I am holed up in central Texas. The minute that the word "atheism" flies loose, it is almost comical how fast a sneer will spread across people's faces. Then the derogatory, regurgitated insults start. Although I have a difficult time with verbal debates anyways, the biggest problem that I find is that I am nearly always outnumbered. No matter how well I may have my rebuttal formulated, being chain-interrupted by multiple theists will always end up flustering me.

I just look at it like debate-training, lol. :)
I also have this problem. If someone says '[insert name of desired deity here] loves you', you cannot answer without denying that [insert name of desired deity here] doesn't love or care about them and this makes them hostile.
I recently visited a pagan festival and tried to be open-minded, the main reason I was there was because of a Medieval archery re-enactment i was part of. These things included tarot and various mystical things. Generally things that early christians tried to destroy. While they didnt buy me, what supprised me that a local church group had set up shop there. I went over and asked, 'What exactly are you?' As the modern christians are a diverse group. I got a very vague answer which basically meant 'whatever you think we are'. I asked why they were there and they said that the pagans let them attend. What nice people. The nice pagan people seemed to have better christian values than the christians. They then tried to convince me that a magical being resided atop his cloud that somehow had substance. I told them straight away that i thought that their god was evil and they didnt take it well.
Whenever I get into a religion argument, it always ends with silence between both of us for a while. I do have many christian friends and I try to not bring religion into it and them likewise. If I do try to out-bible them, I might lose them as friends and if they try to convert me, they might lose me as a friend.
With complete strangers, I argue them back down whatever proverbal hole they came out of.
I know exactly what you're talking about. It's like trying to convince people that the sky is blue, but they're not willing to look up because they're afraid they might be wrong. Ignorance is bliss.
Ignorance can be fatal, sir. Fatal.
It always helps to learn something about another religion or two.. Being about to quote from Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the gita, the upanishads, the bible, the koran, the book of morman etc...helps in any religious discussion.

Just bring up 'truth' scriptures from a religion they DON'T believe in... I've been using sikhism lately for my christian buds...

Here's an example..

“Serve your True Lord and Master, and you shall be blessed with true greatness. By Guru's Grace, He abides in the mind, and egotism is driven out. This wandering mind comes to rest, when the Lord casts His Glance of Grace.” Sri Guru Granth Sahib

“Those who turn their faces away from the True Guru shall have their faces blackened. Night and day, they suffer in pain; they see the noose of Death always hovering above them. Even in their dreams, they find no peace; they are consumed by the fires of intense anxiety.” Sri Guru Granth Sahib

“No one else can save you - don't look for anyone else. I have searched in all four directions; I have come to find His Sanctuary. O Nanak, the True King has pulled me out and saved me from drowning!” Sri Guru Granth Sahib

What's important here is that most religious people ARE anxious about death....their various religions teach them to be anxious about it. A statement like this to someone from another religion is 'troubling'. They must counter it with scriptures from their own system.

Each system has its own proclaimed truth. Each has its own verification. Its own miracles. Its own promises of salvation, prophecies and warnings. Yet when it comes to verifying the 'Truth' each goes back to the truth claims of their own scriptures. Its true, because it says its true. End of story.

People have to admit that this makes it hard for someone from ONE belief system to switch to another. They also have to admit that to someone without a dog in the hunt that there's nothing to show the 'truth' of one book of holy scripture over another.

Of course they won't ADMIT this to YOU..... but it will be in their mind and thats a start. If nothing else it will probably cause them to change the subject.

If you can quote a scripture from another religion for every scripture they bring up from theirs...then it really, really throws them off track. They are always used to having the advantage of being able to quote from unquestioned authority. They ARE NOT USED to having to answer unquestioned authority from another 'divine' source!

They will dismiss it.....but it takes the wind out of the sails of their arguments from authority... which is all they have!
This sounds like a great idea, I'ma try it.
Some liberal Christians (like ones I know) will just say... it's all really the same. As long as you believe in God, it's OK. All the religions (even polytheistic ones) are just different ways to believe in God...

So... everyone really goes to heaven, except atheists.


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