What do you expect to get out of it?

Like all atheists living in a religious infested society. I run into the theistic mammal once in a while, and following in the footsteps of my hunter-gatherer ancestors; I aim to swiftly take them down, but with clever rhetoric and indisputable logic in lieu of brute force. However, with the passage of time I have started to be less abrasive on the zealot. Why? It is not because I feel remorse when I burst the delusional bubble in which they hold any hopes for an afterlife or moral high ground, but because I want to create impact that may spark curiosity and with it doubt. My goal is to open the door of skepticism. That door that once you put your foot on the other side; you are in and there is no going back.

 My question to the atheist community would be: When you debate the zealot what do you expect to get out of it?

Is it intellectual masturbation achieved by shutting down ineffective arguments that have be busted since Bertrand Russell could lay down a coherent thought?

Is it that you expect to persuade the zealot into changing his erroneous ways?

Do you only debate in “self-defense”?



Views: 99

Comment by Atheist Exile on April 26, 2012 at 1:50am

Plant seeds of doubt. Let the believer come around when he's ready.

Comment by Eric Diaz on April 26, 2012 at 6:05pm

Interesting, so Shay is in self-defense, Atheist Exile and Rich do it for the same reasons I do it. What led me to ask this question was that I noticed the very different approach between the "Four Horseman" and Neil deGrasse Tyson. People like Dawkins (who I admire for his work) tend to point out the fallacies in religious beliefs and his aim is to 'deconvert" or to help the people who already have doubts. It is strictly aim at religion. I have heard of people starting to doubt their religion after listening to Tyson who is much more subtle and his aim is only to promote science and critical thinking, not to get rid of religion necessarily. He usually does not go in to much detail about it in his presentations . I guess if one hopes to defang the zealot Tyson's approach is more effective because it makes the religious think and appreciate science, evidence, and possibly doubt at some point. Dawkins method can make the religious to build a non-listening shell very quickly.   

Comment by Eric Diaz on April 26, 2012 at 6:28pm

I have changed my approach and I have received from many Christians the comment "you are not like other atheist, who are mean and treat me like I am stupid". To me this is progress because even if they are believers at the end of the conversation, it still shows they are listening and that at least they have a different perspective about atheists...its not that I am pandering. They know I do not agree with them, and I make it clear. But I've noticed focusing more on the beauty of science and the universe at large, asking them subtle questions with analogies about their religion without playing the blame game "Christians are responsible for this many wars etc." seems to keep their attention longer.       Once I had a talk with a young guy who is aspiring to be a preacher ( very polite young man), and it was not long before we were ended up talking about religion. He was trying to convert me, asking me if I had ever read the bible, the typical stuff.  The way I handle it, I very calmly started telling him about all things he should not do when trying to convert an atheist. I went through a list of things. The only things not in that list were evidence and reason.  I handle it this way because this is how Matt Dilahaunty (If I spelled that correctly) became atheist, He could not find evidence or reason why someone should believe. 

Comment by Atheist Exile on April 28, 2012 at 8:53am

@Eric Diaz,

I agree with  you. When it comes to persuasion, there's a lot to be said for tact. To me, it depends on the audience and the goal.


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