8 Things Theists Shouldn’t Do When Debating Atheists
In my never-ending ‘War on Stupid’ I’ve come across some things that I personally feel theists should try to avoid saying or doing when trying to have a sound debate with atheists. The eight things I bring up below typically are the biggest detractors from any point you’re trying to make, or are just so stupid that you’ll immediately lose the respect of the person you’re trying to converse with. In my opinion, once you’ve lost their respect nothing you say will matter and the debate is basically not worth continuing. My hope is that some theists will come across this and stop doing things they may be unintentionally doing and more high quality/productive debates might come out of it.
Please excuse any snarkiness present, debating Christians on Digg recently has made me a little flustered.
- Use Bible quotes to prove your god exists or to throw them up like magical talismans. The other day on Digg, I had someone vomit John 3:16 at me instead of any valuable argument as to why he thought we atheists worshiped Baal. Quoting holy scripture will not magically convert an atheist. We aren’t going to say “Wow, I’ve never heard John 3:16 before, I’ve been totally wrong about everything. I think I’ll convert now!” While these words may have gravity and meaning to you, they do not to us. I have never read any scripture that has moved me in any positive way. Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking have had more profound emotional responses from me than any priest could ever hope to do. If you do this it’s interpreted as irrational behavior and we’ll likely start treating you like you’re insane.
- Try to poke holes in Evolutionary theory and think that is a theory in itself. Mainly, I’m addressing the fact that some of you seem to claim you need proof of every single transitional fossil in the history of the planet. Thanks to the effects of time and erosion, this will likely never happen. This is highly hypocritical, you needed considerably less evidence to believe in a god. There are literally mountains of transitional fossils we’ve uncovered. You whine about whale fossils, then we find a shit-ton, then you just move on to something else. Very frustrating and you’ll never win an argument with someone if your point keeps changing. Every time you’re losing ground and giving up positions. First the earth was flat, then it was a globe but the center of the universe, blah blah blah. Now some of you even accept “micro-evolution” but contend that micro, even given the age of earth, can’t lead to speciation to what we have now? There is no micro-evolution, there is only evolution.
- Claim you have to be a Christian before you can understand the Bible. How on Earth does that make sense? How would anyone convert? If you make a claim like this you’re making a magical appeal to someone who only deals in reality. You’re immediately alienating them and detracting from your argument.
- Use an argument that you know damn well has been refuted and beaten down in the past in hope that the current person will be fooled by it. This is the one thing that pisses me off more than anything else about debating theists, Christians mainly. Everyone knows about Pascal’s Wager and everyone knows the very serious problems with its assertion of only one god. STOP USING IT. If an atheist or a duck or anyone else has logically refuted one of your arguments in the past then you are being dishonest when you use it next time. In other words, you’re lying to try to convert.
- Confuse science with faith. Science is based on reproducible or continuously viewed evidence. Faith is based on personal experience, which isn’t reliable or reproducible. If you call science a religion during a debate you’ve lost it already and you’ll lose any respect your opponent might have had for you.
- Think that your opponent should know everything about every scientific field if you can’t quote every verse in your Bible from memory. Even if you can (you freak ), the text in your respective holy book is pale in comparison to the amount of scientific data in existence. It is impossible for one human to know it all. Most atheists are not scientists with a PhD. just like most Christians are not the Pope. Point made?
- Make outlandish claims you know aren’t true. There is a commenter here on my blog which claims all atheists are in on a giant conspiracy to hostilely remove all religion from the face of the planet. He’s wrong, and so are you if you claim this. There are many atheists who have no issues with religion, they just don’t personally prescribe to it. There is no vast conspiracy, there is, however, the average angry 12 year old who may spout ‘Stalin-esque’ bullshit about killing off religion. Most atheists who are competent do not want to infringe on personal freedoms, they just want a secular government and mentally fit leaders. There is no conspiracy, if you gargle this out during a debate with the godless you are detracting from any further valid case you may make and you might be out of your medication.
- Assume the atheist knows exactly how you interpret your scripture. Some theists accept the Theory of Evolution, some don’t. It’s not our job to read your mind, if you really want to have a sound debate with an atheist you need to explain to them exactly what it is you believe before you can make your case. For example; Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, and Mormons all claim to be Christians but they all interpret the scriptures vastly different, some even wing it. It’s not our job to know just how closely you follow your book.
Got any others? Post them below..