Argument Against Debating with Theists

floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
Argument Against Debating with Theists

I'm not sure if I'm persuaded by this argument, but I do want to explore it further. The argument goes something like this:

Since

The purpose of argumentation is to construct and evaluate arguments. Good arguments help us make better decisions, persuade others, and resolve conflicts.

AND

The vast majoritity of theists will not be persuaded. They are more interested in strengthening their world view than searching for truth. The few theists that are persuaded by argument take that last step alone, regardless of who is involved in their "deconversion."

AND

Arguing with theists validates their position to the audience.

AND

Argument has been been unsuccessful against much stronger forms of persuasion like indoctrination.

Therefore, we should not argue with theists.


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
I would disagree, since

I would disagree, since there are a few who would change their mind, and anyone listening/reading who is "on the fence" that understands logic will realise the atheist position makes much more sense.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
Arguments with the most

Arguments with the most articulate theists always come back to the issue of "faith," and many of them are more than comfortable with remaining religious because they can compartimentalize. The minority of religious scientists is an excellent example of this compartementalization at work.

The key word in your is post is "few," and we're talking really small numbers here, much smaller than the numbers of people that are being reached by theists.


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Still, even getting one

Still, even getting one person to choose reason over superstition is worth it, and some might not change their mind, but at least be a bit more open minded.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
I'm not sure it's enough to

I'm not sure it's enough to warrant debating theists. The cost seems too great for the scant benefits, and there are probably more efficient ways to reach people. Most people are not persuaded by reason, even when reason is the goal.


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
What about people out there

What about people out there who don't believe in any religion but haven't heard of atheism/freethought? There are still people out there who think they are the only ones who think this way.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


Kelreth
Kelreth's picture
Posts: 36
Joined: 2006-09-14
User is offlineOffline
i shy away from debating

i shy away from debating thiests in open now becasue of several reasons

one waste of energy due to thier lack of comprehsnion of basic science and reason

two they are ignorant of their own ignorance thus meaning that they are unteachable

threee, i really really really dont like debating some one who asks "do you hate god?" "What has xianity done to you" trying to make it personal and distracting from the point

four, i find it insulting to my intelligence to debate people who dont use theirs


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
That's the problem, the real

That's the problem, the real foaming at the mouth, completely irrational ones. They totally abandon logic and get mad at you when you point out what's wrong in their beliefs.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
MattShizzle wrote:What about

MattShizzle wrote:
What about people out there who don't believe in any religion but haven't heard of atheism/freethought? There are still people out there who think they are the only ones who think this way.

I think it's important to persuade them, but I'm not sure argument is the best way to do it. There are many ways to increase awareness, don't you think?


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Maybe, but I myself have to

Maybe, but I myself have to say something when they are spouting off their bullshit.


AntiFaith
AntiFaith's picture
Posts: 197
Joined: 2006-08-17
User is offlineOffline
Not every Christian is close

Not every Christian is close minded.

Why are there apostates?

You can try, by not talking about atheism, if you do not want to, just ask questions about scripture. Salvation is a good topic. It is contradicting...

Every time you see a Christian sometimes you can ask questions and maybe tell them that another Christian believes this or that " Why do you think this is right?" Ask something different each incounter and don't push the answer that you have, just ask so they can think. Who knows what will happen later?

Online is different. Christians online at atheist boards probably are not strong in Faith anyways...even if they come off as hopeless. It takes time to sort through what atheists points out and any life problems that comes from belief might come to mind as they think about debates with atheist. Online deconverted me. The nice atheists and the mean ones all played a part. I learned that you can't say that all atheists are pideful, or arrogant. So, maybe they all have different reasons for rejecting God so I tried to understand why.

Not all Christians are unsympathetic to atheists.


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 15735
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
I doubt Voltair or Jefferson

I doubt Voltair or Jefferson would agree with you.

An argument may not change someone's mind. But to never try is to allow them to assume dominance. Arguments dont have to be about winning a war. But you certainly dont want a majority shoving you around as a minority.

I do think it is good to debate theists. At a minimum it makes them realize that they are not the only "club" on the planet.

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


AntiFaith
AntiFaith's picture
Posts: 197
Joined: 2006-08-17
User is offlineOffline
Hello Brain! I have read you

Hello Brain! I have read you from IG! I like your posts. Smiling

Yes. I agree with you.

I also, think everybody deserves the chance to have another world view brought to mind and if people do not talk about these things they are cheated out of other ideas.

I am not ready to say I am an atheist offline yet, but I eventually and when I do I will debate offline.


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
Brian37 wrote:An argument

Brian37 wrote:
An argument may not change someone's mind. But to never try is to allow them to assume dominance. Arguments dont have to be about winning a war. But you certainly dont want a majority shoving you around as a minority.

I do think it is good to debate theists. At a minimum it makes them realize that they are not the only "club" on the planet.

You don't allow them to assume dominance, you just get to them by different means. This isn't an all or nothing proposition. Argument isn't the only tool we have available, and I doubt it's the best.


AntiFaith
AntiFaith's picture
Posts: 197
Joined: 2006-08-17
User is offlineOffline
floatingegg wrote:Brian37

floatingegg wrote:
Brian37 wrote:
An argument may not change someone's mind. But to never try is to allow them to assume dominance. Arguments dont have to be about winning a war. But you certainly dont want a majority shoving you around as a minority.

I do think it is good to debate theists. At a minimum it makes them realize that they are not the only "club" on the planet.

You don't allow them to assume dominance, you just get to them by different means. This isn't an all or nothing proposition. Argument isn't the only tool we have available, and I doubt it's the best.


I think maybe it all adds up and it all is needed. Debate. Everyone benefits from it...not just the debaters, but people who are watching the deabters.

I benefited from it. I think we should discuss other ways too.

Every one try different things and see how it works? I don't know.


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
That sounds positive, and

That sounds positive, and I'm tempted to agree, but we've been debating theists for centuries. It's not as dangerous today--the penalities aren't quite as severe, but religion has been less affected by debate than communication practices and major changes in society.

The changes in society that I just referred to didn't come about quickly, the influence of debate is minor compared to more significant influences like the printing press and the focus on the indvidual through authorship.

Now we're in a situation where the intellectual elite no longer control the output of materials, as they did in Voltair's time. Ready to adopt new practices to spread their messages, the Abrahamic religions, while distinguishable from their ancestors are still a pressing majority.

We need another enlightenment, and the internet may provide and answer to the journalistic questions, but we have to take its use much more seriously than we have been. I think that the Rational Response Squad, Sam Harris's future organization, Dawkins's foundation, and Dennett's push for research are all positive steps in the right direction, but I also think we need something along the lines of a think tank, which returns me to my premise that argument is an inefficient and unproductive means of addressing these issues.

Why? I've mentioned some reasons already, but I think the way our media currently deals with these issues is something worth noting. We don't have actual mainstream debates, even when important forces are at work, like determing an election. Serious discussion is not taken seriously in our society, and argumentation has a reputation that limits its appeal to soccer moms and overworked salarymen.

I think we need to adopt the mindset that continues to dominate the evangelical community, by making use of the the communication strategies that bypass the belief engine.

Did any of that make sense or am I full of shit?


AntiFaith
AntiFaith's picture
Posts: 197
Joined: 2006-08-17
User is offlineOffline
I want to find other local

I want to find other local atheist ( college) to do stuff at cumminity cable access. Make them do it. Then I can tell people about it. Not many people have computers, but there might be more who have basic cable.

Quote:
floatingegg:
I think we need to adopt the mindset that continues to dominate the evangelical community, by making use of the the communication strategies that bypass the belief engine.

floatingegg tell us more. I think you have good ideas.

Quote:
Did any of that make sense or am I full of shit?

Quote:
I also think we need something along the lines of a think tank, which returns me to my premise that argument is an inefficient and unproductive means of addressing these issues.

But it helps some individuals. Maybe there is room for debate and room for other communication strategies. I think you need to tell us more.

Quote:
..that bypass the belief engine

What this mean here? I do not understand.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
I think the RRS should always try to get the media attention. The Universists did, but how did they do it?


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2650
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
I umderstand your point of

I umderstand your point of view. I see the merit of your intentions.

However, engaging in debate with theists, while sometimes futile, often helps in a quest to understand the cause of the theism.

I have no research to cite concerning my next statement, only experience. When I have taught the basic principles of something to someone, then I have learned more myself. Even if the pupil has not learned the lesson, I have still expanded my knowledge because there is always something that still needs understanding until that something is mastered.

Discussing religion with yourself or a 'think tank' of like-minded people yields the expected result without necessarily examining every argument. In fact, I would posit that if not for reading something that a theist would say then we would not be made to think further than our own questions, which in reality are very few.

Recently, I've been talking with 'Junior', a church of christ member. He is genuinely a nice guy. I visited Junior at work and then stunningly he visited me at mine. Many minutes, nay hours, of conversations about nothing and everything finally came to a conclusion the other night. Junior looked at me and said, "I want to see, but I won't. I can't allow that because if I blaspheme then it's going to be harder for me to get into heaven."

I was dumbstruck. We had discussed science, psychology, ethics, and biblical 'issues' for a couple of hours a day for a week. All for nothing. Willful ignorance. Chosen stupidity because the threat of damnation is too much to bear.

At least he had the choice.

That seems to be the fundamental difference between ignorance and stupidity. Ignorant people have never been exposed to their irrationality. Stupid people simply choose to ignore it.

Would you want to let the world revel in ignorance?

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Voided
Posts: 1195
Joined: 2006-02-20
User is offlineOffline
I was talking with a friend

I was talking with a friend today and somehow we got on the topic of lies and how people don't know stuff. Things like Columbus didn't discover america and why there are seasons. So I asked her if she knew why the sky was blue. She didn't and then I explained the longer light wave thing. I then asked her what color the food tray was. Then asked her how we really know if the color she is seeing is the same color I am seeing. She basically said, "don't do this too me", implying that she doesn't want to think...

Not so long after she said, "This is so homo" referring to her homework. I asked her why she thought her homework was one or singular, as that is the real meaning of the word homo. She stated the obvious that being she was meaning gay. So I asked her why she was using word with a negative meaning and if she knew any gay people. I knew she has a few family members and a few friends that were so it wasn't that hard of a question. And she said yes and then tried to change the subject with a story. Yeah that didn't work...

I asked her again why she used the word with a negative meaning when she knows many gay people and she knows there is nothing wrong with them. She said she didn't know and had to go.

What does this long story all mean? People hate to think and break the status quo! It doesn't matter what you are talking about it if you shake there little world a little bit they get upset or respond by running away.

To question theism is to question a world view in the past it would mean death for those who did so publicly. I will not let those people who suffered suffer in vain. I will shake peoples world views to their very core for if I don't no one will and the world will remain stagnant. This isn't a theist or atheist thing, this is a basic freethinker, how to change the world thing.

You might think that one person can’t change the world, but the idea must start somewhere. Someone must stand up and point out what other might want to think about for a second for anything to even begin. Do you really think anything that has happened in society just happened?


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
I guess I'm not getting my

I guess I'm not getting my point across as well as I'd hoped because I have the distinct impression that many of us see argumentation as the primary, and in some cases, only method of affecting people.

I'll try and be more specific, to see if that improves communication. I think entertainment media like The God Who Wasn't There and The Root of All Evil will ultimately be more effective than sitting down and arguing with a Christian about how they cherry pick the Bible to fit their own agenda.

I suppose The God Who Wasn't There is presenting an argument, but the feedback is delayed and it reaches more people than a debate. Entertainment can be effective in bypassing the belief engine. The brain according to James Alcock is a "belief-generating machine, a system that evolved to assure not truth, logic, and reason, but survival."

Most theists have poor critical thinking skills, and even the most arrogant believers can feel self-conscious when one of us demonstrates that we know more about their holy book than they do.

When people are self-conscious, they feel defensive, and are less likely to use their underdeveloped critical thinking skills. Entertainment is a way of breaking them down in a way that feels less invasive. A movie like Fahrenheit 9/11 does considerably more to advance a socio-political outlook than anything Michael Moore could say in a debate. .

We've all heard that a "Spoonful Of Sugar Helps The Medicine Go Down," and this is what I'm referring to, now in less abstract terms. This doesn't mean that we have to go out and makes a bunch of movies, because there's more than one way to accomplish the same task. Marketing is a highly effective strategy for getting a message out to people, and theists have been using it with fantastic results for centuries.

Organizations like The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada don't depend on debate to get their message across. Even the door to door missionaries rely on other tactics to convince you to "hear their message." They show compassion, ask questions, socialize, and try to connect their observations with their ministry. It's a process of seduction, and as transparent as it may seem to us, it does work.

Argumentation doesn't reach enough people, and considering the amount of work that's involved, it's the least efficient method we have available of getting our message across.

Maybe I'm spending too much time at evangelical websites because the more I think about these issues, the more I think we need to turn what we offer into a product. We need to sell atheism, critical thinking, and skeptical inquiry. Take a look at the Christian Coalition of America if you get a chance. It'll probably make you vomit in your mouth, but it might give you a better idea of what I'm getting at.


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
Think about something for a

Think about something for a moment. On CBC Newsworld: The Big Picture with Avi Lewis : The Root of All Evil?, despite the presence of Richard Dawkins, do you know who I remember the most? Charles McVety, President of the Canada Christian College. Why? Well, in addition to being a loud mouth, he sold a product. He didn't go on there to argue with Richard Dawkins, he went on their to sell. Can you imagine what the Christians thought of him? In their eyes he probably presented the most persuasive argument.


Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Posts: 7580
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
I don't really look at my

I don't really look at my engagements with theists as debates, I look at them as interventions and lessons.

I am watching and reading this thread closely for ideas, as I have a load of respect for everyone posting in this thread so far.

Please donate to one of these highly rated charities to help impede the GOP attack on America 2017-2019.

Support our activism efforts by making your Amazon purchases via this link.


ShaunPhilly
High Level ModeratorSilver Member
ShaunPhilly's picture
Posts: 473
Joined: 2006-03-15
User is offlineOffline
How does one "sell" atheism?

How does one "sell" atheism? It's not sexy, it's not an easy answer to deep fears and insecurities, it doesn't make great promises. It only does one thing, and it's not a product that brings with it rewards like people think belief in god does.

On the other hand, there is precedent in selling atheism on television. In Austin, TX, there is a group called the Atheist Community of Austin which does a cable access show called The Atheist Experience. I listen to their podcats, and they do a very good job of representing atheist thought. And since it is a call-in show, they get to interact with theists and atheists alike, which helps spread the word.

Now, if RRS could do something like that in the future, I'd think it was awesome. I'd love to see the RRS get a show on cable, even if it were local like on C8 (Comcast station). It could come on right after "It's Your Call (with Lynn Doyle)"

lol

Those are two cents.

Shaun

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.


floatingegg
Posts: 73
Joined: 2006-06-01
User is offlineOffline
Hasn't the RRS already been

Hasn't the RRS already been selling atheism, to a certain extent? More imporant than deconverting Christians is motivating atheists, as most don't actually care about religion. They just want to get on with life, and activism isn't on the table for them.

How much more difficult is it to sell atheism to Christians? I don't have the answer to that question, but any idea can be sold, as history has repeatedly shown us. If we can't sell atheism, then we can sell our view of Christianity.


MrPeters
Theist
MrPeters's picture
Posts: 35
Joined: 2006-10-03
User is offlineOffline
Kelreth wrote:i shy away

Kelreth wrote:
i shy away from debating thiests in open now becasue of several reasons

one waste of energy due to thier lack of comprehsnion of basic science and reason

two they are ignorant of their own ignorance thus meaning that they are unteachable

threee, i really really really dont like debating some one who asks "do you hate god?" "What has xianity done to you" trying to make it personal and distracting from the point

four, i find it insulting to my intelligence to debate people who dont use theirs

Im your hucklberry..... Thats just my game...

Logic, Reason, TRUTH