Is there any point to debate between theists and atheists?

Another interesting post by JEROME highlighting the frustration we atheists  experience when debating with committed theists. Theists seem impervious to logic and common sense, and they demonstrate time & time again, that John Loftus was right when he said “You can’t expect to argue them out of their religion, because they were never argued into it in the first place”. Jerome expands on the nature of the problem.

Is there any point to debate between theists and atheists?

By Jerome

Anyone who has read this for a while will know that I am an atheist. To anyone who got here without knowing it, now you know too. This is written from the point of view of an atheist, and the title asks the question after spending some time debating theists online. When I started debating them, it was always with patience and thoughtfulness, always as polite and respectful to them as I could be. But I’ve found that as time went by, my respect waned, and is now almost as lacking as my patience. I often respond to them simply by naming their most obvious bad argument or fallacy, and include a link to a site like RationalWiki explaining the fallacy or bad argument they’ve made. I also respond with loads or irony and sarcasm. I’m not rude, insulting or condescending, but I think it is fair to say that that I am blunt and unsympathetic. Recently an old friend, who happens to be a theist, asked me if I know of any forums or groups where he can debate. I told him that in all honestly, I don’t know of a forum that treats those with the opposing view respectfully. There is much bias, and many in the atheist and skeptic groups that I belong to are not only intolerant of the opposing view, they are often rude and insulting. But there is a reason for this. I’ve tried debating theists for a while now, and it gets frustrating quickly. I don’t think that atheists start out disrespectful of theists’ arguments; it’s just that we hear the same poor arguments over and over again. It becomes tiring to hear the same invalid arguments, to make the same statements to different theists who make those arguments, only to find that they do not pay attention to the details of the arguments against their beliefs anyway. They often post the same question or statement again, making exactly the same argument phrased differently. There is neither anything learned nor an interest in learning – they want to win arguments and ignore the answers anyway. Then repeat the same debate tomorrow with a different theist. It doesn’t end. Rather we get to make the same arguments again and again, with the opposing view based on assumptions but no logic, sometimes even with the same people. The fact is, I do not respect the opposing view, because I have learned that there is nothing in that view worthy of respect. But I do treat that opposing view fairly. It is fair to outright reject an argument that isn’t based on evidence. It may at face value appear unfair for me to say this, but there is no argument that will ever convince me that any god exists. I’ll explain why…

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5 thoughts on “Is there any point to debate between theists and atheists?

    1. Good question. Wish I had a good answer. Off the top of my head I can only offer a few pointers.

      Don’t waste time trying to de-convert committed theists. Leave them to their delusions. Focus instead on more receptive people such as wavering theists filled with doubts & more open minded secularists etc.

      Show tolerance and respect for other world views because alienating theists is counter-productive. Live your life in a way that demonstrates that atheists are just good people without the emotional hang-ups of theists.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Life After Doubt

    To the question of “is there any point” I would say yes. Sure, it gets old. But over and over again those theists who want to debate are often the ones most likely to lose faith. Why? Because they care about being right, and because they need a better argument. They look for evidence, where so many others are content to believe whether there is evidence or not.

    Their stubborn pride and fear of changing their mind about what matters most keeps them fighting, but they are fighting their own doubt. They will have to find the answers on their own, but these conversations push them in the right direction. I am one of many ex-theists who have been down this road. But here I am, on the other side. I would advise your friend to connect with atheists who used to be strong believers. They understand better, and the conversations will be more productive.

    Liked by 2 people

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