Isn't it the only thing religious people understand is that my "god" is more real then your "god"? Even if you conquer them, they will not give up their belief. So, how do you "educate" these people that their belief is false and not worthy of continuing to believe it? People have tried reason. It doesn't work. People have tried intimidation. It has not worked. People have tried understanding. That has not worked.
What actually works?
Remember, no one wnts to be preached to, no matter what they believe. It's always best policy to treat everyone with respect. My own policy is just to avoid the topic of religion entirely. If it comes up, I have been pretty successful in side-stepping it and changing the subject. You stand no better chance of converting them than they have of converting you.
What works is dependent on the person that you're trying to deconvert, I suppose. And then again, it's difficult to proof that reason and understanding doesn't work, it does work but it chips away only slowly at the wall of "religious thought" that surrounds a person.
I pride myself on the fact that I've deconverted at least 15 people (with 100% certainty) and perhaps more, but I never ever take the aggressive approach. I use ridicule and I ask questions to which I ask follow up questions, I want them to think for themselves so I think it's better to ask questions then it is to provide explanations.
Usually, the best in my opinion is to start with the most annoying question of all "why don't you believe in Zeus?" and to work from there, it's a great starting point to find out if somebody cares about emotional truths and certainties or whether somebody is more inclined to be persuaded by logical arguments.
I also like the "proof to me that I cannot fly" question (Ricky Gervais) which helps to explain how important evidence and reasonable certainty and uncertainty can be. I also don't shy away from giving very scientific answers to people that know very little of science just to see how they respond to being presented with different facts.
It's really about starting a conversation and being relaxed, if you're pushy and preachy you ain't getting nothing done!
Congratulations on deconverting those 15 or so people! I like the approach of asking questions. I would also like to ask how committed were those 15 or so people to their beliefs? "Regular religious people" (ambiguous statement as it is) should be deconvertable since by definition regular religious people are not zealots.
Do you mind if I use your questions about Zeus and flying?
I know I am going to end up seeming like a prick, but I have a pet peeve about using the right words. Proof and Prove are many times interchanged incorrectly. Proof is the noun, and prove is the verb, so it is correct to say "Prove to me that I cannot fly" not "Proof to me that I cannot fly". "Give me proof that God exists" is a correct usage of proof. Sorry, but I said all this to help you be more credible.
2 of those 15 were Jehova's Witnesses, 3 or so were evangelicals (fundamentalists) and the rest were just "spiritual" believers that believe in some vague "godlike" character. One of them was very much a zealot when we first met, and that took quite some time in which we had many casual conversations about religion and his "god".
"Do you mind if I use your questions about Zeus and flying?"
Not at all, although these are just conversation starters, don't expect them to do miracles. If you really want to reach a believer you act in the exact same way as if that person was not a believer, just treat them as humans and talk with them. I think I stole one of them from Dawkins and the other one from Ricky Gervais, so it's not my "property" anyway.
I cannot stress enough that the "deconversion" was the result of the conversations but it was never truly the primary goal for me. If you're not interested in the person, then don't try to deconvert them, they will most likely notice and will (rightly?) distrust you.
Thanks on the hints in regards to correct usage of words, as English is my 2nd language I can always use some help in regards to proper grammar and such.
I am bilingual and can understand the difficulty of mastering a second language.
I am impressed at your score card. I do not mean to denigrate your achievements by calling them a score card. I too approach people with respect and demand respect in return. Only then can we be equals and one will hear the other and visa versa.
More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion -- or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, roughly 44% of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.
The survey finds that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith today (16.1%) is more than double the number who say they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children. Among Americans ages 18-29, one-in-four say they are not currently affiliated with any particular religion"- -