Every time I get in a debate with a Christian about atheism they inevitably come out with this one: 'So we're all idiots then'? or something like 'A lot of intelligent people believe in the bible'. I don't want to offend them (sometimes they're my colleagues at work or family) and I don't want to tip toe around them either. Anyone got a good reply to make when they regurgitate this? 

By the way, I don't start these debates, I just react when someone starts shoving their religion down my throat.

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A lot of non-idiots once thought the world was flat. A lot of non-idiots believe in Santa Claus. When you find out more about the world, you give up your less-informed model of how things work.
Answer: "You said it, I didn't. The question at this point isn't whether you're an idiot, but what you're going to do with the information you now have. Are you going to continue as you have, knowing that your religion is an assemblage of lies, or are you going to extricate yourself from those lies and live independent of them?"

Frankly, I don't care that their question is rhetorical or not. If they want to ask it, they can deal with the answer.
Intelligence has nothing to do with it. There are some very smart Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. Belief is a way of thinking that may need updating.
"No, just innocent victims of cultural stigmas and abuse."
Oh, but they're right:

Earthworms don't believe in God. Neither do ostriches, mosquitoes or jellyfish. Only the most intelligent species, humans, do indeed believe in God. Hence you need a lot of intelligence to believe in God. QED.

A really stupid argument, but you might end up satisfying everyone ;-)
I usually reply to this with something to the affect of "Even the brightest minds once believed the world was flat, or that blood letting saved lives, that didn't make either true."
Depends on how you define idiot.

I define it as a person capable of wisdom, possessing knowledge to make the best decision instead making a conscious decision to choose a foolish, harmful, or clearly incorrect path. I've certainly been an idiot on more than a few occasions.

Religious people sometimes are not capable or are simply ignorant of science due to their social context, so they are more deluded, or retarded, but not idiots. Sometimes though, say in the case of a trained scientist who is very aware of the theory of evolution yet chooses to espouse "intelligent design" is clearly an idiot.

In fairness, so is a person who drinks more than their limit, or someone who doesn't use a condom when having sex with strangers, or someone who drives at night with their headlights off, or without a seatbelt, or someone who smokes and is aware of the health risks. People who dont signal when turning, people who play with guns irresponsibly, run with scissors, dont tie their shoes, badmouth their employer on facebook, cheat on their spouse. Someone who drinks 8 cups of coffee a day, drives while talking on a cell phone, acts like a smartass to a cop or customs agent, walks down dark alleys with a bunch of jewelery on...I mean...the list goes on.

Ultimately almost none of us can claim to be 100% non idiots, so its important to keep that in mind when riding that ole high horse.

I have a friend who is a creationist and a science teacher. Idiot, right? But then, he is extremely healthy, exercises all the time, vegan, doesn't drink or smoke, perfect driving record, loves his family and kids, is loyal and kind to others, respected in the community...etc.

Its kind of fun listing off things people can do to be idiots...and easy because I have so much personal experience in that area :)
Intelligent people who persist with religious beliefs are not idiots, they have either not had access to better information, or they have chosen dogma over reason. (I personally define "dogma" as "adhering to a belief which your own reason indicates is mistaken".)

The proper use of reason involves making the best interpretation of the information you have. For me personally, believing in God was a perfectly rational thing to do until the age of about 15, for I had no evidence to believe otherwise.

There is no illogical in this. Until recently a lot of very bright, well educated and rational people believed in the aether, believed that the continental positions were fixed and believed that stomach ulcers were primarily stress related.

In each of my three scientific examples above these beliefs were widespread until evidence began to emerge that challenged (and ultimately destroyed) these positions. For my personal religious journey, it started when I began to notice inconsistencies in Scripture which the standard apologetics could not explain away.

I can actually recall the precise moment that my doubt emerged: it was 1 Corinthians 14:34 ("women must keeps silent etc"). I was raised by a single mother with no father figure, yet the Bible was telling me she was inferior. From that point everything began to unravel and I had to choose between rationality and dogma.

Even smart people can be dogmatic. If they have not had access to the evidence then they are not at fault. If they have had access to it, then the question becomes "why are you denying that which your own reason indicates is true?"
Excellent answers, thanks everyone!! Looking forward to using some of this stuff!
A reply is not really necessary at all. We need not be in the business of dissuading people from their faith in fairy tales. Though, as has been noted, a lot of intelligent people once believed in the flat earth theory and that the earth was at the center of the planetary solar system (from Galileo's time). I don't think anyone still believes it. However, I think it is futile to hope that those who cling to Biblically based magical thinking today are likely to give up such beliefs which provide them a sense of connection to some eternal principle, some reassurance about the after-life and a community of belonging - all very powerful motivators.

In my view the problem is not so much one of epistemology, but politics. Whereas, we can accept other's beliefs, we must resist mightily, allowing these beliefs, unfounded by rationality, to dominate our political discourse - a problem fairly unique to the USA among First World, Western societies. We must never let pass the raison d'etre offered by intolerant religious fundamentalism that avers that "God wants it," or "God is punishing us for accepting the equality of gays, " etc.
I tell people, "You're not stupid. You're just wrong."
They aren't idiots, they are misguided brainwashed humans who aren't ready to accept reality for what it is. Most people fear death and need some reassurance, especially when a loved one dies. It's a self-preservation mechanism for most believers as most people find it very difficult to cope with that loss emotionally. I usually end theistic arguments with, "just live a good life and you will be happy and well loved."
This should be reward enough for anyone who is truly a good person, but I have my doubts about Christians especially. Unlike them, we do not need a "reward" in this afterlife to do good. And if an "all powerful being" is going to send me to hell for being a good person then he is not worthy of my worship and is a major asshole. We're better off without "God".


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