years have passed, since i started watching atheist vs theist discussions. I even took part in some of them (as the heretic of course), and i noticed, that most discussions about the existense of god have the same pattern. The atheist tries to present all kinds of rational arguments, but in the end, he/she can't convince the believer to stop being one. Yet, all over the internet, non-believers repeatedly commit the mistake of trying to convince believers with rational arguments. We are the ones, who should know the best, that believers aren't religious for rational reasons. Why are we doing this then ?

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I know, at times, it seems pointless to engage in debate with theists. Especially when, as you've mentioned, you see their "rationale" all over the internet. As you've no doubt noticed, it usually lacks any kind of rational, logical, or reasonable statement whatsoever, and I've yet to see a theist come up with an adequate defense without using special pleading, or a myriad of other ignorant tactics (Ex: GODIDIT!).

It appears that you have a slightly misguided view of what the point of these discussions and debates are for, however, or what our "struggle" involves. Most atheists aren't trying to convince anyone to jump from theism to atheism. In fact, most atheists being weak atheists, they aren't even trying to say that a god definitively does not exist. At most they're saying they don't think one/any exist(s).

Every person has the right, at least in most civilized countries, to believe whatever they want, which is a wonderful thing. What we're trying to do is bring to light that these beliefs are just that: beliefs. They are not infallible fact, nor should laws be put in place based on them, nor a society built around them. It is when the theist/religious culture tries to invade areas it has no business in (Essentially anywhere outside the home or church.) that we find it appropriate to step in and say "Hm. No."

The theist will more than likely never "convert" the atheist (Any events cited by Christians of such a conversion usually involve the "atheist" being a person that didn't know what to believe in the first place.), and vice versa, the atheist will likely never convince the theist to stop believing in a god.

Remember, atheism is not a belief, it is a lack of belief. Thus, "convince" is dangerously close to "convert" in this sense, which has dangerous baggage associated with it. All we're trying to do is suggest an alternative way of thinking about things. One that doesn't require slave-mentality, life-denying lifestyles.

I find these debates/discussions are more for the audience to hear both sides of the argument than for one side to "beat" the other. If we don't at least stand up and make our case, people will only be hearing the theist side of the argument. And that would be tragic, as people eat up essentially whatever they see on T.V. or whatever they hear from an "authority" figure.

Don't lose hope. Even if you don't "convince" the opposition that they're wrong, know that there are people in that audience that may never have heard the arguments and points you bring up, and it may change their lives forever. It may just be one person, but it's totally worth it.
I think that that is a great question.

I myself, do not claim to be an atheist for "rational" reasons. I think that logic supports agnosticism. None the less, I definitely do not believe that God exists, so I am an atheist by definition.

Personally, I do not believe that it is possible to stand in front of a crowd of people and change their beliefs. The best that you can hope for is to start a thinking process or to shift them slightly towards your way of thinking.

I once took part in a debate in a comparative religion class, I took the side of evolution over ID. I destroyed my opponent, because instead of arguing, I spoke honestly about why I believed what I believed. I did not belittle or even disagree with my opponent, who spent her entire time belittling arguments that I was not presenting. I meanwhile presented indisputable facts and explained how they supported my beliefs.

My point is that honesty goes a long way over arguments. I say I won, because the class as a whole said that they understood and RESPECTED why I believed as I did. This does not mean that I changed any minds, but I left them with an understanding and respect for something most of them did not understand before.

I say my opponent lost, she did. She lost because she spent her time attacking and did not support any assumptions of her own.
That an argument does not change the opinion of the opponent is not a reason not to present it.
Just presenting it makes the clear statement that their "truth" is not universally agreed upon. That alone is worth it IMO.
I can't disagree with you. I can see the importance of going on record with a clear statement of belief.

I took the original post to be more concerned with ongoing attempts to use rational arguments against an emotion-based belief system. I agree with kanesoban that rational arguments are not usually effective and was suggesting a more emotion based form of argumentation as an alternative. There are things that can be proven through mathematics, but if you present that mathematical proof to someone who lacks the math skills to understand it, your proof is wasted. An argument that goes over the head of your opponent will only impress you.

My example, BTW, was from a class that required each student to present and defend a viewpoint. I normally do not seek opportunities to exchange views with our Christian brethren.




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