How can we as atheists present our view as worthy and valuable in public debates and forums?

I've been watching a few You Tubes of debates between Christopher Hitchens and others of mainly religious persuasion.

Hitchens comes across as being negative.

I totally agree with Hitchens but I'm trying to work out what it is that causes him to seem this way.

I totally understand his disinterest, boredom and frustration at debating with these people - but clearly he believes that doing so is useful.

The religious people come across as confident, self assured and definite in their arguments and statements.

I think that it's because Hitchens is taking a position against their arguments - to counter their arguments. I suppose this is a natural position when self-identifying as an atheist and put into a debate with a theist. But it would be nice to up our profile a bit - come across as strong in ourselves with the same confident, self assured and definite approach that they have with their world views.

I think we need a "culture" to promote - a culture of reason, science and pragmatism. A way of approaching life and life's challenges and dilemmas - one that can be talked about in a positive way - it doesn't need to include personal opinions, but it can include the way that we reach those private opinions - such as in a reasonable way that is based in scientific method for good moral values.

I notice also that they keep getting into a preaching sort of track where they start going on about Jesus or such like and really it would be the equivalent as Hitchens using fairy stories to illustrate his point. Perhaps he should. Perhaps people might relate better to him if he did use fairy stories to illustrate his points. Then he might come across as confident as they do.

I think that another important point is that religion has changed according to society. Things have changed as time has passed. But I suppose on things like human rights are lacking - such as gay marriage - and these are the points that we need to keep arguing with our "culture" of reason, rational and science based, morally good values.

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Actually, I used to use this idea at school. If I was told to do something I didn't want to do, the person, usually a prefect (I wasn't ever one -wasn't the right stuff) would pull rank when I asked them what gave them the right to order me about. They would say "I'm a prefect". I would answer "Well, I'm God", "no you're not", "well prove I'm not".

Never worked.

I agree. Humour is crucial. As has been pointed out by others, this is why there could be no heaven. Among many other things. Humour helps us cope with and survive many of life's vicissitudes, from disaster to egg-on-face. With no problems, why would we laugh?

So although I agree with Dr. Meaden on the whole, I think we all ought to be up for a bit of ribbing now and then. I have religious friends with whom I am able to trade mock for mock. It eases the tension that might exist otherwise. 

Notice how religious fundamentalists, especially the murderous totalitarians, don't obviously do humour. In fact Mohammed Atta, who led 9/11, was known by his family and friends for never laughing. I'm guessing pre-enlightenment Europeans were more focussed on death, sin and demons, rather than sharing a joke. There is a theory that the default mentality of the Dark Ages was paranoid schizophrenia.

Humour is a good measure of the health of an individual and a society, I think.

aw yes..Julian Jaynes
Death, sin, and demons can bring about the best humor. The Great Plague of London occurred during the Enlightenment. And it was prior to the Enlightenment when Shakespeare, one of history's greatest comedic writer came to prominence. And it was during the Peloponnesian Wars that Aristophanes, the father of comedy, held Athens in thrall.

You're right.

I made a big generalisation. Many animals have a sense of humour. I almost added that I was taken to the Pro Cathedral in Dublin once and the priest was as good as many stand-up comedians.

But deeply held morbid beliefs and delusions are a bit of a downer for the most part. Generally.

Yeah, humor is a good measure.

It would be a better measure if UKers would stop spelling "humor" and all the other "...or" words with "...our".


ah ha - so you are prejudice against us English spellers....  I must admit I have the opposite and refuse to change my hard earned ability to spell correctly - I still struggle - but Google spell checker helps me :)  and I return the favour by helping it to spell English correctly by adding words like humour :)


Where are the emoticons? I could use the one sticking out it's tongue here!

Hitchens is a brillant man who has his own style of debate.  He's a notorious alcoholic, and that is why he may come across the way that you described above.  But there are other's out there that do meet the profile you describe.  They are: Sam Harris, Salman Rushdie, Avaan Hirisi Ali, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett to name a few.  These are well spoken non believers who carry themselves extremely well in debates.  With that being said, my favorite is Christopher Hitchens.  He's colorful, and always keeps the feathers of the believers ruffled up!
I've been looking at more you tubes of Hitchens and found that he has had cancer - does anyone know how he is currently?  In some of his interviews he says that he only has a slim chance of lasting more than 5 more years - which is very sad - as he would be a great loss.

Here is a YouTube video I put on my Facebook page. Each time he writes or speaks now I'm scared it's his last appearance. The last part of this video brought tears to my eyes.

yes it's very sad that he has this life threatening illness so young in life...



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