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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Replies to This Discussion

Dennis Miller comes to mind..see "Miller Time" on the Oreally O'Reily Factor on FOX NEWS

On September 21, 2006, Miller returned to Fox News
The quintessential, so-called, comic who has failed at comedy. All that he can do is mock with no connection to reality. Well done, sir.
We have a lot of Jewish friends locally - and there is something Seinfeld in the way they relate... we I really enjoy :)


I really like this guys style - he's much more non-confrontational - but reasonable and very persuasive...


Although I want to be clear that I do appreciate Hitchens and Dawkins very much also :)

Yes I've read the blog on drugs by Sam Harris - I'm not sure that I agree with him about the great effects of LSD.  I really don't think that taking LSD is such a great thing - those that have taken it don't seem to have done much great in the world.  Although I haven't studied the matter so I await correction.

Alice, your posts told me you have goals. If you ever run for office, and if I can vote for you, I will. I will even campaign for you. Provided of course that you remain an atheist.

Thanks Tom - I'll bear that in mind if I should ever run for office :) It is something that I've considered - but I don't know what my chances are of every doing that...

Well, Cheryl, I know that there are people in the world who are not particularly religious but who think that it has an overall positive effect on humanity--keeps people from being bad, etc. However, they are merely not aware of the atrocities that have been committed in the name of one religion or the other, especially the Catholic Church. When they are made aware of this their overall opinion of the innate goodness of religious institutions can be changed.

I stand by my position, though, that a true believer will not be swayed by a debate because their beliefs are not fact-based; ergo, you can not change their beliefs with the presentation of facts.

You could argue that no religionist's beliefs are fact-based. But some of them change. Many are on this site. I don't think anyone would change though unless they have contact with minds and opinions from outside their religion.

But unlike John below, although I know so many people are ignorant about atheists and believe us to be the spawn of the devil, which we don't even believe in, I do think, like you, the most important thing to get across is the damage done by monotheistic belief. When this is clearly understood, the agnostics, the fence-sitters, the "you have to believe in something-ers" start to understand why some of us feel the urgency we do. And there is strength in numbers. As we can see with religion.

This spawn of the devil believes that his happiness will have greater effect on believers than books full of facts or hours of conversations.

Who was it who said happiness is the best revenge?

I agree, being a happy, loving and compassionate person does wonders...
I think what Atheism needs to do to is push the theme of 'Good Without God'. That is, it needs to espouse Secular Humanism. As history has demonstrated repeatedly the masses are not long going to be part of something they perceive to be amoral or immoral. The precepts of Atheism must be positive and honorable to win the masses and if they are not the masses will ultimately discard Atheism as decadent. While being positive and honorable in a 'Good Without God' theme founded in golden rule morality Atheism should use reason to point out to theists that it is their perspective that is fundamentally lacking in the potential to provide for behavior that is harmonious with the development of dignity and self-esteem. That is, reason should be used to have theists realize that a being which freely demands to be worshiped must be narcissistic not good and worshiping even a good being would be worshiping something with the free will to become bad. Holding this moral high ground over worship Atheists could reference the voluminous scientific material available to help further unindoctrinate theists and be the most self-confident in any discussion or debate with them.



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