How effective is laughing at disarming or unsettling an arrogant theist?

In a scenario in which a theist tries to make you feel vulnerable and to "win" by regurgitating/ejaculating a stock response in a conversation-turned-debate how effective is it to just summon up all your confidence in a quick breath and laugh at how stupid what they said was?  Usually when they have bogus nonsense to peddle and it's just so stupid or such a non-sequitur as to be not worth responding to, my response is to say nothing--because there is nothing to say--but that is ambiguous enough to let them feel encouragement because they, in a state of high confirmation bias, think that they're "winning"; however, if I laugh at their non-sequitur, essentially responding with an un-top-ably non-sequitur-y non-sequitur, I would demonstrate (not simply, weakly tell) the absurdity of their response, possibly leaving them not only without a sense of victory but with a distinct sense that something has gone very wrong with what came out of their mouth, causing them to stop and think for a moment, breaking their momentum and corresponding sense of winning.

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I was thinking more about one-on-one (*gasp* there's a world outside the computer!) elevator, stairwell, bus stop, water cooler, etc. scenarios.

I think it depends on what you want to accomplish. Do you want to "win" the argument? Why and what have you then won? No one's mind was ever changed by the loss of an argument, esp on such emotionally charged issues like religion and politics. If you want to explore/exchange ideas than a thoughtful discussion is more in order. The trouble is very few theists or atheists want to thoughtfully exchange ideas (they want to "win").


Sam Singleton (the Atheist Evangelist) suggests not discussing religion with Christians unless they've read the entire Bible for themselves because otherwise it isn't worth it. I have found this sound advice as those that haven't are so deluded they say/believe the craziest stuff when pushed and are an intellectual waste of time. Also, if they've never bothered to read it their motivation to think and learn is suspect.


If I am going to discuss religion with a theist I would do so with the same respect and patience I would want and expect in return.

Laughing at people is pretty obnoxious, and it doesn't get you anywhere. It's really sort of an ad-hominem.

If you have a rational response to a person's assertion, you should just give it.
It can work or it can backfire.  It depends on the situation.  Don't overdo it, if it fits naturally, if you really feel that way and if he really has no clue that what he is saying is utter shite, then it can have the desired effect.  Usually, you will need to follow up with something dismissive like "that's such nonsense I don't even know where to start" and do your best to be dismissive in other ways such as trying to break off the conversation.  In fact, at that point, you probably should be looking to break it off because such a person is not someone that you really want to talk to anyway.  He will probably try to get you to elaborate.  Throw out a couple of your more pertinent observations about the nonsense he spouted.  Then get away from there and let him think about it.  Never expect to make any headway with such a person.




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