Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

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Adurumus
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Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

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Post by Adurumus »

I was shown an excellent webpage, showing a list of arguments Creationists should not use. I love this page, really, and it should be considered one of the first stops on the way to becoming a debater in favor of creationism. Looking at many youtube comments shows, however, that Atheists need such a page too. Weak arguments and rationale hurt not only that individual battle, but the entire war. If atheism becomes associated with weak arguments, it becomes associated with being weak as a whole, and not a credible belief (or lack thereof).

I'm an amateur debater, and I haven't really sparred with anyone other than local people. That being said, even I know the following are terrible things to bring up, if only for people not heavily experienced with the topic:
  • ~If there is a God, why does he allow suffering in the world?
I've seen some strong debaters tackle the idea, but rarely successfully. The bible does state, at multiple points, that evil improves good. You cannot have light without dark, it argues. While I disagree, I can't put my disagreement in to strong and convincing words, and odds are most people can't either.
  • ~Religion is only a tool for political gain and warfare!
When you want to hit a nail, you will find a hammer. Religion is a very big hammer, and a little bit too obvious. I'm not going to pull the "if the suspect is too obvious, he's not the criminal" thing here, and while I'm sure a religion could be created as a tool, that does not mean it always is.
  • ~It's so obvious, why can't you see reason/logic/you're an idiot!
Defamatory marks are poor manners, poor technique, and just poor taste. This is listed in the Debating for Beginners topic, but it goes double for "high horse" atheists. Yes, it makes sense to us. Logic is a domain anyone can approach, while theism is limited to a certain fan club. But your job is to make it obvious, not just state that it is. Show, don't tell.
  • ~God doesn't answer prayers, so he can't.
You can tackle this issue in this topic. Give it a whirl, but note the common response: God works in mysterious ways. Most theists will say that if you pray for something, not getting it means you're being "too literal" about it, and that prayer doesn't work that way. Argue all you want, saying that "there are no visible results", and you will get one of three common responses. One: You were praying for the wrong thing, and it's too "self satisfactory" instead of right. Two: You were wicked, and thus don't deserve it. Three: He did answer, you didn't see it. There is no way to argue this (that I know of), and asking about prayer will always bring one of these points up in a Maginot Line fashion.

I'm sure my more experienced peers can add to this... or even say that "No, you can argue that point". Please, feel free to- even if this isn't the subforum for debating, I really wouldn't mind being told where I'm wrong as long as it adds to my list of arguments.
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Re: Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

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Post by Autodidact »

I'm an amateur debater, and I haven't really sparred with anyone other than local people. That being said, even I know the following are terrible things to bring up, if only for people not heavily experienced with the topic:
  • ~If there is a God, why does he allow suffering in the world?
I disagree. The argument from evil/suffering is a powerful argument against the existence of an omni-benevolent all-powerful God. I refer you to Bart Ehrman's excellent book, God's Problem, which examines it for a few hundred pages.

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Re: Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

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Post by Adurumus »

Autodidact wrote:I disagree. The argument from evil/suffering is a powerful argument against the existence of an omni-benevolent all-powerful God. I refer you to Bart Ehrman's excellent book, God's Problem, which examines it for a few hundred pages.
I'll definitely see if my local library carries the book. I'd love for this bullet point to be taken down, replaced with a good argument against it. In lower level debates, though, I usually hear these common retorts;
  • There can only be good with evil

    It's a test of your character to be confronted with evil

    It's all part of God's plan

    He only causes suffering for people he doesn't like (Hurricanes to punish taxes, AIDs to kill gays, etc.)
I can't think of arguments off hand to disprove these statements, and I assume (though I'd be glad to be wrong!) that many others can't, either. Even saying "The weather is predictable in this way" gets greeted with "Because God made it so".

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Re: Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

Post #4

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

Adurumus wrote:
Autodidact wrote:I disagree. The argument from evil/suffering is a powerful argument against the existence of an omni-benevolent all-powerful God. I refer you to Bart Ehrman's excellent book, God's Problem, which examines it for a few hundred pages.
I'll definitely see if my local library carries the book. I'd love for this bullet point to be taken down, replaced with a good argument against it. In lower level debates, though, I usually hear these common retorts;
  • There can only be good with evil

    It's a test of your character to be confronted with evil

    It's all part of God's plan

    He only causes suffering for people he doesn't like (Hurricanes to punish taxes, AIDs to kill gays, etc.)
I can't think of arguments off hand to disprove these statements, and I assume (though I'd be glad to be wrong!) that many others can't, either. Even saying "The weather is predictable in this way" gets greeted with "Because God made it so".
I agree with Autodidact that God's Problem is an excellent book. You can preview it here. I especially recommend his analysis of how apocalyptic expectations arose as a 'solution' to the problem of evil and how this paved the way for Christianity. (But Ehrman's "apocalypticism" is just too unwieldy of a word. :blink: )
Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.
- Bertrand Russell

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Re: Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

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Post by Question Everything »

My answer to your problem is that even if you are unable to get the person you are debating with to see the light, keep doing it because there are rational thinkers out there who will. I am one of them.
ThatGirlAgain wrote: I agree with Autodidact that God's Problem is an excellent book. You can preview it here
I'm sorry, but that link doesn't work.
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Post #6

Post by Adurumus »

The corrected link is here. The problem is that there was an added "[/url" to the end.
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Re: Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

Post #7

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

Question Everything wrote:My answer to your problem is that even if you are unable to get the person you are debating with to see the light, keep doing it because there are rational thinkers out there who will. I am one of them.
ThatGirlAgain wrote: I agree with Autodidact that God's Problem is an excellent book. You can preview it here
I'm sorry, but that link doesn't work.
Oops. :(

Not as big of a preview but here is one that works.
Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.
- Bertrand Russell

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Post #8

Post by Adurumus »

I can't seem to edit the OP. Odd. It's not important enough to warrant moderator action, though, so I'll say it in this new post.
  • ~You aren't acting very Christian/Buddhist/Daoist/Pastafarian
Many modern religions allow freedom to several degrees. That's why you get Christians who support homosexual marriage, but have some who feel slavery is acceptable. Even if you know the specific church/mosque/set of ideals that they believe in and associate with, that doesn't mean they have to act 100% faithful to those teachings. "The bible/Quran/tenants/noodley statements is/are open to interpretation", they'd say. "As long as you're faithful to Jesus/Allah/Yahweh/The Flying Spaghetti Monster, you are in the right."
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Post #9

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

Adurumus wrote:I can't seem to edit the OP. Odd. It's not important enough to warrant moderator action, though, so I'll say it in this new post.
  • ~You aren't acting very Christian/Buddhist/Daoist/Pastafarian
Many modern religions allow freedom to several degrees. That's why you get Christians who support homosexual marriage, but have some who feel slavery is acceptable. Even if you know the specific church/mosque/set of ideals that they believe in and associate with, that doesn't mean they have to act 100% faithful to those teachings. "The bible/Quran/tenants/noodley statements is/are open to interpretation", they'd say. "As long as you're faithful to Jesus/Allah/Yahweh/The Flying Spaghetti Monster, you are in the right."
Editing is limited to (I think) two hours after posting. This prevents people from changing their posts in reaction to replies.

The older and more widespread a religion gets and the more different cultures it collides with, the more variety it embraces under the same label. There are supposedly tens of thousands of individual sects of Christianity. Hinduism is like that too. Roman Catholicism, with its central Vatican and formal hierarchy, accounts for perhaps half of Christianity but is quite homogeneous in its official doctrine. But looking at what Catholics actually believe about social issues and it is a different story.

Even in Pastafarianism we may soon see a major rift over red sauce vs white sauce, and whether the noodly appendages are really linguine. :|
Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance.
- Bertrand Russell

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Post #10

Post by McCulloch »

ThatGirlAgain wrote: Even in Pastafarianism we may soon see a major rift over red sauce vs white sauce, and whether the noodly appendages are really linguine.
Since the deity is called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the noodly appendages must be spaghetti not linguine. It is not the Flying Linguine Monster. Spaghetti is a long, thin, cylindrical pasta. Linguine is flat like fettuccine and trenette. It is wider than spaghetti but not as wide as fettuccine. While spaghetti traditionally accompanies meat and tomato dishes, linguine are often served with seafood or pesto.

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