Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

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Adurumus
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Atheist Arguments You Shouldn't Use

Post #1

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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Post #11

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

McCulloch wrote:
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.

Stop the heresy!
The FLM (Flailing Linguine Monster) has unnoodly appendages. The seafood connection inevitably puts one in mind of the use of the sea and the creatures that emerge from it as evil (e.g., in the Book of Daniel or the Cthulhu Mythos).

The conclusion is obvious. The FLM is the Anti-Pasta! :shock:
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 #12

Post by spoirier »

From my experience (please read it first), I can report some of the things that played a role in my conversion, persistance in faith and then deconversion, to which something might be done from the part of atheists.

As you can see, the key argument that deconverted me at the time I badly need a way out of Christian faith, was definitely not a classical atheist one. So:

- The label "atheism" makes bad impression (as the fight against religion is won when someone deconverts to become Deist for example, so, without anything to be specifically called "atheism").
- Misunderstandings need to be resolved about science and rationality: the confusion between science and the school system (a better image of science needs to be developed); and between rationalism and naturalism, as naturalism is not the only rationalist alternative to religion (I do find coherence between rationalism, the love of science, and remaining convinced of the existence of afterlife and the supernatural nature of some paranormal phenomena, especially as explained by quantum physics).
- Arguments against the existence of afterlife and the supernatural in general, can be very counter-productive arguments on some people (and, I think, just plain wrong).
- Much better arguments would be of the form : IF God could make miracles THEN the types of miracles that could be realistically expected from a decent God would be very different from those reported in the Bible (probably all imaginary as they only followed the imagination of the people of that time), and also those by saints and many other people (some more probably real but not from God) as God should be much wiser and much more imaginative how to make an efficient use of His powers for the general welfare.
- The argument from NDE showing that the way to heaven does not depend on piety and religious orientation, can have a lot of weight on some people.

As concerns the problem of evil, I agree that a simplistic expression does not work. For the little I read following the link on "God's problem" it seems the author focuses on analyzing the details of the Biblical wiew on suffering. But I think another sort of detailed analysis would be very helpful too: the analysis of how exactly does suffering take place in this world, in which circumstances, depending on which types of causes; and why these types of causes are incompatible with the Biblical explanations (why any decent God with any bit of power to intervene, could and should absolutely use it to avoid some of these cases of sufferings).

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Post #13

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

spoirier wrote:From my experience (please read it first), I can report some of the things that played a role in my conversion, persistance in faith and then deconversion, to which something might be done from the part of atheists.

As you can see, the key argument that deconverted me at the time I badly need a way out of Christian faith, was definitely not a classical atheist one. So:

- The label "atheism" makes bad impression (as the fight against religion is won when someone deconverts to become Deist for example, so, without anything to be specifically called "atheism").
- Misunderstandings need to be resolved about science and rationality: the confusion between science and the school system (a better image of science needs to be developed); and between rationalism and naturalism, as naturalism is not the only rationalist alternative to religion (I do find coherence between rationalism, the love of science, and remaining convinced of the existence of afterlife and the supernatural nature of some paranormal phenomena, especially as explained by quantum physics).
- Arguments against the existence of afterlife and the supernatural in general, can be very counter-productive arguments on some people (and, I think, just plain wrong).
- Much better arguments would be of the form : IF God could make miracles THEN the types of miracles that could be realistically expected from a decent God would be very different from those reported in the Bible (probably all imaginary as they only followed the imagination of the people of that time), and also those by saints and many other people (some more probably real but not from God) as God should be much wiser and much more imaginative how to make an efficient use of His powers for the general welfare.
- The argument from NDE showing that the way to heaven does not depend on piety and religious orientation, can have a lot of weight on some people.

As concerns the problem of evil, I agree that a simplistic expression does not work. For the little I read following the link on "God's problem" it seems the author focuses on analyzing the details of the Biblical wiew on suffering. But I think another sort of detailed analysis would be very helpful too: the analysis of how exactly does suffering take place in this world, in which circumstances, depending on which types of causes; and why these types of causes are incompatible with the Biblical explanations (why any decent God with any bit of power to intervene, could and should absolutely use it to avoid some of these cases of sufferings).
Ehrman's book (God's Problem) is as you said an analysis of the evolution of the Biblical view on suffering. IMO Ehrman (or his publisher?) tends to pick titles that attract attention (Misquoting Jesus, Jesus Interrupted) without really representing the contents of the books all that well. Ehrman is a Biblical scholar. His popular offerings such as the above titles are more accessible than his more scholarly works. But they are also more informative and less inflammatory than the titles might suggest.
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 #14

Post by MyReality »

I have been trying to argue a point against a few christian friends that their beliefs have evolved with the times and that the beliefs from the days it was created were very different then what/how they practice it today. Not to mention they do not follow the bible as the bible has been intended. I.E. "Old testement was ment for those times and not now". Although i can see how this arguement can work i cannot seem to articulate it in a way for my friends to understand it.

Any help would be regarded with much appreciatation.

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Post #15

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

MyReality wrote:I have been trying to argue a point against a few christian friends that their beliefs have evolved with the times and that the beliefs from the days it was created were very different then what/how they practice it today. Not to mention they do not follow the bible as the bible has been intended. I.E. "Old testament was meant for those times and not now". Although i can see how this argument can work i cannot seem to articulate it in a way for my friends to understand it.

Any help would be regarded with much appreciation.
In his Epistle to the Romans and elsewhere, Paul argued that gentiles are not required to follow Jewish Law in order to be Christians. For example, a major stumbling block to recruiting was physical circumcision. Paul's take on it was confirmed at the Council of Jerusalem. (Acts 15)

In short, Christianity is a follow-on to Judaism, but it does not incorporate the entirety of Judaism. For example, there are a great many ritual requirements in Leviticus, things like when and how to sacrifice bulls. These are not applicable to Christians today. We might note that in Leviticus, the Lord frequently tells Moses “speak to the Israelites�, “say to the Israelites� and similar language. These things are specifically for Jews, not for everyone. They were ways of identifying the Jews and distinguishing them from other people.

This does not mean that all of the OT is obsolete. Christians cannot get away with murdering people. That is wrong no matter who does it. But if a Christian touches a pig, it is not necessary to bring a female lamb or goat to the priest as a sin offering. (Leviticus 5) Why not? Because he is not a Jew.

What parts of the OT remain in effect for Christians? Some things are obvious. Jesus himself names some obvious things. “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.� (Matthew 19) Other things are just as obviously not applicable to Christians, like all those complicated rules in Leviticus and elsewhere. There are still likely going to be some things subject to discussion. But just because something is in the OT does not mean it automatically applies to Christians.
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 #16

Post by McCulloch »

ThatGirlAgain wrote: There are still likely going to be some things subject to discussion. But just because something is in the OT does not mean it automatically applies to Christians.
So there we have it. Some OT stuff applies to Christians and some OT stuff does not. What is lacking is any clear indication in the NT as to which things still apply and which things do not. No reason is given and no guidelines are provided. What is obvious to you may not be as obvious to another. Open to discussion is a rather mild and polite way to refer to the disagreements on this and related issues.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Post #17

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

McCulloch wrote:
ThatGirlAgain wrote: There are still likely going to be some things subject to discussion. But just because something is in the OT does not mean it automatically applies to Christians.
So there we have it. Some OT stuff applies to Christians and some OT stuff does not. What is lacking is any clear indication in the NT as to which things still apply and which things do not. No reason is given and no guidelines are provided. What is obvious to you may not be as obvious to another. Open to discussion is a rather mild and polite way to refer to the disagreements on this and related issues.
Since the target audience being discussed consists of believers, 'mild and polite' is the way to get a foot in the door. The lesson being delivered is that one-liner quote mining does not necessarily constitute graven in stone dogma, but without so direct an attack on their sensibilities.
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 #18

Post by MyReality »

So basically the old testament will be up to the whims of the christian depending on the best interest of said person. This makes for a woefully acountable divine scripture and i would think could lead to a meritable arguement against the books self held proclamation of being divinely inspired.

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Post #19

Post by ThatGirlAgain »

MyReality wrote:So basically the old testament will be up to the whims of the christian depending on the best interest of said person. This makes for a woefully acountable divine scripture and i would think could lead to a meritable arguement against the books self held proclamation of being divinely inspired.
The Bible is a collection of works by different people at different times addressed to different audiences for different purposes. On this particular forum we need not pretend otherwise. But the question on the floor, as I see it anyway, is how to get the believer to see that it is not a "fortune cookie" collection of one-liners to be trotted out individually but requires understanding of context to determine the intended meaning. This need for context extends to those areas where present day applicability is unclear.
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 #20

Post by Guy Smiley »

I think arguments about the burden of proof are silly: "YOU have the burden of proof!", "nuh uh, YOU have the burden of proof!"

Such an argument only means that the participants aren't interested in finding the truth. They're just interested in winning. I don't think the truth can ever be "proved" anyway, so I don't really like the word. I think it's all about weighing evidence, and if for some reason a believer wants me to present my evidence first, well then why shouldn't I?

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