How to debate our Christian friends

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Blastcat
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How to debate our Christian friends

Post #1

Post by Blastcat »

Hi, ye of little faith !

I'm starting to write down reminders for myself as to how to debate Christians in here.. I've been doing these "debates" ( maybe more in the way of full frontal attacks, but bear with me a bit ) for almost two years now.

I should have learned something by now...

Here is my very initial list of "things to keep in mind" when I am blasting them away with my categorical ) pathological ? )l imperatives.

Blasting the categories, yo !

1. Refrain from making claims, theists make a lot on their own.. Keep the burden of the proof on them.
2. Don't tell .. Ask.
3. Remember the outsider's test for faith.
4. Bring it back to point.
5. Bring it back to epistemology.
6. ... ( not there yet )
So, I'm looking for great suggestions that have worked for you in the past.

How SHOULD we debate Christians?
Help me out with that list, will yaz?

It might get to be a very long list.. that would be ok.
I love long lists.


:)

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Neatras
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Post #2

Post by Neatras »

I dunno, in scientific discussions, these aren't very useful. It's much better to supplant posts with evidence.

When a Christian avoids answering challenges directly, pursuing them on it can be like pulling teeth, but it presents a very characterized picture to any onlookers: That evidence, when given, can be like kryptonite to dogmatic thinkers.

In the end, that's why I debate. Not to convince the other person, because their mind is made up. But I present information, and do my best to reveal my opponent for what they really are, so that others can come in and see the ugly truth themselves.

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Post #3

Post by Blastcat »

[Replying to post 2 by Neatras]
Neatras wrote: I dunno, in scientific discussions, these aren't very useful. It's much better to supplant posts with evidence.

When a Christian avoids answering challenges directly, pursuing them on it can be like pulling teeth, but it presents a very characterized picture to any onlookers: That evidence, when given, can be like kryptonite to dogmatic thinkers.

In the end, that's why I debate. Not to convince the other person, because their mind is made up. But I present information, and do my best to reveal my opponent for what they really are, so that others can come in and see the ugly truth themselves.
Ok, that's good.. I always ask for evidence... but you seem to be saying that YOU want to provide evidence... I guess my rule about that is "if you make a claim, justify it ".

Or.. bring evidence in support of the claim...
How is this:

6. if the opponent makes a claim, ask for his evidence in support of the claim

It sounds a bit clunky.. could you do better?

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Post #4

Post by wiploc »

7. Never throw logic at their miracles; always throw miracles at their logic.

For example, don't ask where all the water went after the flood. (They'll just answer, "That's another miracle!") Instead ask why god didn't use miracles to avoid avoid the Fall and the Flood and the crucifixion.

8. Be friendly, pleasant, personable. Be the kind of person they'd like to have living next door. Make atheism look good.


They've been told we are evil sinners with horns and tales. The only reason we do what we do is out of hatred for their gods. So just show them that we are regular people, possibly even nicer than the the people they go to church with.

9. Have moral principles you can comfortably defend.

They want you to say your morality is relative/subjective/cultural/baseless/inferior/nonexistent. Never make that move.

When they say ours is subjective, point out that it is no more subjective than theirs. When they say ours has no logical foundation, point out that our foundation is at least as good as theirs.

Challenge them to produce a foundation for theirs. Offer to produce--once they have shown you what they consider a logical foundation to be--a foundation for atheist morals that is at least as logical as the one they produce.

When they say that rape is bad only because it is forbidden by an invisible eccentric, point out that they are saying rape is okay except for that. Do they really have nothing against rape aside from gods' forbidding it? Are they really that morally bankrupt? If the really had nothing against it, they wouldn't even care that gods forbade it. That would make no difference to them one way or the other. Are they really asking us to be like them and not know what is wrong with rape? Do they really think that morality consists entirely of following orders like a guard at Auschwitz?

I'm against rape because rape has a strong tendency to make people unhappy.

Who is more trustworthy, someone who knows that rape is wrong because it hurts people, or someone who doesn't see a thing wrong with rape other than that it is forbidden by a possibly-fictional leader?

10. Include the emotional argument.

They didn't get where they are based on logic, so they can't be moved from that position based on logic alone. There must be an emotional appeal to where they are, and we have to offer an emotional reason for them to change.

Theirs is an ugly religion. I don't know what the appeal of it is supposed to be. Hellfire, eternal suffering, would be a terrible thing. A decent person would give up her position in Heaven to save her daughter from Hell. A good person might do the same for a stranger. No decent person can hope that Hellfire is true; no decent person can hope that Christianity is true.

Against that ultimate horror, what can Christianity possibly offer as an appealing upside?

A world in which even one person goes to Hell to suffer forever, that is the worst of all possible worlds.

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Re: How to debate our Christian friends

Post #5

Post by Divine Insight »

Blastcat wrote: It might get to be a very long list.. that would be ok.
I love long lists.
Well, I certainly have a lot of suggestions to offer. Not sure how easy is would be to put it into a short list without further explanations. I think what I'll do is make the list first and then list more in-depth explanations below it.

Before I begin, my entire list has to do various different ways of approaching "debates", and/or "discussions". A major key is to try to get a handle on the central issue of concern in a debate or discussion. This is far easier in a well-defined debate because the central issue is often highlighted. Whereas in general discussion (which most debates on DC&R deteriorate to become) tend to try to argue a wide varied of different issues simultaneously which almost always leads to extreme confusion and make it very easy for the thesis to "move the goalpost" from a difficult topic to something more to their liking.

So my suggestion is try to under the central issue being debated. And with this in mind, my list is actually a list of "central issues".

1. Debates between Science and Religion take at least three forms.

1a. Debates concerning the Claim that Intelligent Design is Required for a Well-structured Universe.

1b. Debates that argue against Evolution.

1c. Debates concerning the Compatibility of Scriptures and Known Science

2. Debates concerning Theology can take many forms.

2a. Debates concerning the actual Meaning of the Scriptures.

2b. Debates concerning Contradictions within Scriptures.

2c. Debates concerning the Contradictory nature of the Character and Abilities of God.

3. Debates concerning Faith and the Need for Personal Salvation.

3a. Why believe in anything on Pure Faith?

3b. Why Place Faith in a Negative Worldview?

3c. Why Should Faith be Required at All?

4. Debates concerning Morality

4a. Is a Claim of Absolute or Objective Morality Reasonable?

4b. Does Subjective Morality Make any Sense at all?

4c. How can we make Laws without Objective Morality?

5. Debates concerning the Claim that Life without a God would be meaningless.

5a. Debates concerning Emotional Motivation and Inspiration to Live.

5b. Debates concerning Reasons to be Moral.

5c. Debates concerning the Essence of the Meaning of Life.





[center]Image
Spiritual Growth - A person's continual assessment
of how well they believe they are doing
relative to what they believe a personal God expects of them.
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Post #6

Post by RonE »

I've been around this site for 3+ years and have struggled upon occasion to find my balance from which to debate. This summer I started pushing theists for proof of their god claims. I started doing this for the specific supernatural claims of intelligent design. With some success in making sure that everyone who comes to those threads knows that theists are ducking their responsibility to provide evidence of their claims. At some point I may expand into some other claims but for now I'll try to focus on just those supernatural claims. I would echo some of what's been listed but mostly #6; 11. Don't let a claim go unchallenged.
*"On the other hand, we have people who are believers who are so completely sold on the literal interpretation of the first book of the Bible that they are rejecting very compelling scientific data about the age of the earth and the relatedness of living beings." Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
*The Atheist has the comfort of no fears for an afterlife and lacks any compulsion to blow himself up.
* Science flies to you the moon.... religion flies you into buildings.
* Faith isn’t a virtue; it is the glorification of voluntary ignorance.

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Post #7

Post by Zzyzx »

.
It is in the best interest of Non-Theists to be NICE to Theists personally – while demolishing their arguments – for several reasons:

Our real audience is the reader – not the opponent. Readers outnumber opponents by hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands. Some of the threads have at or near 150,000 views. And many readers may not be fanatical believers -- but may be sincerely searching for answers to their own questions about theism vs. non-theism (perhaps in the process of transitioning out of religion).

Non-Theists have the “easy� side because “I don't believe in gods� requires NO justification or support while those who bring forth or defend Bible claims and stories DO have a burden of proof in reasoned and honorable debate. Even though many will not acknowledge their obligation to support claims, READERS understand when they fail.

Non-Theists can afford to be the “nice guys� in debate and allow any opponents so inclined to be hostile, emotional, angry, condescending, or have delusions of superiority. Playing by (or well within) the rules allows opponents to often self-destruct – or to present a negative picture of their cause to readers.

Let Crusaders swing their broadswords of indignation wildly – and use a rapier to “smite them with a smile� with “death of a thousand cuts�. Most do not last very long. Some of us have made attempts to recruit capable theistic debaters – with no apparent success.

ALSO: Think on this, we NEED Apologists as debate opponents, otherwise we're just talking to ourselves. We need them to put forth their best stories and arguments, the ones that work so well in church, in order to demonstrate to them and everyone else that those “killer arguments� don't hold water when outside the bathtub (protected environment).

Lastly, it really irritates opponents when their emotionalism is met with graciousness, kindness and understanding. Note: I do not always follow my own ideas 100% in these regards – but I “repent and ask forgiveness� – so I am “saved� from eternal damnation.
.
Non-Theist

ANY of the thousands of "gods" proposed, imagined, worshiped, loved, feared, and/or fought over by humans MAY exist -- awaiting verifiable evidence

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Post #8

Post by Blastcat »

[Replying to post 4 by wiploc]
wiploc wrote:

10. Include the emotional argument.

They didn't get where they are based on logic, so they can't be moved from that position based on logic alone. There must be an emotional appeal to where they are, and we have to offer an emotional reason for them to change.

Theirs is an ugly religion. I don't know what the appeal of it is supposed to be. Hellfire, eternal suffering, would be a terrible thing. A decent person would give up her position in Heaven to save her daughter from Hell. A good person might do the same for a stranger. No decent person can hope that Hellfire is true; no decent person can hope that Christianity is true.

Against that ultimate horror, what can Christianity possibly offer as an appealing upside?

A world in which even one person goes to Hell to suffer forever, that is the worst of all possible worlds.
I hardly think that the way to get to #8 is by reminding them how horrible and ugly their religion is.

I am getting away from emotional appeals ... but if you can give me a better example of a good emotional appeal, that would be interesting.

:)

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Post #9

Post by wiploc »

Blastcat wrote: [Replying to post 4 by wiploc]
wiploc wrote:

10. Include the emotional argument.

They didn't get where they are based on logic, so they can't be moved from that position based on logic alone. There must be an emotional appeal to where they are, and we have to offer an emotional reason for them to change.

Theirs is an ugly religion. I don't know what the appeal of it is supposed to be. Hellfire, eternal suffering, would be a terrible thing. A decent person would give up her position in Heaven to save her daughter from Hell. A good person might do the same for a stranger. No decent person can hope that Hellfire is true; no decent person can hope that Christianity is true.

Against that ultimate horror, what can Christianity possibly offer as an appealing upside?

A world in which even one person goes to Hell to suffer forever, that is the worst of all possible worlds.
I hardly think that the way to get to #8 is by reminding them how horrible and ugly their religion is.

I am getting away from emotional appeals ... but if you can give me a better example of a good emotional appeal, that would be interesting.

:)
I went into a restaurant and asked for a glass of water. The waiter brought me the water and, after I drank it, said, "That will be a million billion trillion dollars."

I said, "I can't pay that!"

The waiter said, "That's quite all right, sir. I'll cancel your debt by murdering the busboy."

-

You don't have to use words like "horrible," "ugly." Just share viewpoint; let them see that, thru your eyes, their religion doesn't appeal.

The only reason they are theists is because they've been told that it's nice and good. Only if they see that maybe it's not nice and good will they become open to logical arguments.

-

This emotional appeal is by Robert Frost. It's been a long time, so this may turn out to be paraphrase:

-

The Draft Horse

With a lantern that wouldn't burn,
In too frail a buggy we rode,
Behind too heavy a horse,
Thru a pitch dark limitless grove.

A man came out of the trees,
He took our horse by the head,
And reaching back to his ribs,
Deliberately stabbed him dead.

The most unquestioning pair
That ever accepted fate,
And the least disposed to ascribe,
Any more than we had to to hate,

We assumed that the man himself,
Or someone he had to obey,
Wanted us to get down,
And walk the rest of the way.

-

See, he doesn't use words like "ugly" or "horrible." He makes the Christians laugh at the pair's naive lack of resentment at their mistreatment. And only later do they realize they've been laughing at Adam and Eve, and the evil man is god.

-

I have a friend who believes in Hell because the bible says it exists. But he also believes god is good, because the bible says that too. So he believes that Hell is empty; nobody there.

I suppose the wailing and gnashing of teeth is piped in.

-

If I were the god of Oklahoma, and Jehovah were the god of of everywhere else, everybody would move to Oklahoma.

And I'm not even that nice.

It's just not at all hard to be way nicer than Jehovah.

-

I hope some of this helps.

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Post #10

Post by Neatras »

[Replying to post 8 by wiploc]

As an Okie, I resent that statement. It implies that Oklahoma's only passable because you'd be there. I'll have you know my hometown's High School band has won Grand Nationals several times in the past two decades! We've got lots of things to be proud of.

But hey, if you were god of the region, it'd be convenient for me.

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