Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Atheist Rule For Debating

I've been an Atheist for a long time.

I've been married for 16 years.

Do you know what they have in common?

When you argue, you will never be told you are right. Never. Ever. Ever.

We've all seen it, Atheists will wade into discussions with Christians, Jews, or Muslims. The Atheist will say something like, "Water is wet," and take out charts, studies, and a well planned rhetorical defense of the water is wet hypothesis. The other person (we are still talking about Atheists - not my marriage) may make ludicrous statements like, "Water is only wet to you," or "You are so intolerant of other peoples' perception of water," and of course, "Why are you so angry at water?"

I prefer verbal jui-jitsu most of the time (unless drunk). My strategy is to go all Secret Squirrel and try to slip in an Atheist meme to the Theist (doubt is a good place to start). Don't get me wrong, I argue. It's just that I realize that even in a discussion that I "win" the other person will not admit it. Their opinion/behavior may change and that's ultimately what the goal is. I have gone for the, "I need you to tell me I'm right," and that has always ended in disaster (now I maybe talking about my marriage).

When in a group of people my tactics change. What I'm most concerned about is the audience's perception. I may be having an Atheist-Theist discussion with only one person, but my real goal is to persuade the onlookers. It's not really about arguing with the Theist in these situations as much as communicating to the crowd how cool and accessible Atheism is. It goes without saying that you still won't be told you're right. That's OK. When you have successfully reached out to people and they "get it" - that's the reward.

Me? I have no problem with saying you're right...

as long as you agree with me.

What would you expect?

In Purgatory.

Other posts you may like:
Who Is God Angry At Now?
Me and The Stupid Stick
Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda


  1. So, so true. My 8-year-old son was devastated this week because he was talking about people "and other animals" and got bombarded from a few kids for claiming that people are animals. He calmly explained the animals-mammals-primates-great apes divisions to his friends.

    "But they wouldn't agree with me!"

    Yeah. Sorry, dude. There's going to be a lot of that.

  2. Good points. Even though the religious believer usually cannot admit that their precious faith might be an unfortunate mistake, that is not to say that a solid argument cannot still have an impact. We'll almost never know about it, but I have known believers to go home and ruminate on something that struck a nerve.

  3. I don't think it's *only* a reluctance to admit one is wrong.

    If I hear a good argument against something that I had believed it will probably take some time of examining the argument for flaws etc. before I convince myself that my earlier belief was mistaken & then the person who made the argument won't be present.

    Jim Baerg

  4. Hey Jim, from what I've seen the other person may shift over to my original point, but won't admit that I had anything to do with their choice. That being said, I could just be an a**hole and nobody wants to say, "Andy you were right."
    Hmmm... I think that could be it.

  5. All too true. Although I've had some discussions with quite reasonable 'religious persons', who might admit that I 'might have a point' about one thing or another, nobody likes to admit that they're just wrong.


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