on how to win a debate with an atheist, a guide

Friends in the struggle in the spirit of sharing and instruction I would here want to offer a little advice to theists who come to this blog on how to win a debate while debating an atheist.

1. Don’t start a debate if your reference material is the bible

2. Don’t start a debate if you don’t know your cosmology

3. Don’t talk about evolution if your knowledge is based on last Sunday’s sermon

4. Unless you can tell us what god is, don’t start

5. If faith is your way of knowing don’t start

That said, this post has been inspired by a post by almost a similar title where theists have been advised as follows

  1. Keep the discussion centered on Biblical references.

To support this, they have been advised to just keep to the word of god, and the theist can always ask the atheist why he is referring to work of men who are fallible[here read science, philosophy]

2. Gain credibility for your religious position by pointing out that atheism is a religion, too

If the author of this post were your teacher, you would flop. He/she writes atheists worship at the alter of reason which can only be construed to mean theists have abandoned reason :-P. Don’t you just like theists? But back to atheism as a religion, please, tell me, not collecting stamps is also a hobby.

3. Make sure the burden of proof stays where it belongs: with the atheist.

Well, here theists have been really misled. They have made the claim, support it. If I tell you there is a black cat under my chair and you can’t see, it is me to provide evidence for the cat not you who has not seen the said cat and so it goes with the claims about the existence of god and other funny characters of the bible.

4. Demand that the atheist share an alternate and indisputable claim about origins.

I don’t know and I will only speculate. But as an alternative, I will tell the theist that Nature can allow for the combination of atoms to get to sentient beings, I don’t know how she does it but speculating a god doesn’t help. Unless of course the advice here is to theists to always say god did it!

5. Attack the credibility of science itself

This is the best of them all and you my friends will allow me to copy and paste it here

According to many atheists, science is based on the reality of the natural world. You should remember that reality can be deceptive, so it’s best to base your thinking on God’s word, the Bible. The Bible is able to explain many scientific phenomena (e.g. the apparent age of the earth, the organization of fossils, and the variety of species we see today can all be explained by the Biblical Flood). Remember, Albert Einstein was a Christian, and certainly the atheist you’re debating wouldn’t claim to be as smart as Mr. Einstein!

Reality is not deceptive, our perception of reality is what is deceptive. And no the bible is word of men, who created god and made the god speak. Please read the link on Einstein and tell me where it is said he was a christian! Any theist following this guy’s advice is doomed to loose in any debate with an atheist even before the debate starts.

6. Remember that evolution is just a theory.

I will not say more except that gravity is just a theory and advice the theist to jump of a cliff and we will see if he goes up or down towards the ground.

7. Use stories from your past to support your claim that God exists.

Use stories from your past to support your claim that Santa exists. Nuff said!

Allow me to again copy his/her closing statement for it is brilliant.

You should be well on your way to shattering any arguments put forward by atheists. If you’re still struggling to defeat your opponent, you can look up some more common argument strategies used by Christian apologists, such as straw man arguments, red herring arguments, denying the antecedent, and reification. We should all be striving to pull atheists back from the brink of eternal damnation, even if it means spending the only earthly life we have.

My theist friends, you try any of the above stratagem as given by this fellow, you are going to look stupid, you will lose and you will be a disgrace to the human race for as W. Clifford writes

 it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it–the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.

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Interesting discussion

Over at Nate’s blog, there is an interesting discussion following a post, never going back, that he wrote yesterday. He writes about something I find to be quite interesting even from where I stand and that is about being open-minded and ready to listen and consider the arguments of the other side, whatever this side is and concludes by writing

I am still an open-minded person. But I also know enough about Christianity now to know what it is and what it isn’t. I didn’t lose my faith by forgetting things, but by learning things. And if I had known years ago what I know now, I never would have been a Christian in the first place.

sentiments which yours truly agrees with. He, however, ain’t the object of this post. One of the christians who has commented on the post has asked several questions or made assertions that I think shouldn’t go unchallenged and since they are quite a number, allow me to attempt to answer them here.

His first assertion reads

Atheists always, and I mean ALWAYS, blame God for the evil that men do. And because the atheist has blamed God for the evil that men do and declared Him guilty, God must therefore not exist.

which I contend is wrong on all counts. First, atheists don’t blame god. For, tell me, how would they, if atheism is the lack of belief in the existence of gods? Speaking for myself, I believe men act as they do and no other way. If blame is to be laid anywhere, I believe it is temperament, training and environment that a person grows up would be responsible. The christian has said god is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, all the atheist is asking is why would a god with such a CV sit silently while his minions butcher each other? Is this too much to ask?

Next we are told

And then there is the other thing atheists ALWAYS do and that is lay out a set of personal standards that God must adhere to, or else he doesn’t exist.

But how can this be if the theist has not even gone beyond telling us what god is? We haven’t been told why the god of this particular apologist is necessary. And no, the theist creates god in his image and only gives him a big ass! Or as Voltaire[?] so aptly said, if god didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

And how ridiculous does this sound

Consequently, you are an atheist because you gave up your ability to reason.

I need not say anything about this except to ask, if one believes that a god who could create the universe by speaking a few let there be can only redeem mankind by drowning, earthquake or committing suicide and still claim to be using reason?

The person claiming atheists have abandoned reason, takes the existence of god as a given because he has been told so and writes

God created man with free will. If God intervened to stop evil, we would no longer be human because we would no longer be free.

which you and me know is far from true for there are many times humans have intervened to stop evil acts of others, and no one human being, I know of, has ever claimed omniscience or omnipotence. Next, how did god create man or because it is written in the bible it must be true? Forgive me, but unless reason quit through the door, how could one making such an assertion claim to have any left? And I would want a demonstration of what this author understands by free will and how he can show that humans have it.

God gave the human race the Bible which is the greatest compendium of ethics, human nature and social justice in human history.

You read that? I have read the Bhagahavad Gita and I can tell you, compared to the bible, it [the bible] pales in comparison. In fact it doesn’t even start to walk. So to claim the bible as being the greatest compendium of ethics in human history can only be construed to be statements of an ignorant person.

It is the existence of God that has kept man from destroying himself.

Far from it, it is the resilience of man, the desire to live that keeps man alive. It is for the love of god that man has killed his brethren, burnt them at the stake, ostracized them from society, put them in jail for holding contrary beliefs. So no, the existence of god, whatever god, has not been proven and as such, a claim like the above is meaningless!

God’s existence provides an objective, true standard of excellence for ethics, human development, personal behavior and justice without which man becomes a murdering, self-destructive, demented fiend.

If the god of the bible were to exist and to provide a standard for justice, the we sure would need to kill such a god. A god who punishes its creation for eating a damn fruit, drowns almost all men alive, kills children for the sins of their fathers, kills children of slave girls for the faults of the king [a king he hardened his heart] can’t teach man how to live with another! I refuse to accept that!

That’s why the greatest mass murders in human history were committed by atheist regimes that made it a point to reject the Christian ethics of Western culture.

This line has been repeated so many times one may actually believe it is true. Here is one response to this claim.

Yours truly wishes to stop here since some or most of the other claims and assertions he makes have been ably responded to by Nate’s very many guests.

Blog break 14: Other news

Fellow sufferers here are two blogs that should leave you either entertained or depressed. I am sure it will be mostly depression.

While lurking [it has lately become a pastime] I came across this post, the atheist’s dilemma; a journey from atheism to Christ, which is a story of a young girl who was an atheist and went to Harvard, yes, and found god, which is all good. As I have said before in other posts where I write about belief that I believe a person believes as they are most convicted and not any other way. That being the case, I can’t hold it against anyone for believing in superstition, ghosts, phantoms and fairies. I think, however, that a person who has an opportunity to explore nature, to study it and understand it is being irresponsible when they say they found C.S Lewis convincing. Without committing the fallacy of No True Scotsman, one wonders whether the only atheist literature available is the God Delusion and the Koran :-P? I sincerely would want to know what other atheist literature she read, whether she considered other extant religions and how she found Christianity and specifically Catholicism to be the truest of all the man-made religions. Am more interested, especially so, since I became a non believer in adulthood having grown up religious, I find all the religious stories to be BS. How does one who has grown up godless and with the ability to tear apologists arguments to shreds all over sudden find the fairy tales so convincing and of all the places in Harvard, where I thought only the brightest of our lot go?

In this next post, will atheism survive the internet, would want us believe that atheism will not survive the internet. He tells us

Back to atheism and the internet. . . the problem with the net is that there is so much mis-information that our young surfers don’t know what is true anymore. They are looking for answers and are clearly not wholly satisfied with google. It will take more than ‘ string theory’  to fool the youth of today.

Yet the Bible has stood firm for over 2000 years. It is rock solid. It does not lie. Isn’t it comforting to have a source of wisdom and Truth that you can just feel in your bones is the right Way?

And these atheists are evil in their intent. They will pick any verse and twist it around. The other day they went on about talking donkeys, trying to trap me into asking if I believe a donkey really spoke to Balaam in the famous story. They wanted to know details, like did his lips move like a humans, did he bray as he spoke. . . was he like the donkey in Shrek. . . it always gets insulting when atheists are involved.

which yours truly found to be not only ridiculous but wishful thinking. I on the other hand believe, and strongly so, that whereas d’Holdbach said knowledge of nature will be the end of gods, I want to add that the internet is where all the religions may die.

Fellow sufferers, visit the blogs and have fun but if you are depressed, at least I warned you 😛

Odd news! Nah, not really, just interesting :-P.

Friends, it appears after our athletes made headlines at the Moscow fete, another group of Kenyans have put us again on the international spotlight and if you haven’t heard maybe because you don’t listen to the BBC and they have done so for all the good reasons but got themselves there circumstantially.

Two men found themselves in love with the same lady. The lady has no intention of leaving either of them so they agree to marry. That to me are forward-looking people, maybe those who feel so inclined may follow and soon we will have to amend our marriage laws to take care of such unions and that will be a good day. I hope it happens soon.

Two Kenyan men have signed an agreement to “marry” the same woman.

Two Kenyan men have signed an agreement to “marry” the same woman

Blog break 13: A question

Fellow sufferers, what do you think could have happened to human civilization had the barbarians [Persians so to speak] overrun Athens and stayed there to lord it over the Greeks?

Once you finish to think about it, let us be grateful for those few men and women who stood up for freedom and who would rather die than be slaves!

And that my friends is the end of this long post 😛

While I was away

Fellow sufferers, your genial host has been away for a few days attending a convention at the coast and during that time he kept away from WP. You were all missed.

Blog Break 12: Thoughts out of season

Fellow sufferers, I haven’t been asked, but I have seen it asked elsewhere by theists, why do we write about our disbelief? They ask why do we engage with theists? I don’t know about you, but I write first because I enjoy writing; two because I enjoy a good conversation with people and especially so that someone who is so steeped in religion may be inspired by my work to think about his/her religion, to entertain some doubt of the received teaching, put it on the table of reason and adopt only those portions, if any, that pass. I write also as a response to what religious apologists write, just so that anyone who happens to come by the particular post may someday find a refutation of the same, at least, to have to hear from both sides.

Having said that, it is for one of the said reasons that I will consider this post, in which the author a preacher comments about a debate he watched but expresses his bias from the word go. He starts by writing

[…]I started to think again about the validity of an “Un-categorized” category. It seems to me that this category is akin to an atheist position while the un-checking of all categories is more like the agnostic position.

Where he contends that the atheist position is un-categorised. I hope the rest of his post will tell us more why this is so. He says the opening statements of the atheists are what irked him from the word go. So what did the atheists say?

Atheism is merely the absence of believe in any God. We are all born atheists, we must be taught to be theists

and

Atheism is a lack of a belief. So I would just like to remind all of you that you are atheists… when it comes to Zeus, Apollo, Thor, or any of the other countless imaginary people that we’ve come up through human history.

Anyone who thinks this definitions are contentious please raise up your hand….. well, I will refer us to wikipedia where atheism is defined as

 in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist.

Now that we have established that the two atheists were right in their definitions, as well as their qualifying remarks about children being born atheists and that almost everyone alive today is atheist in reference to Thor or Zeus, let us now proceed to the issues the OP has with atheists. He writes

To me this seems so untrue that I can’t believe it came from the mouth of a self-proclaimed “agnostic atheist” (kind of a contradiction in terms itself, like an “Independent Republican”)

The contradiction rests only in his mind and his failure to understand whatever he sets out to attack. There is no contradiction in terms in a person claiming to be an agnostic atheist. As has been said countless times, agnosticism deals with knowledge claims, and especially about the nature of god, atheism deals with the question of belief or lack thereof. Therefore, when one calls himself agnostic atheist, there is no contradiction.

Do we have to sell dictionaries or distribute fliers to explain the simple fact that atheism is simply a lack of belief in the existence of gods and not a belief system. One wonders why, with the availability of online articles on atheism, a person would still write

you can never say that your system of belief about God is the absence of belief. That makes no sense. How can a structured belief system consider itself to be the lack of all belief. I might agree if they were trying to represent a purely agnostic position, but the “agnostic atheist” can’t make those claims.

and show to the world his ignorance of what he purports to write about? Is it part of christian apologetics to misrepresent atheism to an extent that anyone reading their posts is left more confused that they began? Isn’t rather fair that both sides, as much as possible, at least stick to facts?

He continues by conceding

that we are born atheists, but we’re also born without language and any knowledge of history or science. These all must be taught. You could argue that the only thing we can be seen to be born with is some general morality, though that needs to be fostered through development, and that would seem to point to the competing perspective.

many things that no one contends. We are born without any belief, that much should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. Why he makes it an issue is beyond me.

But his next statement is both shocking and unwarranted. He writes

There is an inherent superiority and snobbery in saying that your system of belief is somehow the default belief. By declaring it as the absence of all belief, you then put the burden of proof on the theist. In my opinion, the person making that point then is basically saying that they have no reason to be an atheist, they are just one by faith.

Last I checked, truth claims, do not respect how a person feels. If you feel inferior that your position ain’t the default position, hang it elsewhere. Examine your beliefs and get a life. And yes, the burden of proof rests squarely with the theist. If you don’t like it, don’t be a theist or easier still don’t write about it. And you are wrong, placing the burden of proof where it belongs shows the person knows his stuff and knows who should be asked to provide evidence for their claims. As your friendly atheist, :-P, wow me with the evidence. I can’t wait to be persuaded.

His next statement is quite ridiculous. He claims, he knows that the above definition

 is not the normal atheist position

and one expects that he will tell us about what this position is. But alas! I must be too ambitious to expect so much from him. He writes

I’m used to Hitchens and others who are brilliant men and persuasive debaters.

Friends, please help me here! Did Hitchens have a different definition for atheism and who are these others our interlocutor is used to?

And as is usual, it gets to the point where the theist decides not to make any sense. For we read

 I know atheists that have spent a lot of time researching and debating within themselves and others and have come to some kind of reasoned atheism. I would challenge that, but I respect that.

Don’t you all think if he knows such atheists as he claims, he would at least know the definition of atheism, he would know with whom the burden of proof lies and lastly he would know that there is no snobbery in declaring the atheist position is the default position.

One wonders why the theist always has to reduce atheism to his level? For, why, tell me, a statement such as

I am opposed to un-reasoned faith of any kind, atheist or theist.

still appear on the web? Are people so impervious to learning?

All too often Christians have made such silly anti-intellectual claims that belie the fact that they haven’t really wrestled with any kind of opposition.

The jury is out on who has made silly anti-intellectual claims. The two atheists or this theist who set to correct them? I have taken my vote, it is a win for the atheists. It is the christian who has made a fool of himself, by setting out to write about atheism and then showing in so many words that he knows nothing or close to nothing about atheism and should remain a preacher, for that is a job that in many cases requires little learning.

It was fun writing this post :-P!