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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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

73 thoughts on “on how to win a debate with an atheist, a guide

  1. Mordanicus says:

    Great post my friend!

    1. Einstein was not a christian at any point at his life. He was a self-proclaimed Spinozaist, with some inclinations towards buddhism.

    2. People who are strongly attached to their delusions, will resort to all kind of fallacies to defend their beliefs. Either unknowingly or knowingly.

    3. The bible might be deceptive too, who on Earth can prove it has not been written or inspired by Satan himself?

    Like

    • Brisancian says:

      True. I would say that it’s unknowingly, reference to point 2.

      Like

    • makagutu says:

      Thanks my friend.

      These people are quite funny, it is like a man drowning and sees a blade of grass and decides to hold onto it in the hope they might just be rescued.

      Why someone would think the bible isn’t a work of man is beyond me.

      Like

      • Mordanicus says:

        “Why someone would think the bible isn’t a work of man is beyond me.”

        Asking a theist how he knows for sure that his religion isn’t the work of Satan, is a useful didactic trick.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          I will in the future ask them that question

          Like

        • Outlaw Monk says:

          Mordanicus,

          Your “trick” would only work with Chrsitians, not all theists, as they’re the only religion that believes in Satan. Also, a Christian would likely just respond by quoting Bible verses, which they believe to be ‘God-breathed.’

          Again, there is a disconnect; one side has faith in God, the other has faith in Reason. Neither side can “win” or convince the other.

          Like

          • Mordanicus says:

            Not only chistians do believe in Satan, muslims also believe in Satan. And many other theist religions have similar concepts.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            So are you saying here that christians have abandoned the use of reason? Just asking?

            But while at it, call it faith in reason, but remember always reason is a tool just like a hammer. Those on the side of reason can convince the others but only if they are open to entertain a little doubt on their faith positions.

            Like

          • Outlaw Monk says:

            I used the word “Reason” (capitol-R) to suggest that some people put human reason as the ultimate power in the universe; I just don’t accept that… Our human “reason” has been historically so UN-reasonable I find it hard to believe that at this point in time we are somehow universally enlightened. It would be more reasonable to open yourself to the possibility that there are some things that can’t be proven and/or we simply don’t know.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            It makes no difference whether the R is capital. I only know of human reason, if cats have reason, it is entirely cat issue…. beyond that I entertain that possibility that there are things we may never know. Human beings have been unreasonable, that is unfortunate, but even in those times, it is human reason that has prevailed.

            Like

          • exrelayman says:

            Given a mistaken and intransigent 2nd grader, a Phd physicist cannot ‘win’ or convince him of his error. Neither will the the 2nd grader ‘win’ or convince the physicist. Do you begin to see how weak the argument based upon mutual unconvincibility is?

            Like

          • Outlaw Monk says:

            I don’t think my argument based on “mutual inconvincibility” is weak at all. If one side were able to convince the other we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I used to be agnostic myself, which is why I know that no one can convince an atheist to be a Christian or vice versa. As I said before, there is a ‘disconnect,’ which creates a fallacy and makes the argument unwinnable for either side.

            In his response above: Makagutu even agrees with me that there is a “possibility that there are things we may never know,” which is more of an agnostic statement than an atheist one—and probably the most reasonable thing any of us have said so far.

            Like

          • exrelayman says:

            Atheism has multiple facets. Some claim there is no god. Others claim they see no good evidence for god and thus have no reason to believe in god. Do you see the difference? It is a fallacy to paint them all with one brush.

            Please observe that atheism has only to do with belief concerning a god. It has nothing at all to do with whether or not there may be things we may never know. It would be very arrogant to claim to know there is nothing we will not one day know, and equally as arrogant to claim to know that we can never know. Simply, we do not know how far human knowledge can go. But all of this has nothing to do with what atheism is. Some atheists may make such claims. And some atheists may prefer chocolate to vanilla. Neither has any relevance to atheism itself.

            Like

          • Outlaw Monk says:

            Via Miriam Webster:

            Atheist: one who believes that there is no deity.

            Agnostic: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable.

            Statement we are discussing: “[There is a] possibility that there are things we may never know.” (Makagutu).

            My definition of agnostic is pretty solid; as I said, I used to be one.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            The things I talked about not being knowable at least for the moment do not include gods. An example is what a chair is in itself, you know, that kind of question.

            Like

          • Outlaw Monk says:

            Ah, Plato’s “Chair Theory,” I’m very familiar. I just used Plato’s form of deductive argument to force “Exrelayman” into resigning from the dialogue.

            So, in this argument Plato says that there’s a chair that exists in our dimension (the first form) and the chair as we perceive it also exists in another dimension (“the second form”) that exists in a “perfect form.” The chair exists in two “forms” or dimensions. So, if you are presenting the Chair Argument, wouldn’t’ it NOT BE IMPOSSIBLE for a higher being, or “god” that is perceived (by some) in this dimension, or ‘first form,’ to also exist in the other dimension or second form? And also, the chair in its first form in only a representation of the chair in its second form, therefore the chair (or god) as you (or others) perceive it, is an imperfect example of the chair in its second form.

            http://www.theologicalstudies.org/resource-library/philosophy-dictionary/158-platos-theory-of-forms

            Like

          • tildeb says:

            Plato’s beard was neatly trimmed by Occam’s razor.

            Galileo put to bed any belief in the nature of things and demonstrated that motion did not require agency. This was in direct contradiction of a natural philosophy that was built on Aristotelian physics – including Plato’s forms. Plato’s forms do not exist in reality. To believe they do is clearly a thinking mistake.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Interesting, you should read later works on this question especially the treatment to this question by Kant and later Schopenhauer where he[Schopenhauer] talks about world being will and idea. The thing in itself he calls will and it is this that is unknown to us. The only thing that is presented to us both as object and idea is our will.

            I don’t perceive any god, I don’t just know there isn’t one to perceive in whatever form.

            Like

          • exrelayman says:

            I see. The definition game. All nuances are subdued. You are the boss of what words mean. You are the boss of whether atheism or agnosticism is being discussed. And I am out of here. Have a good one.

            Like

          • tildeb says:

            As long as you are equally agnostic about faeries and goblins and intergalactic mushrooms, then you are indeed an agnostic of high caliber… although why anyone would self-identify as one and think this a good thing is beyond me.

            After all, we don’t know if tomorrow will arrive so we really should be agnostic about it and act as if it may or may not come, and we don’t know if gravity may still be in play when we step out the window so we really should be surprised if it does. So it’s a little weird to have someone argue that anything less than certainty is a reasonable position when all of us know perfectly well that probability is what matters and we really do act accordingly in spite of anything we may say to others to present ourselves as if more reasonable by our uncertainty than those who maintain intellectual integrity on probability. We have to navigate this world not on false certainties (and I think false – if not downright cowardly – claims to agnosticism in absurd possibilities) but on probabilities weighted by reasonable and demonstrable evidence in its favour.

            Like

          • M. Rodriguez says:

            I personally think that agnosticism is the position of humility. It is the truly scientific position. That we really can probably never know with 100% certainty that god or a type of god does not exist. Even the greatest of scientific minds acknowledge that agnosticism is the true scientific position that any of us can take. Richard Dawkins and Neil degrasse Tyson are just two who admit this.

            Like

          • tildeb says:

            It goes without saying that all scientific claims are conditional; to assume otherwise is a tautology. Your point is not one that in any way justifies agnosticism when faced with a combination of overwhelming contrary evidence to a knowledge claim AND the absence of supporting evidence. This misrepresentation is not humble at all; this intentional misrepresentation is so open-minded that one’s brains must fall out.

            Again, let me reiterate: ALL knowledge claims are conditional in the scientific model but it takes arrogance of the first order to then claim that all knowledge is therefore equivalent to a 1:2 probability. This is what accommodationists and apologists who use the agnosticism card in support of knowledge claims unsupported by reality’s arbitration of them are trying to do: fool people into thinking that all knowledge claims are equivalent if less than certain, and then draw in names who quite easily restate the conditional aspect of their scientific knowledge and present them falsely…. as if these big brained people agreed with this misrepresentation of knowledge claims to be either certain (which is categorically rejected by the scientific method itself) OR are supposedly willing to go along with this 50-50 misrepresentation. This is a falsehood. Knowledge claims arbitrated by reality to apparently work for everyone everywhere all the time and produce reliable and consistent applications, technologies, and therapies based on this conditional understanding is not equivalent to this supposedly ‘humble’ agnosticism about unsupported claims about the existence of an invisible peek-a-boo creative and interactive god in our world any more than the claim for agnosticism about faeries, goblins, and intergalactic mushrooms!

            You give the game you’re playing away with the old trope about atheists failing to appreciate that we can probably never know with 100% certainty that god or a type of god does not exist as if this excused the complete absence of evidence from reality required to support any such positive knowledge claim. Popppycock! And you >know this is complete rubbish because you don’t feel obligated in the least to have to justify your non belief in Tonacatecuhtli; you just hide your non belief under the heading of ‘agnostic’ and claim to be too humble to be honest. But you hold a special contempt for other non believers just like you but who go one god further, as if by doing so they are not humble and not as reasonable as you. Well, unlike you, I’ll keep my intellectual integrity intact, thank you very much, and call myself what all of us – including you – really are – non believers in gods – rather than succumb to the kind of intellectual capitulation agnostics must embrace to vilify their more honest and brave brethren.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            I have no problem with scientists holding an agnostic position and since am no scientist, I see no need for that hypothesis.

            Like

          • M. Rodriguez says:

            understandable,

            Like

          • M. Rodriguez says:

            I think the problem with that statement by makagutu is the word ‘possibility’. It is possible that I am a green alien typing this message. It is possible that the world was created five minutes ago with the illusion of time/history. It is possible that invisible pink unicorns…. but none of those are PROBABLE propositions. Anything can be possible, but not everything is reasonable.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Rodriguez, my bad, I agree probable is the most appropriate though consider a scenario where a person is found dead, hanging from a rope. We can say we know the how he died but the why could possibly never be known especially if he didn’t leave a record of it or told no one about it. What do you say?

            Like

          • M. Rodriguez says:

            granted u are right, from that scenario, we can deduce from PROBABLE scenarios to infer a REASONABLE conclusion.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            I think many people have a problem acknowledging that atheism answers just one question and that is a belief in god/s. Beyond that, it is one big field where each person comes to their own conclusions of what they want to believe or not believe and it has no bearing on their atheism.

            Like

  2. Sonel says:

    Great post and well said Mak! 😀

    Like

  3. Arkenaten says:

    Brilliant post, Mak.
    These people are just not normal

    Like

  4. Arkenaten says:

    On re-reading that post, I have a feeling the writer is maybe taking the piss.
    Read the next one about Noah.

    Like

  5. Brisancian says:

    Mak,

    As I guy who just recently made his way out of Christian theism, I have to say that your humorous post is spot on. I’d like to say that I did not see these errors and others in one apologetic work after another, and I’d like to say that I did not hear such drivel from my honestly concerned friends. But I did. This is the playbook, and you’ve lampooned it accurately. Like the humor dimension. 🙂

    Matt

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      As they say a lot, you can’t be too serious about life, we die at the end anyway :-P.

      Welcome to the world of naturalism, I grew up catholic and deconverted a year or so ago and it has been an interesting learning curve.

      Glad we could make acquaintances!

      Like

      • Brisancian says:

        Ditto, nice to meet you.

        I grew up in a Jesus-movement cult from the 70’s. It fell apart in the 80’s when I was about 8. Continued to believe heretically till my early adult years. Theological crisis drove to reform, became a conservative Presbyterian. Now in mid-thirties, and spent the last year studying my way out of Biblical legitimacy in any way. Its been interesting. Certainly has been surprising. But as Hitchens said, “In general I feel better.” 🙂

        Like

        • Charity says:

          Okay, Jericho, I was just stopping by and saw this comment. My parents were Jesus People when I was a baby (in 1972). This continued to the Charismatic movement and right into the whole Word of Faith flavor.

          What I found so amazing about “Jesus People” is that they supposedly were trying to break away from mean, dead and dry “Pharisee” like religion. It’s been my experience that those same men who “broke away” actually became just as bad as their predecessors, if not, worse.

          Like

          • Brisancian says:

            Yeah. My folks were good people in all that, just trying to do good. Corruption at the top ended it. They run a food bank these days. Have for years. I think they’ve done more good through that in the last decade than I did as a faithful churchgoer.

            Like

        • makagutu says:

          it does feel better

          Like

        • M. Rodriguez says:

          Oh my poor briscanian, u were a Calvinist. U must have been truley brain-washed. I send my condo lances.

          Like

          • Brisancian says:

            Most decidedly; Reformed! But I was Arminian before that. Both shirts can fit, but the reformed shirt is a big more snug.

            Like

          • M. Rodriguez says:

            I have a few friends who are hard core 5-pointers. I haven’t told them I am atheist yet.

            And whenever I set down with them now, to talk about god, I always fell like giving the facepalm to some of the things they say.

            Like

  6. Outlaw Monk says:

    The problem with the atheist/Christian argument is, both sides require faith for them to work. Christians have faith that God exists and atheists have faith that there is no higher power. Both try to make a case that can’t be proven with an argument based on what they think or feel.

    Just call yourself “agnostic” it’s the ultimate out. No one can argue with “I don’t know.”

    Like

    • Sorry, Monk, no offense intended, but I’ve had that one pulled on me, on another site – atheists need no faith. When I really sit down and use my imagination – understand, I have to really WORK at it – I can think of all kinds of things, such as flying purple people-eaters, that don’t exist. I don’t need faith that they don’t exist, because the likelihood of their existing is so slim, that they’re not worthy of the time it would take to think of them. I don’t need faith that I won’t be struck by a meteor if I walk out of my door – until the moment of this writing, I had never even considered it, not once – the likelihood was so remote as to make it unworthy of thought. No faith required.

      Now it takes light from the sun nearly 8 minutes to reach the earth, so at no given point in time, can we actually say we KNOW the sun is shining – we can know it was shining 8 minutes ago, but to believe it’s shining now, we just have to have faith.

      Like

    • achaeopteryx1 has it right. I have no faith that god/s don’t exist. I examine evidence and if I have reason to trust it, not have “faith” in it, I accept what reality shows me. There is no evidence that gods as described in religions exist. There is plenty that show the claims about these gods are false and evidence that events that preclude magical god nonsense happened. It is only when theists make their gods so vague and meaningless that there is any allowance that such a thing exists.

      Like

    • makagutu says:

      no you miss the point entirely! The atheist position is not faith based. The atheist asks present me with evidence so I can know

      Like

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      Hello monk, i do agree and I like the position that in agnosticism that we Cant truley know. And I would agree with you.

      However only a little bit of common sense would tell you that a particular TYPE OF GOD probably does not exist. Ex: a god that is a perfect Creator. (Probably does not exist)

      A personal god that answers prayers (probably does not exist)

      A all powerful loving god( probably does not exist)

      A god who created an imperfect world and doesn’t really care about anyone…. (could actually possibly exist)

      An all powerful loving god. (Probably

      Like

      • makagutu says:

        Rodriquez, the reason why I don’t think the agnostic position is warranted is the failure by the god people to tell us what god is for us to even start talking about what gods would or wouldn’t exist. For example, if I were to ask a scientist what god he thinks may exist, he would probably be at pains to explain what he means when he talks about god.

        Like

        • M. Rodriguez says:

          and actually that is the only reason why I agree with the agnostic position. Cause really, when it comes to the IDEOLOGY of god, the characterisitcs of God are so far stretching upon the spectrum of belief. That really the idea of if God exist, really starts with…What type of God exist?

          Like

          • makagutu says:

            and it is for the same reason I reject the agnostic position. There is not even a thing to have a belief about. I assume a naturalist position; I have no belief in anything supernatural whatsoever!

            Like

  7. While we’re on the subject:

    How to Answer Theist Arguments
    http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/how.html

    Like

  8. tildeb says:

    Why, when I read the excerpts, do I hear ol’ Hambo’s (Ken Ham) voice?

    Like

  9. violetwisp says:

    Your comments are hilarious! Even if the author of the post you’re responding to was just having fun, these are ‘strategies’ used by many Christians. Silenceofmind is fond of the ‘atheism is a religion because it’s based on faith’ argument (but then he’s probably a teenage troll). Actually, maybe most Christians are just atheist being tongue-in-cheek about it all! That would explain a lot …

    Like

  10. Charity says:

    I love the snarkiness of this post because, well, Christians really do love quoting scripture while debating the validity of the Bible.
    How can an ancient book be taken so seriously when it’s been re-written over and over and over again? In a Christian’s mind, he or she tends to think that there’s just little translation issues and can’t see the political tool their holy book has been for ages. For instance, some still hold tightly to the King James Version. I wonder if they ever thought about what was going on with slavery during his era. I know he didn’t “translate” it, but one must consider his influence over the changes made to The Holy Bible during his reign. It’s obvious in all the scriptures about slave and master relations, especially how submissive the slave is supposed to be.

    World rulers know how gullible human beings are to religious references and language and they totally use that to their advantage. Even while I was an Evangelical Christian working for Hobby Lobby and going to a “revival” Church, I was very leery of W’s terminology of “evil doers”. In my mind, I knew he was turning the situation at hand into a “holy war”. What a great way to wake up the “sleeping giant”.

    Like

    • Brisancian says:

      True. What I’ve started doing when the bible is used as evidence is pointing out that’s what the other person is doing. Then I just ask what the evidence is for the bible. Specifically, what evidence is there for its metaphysical claims. I have yet to get a good answer. It usually baffles.

      Like

      • Charity says:

        I think Nate made a good point about Christians on his blog recently. He said they, especially those in the Bible Belt, just always agree that God is good and they just go along with it because they never encountered anyone who challenged their faith. I tried my best to not walk away from God because of my faults or the wrongs of others. I tried my best to hold on in spite of my “fruitless” prayer life. My emphasis grew and grew upon the Bible in my Christian faith. However, I rarely found comfort in scriptures, just more confusion. If we can get people to really see all the error in their holy scriptures by really studying it themselves, there would be very few followers of the Abrahamic religions. I know towards the end of my Christianity I could no longer criticize the Koran or the Talmud because I knew what was in the Bible. I began to see very little difference between my rule book and theirs.

        Like

    • makagutu says:

      hey Charity, glad to have you here. Theists are an interesting lot. They would rather dismiss works that have taken countless observations, experiments as being works of fallible man and take the bible as inerrant work of their god! Funny people I tell you

      Like

      • Charity says:

        Makagutu, I looked so hard for answers in the Bible for so many years that I could tell when a preacher was taking scripture out of context. For instance, about a year before my de-conversion my family attended a Word of Faith Church. The word Hosanna is in the title of this particular church. The pastor starts to read out loud the scripture about people waving palms and saying “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” This guy’s an older man and is some sort of Dr. Rev, etc. He said that hosanna means “victory is ours!” I looked at Mr. Amazing and said “No, it means ‘SAVE US, SAVE US NOW!'” Can you see the difference? But the people were eating it up like you wouldn’t believe. People have ways to twist words in a way to follow their particular brand of doctrine and denomination.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          The bible I think means what the pastor wants it to mean and people just swallow what the pastor is saying without pausing for a moment to think about it. They should have Q & A sessions in churches to deal with this ignorance.

          This days all I say is, am glad I left.

          Like

  11. aguywithoutboxersRoger Poladopoulos says:

    Excellent and certainly reminds us of the deceptive nature of the theists debaters. Great job, my Nairobi brother! 🙂

    Like

  12. Outlaw Monk says:

    I think we actually agree. My point is, faith in “Reason,” or worshiping at the ‘church” of how wonderful and intelligent humanity is; is just as erroneous in blind faith in anything. As far as Christianity goes, you can’t really use the faith/reason argument because Christians would say that their faith is beyond reason and is a gift from God. Again, a disconnect and a total error in argument—this is why the two sides can’t have a civil discourse.

    Like

  13. john zande says:

    Ummm, is he encouraging theists to use straw man arguments and red herrings?

    What an odd man.

    Like

  14. […] on how to win a debate with an atheist, a guide (maasaiboys.wordpress.com) […]

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