Debating Atheists

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My hat is off to Christians who can and do debate with atheists. I stood in awe when former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams debated atheist bigwig Richard Dawkins at Oxford–and won. Beat the bad guy on his home turf.

But of course he didn’t convert Dawkins, and I have yet to meet a Christian who says his arguments swayed any atheist–although I live in hope that someday I will.

Meanwhile, I don’t know how they do it. “I know I’m not going to convince the atheist,” says one, “so this is for anybody else who might be listening.” I salute that: stand up and cheer.

I can’t do it. To me, atheism never sounds like anything but High School Charlie “Look how smart I am,” blah-blah-blah. And I get emotionally involved, which makes my logic suffer. I don’t have the patience for it. You never make any headway with them; it’s like debating with a chair.

So I’m glad that others are able and willing to shoulder this burden. I am sure God blesses their honest efforts.

39 comments on “Debating Atheists

  1. The reason theists convert to atheists but atheists generally dont convert to theism is because religions make many bold claims that atheists easily dont accept, but the only claim atheism makes (while still a theoretical claim and not necessarily fact) is that there is no creator, of any of the religions.
    Not all atheists or agnostics accept all or even any scientific theories as fact either, and it’s important I think to recognize the logical consistency there; Some people just accept theories as theories – religious and scientific and otherwise – and proven facts as facts across the board; atheists are more likely to be this kind of person than people of any religion.

    1. I wasn’t debating or attempting to debate anything; I was making a comment related to your piece.

    2. “The reason theists convert to atheists but atheists generally dont convert to theism is because religions make many bold claims that atheists easily dont accept”

      That assertion is not true, and atheists also make bold claims. There have been many atheists who have converted to theism, the notable C.S. Lewis was one of them.

    3. Atheism makes one theoretical claim, it’s that there is not a creator; All religions make far more theoretical claims than one.

      I said atheists “generally” don’t convert to religions, not that they don’t (meaning not nearly as often as theists do).

    4. Debates in general rarely convinces the other person. The very nature of debates makes one entrenched in their own beliefs, because of the desire to win. As for Dawkins, conversion for him would be especially difficult because it has become part of his identity and profession.

    5. p.s. that wasn’t directed at you Amanda. I meant to post that at the end of the thread.

    6. Amanda, they would have to make more than one theoretical claim. They would also have to claim the “big bang” happened without cause and effect, or as they used to that the universe is eternal. They would also have to claim that life can come from inert matter although we have never witnessed this. They claim evolution is true, even though it can stand up to the scientific method. These are also theoretical claims.

    7. Atheism has nothing to do with the big bang theory, or any scientific theory. Rejecting the theory of creation does not mean accepting the big bang or any other theory.

      Science and atheism are different things and don’t inherently go hand in hand.

    8. A claim can’t get much bolder than this: the whole universe sprang forth out of whatever, inanimate material somehow became alive, and over time, incredibly small changes shaped microbes into Mozart.

    9. Amanda, you have an an extremely narrow definition of atheism, but the end result is the same isn’t? They still have to make other bold theoretical claims no matter what they believe.

    10. I don’t have a personal definition of atheism, there is one standard definition that applies to atheism.

    11. Atheism is not a claim about the universe or it’s origins, it’s just the rejection of creationism.

    12. You can’t rule out the Creator without setting up some other claim for the origin of the universe in His place. Unless you say it had no origin.

    13. You can actually, it’s called being an atheist. Atheists are not scientists and are not tasked with finding the answers, they simply reject the theory of creation.

  2. In Florida, we had neighbors across the street who identified themselves as atheists. In fact, the license plates on their vehicles stated “NO GOD” and “NO HVN”. Michael and I tried talking with them once to no avail. The neighbors on the right of them also tried to talk with them, to no avail. It’s astonishing how blind and/or hard headed they are.

    1. How is it more hard headed to reject the existence of a creator and afterlife than it is to accept them?

    2. The Creator Himself will answer that for them at judgment. Since atheists do not believe in a creator, they must believe in evolution, but even Richard Dawkins recently had to admit, during an interview that there had to be, at some time in the distant past somewhere in space, a creator – maybe an alien species. So I suppose you could go with that, or go with the rain upon rocks for billions of years, or as a Christian preacher once said, in explaining the evolutionist’s position thusly – from goo to you by way of the zoo.

    3. Atheism has nothing to do with evolution, or any other scientific theory.
      You can be atheist by definition and still reject all non-proven scientific theories.

    4. That’s a typical non-committal response but you can’t have it both ways. If you exist, you were either created or you evolved. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    5. Do you not know the definition of atheism ?
      Why do you think atheism inherently accepts scientific theories? It doesn’t.

    6. *sigh* You want the luxury of not having to provide any answers. Well, I can agree with you there: atheism provides no answers. It is barren, providing nothing at all. Which makes it kind of pointless.

    7. How is not knowing the origins of the universe and life a luxury whatsoever ? That’s called being honest.

      How on earth do you expect people to have that kind of information just because they reject creationism? That’s just silly and dishonest, I know you’re smarter than that.

    8. Something has never come from nothing. Your reasoning is circular.

    9. So atheism doesn’t have to provide any answers, it’s sole reason for being is simply to counter theism. Which ironically would make it totally dependent upon theism to exist. You simply cannot have a belief system without presuppositions. Atheism doesn’t exist in a bubble any more than theism does. With any any belief system there has to be follow up questions, which then leads to claims. You just cannot get around that.

  3. Glad you understand how we atheists feel.
    The problem is one says “2+2=4” and the other says “2+2=whatever god says it is” as interpreted by (place your favorite flavor of church here)
    The unfortunate result of the current state of affairs is that a lot of people who have otherwise a lot in common waste their time trying one to sell reality and the other the fantasy of the big mystic gorilla behind the clouds and there’s no way to reconcile the two visions.
    It might be better to leave the subject aside and try to focus on the things many of us have, again otherwise, in common.
    Religion should be a private matter. Much as mayonnaise is. Some like it. Some don’t. But people can still find common ground OUTSIDE the realm of religion to try and preserve civilization before it’s too late.
    The problem is that you have to abandon the “nothing without god” mentality and understand that there are millions of people who want nothing with religion.
    So, those with an inclination for unicorns can keep dreaming about them and those with an inclination for reality can keep NOT dreaming about them and we can move together towards a rational and peaceful future.
    Or we can fall separate, among the broken pieces of America and Western civilization ones praising god one last time and the others with one last laugh at the notion.
    I’ve noticed that when people are wise enough to just shut up about the subject of religion many a time they find they have a lot in common and plenty to collaborate on.
    You do know what Thomas Jefferson said on the subject, don’t you?
    “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
    And, by the way, those that I suspect we would both consider our common enemy, social justice warriors, are nothing but the followers of another religion, social justice.
    If you can examine social justice and its followers in a dispassionate way you might find, as I did, that social justice fits exactly the definition of a religion.
    Do you abhor the notion of same sex marriage? Me too. And I’m an atheist.
    Do you abhor the current tendency to introduce very young children to sexual perversion AND without their parents consent? Me too. And I’m an atheist.
    Do you abhor collectivism in all its possible flavors and names? Me too. And I’m an atheist.
    Do you enthusiastically support the Constitution and its most important part, the 2nd Amendment? Me too. And I’m an atheist.
    Do you think there are only two sexes and the rest are perverts? Me too. And I’m an atheist.
    Do you experience an urgent need to punch somebody who comes at you with the stupid notion of “preferred pronouns”? Me too. And I’m an atheist.

    1. I would have more sympathy with you, if you didn’t resort to a straw man argument and the customary disrespect shown to God Almighty: “big mystic gorilla,” and likening my religious belief to belief in unicorns. I could with equal justice mock the atheist creed that it rain on de rocks an’ de rocks come alive. Doo-dah.

    2. Straw men indeed. The problem is everyone has a religion, theist and atheist alike. A religion is simply a worldview, a belief system, and everyone has one. Even if someone doesn’t “believe” in God, that’s still a belief. And how one view’s God is a big undercurrent that affects how we view everything else in life, from our understanding of mankind’s place in the world, to our political beliefs. So it’s not something you can just put in a box, and say it belongs here, but it doesn’t belong there. When some people say they don’t want anything to do with religion, what they’re really saying is they don’t want anything to do with theist beliefs. It’s like saying my belief is more valid than yours.

      As much as you don’t want anything to do with religion, the fact is Western Civilization, and the United States by extension, was built on the back of it. In fact, I doubt Western Civilization as we know it, would have been the same without it. If you’ve studied any history you will see just how much Christianity affected Western Civilization. In the middle ages, the art, the architecture, the universities,etc. all revolved around religion… everything. The two were inseparable. Now that Christianity is eroding from Western Civilization, are we better off? Did we not excel when when we were a more homogeneous culture that shared common beliefs and values? I can tell you one thing, we didn’t have SJW’s infecting our culture when we did.

      You quoted Thomas Jefferson, so I’ll leave you with a quote from another founding father: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -John Adams.

  4. So . . . debating with me would be like debating with a chair but I can not mock YOUR ideas.
    Got it.
    I wonder if the Carthaginians were holding these kinds of exchanges when the Romans rang the bell.
    All the best.

  5. The Apostle Paul said he sowed, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. If I ever met Jorge I would share the gospel in a Christian spirit, and may even debate him some, but it is God who saves him, not me. I would be praying for the increase.

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