Why I Stopped Debating Religious People…
Being an atheist I used to allow myself to get sucked into religious debates all the time. In my defense it’s really hard not to when you repeatedly hear the stupidest things fly out of the mouths of the religious. They seem completely oblivious to the ridiculousness of their comments and then have the audacity to become offended, the moment you come out and question them about it. It’s absolute bullshitery at it’s finest! However, I have learned through experience that arguing, debating or responding is completely futile.
To better understand why I do not debate and avoid confrontation with the religious it’s because I understand that they are mostly likely mentally ill. First, I see some of them as schizophrenic. I truly do and I mean it with no disrespect. I don’t take mental illness as a joke and I believe the medical industry really needs to apply what it preaches to the religious community and stop making excuses for them. Just take a look at how schizophrenia is defined.
“Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others.” continued… “It is possible to live well with schizophrenia.” This comes from the National Institute of Mental Health’s website.
Just let that sink in for a minute. Then, when you read the symptoms from the illness as I’ve copied from the same page of the same site, it all begins to make sense.
Cognitive issues/disorganized thinking.
Below I will provide a link to this page for further study, should you choose.
One of the things you should never do unless you are a trained medical professional is confront their delusions. It can lead to violence. Want further proof of that. Turn on the news.
You also have to understand being religious is in definition very similar to that of BWS (battered Woman Syndrome). You just have to look at the symptoms and again, it all becomes very clear how religion can have a very negative and serious effect on it’s followers.
The abused thinks that the violence was his or her fault.
The abused has an inability to place the responsibility for the violence elsewhere.
The abused fears for her/his life, and/or, the lives of loved ones whom the abuser might or has threatened to harm (e.g., children-in-common, close relatives or friends).
The abused has an irrational belief that the abuser is omnipresent and omniscient.
Seriously take a look the above symptoms and break them down. The abused thinks the violence was their fault. How many times have we heard religious people blame themselves or others for their god’s wrath? Fear for their lives and the lives of others. How many times have pleaded for their own salvation and do so because they believe harm will come to them if they do not. And, the last symptom, needs no explanation.
When you start to realize that the belief in the gods began with man’s lack of understanding of the natural order of things and then later became used as a form of crowd control, it all starts to make sense. However, now it has morphed into a legitimate mental illness for many. Sure there are still those using it for crowd control and fund raising but has become much more than that now. It goes beyond the corrupt leading the weak of mind. For many, these delusions are real. So real, that they have no problem with killing themselves or others to protect those beliefs.
Want some examples? How many times have we seen Christians bomb abortion clinics or shoot them up. Last year a gunman in Colorado shot and killed several people at a Planned Parenthood facility because his religion taught him that abortion was murder contrary to all facts and logic on the subject. But, when some uninformed political leaders continue to deny science and logic, when religious leaders obviously do them same it becomes easier to understand how these beliefs are formed. No matter how much you want to believe in something, it doesn’t make it true.
More examples, ISIS, AL-quieda, the Taliban to name a few. All get their ideals from religious beliefs. To say otherwise is an outright lie. It’s one thing to question the belief of the leaders of these religious extremists. However, to question the beliefs of their followers carrying out their will, is simply wrong. It’s the very strong belief in their religion that allows them to carry out these horrific acts of terrorism. They are not doing it because they believe in a political agenda, they do it because they have become convinced that this is what their god wants that’s exactly what religious extremism is.
So when it comes to debating religious people, it really is a terrible waste of time. Your arguments almost never work because they are always based in fact. Religion is faith based. How can you argue things like logic and science to someone who believes that there is an invisible man that knows and controls all? You can’t.
The only thing you can do, is speak your mind when asked. Explain why you believe in science and facts. That’s it. Leading by example is the absolute best thing you can do. Be a good person. Stay true to your scientifically held values and stop confronting the mentally ill. All you’re doing is fueling their fire.
One last example I can provide has to do with a friend of mine. We got into this debate on Facebook a couple of years ago. She posted some ridiculous religious things and I had to respond to it. Well, no, I didn’t have to respond to it. I felt compelled to.
She had posted some religious persons quote. I pointed out how the Bible goes against that person’s statement. It didn’t matter to her. It didn’t matter to her because she doesn’t care about the Bible. She believes like I do, that the Bible was a book written by man. It has some good quotes in it and it has some bad quotes in it. Her belief in a god has nothing to do with that book. She simply just likes to believe that there is something out there bigger than her that actually gives a shit about her existence.
I have found a lot of religious people have this view of the Bible. It made me realize how futile it is to quote the Bible back at a religious person in most cases. Sure, sometimes it can have an effect them. But, religious people aren’t all the same. As atheists, we need to stop treating them as though they are. They all have their own reasons for believing in what they do. A blanketed argument attacking them for their beliefs isn’t going to work.
However, if you are going to debate a religious person your only chance at getting them to listen, is by trying to understand, where they are coming from. Is this person devout, the Bible says it, therefore it’s true, then pointing out inconsistencies in the Bible might help in this case. But, if you go off quoting the Bible and this person is like my friend, your arguments will fall on deaf ears and all you are going to succeed at is pissing them off. The best way to debate is to listen first.
You must realize that someone who believes in something based on faith is never going to be persuaded by science and fact alone. It’s like that old saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. In other words, you can lead them to science but you can’t make them think. You can give them the tools to think. There are plenty of atheists out there that used to believe in a god. Ask them what made them change their mind. Chances are it wasn’t because someone on Facebook or Twitter was trying to make them look stupid for their faith.
I know in my case, I had just always thought that there must be a god. My parents weren’t really religious, none of my friends were. Yet, I still believed. I just never put much thought in it. Never really saw the harm in it one or another. That was until I really started to think about it. The more I thought about it, the more I learned the history of religions, the more my eyes started to open. The more I saw the hypocrisy and ignorance in it all. The more I saw the people being taken advantage of. It was these thing that made me come to my senses. Now, I look back and I can’t believe I was ever so silly to believe in that nonsense for even a second.
What I can say, is that I didn’t become an atheist because someone started to belittle my faith. I did so because there were those I respected and listened to, Carl Sagan for example. The more I began to understand the science of the world around me, the less need I had for gods and devils.I realized that most of the times the arguments I was making were only pissing off and belittling the very people whose minds I was trying to change. Before you engage, ask yourself, are you really trying to convince them of something or are just preaching to the choir. I see a lot of friends on Twitter that are atheists getting into battles with religious people and a lot of times their arguments are failing terribly because they aren’t confronting the specific person in the debate. Instead they are attacking them on broad generalizations that may not apply at all to that religious person. Once the debate goes down the road, you’ve already lost.
And, that’s why I stopped debating them.
Below are some links to some of the facts quoted in this rant.