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Should we be debating theists?

@Hominid 's question, "Debate or not debate?", as a poll.

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Rhetoric 7 Jan 5

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Yes. I've been in the debating arena for over 10 years (by accident). I didn't pursue believers. They pursued me and fellow bloggers and forum contributors as we shared what we learned on our de-converstion journey and afterward. Some believers did listen and were respectful, and others were intellectually dishonest. But the biggest group that benefited from the debates were the lurkers. How do I know this? Because I've received several hundred emails through the years from lurkers who were questioning, had doubts and were grateful for the educational information that was presented during the debates/discourse.

Brilliant, @VictoriaNotes. I can't believe I've overlooked that aspect of it all these years but it will certainly be on my mind in future, and perhaps I'll sway a couple of lurkers myself.

@Lauren Getting positive feedback from lurkers sure makes up for the frustration that comes from debating with young Earth creationists. Thanks for your comment. πŸ™‚


Though I voted "special circumstances", I'd rather discuss than debate, and then with an "unsure" theist or fence rider for whom my efforts just might make a difference.



To me, debate implies intransigence. Discussions on the other hand can actually lead somewhere, even if it's only better understanding.


Of course. How many of us were one time fence-sitters and would have greatly benefited had someone come along and helped us see another point. This was me for years and even though I had a degree in European history (Christian history) and started having doubts I never saw an opposing view. I had to 'hit the wall' so to speak to start on the road to recovery. Now it's my turn to help others (sometime we can do that without saying a word. Just our actions can suffice).

One caveat is that we have to feel the other is willing to listen. My own daughter is religious but is open to my beliefs (or non-beliefs). One just has to learn not to be too heavy handed and in-you-face with others. Maybe even sometimes listen to their point of view.


I see no reason to waste your time and theirs.


No, they preach while we offer evidence and logical reasoning and critical thinking it is a total waste of your time. I would be interested to know if anyone has ever won a debate against one, a win you both acknowledge.


Yes, but I no longer use the word 'debate' and avoid its meaning. Debating is a clash; I prefer to make a journey together, a dialog. Lookup Street Epistemology, watch Accidental Courtesy on Netflix, and so on.


If you are in a religion, you have refused reality. If you have refused reality, I'm pretty sure you're going to refuse logical explanations for it.

Honestly, having grown up in religion, I think it more accurate in my case to say that I didn't understand reality. Hence, once people (to a significant degree, myself) gave me a fair idea of reality and training in good math (which made acquiring clearer logic relatively simple), the explanations started sinking in.

@Rhetoric I'm glad you accepted enough of your education to see the holes in those fallacies. In most cases, religious folk think/know their alternate reality is factual and will, therefore, refuse actual reality when it is contradictory to their beliefs.


i voted often, but wish to clarify, that as a whole yes it should remain on the thoughts and lips of the population, to avoid this would only make the move away from religion take longer. we can only fix things we address, not that which we ignore.
that being said, the person you debate won't change their mind, they are in i want to win this debate mode. the people listening , are the ones who get the most out of it.


I care less about what people think than what they do. I would like to be able to ignore the fundamentalist whatever but can't since they are ever encroaching on how I or others may want to live. I think debate would be most likely lumped in with argument on any topic touching their belief. And argument or disagreement no matter how logical would just lead to resistance or worse, backlash. If there is some way to persuade them on actions that are impacting others I would prefer that tack but am not sure how to do that and it would depend on the topic


Yes. There's always a chance we can shed a hint of doubt and get them thinking about what they believe


A waste of time. It would be about the same as debating "Flat-Earthers".


My experience is....99% of them don't want real debate...they only want to demonstrate their PIETY. It's a waste of time.


Only under stringent ground rules which would not allow the theists to escape into irrationality.


Most of the time it isn't worth the effort. However, when they start to intrude into our lives and try to determine our rights based on beliefs, it's tiem to really fight back with a fury, in every way we can.


Yes, when the focus is on things that can be debated--should religions be taught in public schools, should religious iconography /messages be visible in public spaces, what comprises the basis of morality, etc. The perennial "does god exist" question can't be settled empirically, so why debate it at all? I can only foresee an endless, fruitless round there--a waste of time, effort, and attention for all involved. Mayhap I misapprehend the nature and purpose of debate; I suppose many debates have covered the eneffable. I just don't see the point of hashing over stuff that you can't agree on because you can't possibly nail it down in any functional way.


Generally, I don't debate people who don't debate in good faith. Generally, "believers" are stuck and can not change their minds. However, there is one possible good outcome from this kind of debate: it is the possibility that a bystander may learn that he or she is not alone, that they share your perspective, and that it is safe to vocalize that perspective.


Yes, most definitely and as often and logically as is humanly possible.
The whole world and humanity would be far, far better off if there were no religions.


Sometime, yes. When they get to being petty and threatening us eternal punishment, I think a good debate is good. Sadly, though, they’ll just still think they walked away winning since the Devil got a hold of our souls.


We should be debating them, with ground rules. Certainly don't want to argue with them.


"None are so blind as those that will not see."

Debating Christians is a waste of time. If they have questions, definitely offer helpful comment. But they have to find their own way just like most of us have. Debating will only serve to breed dissension. Lead by example.

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