Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arguing with Religious Fanatics

science and faithWe all know the popular brand of atheism which tends to poke fun at religion and assert its truth by appealing to science and rationality, right?

I've come to see this type of atheism as reactive rather than proactive, and makes people seem arrogant rather than pushing them to understand the deeper issues.

This reactionary atheism also makes religious people angry rather than logically convincing them of anything. I don't think logic and rationality are the best tools in these types of arguments and this is why:

Contemporary religion and the increasing level fundamentalism is a reaction against techno-capitalist culture where everything is ultra rationalized to the point where some people are not feeling satisfied or fulfilled in an environment they perceive as sterile. Most atheists think more rationality and logic is the cure, but this is a mistake since its like adding fuel to the fire; they will only get firmer in their beliefs since someone is trying to give them more of the "problem".

Look at it this way: If a religious person tries to convince you that they are right, they will give you mystical reasons which, in your perspective, is just more of the problem. As an atheist, one should consider arguing in ways which do more than just shake up the hornet-nest.

Appealing to the motivations of the other person is one of the most effective ways to argue. If their problem is a lack of emotional depth in the world, than maybe atheists should consider their sense of reality rather than appealing directly to science and rationality. This is not to oppose emotion to science, Carl Sagan does a wonderful job at articulating the two simultaneously. 

I don't condone the religious atrocities, nor do I have anything against science and rationality. Although I think the popular brand of militant atheism is probably liberating for people who have recently 'came out', I encourage people to develop more sophisticated ways of looking at the issues rather than getting stuck in a reactionary rut.


  1. Could you give an example?

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  3. Thank you for your comment.
    This is what I point to in terms of understanding the problems differently:

    Also, an example of an alternative to abrasive argument may by one or a combination of the following:
    1)Socratic method (asking questions to destabilize their reality),
    2)Pretend to be on their side (gain credibility) than slowly question those beliefs,
    3)Tell your life-story and what atheism provides in terms of a philosophical position
    4)Appeal to the emotions - even if reason and science are the motive behind your discourse.
    Hope this helps.

  4. Here is a very good video in relation to this topic:

    1. Thanks for the link. That was great!

  5. I totally agree. A lot of atheists, I feel, try to get some form of satisfaction by bashing a religious guy's views. We must evolve and try to lead our life totally independent of religion. I mean how different are we from religious people if we center our life around targeting religion and pointing out its shortcomings? By being reactive, we are still part of the mob, the only difference being that we are on the other side.