Debating Christian Apologists: the Frustration

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michaeljohnbryant's picture
Debating Christian Apologists: the Frustration

I want to vent my frustration at debating Christian apologists, and ask for help. About two years ago, I started a Facebook group called "The Great Debate" ( ), which was a family affair involving myself and my wife, both of us atheists, one brother-in-law, a fundamentalist evangelical, and another brother-in-law, a new age guru. It now has about 70 members with vociferous opinions from around the world (I don't know how that happened, but it is an open group).

It is (mostly) a respectful dialogue (though there are some trolls) involving questions such as objective morality and relativism, the question of free-will, consciousness, the mind-brain dualism, creationism, intelligent design, LGBT issues, abortion, the inerrancy of the Bible, and all the other arguments one would expect from an apologist's arsenal. From myself, I take an existentialist position on most subjects. Some days you do have to scroll through the mostly atheist memes...

But, there a few Christian apologists in the group who are very intelligent, very well versed in all the arguments for theism, are very well read in atheist literature and arguments, and arrogantly demand "evidence" for the non-existence of God. One of them has a master's degree in philosophy, and therefore demands extraordinary responses to his extraordinary claims. He, for example, has defined atheism as a world-view that is necessarily a belief system, with a burden of proof, requiring evidence similar to the evidence we atheists demand of theists. We cannot agree on terms, like a definition of atheism, even.

I will quote a typical argument I get when I state that religion ultimately requires a leap of faith beyond their logical arguments:

"You say that evidence only goes so far for the theist, but that is the case for all belief systems, including atheism. The question is whether one is justified in continuing to move in the direction the evidence is pointing or whether it is not strong enough to merit that.

So, we ask ourselves basic questions:
- Why does something exist rather than nothing at all? (Leibniz)
- How did the universe come into existence from nothing?
- How did life come from non-life?
- How does the universe exhibit such precise fine-tuning to support its existence as well as the existence of higher life forms?
- How are objective moral values and duties grounded?
- Why does consciousness exist?
- How does one have meaning in this world?

These and many other questions beg for answers. Which belief system has the best or any answer for these questions? I don't believe that atheism has any answer for many and certainly not adequate answers for any of them.

So, who is taking the "leap of faith"? I think it is the atheist who cannot answer these questions, yet continues to believe that existence, the universe, fine-tuning, the beginning of life, consciousness, objective moral values and duties, and meaning will be explained via some naturalistic process, when naturalistic processes clearly cannot explain many of these and is nowhere near an explanation for the rest. Yet, atheists continue to hold their worldview despite the lack of explanations and evidence."

Now, I have responded to all these questions at length, but hit a wall of philosophical stubbornness that drives me crazy. There are only so many hours of a day I can research philosophy and atheist thought, and respond to claims by intelligent theist apologists. For it is tiresome to constantly articulate a bullet-proof position on moral relativism, explain the mind-brain duality, the age of the earth, free-will, etc.

Maybe it is just my limited ability to debate some heavy-hitters, that I am not well enough versed in atheist argument, but I have reached a level of frustration that I wonder if others feel as well. Are there others out there who feel my pain? If so, what advice would you give an exhausted and frustrated atheist?

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Jeff Vella Leone's picture
Yea theists will come with

Yea theists will come with the most stupid of arguments based on flawed assumptions to mix you up.

The problem lies in time needed to uncover those flawed assumptions they make.

The best and most effective way I found is to make a list of YouTube videos that explain most things and when someone brings forward an argument i just give him a link to that.


This video puts clear the atheist position and nullifies most of the theist claims about atheism being a belief system like they claim:

Lack of belief in gods:

and after this:

Putting faith in its place:

Few theist usually object after seeing those videos about the definition of atheism.
Usually they ignore something in it to distract and waste time.

Be insisting and make them watch it again until they find where their questions is answered in the video.

Force the stubborn people to waste more time analyzing their stupid claims over and over again to save your time doing it yourself.

Travis Hedglin's picture
"- Why does something exist

"- Why does something exist rather than nothing at all?"

Incomplete data. No one has ever seen a "nothing", and there is no guarantee that it even exists outside of our universe.

"- How did the universe come into existence from nothing?"

Why would I ask that? As far as I can tell, every scientific hypothesis pertaining to the origin of the big bang, requires something. From a multiverse to quantum fluctuations, none of them seem to indicate it spring forth from nothing, it seems the idea of this universe arising from nothing is as much a theistic convention as god is.

"- How did life come from non-life?"

Incomplete data. There is an entire field of study dedicated to it, and their are promising results, but ultimately we don't know.

"- How does the universe exhibit such precise fine-tuning to support its existence as well as the existence of higher life forms?"

A. There are a range of values that our particular form of life could exist in.
B. There are forms of life on our own planet that could exist in a broader range of values than we do.
C. There are values that, if changed, would make the universe more hospitable to life.
D. The fact that we find ourselves in a universe we can exist in isn't either unexpected or a miracle, existing in a universe where we shouldn't would be far more impressive.

"- How are objective moral values and duties grounded?"

Social Contract. Depending on where you live on the planet, your moral values and duties change significantly.

"- Why does consciousness exist?"

It is an emergent property of the brain, and evolved as the brain did. Consciousness isn't black and white, it is a spectrum, and one where brain complexity directly effects the level of consciousness a being has. Snails are not quit as conscious as you are.

"- How does one have meaning in this world?"

By finding what has meaning and value to you, and living your life accordingly.

CyberLN's picture
Have you considered answering

Have you considered answering some of those questions with, "I don't know"?

It's a perfectly acceptable answer. And they don't really know either, despite insisting that they do.

Vincent Paul Tran1's picture
I actually don't even see how

I actually don't even see how morality is even a thing. Definitionally and evidentially, it seems like a fiction to keep the masses in line (politicians can be integrated and well respected in society and yet have no morality to speak of)

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