(This a post from a year ago and that I believe has not fully run its course, so I would like to re post it again to get some fresh perspective from some of the newer users, and veterans on this page)
"The Son of God was crucified: there is no shame, because it is shameful.
And the Son of God died: it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.
And, buried, He rose again: it is certain, because impossible."- Tertullian
Often in the art and exercise of disputation, specifically in regards to theism, or theology in general, one finds themselves confronting statements similar to the one above. Now I hope no one will charge me with picking low hanging fruit; Tertullian is in fact one of the Church Fathers and, while not a saint, is still a figure of great influence within Christianity as a whole. The point, as I am sure you can see, is that in discussions with people of the book, it has an all too common tendency to become a one sided buffet of word salads, the taste and substance of which leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of both participants which quickly ends even the most productive discussions.
I believe this is due in large part but not entirely, to inadequacies within the Atheistic community, specifically in regards to criticism of religion and the religious in general in the online platform. My reasoning for this is extensive but for the sake of brevity I will try to keep it simple enough, so as to provide the opportunity for an effective discussion without losing any of the meat of my argument. And since my knowledge is limited to the Abrahamic Religions, I will only address those in this 21st century pamphlet for the masses.
In any exchange language is of the upmost importance, Socrates was a stickler for definitions for a reason, and this applies even more so for the Children of Abraham. If you are not speaking their language then you won’t get very far, certain words, creeds, tenets, doctrines can and often do have different meanings and applications among the diverse faithful, regardless of their claims of unity (Looking at you Islam) the reality, is that what may be a valid objection or criticism for one branch or interpretation may not necessarily apply to another. I’ll now provide some examples, again I am keeping this as simple as possible.
In speaking to Unitarians, objections to the claims of Christ’s divinity will fall on deaf ears, and as such so would any objections even similar to such a distinction. In speaking to Protestants, objections towards the behavior of early Christians under Roman Catholicism will be swept aside without a thought. In speaking to Sunni Muslims objections towards the principle of Taqiya ( lying in defense of Islam) will be dismissed a Shi’a fabrications (Sunni’s totally do it to but they pretend like they do not, for them it is called Kitman or idtirar)
I hope I have at least to a degree demonstrated my point, now I will go on to what can be done about this.
1. Ask for definitions, and assume nothing, no ideology is more structured around paradoxes than those which can never be proven.
2. Keep it simple, if you are talking to a theist then criticize aspects central to Theism and avoid the rabbit hole of religious doctrines and dogma. Make distinctions between Theism and Deism, they are mutually exclusive and should not be lumped together, remember Deists are still Atheists. (Yes they are, look it up)
3. Do not feed the preacher, if you see a sermon starting in a discussion that is the white flag of surrender and it is best to end it there. If you allow them to start they will never stop.
4. Listen to what they are saying, speak with them not against them and you will avoid the "blow back effect."
5. Fact check yourself before you wreck yourself, humans can be childish and look for any reason to dismiss you and your arguments so try to be prepared.
I’ll end it there but I look forward to much discussions with you all.
Thank you for your time.
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