GM Note: This is a guest post from one of my favourite people and my friend, @NancyDrewPI who I am hoping most of you know, and if you don’t, you really ought to follow her. If you want to be a guest blogger on Godlessmom.com, click here.
What do you think? What arguments are you sick of seeing from atheists? Let me know in the comments below.
1. Bible/Quran Verses out of context:
Know the context of the common Bible verses atheists use to point out instances of biblical immorality. Yeah, I know, theists cry foul using the context thing way too much, but it does happen and it makes me cringe when I see it. For example, a lot of atheists will say, “What about dashing babies against rocks, HUH?! Is that good? Is that objective morality?” The verse in question is Psalm 137:9 – “Happy is the one who siezes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” Sounds pretty gruesome. Why would a loving god order such a horrible thing? Well, he didn’t. This verse is from the perspective of the Psalmist, wishing for destruction on his enemies who harmed him and his people. Don’t get me wrong; the context isn’t much better. But I see this verse being used incorrectly far too often. The better you know the context of the verses you are talking about, the more difficult it will be to theists to squirm their way out of it.
Replace the “dashing babies against rocks” example of biblical immorality with “42 boys ripped apart by bears for calling a prophet ‘bald-head'” – 2 Kings 2:23-25. “Boys” could be translated as “young men”, but does that really fucking matter?
2. Jesus Never Really Existed:
Okay, I admit I’m torn on this one. Maybe this should be an honorable mention or bonus entry. Someone once pointed me toward an article about the lack of evidence for a historical Jesus and it really made me stop, think, and do a lot more research. But I don’t think it can be thrown around lightly. Very often, believers aren’t open to the idea that atheism is even a thing. They can’t imagine NOT believing. So I think it is too much to expect people to even entertain the idea of Jesus being a myth right off the bat. Maybe this argument should simply be shelved until the other person has reached a point of doxastic openness (willingness to evaluate beliefs).
It doesn’t really matter if a historical Jesus existed if none of the supernatural claims are true. Even if Jesus did walk the earth, it’s disputed how much of what the Bible says he said is true. Bart Ehrman thinks Jesus was, at best, a failed apocalyptic prophet, but check out his talks about his book Forged (and others) to learn about the problems in the New Testament, and use this to your advantage instead.
3. Religion/faith is a mental illness, or All religious people are stupid/delusional:
Just, no. Stop it. Yeah, religion is just a big, popular cult. Yes, it spreads like a virus and is hard to eradicate. It’s not a freaking mental illness! About 75% of atheists in the US are recovering from religion. Were they mentally ill before? All religious people aren’t stupid. Did they have low IQ’s before, and now suddenly their IQ jumped a few points because they stopped believing in a deity? No! Do you think “you’re delusional” is a magic phrase that will make people snap out of it? No! If you want your fellow conversationalist to get defensive or start hurling insults back, this is a good tactic. If you want real discussion, stay away from it.
Ask questions to find out why they believe what they do. Don’t assume it’s just because of where they grew up or what their parents were. If they reference religious experiences, ask them about religious experiences in other cultures. Ask if they’ve studied other religions. Ask why they thought Jesus was the cause of their religious experience. There are so many opportunities to get someone to pause and think that don’t involve telling them they’re crazy.
Click here to read part 2 and Nancy’s last 3 arguments atheists need to stop using.