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Atheism and debate June 22, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in issues, rants.
Tags: , , , , , ,
27 comments

“The more you stomp in poop, the more it stinks.”

Who thought I’d ever be quoting Billy Ray Cyrus, eh? It’s true, though, and it’s the best way to describe how I feel about responding to the anti-atheist comments I get here. Sometimes they’ll go all-out on their rage (“You’re going to hell!”) or be deceptively nice (“May you see the light someday”), but I treat them all the same way: I delete them.

It’s not as easy when you’re confronted with that kind of spammage in real life, though. If there’s one thing I learned after almost a whole year of being a “heathen” atheist, it’s that you have to walk around carrying an arsenal of proper responses to arguments that will be thrown at you from any angle. Atheism and debate walk hand-in-hand, or at least, debate is constantly humping atheism’s leg.

Here are the different debate tactics I’ve encountered so far:

1. The sanctimonious approach
Case in point: Tyler

“Your atheism is just a phase. You’re a good person, TA, I know you’ll come back to the light eventually.”

Insisting that you’re not in a dark place of any sort will only lead to the two of you running around in circles, so I just respond to this with a noncommittal nod and smile, followed by…

2. The change-of-topic
Case in point: Me

Tyler: “Why are you still an atheist?”
TA: “Oh, um…hey, the espresso brownie at Starbucks is really good, have you tried it? Come on, let’s go get one.”

If debate were a PlayStation (sorry guys, I’m loyal to Sony — wider game selection), this tactic would be the “reset” button. Yeah, I know, shame on me for taking the easy way out and wearing out that button like a motherfucker, but you’ve got to learn to pick your battles. Time is of the essence, and I’d rather waste it on other things than explaining why yes, I’m an atheist and no, I’m not Satan’s daughter.

3. The banishment
Case in point: CDT

CDT: “You were being condescending, blah blah blah.”
Me: “Are you kidding me? Here’s why your comments were completely condescending, and I just responded because I don’t tolerate that kind of asshattery around here.”
CDT: “…Satan has got a hold on you!”

Still the dumbest argument I’ve ever had (next to the ones with my mother), and the funny thing is that I’m pretty sure CDT still thinks he won.

4. The personal attack (closely related to #3)
Case in point: Fred

Fred: “I can’t believe you posted our whole debate on your blog and made me look like an idiot!”
TA: “I just quoted you verbatim, dude. I didn’t make you look like an idiot, you made yourself look like an idiot.”
Fred: “Oh yeah? Well, all of my friends think you’re an elitist bitch!”
TA: “…And? What does that have to do with anything?”
Fred: “You’re not offended?”
TA: “No. Should I be?”
Fred: “You’re not compelled to change your personality and be a better person? Wow. That’s kind of horrible.”

I couldn’t help laughing because Fred, who happens to be a bigger elitist and a far more abrasive and unlikable personality than I am, was OMG Morally Outraged (TM) that I wasn’t affected by that “revelation.” And the moment he lost his temper over that while I maintained my cool, I knew that I had won.

See, Fred’s a very predictable type of debater: if he knows he’s been backed into a corner, he’ll go right for the jugular and throw everything but the kitchen sink at you, even if it’s completely unrelated to the topic at hand. These debates are very easy to win. All you have to do is keep a straight face and remain calm and unaffected. They’ll go batty.

5. The non-sequitur
Case in point: Mother Dearest

“How can there not be a God, when I managed to get through all of these difficult times in my life? How can there not be a God, when this world is so beautifully complex? You can’t possibly believe that it came out of nowhere!”

It’s tough arguing with idiots. You can’t win, even when you win. Not to say that my mother is an idiot entirely, but you all know how she is when it comes to my atheism.

So, there you have it. TA’s Top 5 Encountered Debate Tactics. Now, it’s up to you whether you want to respond to the argument, or be a lazy bum like me and just press the “reset” button.

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It could’ve been…worse? June 7, 2008

Posted by Teen Atheist in anecdotes, rants, teen angst.
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32 comments

On a whim after breakfast, two friends and I went to a large, museum-like antique shop, with ancient relics and furniture from India, Sri Lanka and the like. The store owner was a handsome, 50-something woman named Layla who was the kind of person every woman (or me, anyway, if every other woman was wildly uncool and wanted to be Paula Deen when they grew up) aspired to be like — wealthy, worldly, been-there-done-him. Very, very cool.

One of the friends I have with me is the naive, wide-eyed type who hopes to settle down one day with her American boyfriend (it was an internet romance), white picket fence blah blah blah. The discussion topic turns to how expensive it is to get married in the “US and A” (TM Borat), as compared to our country. I share my personal views on the matter: that marriage, to me, is just a piece of paper with a bunch of people’s signatures on it; that I didn’t intend to get married, I’d much rather be like Oprah or Susan Sarandon.

Layla: “What about when you plan to have children?”

TA: “Well, I’m an atheist. It doesn’t really matter.”

Layla bursts into laughter. Really, really loud, “Oh, you kids” kind of cackling. My two friends had no idea, so we all just kind of grinned uncomfortably. When her laughter dies down, she just says, “Oh, I don’t know anymore,” and wipes a tear from her eye.

So, it goes back to me being a silly teenager whose atheism is just a phase.

Apparently, atheism is the new Wicca.

You’d think someone as open-minded and worldly as she would be more respectful about it, but it goes to show the power that religion has over people. Everybody outside of the congregation is an idiot or a heathen. But I guess that applies to every sort of belief, Wicca and atheism included.

I still think Layla’s cool. Just, ever so slightly less than I used to.