The Instigator
Yvette
Con (against)
Losing
28 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Pro (for)
Winning
34 Points

Atheists do not have an excuse for preaching atheism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 16 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/5/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,493 times Debate No: 12696
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (47)
Votes (16)

 

Yvette

Con

"RoyLatham: Atheism, The one thing more obnoxious than a religious person preaching is an atheist preaching. The religious people have an excuse; they think they are saving souls. Atheists have no excuse."

I would like to challenge RoyLatham on the statement that atheists have no excuse for preaching atheism. The burden of proof is on myself, I must show that atheists have an excuse for preaching atheism. First, some clarifications and rules set forward.

I would like to avoid semantics, except for the purposes of clarifying our positions. The first round will be used for him to simply agree (and offer his own definitions if necessary), and in the second round I will make my case. From there we will debate.

Preaching I will define as strongly and assertively proclaiming a position. This is a bit of a mish-mash of the definitions involved with preaching/sermons as well as how Roy has described what he sees as preaching.

Atheists I will define as people who do not believe in a god. Atheism is lack of belief in a god. This is distinct from the assertion that no god exists.

Therefore, my resolution is that people who have no belief in a god have an excuse for trying to assertively encourage others not to believe in a god (ie, they have an excuse to preach their lack of belief). Obviously we cannot speak in terms of all or 100% of atheists. So the debate must apply to simply atheists in general/the majority of atheists, specifically those who preach atheism.

Note: My resolution is not that RoyLatham made the statement. If he did not, he may still accept the debate and simply debate my resolution. The resolution is simply a response to what he has apparently said.
RoyLatham

Pro

I did indeed make the statement, in Forum, and I'm pleased to have Con challenge me on it. In the Forums, people seem to often forget that this is a debate site.

I agree with Con's definition of atheism. I am an atheist, and have defended the atheist position in a number of debates here.

I disagree with Con's definition of "preaching." My assertion about atheists preaching uses "preaching" in a sense paralleling the way religious people preach. We think of a religious person preaching, we do not think of a vigorous defense of the ontological argument, or anything like that. What we think of are statements like, "Jesus is the only way to salvation!" The dictionary gives the definitions of "preach:" 1 : to deliver a sermon 2 : to urge acceptance or abandonment of an idea or course of action; specifically : to exhort in an officious or tiresome manner http://www.merriam-webster.com... I was focusing on the second definition, but the first has some relevance.

The definition includes "to urge acceptance ... to exhort." The definition is *not* "to present a logical argument in favor of a position" or in any way to argue a position. When religious people present arguments, they are not preaching and when atheists present arguments they are not preaching either. Preaching is tediously presenting a series of conclusions. The definition of a "sermon" includes "a speech on conduct or duty," http://www.merriam-webster.com... It is saying what people ought to do, not why they ought to do it. Again it is an exhortation, not an argument.

I am claiming that atheists can argue for their position, but they have no excuse for preaching. My sense of "preach" clearly parallels the religious use.
Debate Round No. 1
Yvette

Con

I accept my opponent' definitions (though let me remind readers that to exhort is not exhortation, ie a criminal offense, but exhortation) and thank him for the debate. Here's to a good one.

First, some foundations. In my opponent's original quote, he says that theists think they are doing good, therefor they have an excuse. Therefor, to show that atheists think they are doing good by preaching atheism, will show they have an excuse by my opponent's own standard. Other circumstances which would excuse the actions of atheists who attempt to spread their lack of belief would be if they were not of sound mind, or were attempting to protect themselves from a perceived threat.

I would also like to stress that how fair, effective, nice, reasonable, etc, preaching is does not matter. All that matters is whether it is excusable.

I will be arguing that atheists both think they are doing good by encouraging disbelief, and are attempting to protect themselves. In both cases it only matters what they think. For the purposes of this debate, I will focus on America primarily for reasons of simplifying the debate, however my opponent is free to move to focus globally.

I am sure my opponent is aware that atheists generally view religion and supernatural belief as harmful. We can find this opinion in atheist publications and organizations. You can see examples here:

http://goo.gl...
http://goo.gl...
http://goo.gl...
http://goo.gl...

Google searching for the top atheist blogs, you find the authors expressing these opinions:

"In the history of the world, nothing has been the catalyst of more grief, hatred, war, and crime than religion. Religion allows a person to hate, kill, torture, or steal, while allowing him to recuse himself of all blame. Religion causes people to break the laws of ethics and morality in the name of a god. Religion dulls the mind and weakens the senses. It makes "God did it" seem like a reasonable answer to anything at all, squelching questions of why, and how, and when, and replacing these questions with repeated mantras and prayers to nobody."

"A believer, Price says, remains forever on the lowest rungs of character development. He is moral out of fear of punishment from his deity. His fear of hell keeps him from being evil, and he is motivated to do good in order to get heavenly rewards. There is no goodness for goodness sake."

I asked people on Twitter why they encourage disbelief. Their responses can be seen in recent replies to myself asking why they oppose belief and whether they agree with the link in the below paragraph: http://goo.gl... Responses are still coming in (and older ones from my original posting of this debate aren't currently being shown, but the consensus was that belief is harmful).

Finally, this post (and the comments in agreement) explains atheist feelings of needing to be defensive and destroy belief perfectly: http://goo.gl...

And of course, atheists feel threatened. We make up 1.6% of the population of the US, where the religious make up 75%. It is safe to call atheists a minority, yet I am sure my opponent will acknowledge that atheists do not have the political clout of other minorities. Atheists believe themselves because of this and because of the actions of the religious people they are surrounded by, that they are vulnerable and attacked, and so many atheists are defensive or militant because of this. For example, religious tolerance is a common factor in decisions but rarely is lack of belief considered. And with statements like "atheists aren't real people" and "atheists shouldn't be considered citizens" coming from well-respected public figures, the feeling hasn't sprung out of thin air. Whether it's true or warranted isn't the issue here.

Atheists clearly feel both threatened and like they are doing people good. Right or wrong, they clearly have an excuse: they are defending themselves, others, and attempting to improve life.
RoyLatham

Pro

On the point of definition, "exhortation" is "the act or process of exhorting," http://www.thefreedictionary.com... -- exactly as I used the word. Con may be thinking of "extortion" rather than "exhortation." I needed a word meaning "a vigorous advocacy made without giving supporting reasons" and "exhortation" does that.

Con gave my original quote, "The one thing more obnoxious than a religious person preaching is an atheist preaching. The religious people have an excuse; they think they are saving souls. Atheists have no excuse." Con then claimed that implied the excuse of "they think they are doing good." It's not equivalent.

Consider the exhortation, "Don't touch that lever!" No reason is given, but the exhortation is appropriate if (a) the consequences are disastrous, and (b) an act of volition avoids the consequences. Volition is "The power or faculty of choosing; the will." http://www.thefreedictionary.com... Religious people believe that nothing is more important than saving one's soul. They also believe that faith is a choice. Christians emphasize repeatedly that they believe faith is a choice. One example giving Biblical citations is http://www.google.com... However, it follows from the nature of religion that there must be a leap of faith at some point. If there were no leap of faith, religion would reduce to science.

The religious excuse for preaching is that believing is necessary for salvation, something of critical importance, and that logical arguments cannot bring about the needed leap of faith. Hence the only way to bring about your critical belief is exhortation. They tediously repeat conclusions. They think they must preach because argumentation cannot engender the necessary leap of faith.

Atheists do not have a parallel situation. Atheists do not believe that immortal souls are at stake, they just think that religion is mistaken, and that mistaken belief sometimes has bad consequences. Most importantly, atheists do not believe that a leap of faith is required to overcome religion. They believe that ordinary reasoning suffices. If they think faith is required, they are not atheists. There is therefore no excuse for an atheist to exhort a religious person to make a leap of faith in abandoning religion. The atheist has reasoning available to support argumentation. An atheist who preaches is implicitly advocating an odd religion in which the faith is not believing in any gods. Religious people often equivocate on the word "faith," claiming that any belief constitutes faith equivalent to religious faith. That's not so. Reasoned belief is distinct from the result of taking a leap of faith, therefore atheists have no excuse for demanding that religious people abandon religion through a leap of faith.

Con devotes much space to claims that atheists feel that religion is a bad thing, and that atheists feel put upon. Con cites tweets about how atheists feel their tribe is attacked. I grant that those feelings exist. I think much of it is unjustified; religion is a consequence of human tribal instincts coupled with a human need to provide simple answers to complex problems. Get rid of religion and some political ideology or radical environmentalism or something else will take its place in fulfilling those needs. George Bush is appointed to take the place of the departed Satan as the source of all evil, or something like that. However, the origin of religion is a subject for another debate. The question is whether atheists have an excuse for preaching, which is vigorously advocating without reasoning. Unlike religious people, atheists have no excuse for demanding faith. Atheist feelings about religion are cause for them to argue against it, but not to preach.

There is a small matter of debate logic. Con claimed that if I previously allowed X as a good excuse for preaching then I must allow X as a good excuse in this debate. That's not so. I might previously have been right for the wrong reason. I greed to debate the subject resolution, not to defend my previous line of argument. I might have been previously preoccupied with some other task -- I might have previously erred because I was preoccupied with putting a bit of lard on the cat's boil, so I didn't adequately explain my thinking. Maybe I was just wrong back then. The current debate stands on its own. As it turned out, Con misunderstood my previous reasoning so I had no cause to abandon it, but I could have. "That's what you said." is not a valid argument.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 2
Yvette

Con

I thank Con for the rebuttal, though I'd like to apologize and point out that the reason I made the distinction between exhortation and extortion was to avoid any reader confusion. Nothing Con did wrong at all.

I'll note here as well as later so readers don't miss it, that it's now agreed upon that atheists feel threatened by religion and feel religion is very bad (actually, this second agreement was only implied). I have presented multiple solid excuses for preaching by atheists in this argument, as well.

CON'S REBUTTAL
1. The religious feel that the only way they can do good is by preaching, which is why they have an excuse for it. IE, he says it isn't simply enough that they feel they're doing right, they need a specific reason for preaching as opposed to simply debating.

2. Next, he admits that atheists feel they are being attacked--take careful note of that. However, he says there is no excuse because he thinks the feeling is unwarranted. He also says that religion is just something that makes a few mistakes. Let me also note that Con has not taken an obvious stance on whether most atheists feel they are doing good by getting rid of religion, however it is implied, so I will assume we agree. It's a rather obvious truth, besides.

3. Next, Con is right in that he has no duty to defend his statement except for to focus on the resolution itself. However he continues to assert that Christians have an excuse because of what they think, and continues to set the standard (and it's a widely held one) by doing so.

RESPONSES
1. I grant that the religious may have *more* of an excuse to preach, however let me note that many Christians nonetheless attempt to debate or argue their religion or the existence of their god, or their religious thoughts in general. So while preaching is preferred, it is not the "only way" as my opponent has claimed. It is simply the one many Christians chose. Indeed, I doubt many Christians sit down and think about the logic for preaching my opponent just offered--it comes naturally.

2. Let me very strongly emphasize that any argument he can make that atheists aren't doing a good thing by getting rid of religion, or that they aren't attacked, is entirely irrelevant. All that matters is what the majority of atheists think is true, what they think they are doing, etc. While atheism doesn't require the leap of faith religion does, and so atheists are more subject to evidence, they are human and so judge by the same basic things as anyone else--ie, theists. If their judgment is poor, poor judgment makes for a fine defense. It is a far cry from malevolence or disregard for the freedom of others, which would make the preaching truly inexcusable.

ETC
Something to remember--atheists do not need to have the best excuse. It simply needs to be enough of an excuse for the "crime" committed, preaching.

Atheists make a point of using logical arguments and evidence to a degree not often seen in political groups. Compared to groups such as the religious, various political parties, etc, atheists use logic and argument very much. So atheists, by default, do a good job, they simply slip. But who slips, and why? I contend that (and my experience will likely match up with Roy's) that the most assertive and loud atheists who "preach" tend to be: young, angry, defensive, fed up. Not necessarily all at once.

Is youth an excuse? To an extent. It's considered an excuse for terrible crimes by the legal system, I think I can safely consider an unfinished brain as an excuse for being too assertive and loud with one's opinions.

Is anger and defensiveness an excuse? The anger comes from feelings of rawness, hurt, from seeing and feeling injustice at the hands of religion. While my opponent writes off religion as "tribal instincts" that just make mistakes sometimes, the vast majority of atheists disagree...strongly. I refer my opponent once again to my links and quotes, especially the long rant which was heartily agreed with by countless atheists. Atheists do not view religion as something that just makes a few mistakes. They view it as holding back all of humanity, as weakening minds, as being used to justify violence, homophobia, sexism, racism, nationalism, war, genocide, etc. A recent example was the role of religion (especially the Mormon religion) in Prop 8 being approved, and the backlash against it. To atheists, religion doesn't just "make a few mistakes", it actively participates in destroying lives for it's purposes. I also refer my opponent to films like Religulous and Waiting for Armageddon. Atheists have every reason to fear that those with power (even if it's just one vote, especially if it's a Senate vote or a finger on The Button) are delusional and religiously motivated. I can't stress this enough. There could be no better excuse for assertiveness than trying to do away with a mentality that threatens to destroy the world.

Is being fed up an excuse? By my opponent's standards it should be. He asserts that Christians do not think they will do any good by logic. Many atheists feel the same, after having spent so long in a futile effort to convince Christians using logic. As an aside, some (though this is hardly the majority of atheist preachers) atheists that the human brain isn't a logical one and that less logic-based methods are necessary.

Finally, my opponent brings up the issue that theists think belief is voluntary. Many atheists, however, disagree, and if they don't, when presented with the question of "Could you simply start believing in fairy tales again?" they admit they couldn't. (ref: http://goo.gl...) Theists think theism is a choice, atheists think atheism isn't a choice. What does this mean? It tells us that, if anything, theists have less of an excuse based on this reason than atheists for preaching. Atheists see it as a matter of seeing the evidence (or lack thereof) with an open mind, which places importance on the environment of the person to be "converted". In contrast, most Christians think that all that matters is a person's willingness to accept Jesus, yet preach anyway. Indeed, Christians continue to preach, sometimes literally, to the choir. There is no excuse of saving souls here, and quite frankly the preaching never ends. Can my opponent really continue to claim that saving souls is why Christians preach? Atheists, however, do not continue preaching to atheists. Clearly atheists are more excused when they preach.

CONCLUSION
Overall, atheists have many excuses for preaching, and do it less often and more nobly than most groups. The idea that atheists have no excuse for their preaching is rejected. I look forward to my opponent's response.
RoyLatham

Pro

I think we have agreement that "preaching" is advocating a position by exhortation, which is demanding agreement without giving reasons.

There is a question of what constitutes an "excuse." I think the context of the resolution makes it clear that we are talking about an excuse being a "valid reason." "The dog ate my homework." is always "an excuse," but it s only a valid reason if the dog really did eat your homework.

My argument is summarized as follows:

P1. Christians believe that salvation is all-important and must be advanced.
P2 Christians believe that belief in religion is a choice.
P3. Since the choice is not a product of logic, they must preach to inspire a non-believer to take a leap of faith.
P4. Therefore, the excuse Christians have for preaching is that it is consistent with their premises (1) and (2)..
P5. Atheists believe that facts and logic are all-import and must be advanced.
P6. Preaching is demanding that belief be arrived at without logic, but by choice.
P7. Therefore, atheists have no excuse for preaching because preaching contradicts their premise (5).

Consider the resolution, "Christians have no excuse for hating anyone." Fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell was asked if he hated atheists. He replied without hesitation to the effect, "No, Christians hate the sin, but not the sinner." The proposed resolution about Christians is therefore affirmed as being an inevitable consequence of a fundamental belief of Christianity.

Con disputes little in my claims (1 ... 7). I think Con's arguments are summarized as follows. I'm sure Con will correct me if I am wrong. Con is granting that while atheists preaching is not excusable with reference to a fundamental belief in logic, there is an independent way it is excusable:

C1. Atheists fear and hate Christians.
C2. The fears and hatred of Christianity are valid.
C3. Atheists preach as an emotional response to (C1) and (C2).
C4. (C3) is more important than the principle that facts and logic should prevail (P5).
C5. Therefore, atheists preaching against religion is excused.

In these summaries, there are some qualifications.

a. Not all Christians preach, and the ones that do may not preach all the time. This is true, but the argument is only about the circumstances of preaching, and when it is and is not excusable.

b. All Christians do ultimately require a leap of faith, as do all religious people. The definition of religious belief implies that some aspects are not provable.

c. Not all atheists fear and despise Christians. I don't. But all atheists deny that leaps of faith are justified.

Con argued that since Christianity is wrong, there is no excuse for advocating it in any way, preaching it or not. Consequently if atheists have no excuse for preaching atheism, they are at worst equal with Christians in that regard. Con drafted the resolution and failed to include anything about Christians having an excuse to preach, so Con's argument, if true, affirms the resolution that we are debating, that atheists have no excuse.

Beyond that, Con's argument equivocates upon "excuse." I am arguing that atheist preaching is contrary to a fundamental premise of atheism, that facts and logic ought to prevail. Christian preaching is consistent with their fundamental premise that religious belief is a choice. Thus Christians have the excuse that preaching is consistent with what they believe, while atheist preaching contradicts the fundamental atheist belief that facts and logic ought to prevail.

That brings me to the error in Con's argument. The error is in C4, that emotional response is a valid reason to abandon a principle of using facts and logic. If one accepts emotional response as trumping logic, then one must also accept a religious person's deep emotions that religion is correct in validly trumping the logic against religious belief. If Con's argument is true, than it validates religion.

I accept that some atheists are quite emotional. That is understandable, but not excusable when it comes to opposing religion. Atheists, no matter how upset, have no excuse for preaching the equivalent of "If you believe in religion, God will smite thee." It amounts to that if one demands abandoning reason as a motivation.

Con argues, "Let me very strongly emphasize that any argument he can make that atheists aren't doing a good thing by getting rid of religion, or that they aren't attacked, is entirely irrelevant. All that matters is what the majority of atheists think is true, what they think they are doing, etc." Wrong, atheism is the agreed-upon and universally accepted definition, not what an alleged "majority" of atheists feel. Con only recited a Twitter poll of her friends. That's reminiscent of a New York Times columnist expressing astonishment when Bush was elected, because she didn't know a single person who voted for him. Some atheists feel very upset and some atheists preach; it doesn't change the definition of atheism.

I think a majority of atheists are not so upset, and surely not consumed with a hatred of religion. I think most atheists are preoccupied with more important things, like making money. I think very few atheists preach, because few let passion overwhelm logic. But it doesn't matter what the percentages are. If it is just one or a majority, there is never an excuse for lapsing into an irrational appeal against something believed unreasonable.

To put this into perspective, Japan is simultaneously the most religious country in the world (98%) and the most atheist country (70%). Clearly, on an emotional plane, atheism does not require hatred of religion. In Japan, religion is respected as a cultural institution, and, I think, as a valuable metaphor. Shinto has a spirit living in just about everything, and while few people believe that literally, they think it has value as a concept.

Con argues that it is young atheists who tend to preach, and youth is considered an excuse for diminished punishment of crimes. Atheism is a philosophical position demanding reliance on logic. If a youth abandons logic, then they are abandoning atheism is favor of a different doctrine, hatred of religion. Imagine a youth who fancies himself an earnest pacifist. In his passion for pacifism he decides to "kill for peace." That is not a valid excuse for pacifists killing people, because it violates the fundamental principle of pacifist belief. What it establishes is that people can proclaim themselves pacifists without embracing the necessary principles. The same is true of atheists who preach. They are confusing atheism with blind religious hatred.

Con broadens the argument, "Atheists do not view religion as something that just makes a few mistakes. They view it as holding back all of humanity, as weakening minds, as being used to justify violence, homophobia, sexism, racism, nationalism, war, genocide, etc. ... There could be no better excuse for assertiveness than trying to do away with a mentality that threatens to destroy the world." What this asserts is that atheism is the same thing as blind hatred of religion. I disproved that with the example of Japan. Con provided no unbiased polling data to prove that was true even in the United States, and if it was true it wouldn't change the definition of atheism.

Con is arguing that atheism equates to religious hatred, and religious hatred is in fact a religion in itself. As a religion, Con maintains, atheism is fully justified in using all the irrational leaps of faith accorded to any other religion. Con provided the definition of atheism at the outset. It is a philosophical position, not a pseudo-religion. I'm not willing to convert atheism to a religion, and neither should anyone else. Atheists have no excuse for demanding leaps of faith.
Debate Round No. 3
Yvette

Con

Misunderstandings seem to have occurred, as well as inconsistency in Pro's argument. Later in my post Pro ignores evidence I've presented and forgets he has already conceded points.

The definition of an excuse is, according to Dictionary.Reference.com, "an explanation offered as a reason for being excused; a plea offered in extenuation of a fault". However I think Google says it better: "A reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense."

Pro is inconsistent. With Christians, he claims that what they think as true excuses them, yet not atheists.

Third, I will respond to Pro's arguments, many of which are straw men.

My position is not that "because atheists feelings towards religion are valid, their actions are excused". Their feelings and opinions are real, and these particular feelings and opinions justify preaching even if preaching atheism is still a fault. Pro has glossed over that atheists think they are helping people in general by doing away with belief--it is not just a reaction to feeling threatened. Pro argues that preaching is a fault for atheists, while ignoring that the point of an excuse is to defend an offense. All we must argue is whether such a fault has a valid defense.

"Con argued that since Christianity is wrong, there is no excuse for advocating it in any way, preaching it or not." This is a blatant strawman--nowhere have I said this or anything close to it. In fact, it mirrors what Pro is saying about atheist preaching.

"The error is in C4, that emotional response is a valid reason to abandon a principle of using facts and logic." Pro strawmans my argument. Imagine an eight-year old who feels threatened by another child, so hits him. He may have been wrong about being threatened, but should be excused. Punished, maybe, but to teach a lesson, not because there was no excuse. This is my argument. That preaching atheism may be a bad idea, may be a fault, but the reality that atheist "preachers" are convinced of has given them reason to do the fault.

My argument is not that emotion overrides logic. Feelings of being threatened or that religion must be done away with are described as "feelings", but they are opinions with reason behind them, even if conclusion is false.

Let me state this strongly and with emphasis: if these opinions were indeed true, the only fault of atheists preachers would be poor tactics. And truly, that is what Pro's problem with atheist preaching comes down to. That it is a poor tactic.

"Atheism is the agreed-upon and universally accepted definition, not what an alleged "majority" of atheists feel. Con only recited a Twitter poll of her friends."

(The Twitter poll was conducted not among my friends but in the entire #atheism channel) Pro not only ignores the rest of the evidence I presented but also forgets that he agreed earlier that "atheists feel that religion is a bad thing, and that atheists feel put upon. Con cites tweets about how atheists feel their tribe is attacked. I grant that those feelings exist." Indeed, Pro himself said the issue was not that atheists felt these things.

"Con argues that it is young atheists who tend to preach, and youth is considered an excuse for diminished punishment of crimes. Atheism is a philosophical position demanding reliance on logic. If a youth abandons logic, then they are abandoning atheism is favor of a different doctrine, hatred of religion."

Two problems. On one hand, he is writing off ALL atheists who preach as not atheists. If that is the case, no atheist has preached while being an atheist, which I am happy to agree with as that means atheists do not need an excuse for preaching: they do not do it. On the other hand, Pro is redefining atheism. Atheism is a lack of belief in any gods, and that lack of belief does not need logic. It can come from lack of knowledge of the concept, or poor logic which arrives at a fault conclusion, etc.

"Imagine a youth who fancies himself an earnest pacifist. In his passion for pacifism he decides to "kill for peace." That is not a valid excuse for pacifists killing people, because it violates the fundamental principle of pacifist belief." Except the only fundamental principle of atheism is lack of belief in a god.

"Con broadens the argument, ‘Atheists do not view religion as something that just makes a few mistakes. They view it as holding back all of humanity, as weakening minds, as being used to justify violence, homophobia, sexism, racism, nationalism, war, genocide, etc. ... There could be no better excuse for assertiveness than trying to do away with a mentality that threatens to destroy the world.' What this asserts is that atheism is the same thing as blind hatred of religion." This is completely false. Pro confuses atheism with atheists themselves.

"I disproved that with the example of Japan."

The religious climate of Japan is hardly the same as the religious climate of the U.S. My focus, as stated, is on America, and while Pro is free to focus elsewhere, he has done little to show that the religious climate of Japan is the same as in the U.S. and that any significant number of atheists in Japan preach atheism at all. Indeed he has claimed the religious and nonreligious live peacefully side by side there, which implies preaching does not happen in either direction. If atheists don't preach in a nation with a different religious setting than America, that only lends more power to the idea that in America atheists have something they feel threatened by or feel is doing wrong.

"Con provided no unbiased polling data to prove that was true even in the United States." I didn't need to. Pro conceded the point, and besides, I showed many examples.

"Con is arguing that atheism equates to religious hatred, and religious hatred is in fact a religion in itself. As a religion, Con maintains, atheism is fully justified in using all the irrational leaps of faith accorded to any other religion." This wholly misinterprets my position, again. Nowhere have I said that atheism equals religious hatred, and Pro has provided no reasoning that hating religion is a religion itself. As I have never said atheism or religion-hating is a religion, neither have I ever claimed "atheism is fully justified in using all the irrational leaps of faith accorded to any other religion".

Now let's get down to Pro's counter-argument.

"Atheists believe that facts and logic are all-import and must be advanced. Preaching is demanding that belief be arrived at without logic, but by choice. Therefore, atheists have no excuse for preaching because preaching contradicts their premise."

While atheists often place a higher value on facts and logic than theists, there is nothing inherent in lack of belief of a god which requires a person also believe facts and logic be of utmost importance. Pro has also redefined preaching. Preaching, I remind you, is: "is advocating a position by...demanding agreement without giving reasons" in Pro's own words and as agreed on by both of us. In Pro's definition, preachers demand that others not think or use logic. In the definition we both agreed on, the preacher simply doesn't give reasons, but there is no inherent urging that anyone abandon reason.

It's "don't think about it, just do it" vs. "think about it and do it!" the latter of which is the type used by atheists. The latter isn't effective but isn't hypocritical.

ro has not shown how contradicting one's positions (that are not actually a part of atheism) is anything worse than hypocrisy. What we are dealing with is nothing worse than an anti-censorship advocate snapping at someone to "just shut up already". Wrong but easily excused.

Pro spent the last round backpedaling on his earlier agreement with my premises and definitions, strawmanning my arguments, and ignoring evidence I've offered. Resolution affirmed.
RoyLatham

Pro

It's clear from context that an "excuse" in this debate is not merely anything offered as a reason. Consider, "Why did you shoot the sheriff?" "I felt like it." The response "I felt like it." may well be true and offered as an excuse, but it is not logically derived. From the outset, I was clear that what I meant by an "excuse" was logic applied to considered premises. The premises may be wrong, but they are adopted upon thought. Christians and atheists have different conclusions, so someone is wrong. This debate is about whether preaching is consistent with fundamental atheist beliefs.

Excusable mistakes include (a) facts assumed to have been from reliable sources, but which turn out to be untrue, and (b) incorrect application of complex rules of logic. For example, what amounts to incorrect application of Bayes Theorem is a common error in logic, but the principle at root is so poorly understood its misapplication is excusable. However, some errors are not excusable. It is inexcusable to proclaim that one believes in a carefully considered and well-understood principle, and to then purposefully violate that principle.

For example, it is inexcusable for a Christian to hate people. Hating the sin and not the sinner is fundamental to Christianity. The doctrine is so broadly agreed upon among those meeting the definition of Christianity, that anyone proclaiming to be a Christian either knoit or should know it.

Christians believe that salvation is all-important and that believing in God is a choice. It follows from those premises that they may exhort others to make the choice. The choice to believe is a leap of faith. If Christians thought that only logical deduction could convince people, they would not be practicing religion, they would be in the realm of science. Atheists do not believe in leaps of faith. Preaching is to "to urge acceptance or abandonment of an idea or course of action; specifically : to exhort in an officious or tiresome manner." That's demanding a leap of faith. If atheists did believe in leaps of faith, they would be a religion. Preaching is asking someone to accept a conclusion without offering logic or evidence to support it. The Christian excuse for preaching is that it is consistent with their fundamental premises. Atheists have no excuse for preaching, because demanding belief without proof is contrary to the atheist rejection of leaps of faith.

Con accuses me of inconsistency, "With Christians, [Pro] claims that what they think as true excuses them, yet not atheists." Con made that claim early in the debate, and persists in it. I am consistent in saying that there is no excuse for arguing contrary to the central principles of ones beliefs. Believing that a leap of faith is required and believing that leaps of faith are unjustified are diametrically opposed. Because of what Christians believe, they may preach. Because of what atheists believe, they cannot preach. Note that the Christian belief in leaps of faith only applies to matters of salvation; they do not have a general license to preach on things unrelated to religious doctrine.

Con explains her position by analogy, "Imagine an eight-year old who feels threatened by another child, so hits him. He may have been wrong about being threatened, but should be excused. Punished, maybe, but to teach a lesson, not because there was no excuse." So a parent who knows her child erred in judgment excuses the child? I think the parent would say that falsely feeling threatened was not an excuse for hitting the other child. If the other child was revealed to have a grenade, then the child would be excused. The issue is not whether the child actually was threatened, it was whether the child used a logical process in assessing the threat. If the other child had a realistic fake grenade, the child would still be excused.

Keep in mind that preaching is advocating a conclusion without supporting facts or logic. The resolution is that "preaching atheism" has no excuse. Con is arguing that fear of Christianity is an excuse for preaching atheism. Fear of Christianity is a good reason for giving facts and a line of reasoning opposing Christianity. One could even make a weak case that fear of Christianity is an excuse for preaching against Christianity. That would be saying, "Christianity is bad," without saying why it is bad.

However, Con is going beyond claiming that preaching anti-Christianity is excusable; she claims that demanding a leap of faith to atheism is excused by fear of Christianity. Preaching implies a sermon. Even if done extemporaneously, it demands intellectualizing. Anyone capable of intellectualizing ought to at that point cite reasons in support of their opinions about atheism or Christianity. A person who is incapable of intellectualizing has no excuse for preaching anything.

My case is in two parts: Atheists who have an intellectual understanding of atheism have no excuse for preaching atheism because they know atheism does not condone leaps of faith. Con suggests there are atheists who adopt atheism as a quasi-religion because they feel threatened, doing so on faith. If so they have no excuse for preaching atheism because they do not understand the subject. Preaching requires intellectual preparation, and they are not prepared.

Con presents evidence intended to prove that atheists fear and hate Christianity. I don't think that evidence is relevant to the debate. If fear provokes irrational behavior, that explains irrational behavior, but does not excuse it. Try out, "Racism is excused because one race genuinely fears the other." I don't think so. he overriding principle is that people ought to be jusdged on their individual merits, and anyone opining on the subject must know that. It is irrelevant even if the fear is justified. Fear of Christianity is a good reason for opposing it, but not opposing it based upon faith in atheism. Note the facility that Con had in coming up reasons; I'm sure she could recite ten within a single breath. Fear is not an excuse for demanding a leap of faith in adopting atheism.

Even though I think it irrelevant, I while rebut some of what Con claims about how atheists feel. Some readers may believe that atheism somehow necessarily implies fear of Christianity.

Con says that I was inconsistent in granting that "atheists fear Christianity," then not allowing fear as an excuse. I granted that *some* atheists fear Christianity. That is as bold a concession as granting that some atheists fear peanut butter. My point was that fear of Christianity, or even animosity towards religion, does not logically follow from being an atheist. My example of Japan showed that about a hundred million people were both atheists and members of a religion. Con countered that she was talking about American atheists. The definition of atheism, however, does not have separate sections for "in the United States" and "outside the United States." If fear and hatred of religion are logical consequences of atheism, then it would be so everywhere, and it is not. Actually Japan is "worse" than America by her standards; they have state support of religion.

Con tweeted an atheist list and found few who did not fear religion. That's like tweeting a list of Republican Party activists and asking what they think of Democrats. Only the most opinionated atheists join lists, and of those mainly the ones interested in affirming Con are going to respond. The list members were not all personal friends, but they are pre-selected as being like-minded. Con misused Bayes Theorem.

Con's case is that feelings excuse actions, and that as a consequence of atheists fearing religion they are excused for exhorting people to atheism. But atheists cannot be excused for failure to give reasons and logic, because that violates an atheist principle of applying logic to religious belief.

The resolution is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 4
47 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by yuiru 5 years ago
yuiru
Have you accepted Jesus as your personal savior?

Did you know Jesus, the son of God, sacrificed himself for you?
Back when God created earth in 7 days, atheist were not allowed to even exist.

You should thank God that you two atheist are even able to debate with each other!

Con should have won!
Posted by LiquidLiquid 6 years ago
LiquidLiquid
He's a ninja now!
Posted by Shtookah 6 years ago
Shtookah
hahahahahahahaha alien dudes comment...
Posted by LiquidLiquid 6 years ago
LiquidLiquid
What would God want to save me from? Himself? He's not saving me, he's simply not sending me to hell. Why would God be such a jerk? I doubt if such a grand being existed, that he would care about whether I believe in him or not. Think about it, if you were God, would you?
Posted by Matth3w 6 years ago
Matth3w
There is a God. He wants to save you.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
Ste93, "why are religious people more likely to be logical and scientific when dealing with the world? Can this be demonstrated? " I never said anything like that. My contention is that people are forced to deal with many issues, so each will be tempted to take ideological shortcuts on something. If you don't think that all the evil in the world derives from Satan, you may think it comes from George Bush. Not necessarily, but that is how humans tend to resolve complicated issues.

Was it logical to start the Inquisition? No, it was not. It was "ideological." My theory is that society involves. Maybe some religious people claim they are immune to that, but the evidence is contrary. Keep in mind I am an atheist, so I think the basis of religion is social. Religion evolves.

I certainly do think that atheists would do something like the Inquisition. It happens when ideology becomes a substitute for religion. Right now, giant floodgates are being built to protect New Orleans. The project was proposed in the 1970s, but killed at the time on the grounds that when the gates were closed before a hurricane a certain fish would not be able to breed properly. It predictably cost hundreds of lives. I think that amounts to human sacrifice in the name of substitute religion. It is not logical.
Posted by Ste93 6 years ago
Ste93
why are religious people more likely to be logical and scientific when dealing with the world? Can this be demonstrated? Surely believing improbable things like the resurrection would affect one's judgement in a negative way. If you can be convinced of, let's face it, physically impossible things based on little evidence, then how can you claim such people are more logical and scientific when dealing with the world? It was Christians that started the Inquisition. Was this a logical thing to do? Do you think atheists would do such a thing? I think not, for we have no ancient book telling us what to do. I agree that religion has changed over time, but for secular reasons.
Posted by LiquidLiquid 6 years ago
LiquidLiquid
Great post Roy. Just because you think your right in another way, does not mean your right in all ways. Remember my secular friends, all types of people make that assumption. Fascism and dogma come in many forms.
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
Ste93, You said, "RoyLatham's opinions on how reasonable atheists are are just assertions. The Bible explicity declares that slavery is allowed, so drawing the exact opposite conclusion is ludicrous." What are you talking about? I sense a debate coming on ...

With respect to slavery and the Bible, my point was that religion reflects culture. The Bible doesn't change, but what Christians make of it certainly does. I think that this is good. Society tries things. Some things fail and others succeed. Religion in not frozen, it moves with society. The virtue of traditional region is that it tends to avoid encoding the cultural fads of the times.

I said atheists are more logical and scientific about religion, but there is little evidence that as a whole they are more logical or more scientific in dealing with the world. They just get their instant answers to complex questions in other ways. In California, there is a new law that forbids selling new cars that are black. Doesn't that sound like a religious law? The idea that is the air conditioners run more in black cars, which increases fuel consumption, which generates more CO2 which leads to global warming. The effect is down there in the trillionth of a degree, assuming everything global warming crisis people say is true. It is a symbolic act in the name of a pseudo-religion.

Glass bottles must be sorted by color and buried separately. They are not worth recycling and it's unlikely they ever will be. It is expensive and purely symbolic. Green energy is four times the pric and is mandated by law. We have a de facto state religion, and I am forced to pay for it and obey its dictates. Traditional religion has very little impact on me, but the modern substitutes are burdensome and offensive.
Posted by Ste93 6 years ago
Ste93
the only reason I mention the Bible is that Christians persistently quote it, without verifying its validity, to claim evidence for their views. Most atheists use science and reason that can be demonstrated. I was trying to shw that religious people preaching and atheists 'preaching' are not equal.
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