Who has the right to define "God" for another?
Many scientists and mystics have understood so-called God in a different way than religion or atheists.We are not taught that many scientist who made huge contribution to science were NOT atheists. Nor were they Christians or Muslims.
Why do we think there is only one way to define "God"? What if there is a third conception that blends the two views?
I do find it is similar. It is almost impossible to argue and try to debate with a person who is just so stuck in their ways. I am an atheist but I am also more of a Republican. I can take crap from both sides and it stinks. But I will believe what I believe and I don't care who thinks I am crazy or I am full of bologna. I don't believe in God and that's that. I try to have a debate with my mother about it and she shuts down. Apparently to her all I need is to talk to my priest and I will be "normal" again. I was a Christian and then I realized it was completely illogical and I realized how judgmental people of religion can be. Especially now because I am technically a minority.
I myself am an agnostic, and sometimes it's hard to have a religious conversation without someone thinking I'm either a hugely religious person (and judging me for it) or an atheist (and judging me for it). This is because I am fascinated with religion, but I'm unsure how much of it is true if any.
There are many who will open their minds to see a more unified and non-judgmental way of thinking about it even if they disagree, but many people have a too black and white way of seeing it. There are many religious people who think all atheists are going to hell and want to burn down churches, and there are many atheists who think that all religious people are hypocritical and judgmental.
We need to find a way that we can understand, learn about and appreciate both sides without hostility and intolerance.
This is a question that won't provide precise yes or no answers because you already see people commenting about how not debating these issues means one is agnostic, which is false. Or that they should not debate it because they already know they're 100% right. None of these things have to do with the question.
It is better to avoid debating about theism and atheism for the reason that the both sides know in advance that their position is never going to change. As a result only greater tension and hostility happen.
People can change their mind about whichever side is in question only in their own observation, contemplation, and to lesser extent experiences.
The moment we add a "vs" to anything, it creates division... That is the idea's function; to create division. Not to be sarcastic, just reminding ourselves of the obvious. I don't see that it prevents true spiritual dialogue, as the people participating in the debate choose for themselves whether they will engage in such dialogue, so I feel that the lack of it has everything to do with the participants individual choices, and little to nothing to do with the actual debate. But I do definitely agree that it is in the same spirit of political division.
Unlike political parties, only one side can be correct when it comes to the existence of god(s). Political parties tend to take different sides on various issues, i.e. gun control, death penalty, and abortion. On these topics, a person who feels they belong to one party may also feel different than the majority on the particular issue. With many of the political issues, what is correct may not be one side or the other but somewhere in between. And there are other parties besides just the two that people may side with. With religion, you either believe in a god or you don't and only one side can be right as the two sides are black and white with no middle. Politics, on the other hand is more of a patchwork of shades of grey where one person can hold various opinions so dialogue can mean a compromise. Clearly, there is no compromise with religion as you can't claim that you do and do not believe in a god at the same time.
What divides people is the hate and intolerance of the religious people who feel as if they need to spread their religion. As an atheist, I don't like it when you tell me that I'm going to burn in hell and that i need redemption. You're not the judge and you don't know the mind of your god. Anyone who says this is a liar. I have no problem with a believer saying. "Here's why I believe this." What I don't like is when they say, "Here's why you should believe this and will suffer if you don't." When they make these accusations, that's where the divide comes in. Religion and philosophy have a clear distinction. Religion claims to have truth. Philosophy does not. I have never claimed to have the truth about a god. I don't think he exists. I have reasons for that but I can't prove anything. You can't either though and who is making claims of supernatural and threats? You all are so you should have to back it up.
Phrasing the question as atheism vs religion makes it seem like a fight between two opposing political parties, but in truth it is much more complicated than that. There is plenty of intra-religious bickering, and even more inter-religious to lay blame on an atheist vs religious argument. If all atheists were to suddenly stop criticizing religion it would not stop sectarian warfare and violence that has a stranglehold on some regions. Atheists being quiet wouldn't stop protestants and catholics from killing each other in some places.
This question almost makes it seem like if atheism didn't exist, or at least wasn't so vocal, then all religions would get along peacefully. At what point in mankind's history has that ever happened, and does it look like anti-religious thought is all that is provoking religious violence against a different flavor of religion?
The problem isn't debating metaphysics or morality; it's getting the religious to abandon their claims of privilege in the first place: privileged knowledge, privileged history, privileged morality, privileged metaphysical status.
Religious people who can honestly say "I have no special justification for my beliefs" have no difficulty at all in talking to atheists -- because atheism is simply the position that the religious have no special justification for their beliefs. :)
But it's hard for the religious to do that. Abandoning claims of privilege forsakes much of the motivation for faith. :p
It doesn't need to divide people; religionists should just admit they are wrong, join the rational atheists, and unity is achieved! The self contradictory aspect of belief in the supernatural is self-evident. You cannot debate someone who is irrational, it is irrational to believe in the supernatural, so it cannot be like a political debate.