Debating with Atheists – 10 Rules Christians Can Use to Defend Against Them

This is the first post in a series on debating with atheists.

Christianity is under attack. It is assaulted daily by New Atheists, hedonists, Hollywood, New Agers, Muslims, heretics, socialists, politicians, hypocrites, and many others.

Fortunately, Christians are more powerful than the people who justify their existence by hating them.

Unfortunately, most Christians do not know how to defend their faith against their assailants. Nor do they know how to place their opponents on the defensive.

But Christians need to learn how to do both of these in order to properly defend themselves. One is not enough. If Christianity is going to be saved from its enemies, then Christians must learn to do two things:

  • They need to be able to defend Christianity
  • And they need to be able to put their attackers on defense

It is for this reason that I dedicate a portion of this blog to teaching Christians strategy and tactics for use in defense of the faith.

The tactics Christians must use to defend Christ and his teachings will differ based on the group which decides to aggress against them.

Here, I will address ten tactics which Christians can use to defend themselves against the New Atheists.

1. Wait for them to come to you – Debating with Atheists

Debating with the New Atheists is a waste of time and effort. You should not want to debate with them. So you should not be the aggressor in your exchanges. Wait for them to come to you.

Debating with the New atheists is a waste of time because they don’t care about the truth. The purpose of a debate is to arrive at truth and then to win. Most people care only about winning, and the kill the truth in their pursuit of victory. Christians cannot do this. Christ is the Truth, and the aim of all Christian activity is to move closer to Him. So we must exalt the truth.

The reason why the New Atheists don’t care about the truth is because they are motivated solely by their desire to feel superior to you. If they can feel morally superior to you by lying, then they will lie. If they can feel intellectually superior to you by misleading, then they will mislead.

So the New atheists can resort to dirty tactics which Christians cannot use. This places Christians at a disadvantage against them.

Don’t worry about that though, we can still beat them quite easily. The Truth is a powerful weapon, but it is difficult to use. We need to become masters of the Truth.

But we are not masters. Not yet. So we need every advantage we can get in our defense against New Atheism.

And, as any strategist or historian can tell you, it happens to be far easier to defend oneself than it is to move against another.

So stay keep away from the New Atheists. Let them come to you and exhaust themselves. When they open their attack, they will inevitably show you weak spots which you can then exploit.

2. Memorize the following question – Debating with Atheists

“Why should I trust an atheist to interpret the Bible?”

The New Atheists come mostly from countries filled with Protestants, and they adopt certain traits of Protestant thinking. One of these is the idea that it is permissible for a person to create their own interpretations of the Bible’s contents and and to claim those views are valid.

So the New Atheists like to find the most unappealing bible verses, interpret them in unflattering ways, and then say that Christianity supports terrible things.

They use this method to say things such as:

“Christianity is pro-slavery because of verses X and Y.”

or

“Christianity is pro-rape because of verses A and B.”

or

“Christianity is pro-cannibalism because of verse C.”

Many Christians like to respond to these claims by picking other bible verses and using them as counter-arguments.

This is a mistake.

When you use the tactics of the New Atheist against him, you validate them. Do not validate his tactics. Do not let him pick the battlefield. If you do, then you’re going to lose.

It is far better to pick a different battlefield. One which i suitable for yourself and not for the atheist. And the one that suits you best is the field of authority.

When you ask, “Why should I trust an atheist to interpret the Bible?” you move the battlefield to a place where the atheist is crippled. The atheist does not have any authority to decide what the Bible ‘says,’ so his favorite cherry-picking tactic is defeated.

3. Memorize the following statement

“Murder is not a sin in atheism.”

Atheists like to say that atheism “is simply a rejection of gods.” They’re lying, but sometimes it’s useful to call their bluff.

The fact that atheists reject the existence of God requires them to reject the morality that comes from God. Hence, why murder is not a sin in atheism.

Moreover, the fact that atheists reject morality means that it is difficult for them to feel morally superior to others when their lack of morals is addressed. How can you feel morally superior when you don’t have morals?

Now, the common atheist does not have the ability to produce any thoughts or morals of his own. He’s a little too ‘common’ and not enough ‘atheist’. So he adopts whatever morality happens to be prevalent in his surroundings.

And, because New Atheists mostly come from countries controlled by Protestants, the morality they adopt is usually just some type of Christian morality. This is the reason why atheists pretend to follow more-or-less the same moral system as the Christians around them while they claim to reject Christianity.

However, admitting that his morals come from his Christian environment makes the atheist uncomfortable. So he starts lying to himself about how his morals come from “anywhere and anything else in the world other than Christianity”.

And you can activate this rationalizing process by reminding them that murder is not a sin in atheism.

4. How to respond to “I don’t believe in God” – Debating with Atheists

Say, “Which God is that?”

If an atheist tells you that he doesn’t believe in God, and if you ask him for clarification, then he finds himself in an awkward position.

He will need to define what he means by ‘God,’ and this definition will take one of two forms: the ridiculous or the reasonable.

An atheist might choose to define God as something ridiculous, such as, “An immortal cloud wizard who watches you pee and hates gay people,” in which case, you can respond with, “That’s good. I don’t believe in that god either.”

So you have ended the confrontation early and deprived the atheist of his chance to feel superior to you. And, because the New Atheists are motivated solely by their feelings of superiority, you will have easily achieved victory.

However, if the atheist tries to give a reasonable definition of ‘God,’ then you can carry out the exchange on terms which are more favorable to yourself.

5. Belief in the future

Atheists like to say they don’t believe in things without evidence. Most of them genuinely believe this. Too bad they’re wrong.

How do we know they’re wrong?

Because they believe in the future. If they didn’t, then they wouldn’t bother doing or planning for anything.

And the atheist’s belief in the future proves he is wrong when he pretends he does not believe things for which he lacks evidence. There is no evidence that the future exists, nor can there be. The future, having not yet happened, has not produced evidence of its own existence.

So the atheist would need to reject the existence of the future in order to remain consistent with his claim for the necessity of evidence.

But this is impossible for him to do. Anyone who says or does anything chooses to do so while they assume that the ending of those words or actions will occur in the future.

I cannot decide to say a thing unless I believe there will be a future within which to say it. So any atheist who decides to talk must, necessarily, believe the future exists. Without evidence.

6. Stand Upright – Debating with Atheists

Most people don’t know how to use their body language effectively.

And that’s a great shame.

You see, debate is an art form as much as it is an intellectual exchange, and people tend to get caught up on the latter at the expense of the former.

When we Christians find ourselves in an exchange with the people who hate us, we would do well to remember the nonverbal tools of debate.

And the single greatest tool to remember is your posture.

Most people have poor posture, they slump and they slouch, and they sabotage their arguments because they cannot convey their position with any level of confidence. We Christians must avoid that.

Do not worry. It’s easy. Simply stand up straight. Lift your head up while you’re at it. People are persuaded more by the way that you say things than by what you are actually saying. Speak the truth, and look like you know it’s the truth.

After all, if you don’t trust what you’re saying, then why should your audience? Carry yourself with confidence, even when you don’t have it, and you will convince people to listen.

7. Use Hand Gestures – Debating with Atheists

And while we’re on the topic of body language, I really should stress the need for hand gestures.

Humans are visual creatures. They attach more value to the things they see than to the things they hear. It’s illogical that humans do this, but they do it all the same, and people who debate need to remember this attitude.

When you debate someone, you will be far more convincing if you use visuals to accentuate your spoken words. The two most consistently useful visuals are your posture and hand gestures.

Use your hands to emphasize what you say. If you do, then people will be more likely to believe you. This is especially true if your opponent is not using them. If you recognize that the atheist is not moving his hands in sync with his words, then take this as a cue to start doing so.

While you are using your hands, look for opportunities to spread your arms wide and to raise your hands upward. These will allow you to occupy more space, and the choice to occupy more space will cause people to believe you are confident that what you say is true.

This confident appearance will make you more persuasive. It also tends to intimidate the atheists who want to antagonize you. Most New Atheists are cowardly, and they hate the idea that their victims might fight back against them. The more you project confidence, the more off-kilter they will be.

Then they will start making unfocused mistakes which you can exploit.

In this way, you can use your confident body language to induce your opponent to make dumb mistakes which allow you to win.

8. Do not go too far – Debating with Atheists

The easiest way to transform a victory into a loss is to go too far.

If you rebuff an atheist and place him on the back foot, then he begins to look like a victim. He uses his perceived victim status to convince himself that he is morally superior to you, which is one of his goals. Meanwhile, onlookers begin to feel as though you are a bully, and they flock to his side.

They’re wrong to do so, but they do it anyway out of a perverted sense of sympathy.

You need to avoid this. You need to be merciful in victory. This helps you remain consistent with a Christian ethic and prevents the atheist from playing the victim card.

9. Avoid insults and disguised insults – Debating with Atheists

Most people believe it’s wrong to insult others. So insulting your opponent is an easy way to turn onlookers against you and to validate the atheist’s feelings of moral superiority. You need to avoid this.

You also need to stop yourself from dressing up your insults so that they look like something other than an insult. People see through that, they will call you out on it, and then you will choose to backtrack on what you have said. This makes you look unsure of yourself, and you will have lost the instant you do it.

10. God is love – Debating with Atheists

Most people don’t have thoughts or morals. It’s an unfortunate truth, but it is the truth and we have to contend with it. Most people have a place within themselves where thoughts and morals are supposed to go. That place is filled instead with word associations.

And their sense of morality has been replaced by these word associations.

Now, what do I mean by this?

What I mean is that they equate words with morality. They say, “Love equals good and hate equals bad.” Then, they pretend that any obscene action which has the word ‘love’ attached to it is good because love is equal to good.

If murder is described as “love,” then they will say that murder is good because love is good. If charity is described as “hate,” they they will say that charity is bad because hate is bad.

This is your introduction to the word-association morality, and you can use it to great effect.

If you simply say that God is love and repeat it many times, then you can obtain the perceived moral high ground over a New Atheist antagonist.

You will look like an advocate for love, and they will look like an opponent of it. Then the people who are on the word-association morality will tend to side with you because of the perceived goodness of these words.

Concluding Statements

So, those are the essentials of debating with atheists. You mostly need to ensure that you remain in control of yourself, and you need to place the atheist on the defensive as soon as possible. Memorize the phrases in Steps 2 and 3, and you should be in a good position the next time one of the New Atheists chooses to torment you.

Thanks for reading,
Gene

Gene Botkin

Gene is the director of the Theosis Christian Project. He studied physics and military science before founding the Project. Gene is currently pursuing his doctorate in systems engineering at an engineering college in the Ozarks. The Theosis Christian Project is his attempt to expand Holy Orthodoxy in America.

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