This "Cephus" is just setting up a straw man; then knocking him down and 
feeling pleased with himself. Just take a look at Richard Dawkins debating with 
the (former) Archbishop of Canterbury at Oxford University. You may or may not 
think that Dawkins has the better of Rowan Williams but Williams is clearly 
*not* stupid and doesn't employ any of the ten "statements" that Cephus 
 One issue that strikes me about the difference between Barry and myself is 
that he's American; I'm English. And what kind of difference would that be? 
Well, in the USA, religion (including fundamentalist versions) is big - indeed 
it's big business. In the UK, religion is now marginal. It conjures up images 
of well-meaning but ineffectual Anglican vicars with little input into current 
societal changes. 
 To me religion is harmless - rather sweet perhaps. To Barry the mention of 
"religion" triggers memories of some unresolved trauma from his childhood or 
adolescence. To Barry it's all about visceral emotion; to me it's all about 
sweet reason and nuanced reflection.
 Here's Dawkins/Williams in civilized debate . . .




---In, <turquoiseb@...> wrote :

 One of the reasons I speak in such a derogatory way about God-believers here 
is that I figure after centuries of them putting down non-believers all the 
time (not to mention killing them, burning them at the stake, etc.) they should 
get a taste of their own medicine. That, and the fact that I really DO consider 
many God-believers pretty much as stupid as I say they are. :-) 

 But every so often, it's probably good to present the point of view of a more 
balanced atheist who has more compassion for the idiots trying to shout him 
down than I have. Consider this my contribution to FFL in this respect...


 10 Stupid Things Theists Say to Atheists
 October 9, 2013
 by Cephus


 As atheists, we see this kind of thing all the time, really absurd things that 
are said to us by theists in the midst of a debate or discussion that leave us 
rolling our eyes.  This really isn’t intended so much for the atheist, but for 
the theist, who really needs to understand that none of these things are going 
to convince anyone of the validity of their arguments.  Maybe that’s okay with 
them, but maybe, just maybe, they never realized just how pointless any of the 
following statements actually are.

 It leaves me wondering if theists are really debating to come to a mutually 
agreeable conclusion, or if they’re just “debating” to hear themselves talk or 
see themselves type.

 And so, in no particular order, these are ten statements that I see routinely 
from theists that are simply not helping your case, and why.

 10. I’ll pray for you…  This is totally and completely useless.  If you really 
feel the need to talk to yourself about us, I suppose it’s your time to waste, 
but this statement really comes off as a final flip of the finger to the 
atheist when the theist has run out of other arguments.  It’s essentially “I’m 
still right, so there!”  It appears to be childish, even if it’s sincere.  We 
don’t want you to pray for us, we want you to  be able to defend your beliefs. 
Maybe you should spend more time worrying about that.

 9.  The Bible says…  We don’t care what the Bible says.  In fact, we probably 
know the Bible better than you do and not only the Bible, but many other 
religious texts as well.  Often, that’s why we’re atheists, because we had the 
courage and commitment to read the Bible and think about what it actually says. 
 We don’t limit our knowledge to the words on the page though, we often know 
why it’s there, where it came from and how it came to be accepted by your 
religion.  We’ve engaged in higher criticism of your religious text and can 
almost certainly show how and why your book isn’t trustworthy.  Don’t pretend 
we’re not well-versed in what your book says, we are.

 8.  This website says…  This is probably even worse than the previous 
statement because not only does it show that you think we’re not well-versed in 
all of the standard apologetic arguments, it demonstrate that you are not. If 
the best you can do is grab a claim off some apologist’s website or YouTube 
video, there’s really no point in talking to you because clearly, you don’t 
understand the argument well enough to present your own take on it.  I don’t 
care what William Lane Craig says, I’m not debating William Lane Craig, I’m 
debating you.  Make your own arguments and understand what you’re saying 
because I absolutely will attack the argument and expect you to defend it.

 7.  You can’t prove God doesn’t exist…  No I can’t, it’s not my job to do so.  
It’s yours.  You’re the one claiming that God is real, it rests solely on your 
shoulders to prove it.  After all, you can’t prove that Krishna doesn’t exist, 
does that mean that the Hindus are right and Krishna does?  You can’t prove 
that unicorns exist, does that make them real?  The burden of proof is always 
on the individual who makes the positive claim.  Most atheists do not claim God 
does not exist, they just reject your claim that he does based on lack of 
corroboratory evidence.

 6. You really believe in God, but…  Theists make this statement to make 
themselves feel better, it has no critical validity.  It is a form of the 
argument from ignorance, where a statement is made, not because there’s 
evidence that it’s so, but because the individual can’t come up with a better 
argument.  You don’t want to believe that there are people out there who really 
reject your deity, thus you imagine that nobody actually does, they’re all 
lying.  That’s just not the case.

 5.  I know God is real!  No you don’t, you *BELIEVE* God is real.  Knowledge 
requires some demonstrable basis.  You can no more say you know God is real 
than you can say you know unicorns are real because you have no evidence to 
present in either case.  Claims of knowledge do not impress unless you can show 
us that you have any objective means of coming by that knowledge.

 4.  You’re not really an atheist, you’re…  an agnostic or some other term 
which makes the theist feel better. For some reason, theists tend to feel 
uncomfortable around the word “atheist”, mostly, I suspect, because it suggests 
that there are people who reject the central tenet of their worldview.  They 
don’t like that so they want to get around that word if at all possible.  There 
are a couple of problems with that, however.  First, it’s not up to you to 
decide what terms mean and/or what other people believe or do not believe.  
Atheism is the lack of belief in the existence of gods.  If the shoe fits, stop 
pretending that other people ought to wear sandals because it makes you feel 
better.  Secondly, it’s really not up to you to decide what terms people can 
adopt for themselves.  If I want to call myself an atheist, I can call myself 
an atheist.  I have no obligation to choose another term because it softens the 
blow on you.

 3. If you don’t believe, you’ll go to hell…  This is utterly pointless, we 
don’t believe hell exists.  You might as well be threatening us with Hogwarts.  
Hell, to us, is no more real than the Greek underworld, heaven is no more real 
than Valhalla.  If someone approached you and said that if you don’t accept 
Odin as your personal lord and savior, you’d be sent to Helheim, to be punished 
by the Norse goddess Hela for all time, would that bother you?  If not, then 
you understand why Hell doesn’t bother us.  Save your breath.

 2.  I have evidence for God…  Then by all means, present it, you’ll be famous 
and a multi-millionaire, the first person to ever present actual evidence for 
the existence of any god.  Oh wait, that’s not what you really mean, is it?  
You have *CLAIMS* about God.  You have *ASSERTIONS* about God.  You have 
*BELIEFS* about God.  You have no evidence though.  This is one of those wiggle 
words that we see from theists all the time, like “knowledge”, it’s something 
that’s claimed, but once you really get down to the nuts and bolts, it’s 
totally false.  There isn’t any evidence for God that has heretofore been 
presented, just like there isn’t any evidence that has been presented for 
Bigfoot or alien visitations.  If you’ve got some, present it, but it had 
better be more than “this convinced me”. That doesn’t mean it will convince 
anyone else.

 1. You can’t take away my faith!  Nobody can “take” anything away from you, 
atheist mind control technology is still in it’s experimental stages and won’t 
be ready for testing until early 2015.  If you lose your faith, that’s on you, 
but let’s be honest, faith really isn’t a rational way of looking at the world 
anyhow.  Besides, your faith is meaningless to us, we don’t want to take it 
away, we want you to deal with reality as it actually is.  So far, if you 
believe in an unseen and unproven god, you’re not doing that.  You can argue 
that point all you like, but I’m sure that argument will fall into one of the 
above categories.  Don’t have faith.  Don’t believe.  THINK!

 So what about some things that you should say or do in a debate?  I’ll give 
you my short list:

 1.  Know your argument.  If you don’t know what you believe or what you’re 
trying to prove, how do you think you’ll manage it?  I don’t want to hear what 
someone else thinks, I want to know what you think and I want you to prove to 
me that you have a functional understanding of your claims and have worked out 
in your head, logically and rationally, how it’s supposed to operate.

 2. Know your source material.  Again, this means prepare your arguments and 
get your ducks in a row.  If you want to claim that the Bible is the source of 
your information, be ready to defend the Bible’s validity with more than “I 
believe it”.

 3.  Understand proper debate techniques.  Most theists stumble blindly from 
one logical fallacy to the next, they don’t understand how to properly 
construct arguments or build logical syllogisms.    Learn how to move from one 
segment of your claim to the next in a logically demonstrable fashion.  Avoid 
absurd leaps of irrationality, say, from making a claim to asserting a cause 
unless you can actually demonstrate a direct link between the cause and the 

 4.  Stop being so emotional.  The purpose of a debate is to reach a conclusion 
based on the evidence and the best delivered argumentation.  How your position 
makes you feel is entirely irrelevant.  I’m interested in how you come to your 
conclusions, not how your conclusions make you feel.

 5.  Be ready to concede defeat.  If you lose, lose graciously.  Your claims 
are only as good as your evidence and your arguments.  If you are emotionally 
unable to evaluate your claims intellectually, don’t bother debating, you’re 
just going to look foolish.

 6.  Be ready to change your mind if you lose.  This is the most important part 
and the hardest one theists have in accepting.  You, as an intellectual, 
rational and logical individual, ought to want to believe as many factually 
true things as possible and reject as many factually false things as possible 
and know how to differentiate between the two.  Unfortunately, as in point #4, 
most theists don’t really care if what they believe is true, they have an 
emotional attachment to their arguments and when it comes to rejecting 
heartfelt beliefs or ignoring evidence, virtually all theists will clench their 
eyes shut, stick their fingers in their ears and scream “I’m right! I’m right! 
I’m right!”  This is a problem and a serious one at that.  It separates the 
metaphorical philosophical men from the philosophical boys.  It reveals who is 
willing and able to deal with reality and who would prefer to curl up inside 
their comforting fantasy world and pretend everything is going to be alright.

 If you’re not someone who can put aside your feelings and deal with the facts, 
who will overlook the evidence if it gets in the way of the blind faith, then 
you have no business pretending to do so, you have no business trying to debate 
with educated and intellectual atheists.  We’ve been there.  It’s how we got 
where we are today.  We put in the legwork, we did the math and we came to 
conclusions because we weren’t afraid to follow where the actual evidence led.

 Maybe one of these days, you’ll be willing to do the same, even if it doesn’t 
lead to your religious convictions.



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