Cephus is very much *not* just setting up straw men. He has been very active 
for many years on atheist chat groups, where one commonly sees *every single 
one* of the dumb behaviors he lists being demonstrated by idiotic Chrisschuns 
who descend on such groups to try to "convert the heathens." *Out of context*, 
his article may seem to be a straw man argument, but if you had spent any time 
on such forums, you would know how spot-on his descriptions of common 
anti-atheist rhetoric are. 

As for the distinction between how a modern-day British person might feel about 
religion vs. how Americans might feel, there is a grain of truth in what you 
say, but only a grain. Modern-day British Catholics seem just as insane to me 
as Catholics in other parts of the world, for example. 

I think you're cherry-picking "arguers for the existence of God" to make it 
appear as if the ones you LIKE are more common than they are. I could do the 
same thing, quoting Christians I actually LIKE such as Bruce Cockburn or G.K. 
("Seriousness is not a virtue") Chesterton. But they're exceptions. You are not 
likely to find their equals among the many people trying to sell their God on 
the Internet. Almost by definition, anyone zealous enough to try to *convert* 
someone else to a belief in God has left reason and rationality behind and is 
working from a platform of elitism and emotion. (IMO, of course.) 

My idea of a *civilized* discussion about the existence of God would be as 
follows:- Person 1: "I believe God exists."- Person 2: "I believe that no such 
being as God exists."- Person 1: "OK, nice talking to you."- Person 2: "Yup. 
See you round."
That's it. It's about BELIEF, so there is really nothing more to be said, or 
any point in trying.
As for your speculations about some trying event in my past w.r.t. religion, 
Bzzzzzt, thanks for playing, but you're wrong. I was never raised religious, 
and never spent much time around anyone religious (other than TM Neo-Hindus). 
For that matter, I've never spent any time around atheists, either, because as 
I suggest above I don't see any point in arguing about something that is purely 
a matter of belief and that can never be resolved. 

What I'm "on about" is a set of very common behaviors one tends to see on the 
Internet among those who feel the need to push their God agendas on others. You 
are probably correct that when I rail against such people I may be ignoring the 
1% (or fewer) believers who actually have some intelligence, but so be it. It's 
the 99% I'm talking about, and to. If you don't consider yourself part of them, 
just don't read my stuff. 

      From: "s3raph...@yahoo.com [FairfieldLife]" 
 To: FairfieldLife@yahoogroups.com 
 Sent: Saturday, November 22, 2014 1:16 AM
 Subject: [FairfieldLife] Re: Good article by someone with more patience for 
theists than I have...
    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 
castigates.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 . . .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bq2f5TA2nCs

---In FairfieldLife@yahoogroups.com, <turquoiseb@...> wrote :

Oneof the reasons I speak in such a derogatory way about God-believershere is 
that I figure after centuries of them putting down non-believersall 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 factthat I really DO consider many 
God-believers pretty much as stupid as Isay they are. :-) 
Butevery so often, it's probably good to present the point of view of a more 
balancedatheist 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, 2013by Cephus

Asatheists, we see this kind of thing all the time, really absurd thingsthat 
are said to us by theists in the midst of a debate or discussionthat leave us 
rolling our eyes.  This really isn’t intended so much forthe atheist, but for 
the theist, who really needs to understand thatnone of these things are going 
to convince anyone of the validity oftheir arguments.  Maybe that’s okay with 
them, but maybe, just maybe,they never realized just how pointless any of the 
following statementsactually are.
It leaves me wondering if theists are really debating to come to amutually 
agreeable conclusion, or if they’re just “debating” to hearthemselves talk or 
see themselves type.
And so, in no particular order, these are ten statements that I seeroutinely 
from theists that are simply not helping your case, and why.
10. I’ll pray for you…  This is totally andcompletely useless.  If you really 
feel the need to talk to yourselfabout us, I suppose it’s your time to waste, 
but this statement reallycomes off as a final flip of the finger to the atheist 
when the theisthas run out of other arguments.  It’s essentially “I’m still 
right, sothere!”  It appears to be childish, even if it’s sincere.  We don’t 
wantyou 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 theBible says.  In fact, we probably 
know the Bible better than you do andnot only the Bible, but many other 
religious texts as well.  Often,that’s why we’re atheists, because we had the 
courage and commitment toread the Bible and think about what it actually says.  
We don’t limitour knowledge to the words on the page though, we often know why 
it’sthere, where it came from and how it came to be accepted by yourreligion.  
We’ve engaged in higher criticism of your religious text andcan 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 probablyeven worse than the previous statement 
because not only does it showthat you think we’re not well-versed in all of the 
standard apologeticarguments, it demonstrate that you are not. If the best you 
can do isgrab a claim off some apologist’s website or YouTube video, 
there’sreally no point in talking to you because clearly, you don’t 
understandthe argument well enough to present your own take on it.  I don’t 
carewhat William Lane Craig says, I’m not debating William Lane Craig, 
I’mdebating you.  Make your own arguments and understand what you’re 
sayingbecause I absolutely will attack the argument and expect you to defendit.
7.  You can’t prove God doesn’t exist…  No Ican’t, it’s not my job to do so.  
It’s yours.  You’re the one claimingthat God is real, it rests solely on your 
shoulders to prove it.  Afterall, you can’t prove that Krishna doesn’t exist, 
does that mean that theHindus are right and Krishna does?  You can’t prove that 
unicornsexist, does that make them real?  The burden of proof is always on 
theindividual who makes the positive claim.  Most atheists do not claim Goddoes 
not exist, they just reject your claim that he does based on lackof 
corroboratory evidence.
6. You really believe in God, but…  Theistsmake this statement to make 
themselves feel better, it has no criticalvalidity.  It is a form of the 
argument from ignorance, where astatement is made, not because there’s evidence 
that it’s so, butbecause the individual can’t come up with a better argument.  
You don’twant to believe that there are people out there who really reject 
yourdeity, 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.  Youcan no more say you know God is real than 
you can say you know unicornsare real because you have no evidence to present 
in either case. Claims of knowledge do not impress unless you can show us that 
you haveany 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. Forsome reason, theists tend to feel 
uncomfortable around the word“atheist”, mostly, I suspect, because it suggests 
that there are peoplewho reject the central tenet of their worldview.  They 
don’t like thatso they want to get around that word if at all possible.  There 
are acouple of problems with that, however.  First, it’s not up to you todecide 
what terms mean and/or what other people believe or do notbelieve.  Atheism is 
the lack of belief in the existence of gods.  Ifthe shoe fits, stop pretending 
that other people ought to wear sandalsbecause it makes you feel better.  
Secondly, it’s really not up to youto decide what terms people can adopt for 
themselves.  If I want to callmyself an atheist, I can call myself an atheist.  
I have no obligationto choose another term because it softens the blow on you.
3. If you don’t believe, you’ll go to hell…  Thisis utterly pointless, we don’t 
believe hell exists.  You might as wellbe threatening us with Hogwarts.  Hell, 
to us, is no more real than theGreek underworld, heaven is no more real than 
Valhalla.  If someoneapproached you and said that if you don’t accept Odin as 
your personallord and savior, you’d be sent to Helheim, to be punished by the 
Norsegoddess Hela for all time, would that bother you?  If not, then 
youunderstand why Hell doesn’t bother us.  Save your breath.
2.  I have evidence for God…  Then by allmeans, present it, you’ll be famous 
and a multi-millionaire, the firstperson to ever present actual evidence for 
the existence of any god.  Ohwait, that’s not what you really mean, is it?  You 
have *CLAIMS* aboutGod.  You have *ASSERTIONS* about God.  You have *BELIEFS* 
about God. You have no evidence though.  This is one of those wiggle words that 
wesee from theists all the time, like “knowledge”, it’s something 
that’sclaimed, but once you really get down to the nuts and bolts, it’stotally 
false.  There isn’t any evidence for God that has heretoforebeen presented, 
just like there isn’t any evidence that has beenpresented for Bigfoot or alien 
visitations.  If you’ve got some, presentit, but it had better be more than 
“this convinced me”. That doesn’tmean it will convince anyone else.
1. You can’t take away my faith!  Nobodycan “take” anything away from you, 
atheist mind control technology isstill in it’s experimental stages and won’t 
be ready for testing untilearly 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 itaway, 
we want you to deal with reality as it actually is.  So far, ifyou believe in 
an unseen and unproven god, you’re not doing that.  Youcan argue that point all 
you like, but I’m sure that argument will fallinto 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 knowwhat you believe or what you’re 
trying to prove, how do you think you’llmanage it?  I don’t want to hear what 
someone else thinks, I want toknow what you think and I want you to prove to me 
that you have afunctional understanding of your claims and have worked out in 
yourhead, logically and rationally, how it’s supposed to operate.
2. Know your source material.  Again, thismeans prepare your arguments and get 
your ducks in a row.  If you wantto claim that the Bible is the source of your 
information, be ready todefend the Bible’s validity with more than “I believe 
3.  Understand proper debate techniques. Most theists stumble blindly from one 
logical fallacy to the next, theydon’t understand how to properly construct 
arguments or build logicalsyllogisms.    Learn how to move from one segment of 
your claim to thenext in a logically demonstrable fashion.  Avoid absurd leaps 
ofirrationality, say, from making a claim to asserting a cause unless youcan 
actually demonstrate a direct link between the cause and the effect.
4.  Stop being so emotional.  The purposeof a debate is to reach a conclusion 
based on the evidence and the bestdelivered argumentation.  How your position 
makes you feel is entirelyirrelevant.  I’m interested in how you come to your 
conclusions, not howyour conclusions make you feel.
5.  Be ready to concede defeat.  If youlose, lose graciously.  Your claims are 
only as good as your evidenceand your arguments.  If you are emotionally unable 
to evaluate yourclaims intellectually, don’t bother debating, you’re just going 
to lookfoolish.
6.  Be ready to change your mind if you lose. This is the most important part 
and the hardest one theists have inaccepting.  You, as an intellectual, 
rational and logical individual,ought to want to believe as many factually true 
things as possible andreject as many factually false things as possible and 
know how todifferentiate between the two.  Unfortunately, as in point #4, 
mosttheists don’t really care if what they believe is true, they have 
anemotional attachment to their arguments and when it comes to 
rejectingheartfelt beliefs or ignoring evidence, virtually all theists 
willclench 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 oneat that.  It 
separates the metaphorical philosophical men from thephilosophical boys.  It 
reveals who is willing and able to deal withreality and who would prefer to 
curl up inside their comforting fantasyworld and pretend everything is going to 
be alright.
If you’re not someone who can put aside your feelings and deal withthe facts, 
who will overlook the evidence if it gets in the way of theblind faith, then 
you have no business pretending to do so, you have nobusiness trying to debate 
with educated and intellectual atheists. We’ve been there.  It’s how we got 
where we are today.  We put in thelegwork, we did the math and we came to 
conclusions because we weren’tafraid 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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