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Why It's So Tricky for Atheists to Debate with Believers

Debates over faith often leave non-believers holding the bag: look like a jerk or leave the debate unfinished and apparently concede defeat.

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But here's the skinny:

There has never once been a marginalized group that has won recognition and rights by sitting back and waiting politely for it to happen. There has never once been a marginalized group that has won recognition and rights by doing anything other than speaking out, organizing, making itself visible and vocal. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

So you'll have to forgive us if we take the accusations of our offensive, dogmatic, in-your-face extremism with something of a grain of salt. You'll have to forgive us if we listen to the concerned advice from believers about how our confrontational tactics are alienating people and we need to dial it back...and respond by giving it the horse laugh, and continuing to do what we've so successfully been doing. You'll have to forgive us if we treat the attempts to quiet us down as attempts to shut us up.

If you have a valid critique of a particular atheist or atheist idea, by all means, speak up. And if you have what you think is a valid critique of the atheist movement as a whole, we'd be interested to hear about it. We're not perfect, and we don't claim to be.

But please make sure your criticisms are fair. Please make sure your criticisms don't just put us into a rhetorical box, where we can't win no matter what we do. Please make sure your criticisms are a genuine attempt to engage with atheists and the atheist movement...and not just an attempt to stop the conversation and make us go away.

Thanks to Jesse, Jennifer, Tom, Tinna, Other Tom, Other Jennifer, Aaron, Shawn, Jon, Justin, James, Liz and Robert for their help with this piece.

Read more of Greta Christina at her blog.

 
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