It's Friday, so just for the fun of it, I thought I'd dust off an old piece written by some anonymous writer entitled "The Freethinkers' Guide to Debating Christians on the Internet". (If anyone knows who wrote the original Guide, I'd love to give them credit and kudos.) Most Christians who have ever spent time in chat rooms or on Internet discussion/bulletin boards see this as uproariously funny because of its incredible accuracy. Most freethinkers don't get it. Ah, well . . . .
1. Affect an amused condescending tolerance from the beginning, like you, the professor, might have time to indulge in lowering yourself to speaking with them. This sets the proper tone.
2. When you see one appear, usually they'll post a sweet intro, in which they'll use some such phrase like, "in Christ's love" or "God bless you". Take this as an immediate opportunity to post amongst yourselves intellectual messages like, "Uh oh, another fundie."and "Oh great, another idiot christian trying to ram their hate down our throats."
3. When the Christian posts some comment about how they only want to ask questions or explain things that might convert you, pretend that you didn't just say all those things to each other, condescendingly and wearily explain that "We get sooo many xtians in here who just want to condemn...(sigh)...that we our understandably leery." Make SURE you spell it "xtian".
4. Start the debate then by making it clear that it will do no good because there is no proof for god that you haven't heard and dismissed. Now is also a good time to mention how "the problem with xtians is that no matter what proof you give them their minds are already made up."
5. Dismiss faith with a "It's been proven invalid because it leads to the Dark Ages, and it led to the Dark Ages because it was invalid." Now is also a good time to mock the christian for always saying stuff like, "God exists because the Bible says so, and the Bible is true because god said so." This is circular reasoning, something that intellectual giants like you would never commit.
6. Make sure that in any discussion of their beliefs that you refer to it in the most arrogant, mean and nasty way possible. DO NOT SAY, "I do not believe in the Bible because I have seen no proof of it's authenticity." Rather say, "I have to much love in my heart to put my blind faith in some foul book responsible for so much bloodshed throughout history. It may serve for fools who enjoy forcing indigenous people into believing it at gunpoint, but for any real man with brains, it's just plain trash." -- Big, Nasty, Angsty emotional flags dripping with rhetoric are your FRIEND. Now is a good time to mention that "My biggest problem with xtians is that they hate."
7. If any point out your own words being rather inflammatory and prejudiced, or dare to point out a certain paucity of evidence, then declare victory,"Ahhh, how like an xtian, try and reason with them and they lash out in hate and ignorance. Clearly there is no further point to this discussion, not with you unwilling to listen to reason."
8. Go post amongst yourselves how petty and hateful these ignorant christians are, saying things like,"They need to be rounded up and sterilized/euthanized, it would improve evolution by a million years! lol" and "Yeah, those punks, the world would be better off without them." Now is an excellent time to remind each other that, "Hey, you got to watch those xtians,they'd burn people at the stake again if they had half a chance, they hate anyone who doesn't think just like them."
9. Miscellaneous questions to ask: A. Where did Cain get his wife? B. If God exists how come there's evil? C. How come people use faith to come to believe in different Gods? When they fail to answer those, or any other possible question covering every inch of the Bible, all of theological thought since Tertullian, and adequately explain every atrocity committed by anyone who had ever even seen a Bible, then pounce on them for their foolish ignorance of the issues, and ask them, "Are you sure you're in the right room? This is for intellectual debate."
10. Miscellaneous questions they might ask: A. How did the first nucleic acid molecule replicate? B. What is the nature of the universe as a whole? C. How come different scientists using logic don't all agree? When you fail to answer those, or any other question that probes beneath your carefully constructed shell of memorized slogans and automatic catchphrases, then pounce on them for foolishly assuming that one man can account for every little thing. Insist that you don't have to know about all the evidence, you can trust the scientists because they aren't a bunch of ignorant liars like the priests. (---correction, instead of saying "priests" say "boy molesting priests")
11. When the Christian poses a question you can't answer, there are several ploys that you can use. Pretend they asked something else and answer that. Ignore them. Respond to a reply of theirs awhile back and show how he has contradicted himself, you, the universe, etc. By the time he's through explaining, the question is over. If he brings it up again, scream loudly about the incessant harping on non-issues of these dullard christians, or claim that you won't answer it again when it's been so thoroughly covered.
12. Make sure that you point out that the god concept is superfluous given that everything can be explained through natural law and therefore Occam’s razor rules it out. If the xians respond by pointing out that concept of god explains many aspects of the universe and human experience far more eloquently and parsimoniously than naturalism, point out to them that there is no reason that we should expect the universe to make sense to human beings and that humans just invented the idea of god because of their irrational propensity to demand an explanation for the unexplainable.
13. Point out that science, unlike dogmatic and rigid xianity, is subject to change and modification over time. Make sure that you also point out the fact that xian doctrines have developed and changed over a period of time showing that they are nothing more than a progression of myths. If the xians ask why atheists place so must trust in the findings of science given that the view of the world they give is constantly shifting, laugh at them and say that they are ignorant of the scientific method. If an xian suggests that perhaps the traditional understanding of a specific doctrine or Biblical passage may not be correct, accuse them of compromising their own faith and point out that “you can make the Bible say anything you want it to.”
14. If an xian attempts to explain a complicated doctrine such as the Trinity, point out to them how ridiculous and convoluted their irrational faith really is. If they then fail to understand some obscure point you are making about quantum mechanics (which, of course, you must dogmatically assert that all atheists understand fully even if they flunked high school algebra), laugh at them and point out that they just don’t have what it takes to understand subtle and complicated scientific theories and then bemoan the scientific ignorance xians in general.
15. Whenever a xian refers to mystery, jump all over them and accuse them of copping out. If an xian asks about some aspect of nature that you cannot explain, declare your faith that science will one day find an explanation, but even it doesn’t, that’s just because nature itself is mysterious and that we shouldn’t necessarily expect it to conform to human understanding.
16. Constantly demand evidence & claim you'll believe in xianity if it is shown to be rational, but when any xtians provide any sort of evidence whatsoever, throw them the old "You can believe whatever you want, but don't force your #&$^ on me" line.
17. ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS compare the xtian god (and always spell "god" with a lower_case "g") to fabled creatures such as leprechauns, Santa Claus and invisible pink unicorns. You can also claim that there is no difference between Zeus or Odin and the god of the Bible since they are all figments of the imagination.
18. If you don't understand something a xtian has said, say "That statement was incoherent", regardless of how intellectually over-your-head it may have been.
19. Keep raising the burden of proof depending on how many evidences xtians provide. Remember, the phrase "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" is your friend. Use it to counter every sort of evidence presented as a means of saying that the evidence is not good enough because of the extraordinary claim it supposedly supports. This ensures that we, atheists, never lose, as xtians can never satisfy the burden of proof we arbitrarily set.
20. Finally, when all else fails, refuse to answer on the grounds that, "I can't be expected to answer the same hate-filled crap over and over, while you try to ram your sheep god down my throat." Remember, it is always important to use negative assumptive language when describing their god.
21. ALWAYS REMEMBER: When you are nasty, it is your justifiable frustration at these ignorant, hate-filled christians who are so different then this peaceful, intellectual community of logicians. When they are rude, it is always because they are foul hypocrites who don't practice what they preach.