Maybe debating and argumentative writing is just not for me

I was never good at debating anyway.

Lately I’ve been wasting a lot of time with online debating of theists (as well as writing more in-depth argumentative pieces here) and finding it all very frustrating. In the last two days alone I’ve seen two variants of the argument from first cause – one of which concluded that Allah is the first cause – and three flavours of Pascal’s Wager. I’ve also seen many really stupid non sequiturs, slippery slopes, arguments from morality, cherry-picking, circular reasoning, and of course that old chestnut, the argument from ignorance. Two different Islam apologists found ways of reinterpreting the Qur’an such that clay is allegorical for sperm and the folding of cloth is somehow allegorical for the creation of space and time.

I write arguments against the common ones here because I’m passionate about critical thinking, logic and reason; but it’s annoying… Debunking just one brain-dead fallacious clause properly takes an essay of several hundred words, or maybe over 1000 like yesterday (when I got carried away), and for what? It changes nobody’s mind. Those people just carry on believing in bullshit, and writing their nonsense that justifies it in their minds, yet leaves the interesting part unstated – their cognitive dissonance that explains why the nonsense is enough to make sense to them. And such fallacies take seconds for the person to write, or more likely to copy and paste.

I now understand why so many respond to them with memes. They are often concise and effective, making or mocking a single point such that you can get it in only a glance. The problem is, those who get it are the sceptics and atheists. The people writing the nonsense don’t. Either they go away or they troll – where my definition of a troll is somebody who either doesn’t engage or who repeats the same point without any real discourse – and then get removed, only to be replaced by more lunatics who post similar nonsense, often copied and pasted from Islamic propaganda sites or Christian Creationist “Science” sites. What gets me is that they are not stupid but are wilfully ignorant, and they don’t want to learn. (For fuck’s sake, it is a privilege to learn that your reasoning is wrong. I relish the opportunity to learn, and try to learn something new every day.)

Anyway, I won’t stop writing my arguments against religious apologetics. But it does feel like I’m fighting a losing battle.

The in-line links in this post are to some of my own previous posts. I was going to link to explanations of the fallacies too, in the first paragraph, but it might be confusing to have links to my own posts and external sites all mixed together, so here are some links to the types of fallacies and bad arguments I’ve seen plenty of in the last two days alone:

And that was just in the last two days! The first two above are not fallacies – they’re commonly used apologist arguments, both of which contain fallacies in their reasoning, but they’re common enough that I now lump them in with all the other bad arguments and fallacies. (And of course most apologist arguments are arguments from ignorance after you remove the noise.)


About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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8 Responses to Maybe debating and argumentative writing is just not for me

  1. Jerome,
    A great post. Agree with you entirely about how difficult it is to get through to people who don’t want to know, especially theists. I think John Loftus summed it up nicely when he said “You can’t expect to argue people out of their religion, because they were never argued into it in the first place”. But what you say about theists and ignorance applies equally a lot of atheists. Too much stuff posted on atheist sites by atheists is crap. Many of them are full of the omnipotence of ignorance and show no signs of wanting to educate themselves.

    Having recently discovered your site, I can see you have been pretty busy flying the flag. Well done, I look forward to catching up on your earlier posts. In the meantime, I would like to re-blog some of your posts on my site “Atheist’s Guide to Christianity” if you have no objections.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      Feel free. I have no objections.

      Yes, I agree that atheists can be just as blind. Actually I recently mentioned that; the assumption that all theists are stupid, as made by many atheists, is an example of falling into the same trap that theists often do. It assumes that what’s obvious to us should also be obvious to them, so it confuses belief with knowledge and makes assumptions from the belief of the atheist. It does us all a disservice by playing into the hands of those who would argue that atheism is also a belief.


      • OK thanks, and keep up the good work. I’m an atheist always willing to learn!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jerome says:

          Cool. Thanks.

          I take it as a compliment that somebody who has published a book is willing to share one of my posts…

          Maybe I should write a book. “One day” is something I’ve been saying for years, but I’ve never made any effort to organise enough material together as a single volume. Then there’s the question of what topic: Atheism, atheism from an ex-Christian view, recovery, recovery from an atheist/skeptic view, recovery from a person who is anti 12-step programs, recovery specifically from crystal meth, my personal story (which didn’t work out too well on my old blog because I can’t seem to write it without including the names of others who would rather not be named). Heck, I’ve even toyed with the idea of writing a C# programming book for a beginner to intermediate level target. Then there’s the question of how to publish it…

          Or maybe I’m just being lazy.


          • You write well and you are well informed. If it’s any help I’m a self-published “indie” author. These days this seems to be the norm for everybody but established authors with good track records. Costs vary depending on whether you’re happy with a standard B/W publishing package or want to spend more on a color package. You can find plenty of info by googling “self publishing” “indie” etc. There are many outfits offering their services. I used AuthorHouse, but I wouldn’t particularly recommend them.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Jerome says:

              If I ever get around to compiling something that resembles a book, I’ll do that. I have a lot of material from my old blog too, almost 400 posts though some of them are lacking in quality, but the problem is that I tend to structure my writing around short posts – introduction, body & conclusion generally, which will not adapt well to chapters of a book. Adapting it will take a fair amount of work, and I don’t have the time or energy. But I would love to write a book. (One day. :))


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