I’ve been in a lot of discussions and debates with religious believers in the last few years. And I’m beginning to notice a pattern. I’ve been noticing the ways that believers put atheists in no-win situations: the ways that, no matter what atheists do, we’ll be seen as either acting like jerks or conceding defeat.
Like so many rhetorical gambits aimed at atheists, these “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” tactics aren’t really valid criticisms of atheism. They really only serve to deflect valid questions and criticisms about religion. But they come up often enough that I want to spend a little time pointing them out. I want to spell out the exact ways that these “no-win” situations are both unfair and inaccurate. And I want to point out the general nature of this “no-win” pattern — in hopes that in future debates with atheists, believers will be more aware of them, and will play a little more fairly.
Thus begins my new piece on AlterNet, Why It’s So Tricky for Atheists to Debate with Believers. In it, I spell out some of the ways that religious believers frame their arguments against atheists in such a way that, no matter what we do, atheists can’t win: no matter what we say or do, we’ll be seen in a negative light. To find out what some of these untrue and unfair rhetorical moves are, read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!