Fr Longenecker’s 12 Reasons Not to Debate Internet Atheists, Plus 6 of Mine

Fr Longenecker’s 12 Reasons Not to Debate Internet Atheists, Plus 6 of Mine May 23, 2015


Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal

Fr Dwight Longenecker published a post today giving 12 of the reasons why he never argues with internet atheists.

I’m not as smart as Fr Longenecker. I’ve been drawn into several arguments with internet atheists, both on this blog and a couple behind the scenes. Those experiences have convinced me that discussions with internet atheists are useless. I’ve give a few reasons why I think this down below.

Here’s a sample of Fr Dwight’s thinking on the subject:

1. Most of the internet atheists I’ve come across are ignorant – I don’t mean they’re stupid necessarily, or that they are bad people. I don’t even mean they are uneducated in their particular field, but most of them are ignorant when it comes to religion. By this I mean they just don’t know stuff. I don’t blame them for that, I’m ignorant about rocket science, how to do a brake job on a car, the rules of cricket and micro biology and a pile of other stuff. However, religion is one of the areas I do know something about so it’s difficult arguing with people who think they know it all about religion, but don’t.

Indeed. I couldn’t have said it better.

Now, here are another 6 quick reasons for limiting arguments with internet atheists.

1. Internet atheist arguers have themselves been propagandized. As Fr Dwight said, (only far more elegantly) when they talk about Christianity, they don’t know what they are talking about. What they do is spout talking points and misinformation that they’ve been taught by other internet atheists. They exhibit the fanatical craziness and circular reasoning of cult followers.

2. Internet atheist arguers are like the Hare Krishnas at airports that people used to joke about, only they are rude and aggressive in a way that the Hare Krishnas were not. They have no sense of boundaries. They are usually — with a few exceptions — rude and even abusive with other commenters.

3. Internet atheists are manipulative and insincere in their online discussions with Christians. They demonstrate this openly when they go back to their own venues.

4. Internet atheists are part of a large and organized socio political movement that has as its goal the destruction of Christianity. That is where they get their incentive to behave the way they do, and it is why they are so aggressive and obnoxious in their dealings with Christians.

5. Internet atheists are — as a group — pushing ideas that are anathema to civilization. While individual atheists vary in these things, the group trope is all in support of any murderous social change being advanced. There appears to be nobody, with the exception of death row inmates, whose life they consider sacred. In addition, they support everything from gay marriage, to polygamy, to group marriage to you name it. They attack religious freedom, and seek to limit the free rights of Christians to practice their religion and engage in religious speech in the public sphere. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an organized and public group, but the internet atheists are the backers and supporters of this movement. Public Catholic is not a forum for these ideas.

6. Internet atheists run the hate blogs that constantly engage in inflammatory Christian bashing. Most atheist commenters on Public Catholic are followers of and believers in that hate-filled bigotry. They come here from those blogs with an agenda of attacking Christianity and turning Christians away from Christ. This is the opposite of what this blog is intended to do.

Despite all this, I allow a lot of internet atheist commenting on this blog. First, if the commenter seems like a sincere person who is capable of individual thought rather than just repeating atheist talking points, I’m happy to allow them to discuss issues. Second, I do it for teaching purposes. Christians need to learn how to deal with these things and I try to provide a controlled environment, without the abuse, for them to do that.

I would actually welcome intelligent atheist conversation. The problem with this is that real atheism, as opposed to the cult-based socio-political movement that we are actually dealing with, is not much to talk about. You don’t believe in God? Okay. Next topic.

It’s a negative. You can’t prove a negative, and, at the end of the day, a negative is, by definition, narrow and self-limiting. Talking about atheism is really a one-sentence discussion.

A genuine atheist, again as opposed to a cult-follower of a vicious and destructive socio-political movement, would be capable of taking a variety of positions on issues concerning the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and social morality. These people cannot do that. They are lock-step dummies who just purvey the group think of their group.

Public Catholic is not a forum for leading people away from Christ. It is a forum for equipping Christians to withstand the bullying, hazing, bashing and mockery that is heaped on them by internet atheists, among others. It is a forum for encouraging Christians to follow Christ in all areas of their lives without reservation.

As I said, I allow a lot of internet atheist traffic on this blog. But I have no problem limiting it when I think it becomes destructive to the purpose for which I write Public Catholic in the first place.

This enrages many atheist internet commenters. Making comments in the comboxes of Public Catholic is not, as some of them have claimed, a First Amendment right. The free exercise of religion, speaking about faith in public venues, petitioning the government and free assembly are First Amendment rights.

Ironically, they argue vociferously against these actual First Amendment rights. The reason? Their hatred of Christianity has made them so irrational that they are willing to burn down their own house.


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35 responses to “Fr Longenecker’s 12 Reasons Not to Debate Internet Atheists, Plus 6 of Mine”

  1. As you say, atheism is simply an absence of God, next subject. The people you are talking about are mad at God and possibly Christians. Whole different thing.

  2. I’ve been reading Fr. Longenecker’s blog (and yours) for a while now. I have tried to think of you both as good people with whom I can disagree. I still think that you are both, for the most part, good people — not perfect, of course, no more so than me or anybody else, but decent folks who are trying to partake in a conversation. That’s what Patheos is about, right? “Hosting the conversation on faith”?

    Unfortunately, it seems that bloggers like Fr. Dwight and yourself are not willing to offer me the same decency that I have tried to offer you. I am, after all, an “internet atheist” — and that makes me ignorant, insincere, propagandized, antisocial, manipulative… practically inhuman. What does it gain me to even try and converse with someone who doesn’t respect me as a person?

    Look, it’s your blog, you make the rules. And I do thank you — moderated as it may be, you do at least allow some comments, which is more than we can say for the good padre. But just as you have no obligation to let me comment, I have no obligation to read your work. That’s too bad, because (even if we disagreed) you often had some very meaningful discussion of important issues.

    I did learn something from you, you know. That was my goal from the beginning. I wanted to get input from a lot of different sources. I wanted to hear real Catholics talk about their faith. But at this point I think I’ve heard enough. I think it’s time for me to move on. I removed Fr. Longenecker from my feed reader about an hour ago, and as soon as I post this comment I’m going to remove Public Catholic as well. I don’t owe anyone anything. I don’t believe in your god, and I sure don’t believe in your church. I don’t have to spend the rest of my life reading and studying and discussing and trying to justify that lack of faith. As Slocum Moe so eloquently says: “Next subject.”

    I really do wish you the best, Mrs. Hamilton. As much as we may disagree, I hope that you continue to share your story and your faith with the world. I hope that you keep up your strength to help support your Mama; you really are an inspiring person to sacrifice as you have for her. And I hope that you make the best of wherever your life leads you in the future.

    So long, and thanks for all the fish.

    • Well said. Very well said. I also am sometimes pleasantly surprised to see my comment posted and sometimes disappointed to see it deleted.

  3. Believers presume to have the “Truth” and they think that atheists don’t. The “Truth” consists of a number of beliefs that stem from the statement attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John. Supposedly, Jesus told Martha that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. People can choose to believe 1. That Jesus really did say that and 2. That Jesus was correct in saying that. Accepting that statement or not accepting it is seen by believers as the difference between everlasting life after death and annihilation at death. Atheists believe the latter and there is not much more that can be said about it other than it is consistent with what we know from the natural sciences.

    • I’m not going to go off on a circular debate. You are certainly free to believe what you want. I don’t think anyone questions atheists’ right to do this. Back when I was in my anti-God period, I wasn’t discriminated against for being an unbeliever, and the other unbelievers I know — many of whom were vociferous atheists — were not discriminated against, either. If anything, they enjoyed a sense of being distinctive for it.

      What is objectionable is not atheists’ beliefs. It is the boorish business of forcing atheism into every conversation, the rudeness of saying the same things over and over like a looping computer, and the ugly, down-right trashy Christian bashing. Atheism as unbelief doesn’t matter all that much to anyone except the unbeliever. Atheism with manifests in what for all the world appears to be a highly aggressive personality disorder is another matter.

      • “What is objectionable is not atheists’ beliefs. It is the boorish business of forcing atheism into every conversation…”

        If atheism is reality and theism is fantasy, as atheists see it, you can’t blame them for forcing atheism into every conversation. To me, it is more like you being fed up with them for forcing reality into every conversation. It matters greatly whether the conversation is based on a true or false premise.

        • The arrogance operating here is astounding. YOU determine what is reality. YOU determine what is a true or false premise. Then YOU decide that these decisions of YOURS warrant drop-kicking basic civility.

          I would posit that you missing an essential reality. YOU are not the center of the universe, and YOU do not determine reality and YOU do not have the right to force your arrogance on other people. Your argument is just an excuse for being a rude boor.

          • I determine what I will accept as reality and what I reject as fantasy, wishful thinking, delusion, superstition, etc. It is entirely up to me to make those determinations for myself as opposed to letting others make them for me. Everyone should have that outlook on their lives and what they do and don’t believe.

            • Of course you determine what you accept as reality. That’s not the problem. The problem is that, based on your comments, you are not willing to give other people this same freedom. The working assumption in your earlier comment is that you feel that what you have determined as reality is an absolute truth and that this entitles you to foist these determinations on everyone else, whether they are wiling participants in your foisting or not. There are a lot of names for this kind of behavior. None of them are flattering.

              • “The problem is that, based on your comments, you are not willing to give other people this same freedom.”

                Is disagreeing with you or anyone else not giving you or them the freedom to have and share your beliefs? I am just stating an alternative opinion. Sorry if you have a problem with that.

                • Going back to the beginning of this conversation, you were attempting to justify the boorish behavior of forcing atheism into every conversation, whether the people involved want that or not. I most certainly do have a problem with that. It’s rude, bullying, hectoring and boorish.

                  • If what you believe is true, I’m a complete ahole. If you are wrong, I still could be a little more tactful even if I am right. I’ll try.

                    • We should all evaluate what we say and suppose hypothetically just how ridiculous we sound if we are wrong about our theism or atheism, whatever the case might be. The theists should just for a moment imagine that the atheists are right and visa versa. We would likely come to the conclusion that we damn well better be right. But one side is very right and the other is very wrong. I firmly believe that theists are very wrong.

                    • If you were ever to be right and I were wrong…

                      But that can’t possiblly be. Can it?

                    • It interests me to discuss the differences between two diametrically opposite worldviews. It intrigues me that they both can’t be right. One is very right and the other is very wrong. Believing what you believe, there is really no downside of I am right. Believing what I believe, there is supposedly a very serious downside if you are right. I refuse to allow that threat to cloud my judgment. I see it as the ultimate bullying. I don’t buy it.

                    • I repeat: Why can’t you stop shoehorning atheism into every conversation? You seem to feel that because something “interests” you means that everyone else has to place host to it, as well. Give some small thought to the I-Thou of conversation.

                    • “Why can’t you stop shoehorning atheism into every conversation?”

                      Because theism influences people in a way that doesn’t always make sense to atheists. To tell someone that their stand on abortion, same sex marriage, death with dignity, etc. is wrong, you have to convince them that their stand is heavily influenced by their religious beliefs and is only right if their religious beliefs are right, which, in the eyes of an atheist, they are not.

                    • There you go again, trying to justify rude, boorish behavior. It’s the person I’m bullying/insulting/annoying’ fault that I’m bullying/insulting/annoying them because they think something I disagree with and that mean they do not deserve courtesy and kindness. You can’t stop yourself, can you?

                    • You just see it that way because you think I am wrong for seeing theism as a foolish mixture of fantasy and superstition. If I am right, I am justified in telling theists what I think of their beliefs. Like I said before, if I am wrong, then yes, I am exactly what you think I am. But I’m not wrong. We know what theists believe and they contradict reality and the way everything is bound by the laws of nature. A story that includes a man walking on water can be dismissed as pure fiction because the law of gravity cannot be suspended or superseded so this man can walk on water. It discredits the whole story even if some of the story not involving violations of the laws of nature could possibly be true. My faith is in the reliability of the laws of nature always working.

                    • No, you are not justified in butting into people conversations and pushing your ideas on them when they don’t want to hear them. You are not justified in being rude and boorish.

                      Now, I’m tired of this discussion. It’s over.

                    • There is one thing that Jesus said that I find true: he said that he came that we may have life and live it more fully. He did bring that fullness of life to us. Look at how much more alive the people who come from a Christian culture are than those who don’t. All the best that mankind has to offer came from Christian cultures. Atheism doesn’t bring a more fully lived life. It brings a kind of nihilism. Nonetheless, it does appear to be more accurate than theism even if it doesn’t bring the joy that theism brings.

                    • I don’t buy it, says

                      the scientist.

                      Replies the frail

                      and faithful heart,

                      it’s not for sale.
                      -Wendy Videlock

  4. I agree. They are trolls here. I don’t even understand why atheists “evangelize,” if you can call it that. What’s it to them that we believe in Christ? Why are they so obsessed? I call them fundamentalists.

      • Here are a couple of possible alternatives. Not to say everyone isn’t a troll, but some likely aren’t, and their reasons might be among these.

        1) We like some of the other topics covered by a writer, but tend not to comment as much, given that some others who comment will use the opportunity to snipe, or

        2) We’re on Patheos and a sidebar or Editor’s choice list has an interesting post and title with no mention of author or channel and we click on it to see what it is about.

        Whatever the case, there are times that we’ll comment in disagreement, either because we feel that there’s a point or piece of information that hasn’t been considered or mentioned (like my last comment on the sex ed speaker post); or because there’s a bone in the piece that simply won’t go down (this often occurs in conjunction with scenario #2). Unfortunately, this creates the reality that we’re only heard on negative items.

        Having said that, here are a couple of positive points: (1) I liked your home office piece even though I can’t use most of the software (looking for a similar Windows product for the organizations software or hoping Evernote adds a couple of features). I have recommended the timelining software to a couple of writer friends who are grateful. (2) Your triage piece was also good. I’ve had to take care of 3 loved ones with similar circumstances over the years and I didn’t learn that until caring for the 2nd one. Don’t let anyone guilt you into changing.

  5. I am late on this post, but yes, I have found myself getting into needless debates on atheist sites. Many of the commenters are extremely rude. The moderators also have a hot hand with pulling comments. It’s gotten to the point where i have had to conclude they are afraid of ideas.

  6. As the author says, atheism is a negative. The problem with “internet atheists” is that they attempt to fill the vacuum created by the lack of ethics or morality established by religions with personal opinions. I don’t really argue with people about their lack of belief in God because I don’t have the gift of bestowing faith on people. But I feel free to argue against the nonsense they put in place of religion.

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