Apologetics

Debating Atheists: Three Types of Atheist

In the eleven years I have been a Christian, I have debated Atheists a few hundred times, not in formal debates mind you, just online social debates. Mostly on facebook, youtube, twitter and on various blogs. What I have discovered is I can place nearly every Atheist into one of three categories… now I don’t mean Atheists in general, but rather Atheists who engage in online debates with Theists.

This article is intended for Christians who seek to engage Atheists in online debates with the purpose of equipping and preparing them for the challenge ahead. Before I get started I want to highlight some character qualities and traits found in ALL three types that you might find interesting.

  • Superiority Complex. Nearly every Atheist I have ever engaged with, believes they are intellectually superior or at a minimum they believe the Atheist position is intellectually superior to that of a Theist. This always works to our advantage, as many of them don’t know how to answer a well-equipped Christian.
  • Close-Minded. While they rally behind banners such as “enlightenment” and “free thinker”, they tend to be very close-minded, which is ironically the primary accusation they cast against Theists. Don’t be shy in pointing this out during your discourse.
  • They Strongly Believe what they DON’T BELIEVE. They will fight tooth and nail to proclaim they have “no beliefs” and avoid labeling their non-belief as a worldview. Why? Because they don’t want to be forced into defending their position, they simply want to remain on the offense.
  • They love to bully. They do this in a number of ways, from outright name calling to talking down to believers with condescension. Ironically many of them claim to be social justice warriors who should most certainly frown upon bullying in any form, but for some reason don’t see this behavior in themselves.

Lastly I will say this, if you venture out into Atheist blogs and social media accounts, you will be grossly outnumbered. Prepare yourself ahead of time. Generally you will debate 3-5 Atheists at a time, as few Christians are equipped to join in, so few ever show up.

Now let’s talk about the Three different Categories of Atheists as I see them, keeping in mind some Atheists could fit into more than one category at the same time!

The Wise Grandmaster

Oofwya_with_a_cape_and_staffThese Atheists are perhaps the most challenging in a debate, and you must be prepared when facing off with them. Generally speaking they are very polite but have done a lot of research and reading. They are familiar with nearly all of the prominent Atheist arguments and counter-arguments offered by leading Christian Apologists.

They know their stuff. They will never (or very rarely) resort to name calling or profanity and are very cordial.

Strategy:

KNOW YOUR STUFF. This is the bottom line, we as Christians stand on the side of Truth. Not one of many truths, but THE Truth. A universe where no God exists defies logic and reason, the very tools Atheist rest their non-belief upon. Present your arguments in a very clear and precise manner, always remain polite and thank them for participating at the end. You will never change the mind of the Wise Grandmaster, but you can have a sound debate and answer all of their arguments in an intelligent and thoughtful way.

Sample Debate:

You can find the full comments on the original article by clicking here.

debate3

The Atheist here displays all the qualities of the Wise Grandmaster and is well prepared for this dialogue. He is measured and controlled, never goes too close to insulting his opponent and even if a perceived slight occurs is usually quick to apologize.

debate4debate5debate6debate7

The Belligerent Scoffer

Angry-man-internetThese Atheists are easy to identify as you will notice their telling behavior within the first few minutes of the debate. They will quickly descend into name-calling and profanity filled rants. They will act completely shocked by your “ignorance” and scoff at every rebuttal. This is usually a well exercised routine, as they have done it countless times in other exchanges. Even though we know when someone has to resort to profanity it makes them look foolish, to them they feel bigger and better.

Strategy:

Stay Calm. Keep cool. Attack their arguments and point out their profanity as unnecessary and child-like. Always get the last word, this will irritate them even more and most likely cause them to erupt into more and more foolishness. Once they start with the profanity they have already lost the debate in almost every viewers eyes… except of course the other Belligerent Scoffers who are cheering them on.

Sample Debate (WARNING – OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE FOLLOWS):

You can find the full comments on the original article by clicking here.

debate1

Notice below how this Atheist enters the debate, he obviously visited my site first to see who he was dealing with, and then upon seeing my posts on Pornography Addiction tries to use my past to discredit me, right out of the gate.

Counter – Strategy: I don’t hide from my past, I embrace who I was, and through Christ alone who I am today.

debate

This is a shining example of how quickly and easily the Belligerent Scoffer can descend in nonsensical tirades. It is highly predictable and comical. The only people that read this debate and think the Atheist had the upper hand are other Belligerent Scoffers.

The Primma Donna

ap,550x550,12x16,1,transparent,t.u6This last category of Atheist believe the Theists of the world are Bronze Age Religious Zealots and love to lambaste believers in every public forum they can find. Their Superiority Complex overflows into every thought and every sentence. Often times, but not always, they are the higher educated, perhaps Professors at a University… but many times simply well read. They have a true disdain for all religions, although Christians in particular, and believe the world would be a vastly better place with the religions of the world erased permanently from its surface.

Strategy:

Very similar to the Belligerent Scoffer, the best way to debate a Primma Donna is to keep calm and present the Truth on a point by point basis. A common tactic with this group is to throw a dozen objections at you all at once, hoping to overwhelm you. Do not let them go down rabbit trails, keep the dialogue focused and on point. When they try to deviate from the debate at hand, always go back to the main argument.

Sample Debate:

You can find the full comments on the original article by clicking here.

1-debate2-debate3-debate4-debae

Here the Atheist decries anyone who does not believe in evolution, and if you don’t bow down at the alter of Darwin, you do not have the truth in you.


Debating Atheists will be an ongoing series on this blog, and in future posts will explore more strategies to use, tactics they deploy and provide resources to get you equipped for the road ahead.

Here are five prominent Christian Apologetic resources to get you started:

  1. C.A.R.M
  2. RZIM
  3. Stand to Reason
  4. CRI
  5. Be Thinking

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35 replies »

      • I just find the whole thing a bit weird, encouraging people to worship someone who threatens them if they choose not to, and then criticizing the people who don’t worship such a dictator? It doesn’t make sense to me.

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      • This article isn’t a criticism it’s designed to prepare Christians in their encounters with Atheists in theological debates. These categories are actual people I have encountered countless times. There may be more categories, but these three fit most I have met.

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      • So what do you consider yourself Amanda? You debated me for some time on May 15, the topic: Can Atheists be Moral?

        On that day you said “I would not personally place the blame on a god because I’m not convinced there is a creator and therefore do not hold a position of theism”

        Here again, I post about Atheists, and you come to debate. If you do not consider yourself an Atheist, are you simply their foot soldier?

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      • I’d say I consider myself a free, independent thinker and philosophizer.

        I mean it doesn’t take being labeled an atheist to recognize a flawed position; and when I see a position I disagree with, I sometimes respond to it.

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      • Yeah many people do, I’m sure many Christians consider themselves as such as well.

        What I don’t get is arguing that a virgin got pregnant and that after people die their consciousness is still somehow alive forever.

        Where is the reasoning for choosing one religion over any of the others ? Or did you just go with the current most popular one? Because we know for a fact that in a few decades Islam will have bred itself into being the world’s leading religion, then what will you do? Still stick to the less popular religion?

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      • The existence of many counterfeit 100 dollar bills does not disprove or discredit the existence of an authentic 100 dollar bill.

        The same is true of God. If there is only one God (which I believe) and all of the Gods worshipped in the world contradict each other… then only one can logically be true, or they can all be false.

        I believe one is true, and I believe through faith, reason and logic that God is quite clearly Jesus Christ. Without question.

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      • So where is the reasoning for your religion of choice being more valid than all the other religions?

        All religions say that exact same thing, yours is not special;

        All religions assert that “MY god is the ONLY TRUE god”; Right, we understand that you think that, the question is WHY did you choose THAT particular religion over all the others who say the same exact thing about their god as you’re saying about your god?

        Is “faith” your only answer? Because the reason and logic are not clear

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      • The full answers to this are long but in brief:

        1) The Authenticity of Holy Scripture and how it is set apart from all other supposed Holy Books for many reasons. Not the least of which is fulfilled prophecy.
        2) The historicity of the life, ministry and death of Jesus Christ, and the evidence of his empty tomb and resurrection.
        3) The personal and supernatural revelation I experienced from Jesus (noting this is not evidence for you, only bolstering my faith in the other evidence listed)
        4) Time itself is marked by the Birth of Jesus Christ, ONE sole figure in history,who was a poor carpenter… born in a small town in a tiny region… who walked around proclaiming to be God and was killed for it. Even atheists mark their calendars by his birth….. Ironic I suppose.
        5) Vast archaeological discoveries support the narrative of scripture.
        6) Science supports the narrative of a universe that started from nothing.
        7) Science agrees all humans can be traced back to one man and one woman in Africa, just as the Bible tells us.
        8) The Apostles who feared for their lives and denied Jesus at the crucifixion changed completely after his resurrection and died as Martyrs defending that belief.
        9) Women were recorded as the first witness to the empty tomb, which never would have been the case if the stories were fabricated by men in that time period. Women had no voice and could not even testify in court.

        This is a small sample. Logic, Reason and a Belief in God go hand in hand.

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      • 1- Set apart for what reasons?

        2- So in the future, when New York is dug up and discovered, does that mean that they will think Batman existed? Since every story with any possible historical accuracy is therefore 100% accurate ?

        3- What is the justification for choosing one religion over all the others that you found in your personal experience? MANY people of all religions have personal experiences that they think justifies their choice of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Jehovah’s, Satanism, Buddhism, and so on. The question still stands, what is the reasoning for choosing one religion over the other?

        4- How is that evidence that your religion of choice is more valid than the other religions ? Atheists say “bless you” when people sneeze as well, does that mean that someone is definitely blessing people? Doubtful.

        5- What discoveries support the 100% accuracy of the book of your religion of choice ?

        6- I have never seen or heard a valid scientific or atheistic argument that the universe “started from nothing”; what does that even mean, “started from nothing” ?

        7- Ahahahahahaha what science agrees that incest created all of human existence? I can’t wait to see this.

        8- Evidence ? (the bible is not evidence of the bible’s claims).

        9- Evidence ? (again, the bible is not evidence of the bible).
        And even if a man named Jesus did manage to stay alive after being assaulted and made it out of the tomb and escaped from where a ton of people wanted him dead ; what does that have to do with you choosing to worship the Christian god?

        WHY on Earth would you choose to worship someone who encourages human sacrifice ?? That is absurd. And then going on to suggest that people who DON’T worship such a tyrant are immoral or corrupt? THAT is ironic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • And I am by definition not an atheist, because atheism is the position that there is no possibility of a creator; and that is not my position. Why this got turned to being about me personally I don’t know.

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  1. My words to the JCI community, the monotheists, who pray for salvation and the end of the world. They are deluded in belief in resurrection, salvation, and the Holy S_it! Imagine, for almost 2000 years these faithful, hoping and praying for the end have been deluded in to believing that they have two lives instead of just the one. Delusion abounds. GROG

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  2. Thank you so much for your post, Keith. This goes right along with a previous post that you mentioned slightly on this topic.

    I have seen on other posts the Primma Donnas and the Belligerent Scoffers and it amazes me how they never seem to get to the point that they were originally making; they love to deviate from the conversation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I laugh when I read things like, “there are three types of atheists.” Most of the ones I know were raised in Christian homes and came to unbelief through reading the Bible; in my case, I read through it yearly for nearly 15 years, not to mention seminary classes, commentary study, and several hundred Christian books (and sermons I sat through). How do you equip the average Christian who has never read the entire Bible to debate an atheist who has memorized entire books of it? Unless you start talking about “heart knowledge” as compared to “head knowledge,” which is nonsense.

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    • John welcome aboard oh Wise Grandmaster.

      As educated as you seem to be you must know winning a debate is not entirely based on the total sum of acquired knowledge. If so, debates would ALWAYS go to the highest educated, which they certainly do not.

      Based on your resume who could hope to ever defeat you, if that were true? Someone who read the Bible 16 times in a row perhaps?

      Liked by 1 person

      • You make good points in your comment. I’m horrible at debates. I didn’t make my point clear and did sound arrogant. What I mean is, what could a Christian say to a non-believer who is already familiar with the Bible and Christian arguments to convince them?

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  4. Great stuff, here. Thanks for all the info and insight. It always strikes me… the measure of blindness that can exist in human minds and hearts — and it is incredibly sad! I’m sure it must grieve the Heart of God. Anyway, thanks for all you do — and may God richly bless you in all you set your heart to do! M. A.

    Liked by 1 person

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