The ones that disappear

Atheists and theists alike come and go these forums, and forums like it.

The theists, oftentimes, will come in with the same tired old rhetoric and argumentation, and they never hold water.

The theists that come here, and have their beliefs thoroughly refuted, then leave, those are the one’s I want to focus in on.

Do you think they learn?

I mean, I know it’s not really possible to know.

But, I would like to think, many of them go away with at least some sort of healthy takeaway from the encounter.

I’ve written tens of thousands of YouTube comments, the vast majority of which, in response to active god claims, I get the same responses time and time again, and I refute each and everyone of them, clearing my notification list every morning. (I ignore the childish ad hominem thrown my way.)

Have I made a difference?

How many of those comments, do you think actually got through to those on the other end?

Of course, it isn’t really possible to determine. Yet, I don’t see names repeatedly, I always seem to be addressing a new person every time, and they always seem shocked to have their belief systems questioned in public. Almost as if it is a first for them?

Most of the time, I get indignation, or get called a troll. When I explain my motivations though, they quickly fall silent and stop responding. I never know what to make of that.

If the theist is leaving, and no longer responding, is that because they can’t, or is because they don’t want to?

There’s so many different possible reasons and motivations to react that way.

I guess what I am truly asking, has it all been for naught?

(I have considered many times, making bot accounts, that react to certain phrases etc, but the personal element to each message is I think crucial to getting through to some.)

It’s the same old tired rhetoric to YOU, but likely not to them. I think each person making claims should be addressed individually.

Did you?

I don’t think so.

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I see what you are saying, I guess I am being impatient with them, BUT I can’t help but feel like I’m fighting an ocean sometimes, if that in anyway justifies my impatience?

I would like to think there is always more I can learn, but when it comes to arguments for a god, I believe I’ve heard them all at this point, and I would also claim that the list of arguments isn’t actually all that long. I don’t feel like I can learn from any of those arguments.

Is it fruitless to even think about?

I can’t really know if I opened any eyes, I have had the odd occasion where I’ve had an honest response, where they openly stated that I have given them pause for thought, but they are an extreme rarity.

I actually find I have a better success rate in person, I used to work with JW and speaking to her day in and day out, she started to question, she was an older lady, and her partner was a JW.

They both ended up leaving/shunned for asking questions, they now live down in Cornwall by a beach, living the best life.

Maybe, that is the requirement, more time with each person, rather than a few comments on YouTube?

Sorry, didn’t make myself clear there….if you used to be religious, did you learn from others about the gaps in that belief before letting the beliefs go?

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Initially, I think I started to question on my own.

I certainly wasn’t one to talk to others about my beliefs at the time, so I didn’t have discussions as such with people, but I certainly consumed a lot of material online, which helped me formulate where I was overtime.

I couldn’t ever say I was dogmatic about my Christianity, and because of the lack of interaction, I don’t believe I ever got an opportunity to actually defend my beliefs at the time.

I was only in my late teens, more concerned with girls and drinking. :laughing:

I don’t think you have any way of knowing that.
For every person you respond to directly, I suspect there are many, many more lurking/reading. You have no way of knowing how your words effect those in proximity to them.
Now….as to a “success rate”….do you fancy yourself an atheist missionary? :wink:


Ah, I keep digging myself deeper into a hole.

I would rather not see myself as an atheist missionary, but an activist.

Hmm, you are right, success rate is not a good way of describing what I’m after, I guess you could say I’m seeking to succeed in making them question? but that sounds silly.

This is the real crux of the issue, I don’t go out and randomly hoist myself on random people, but instead seek those who are making active claims about a god, and try to strike up a debate with them.

No. They don’t come here to learn. Most, if not all of the Theists, that we have debated with, come to preach. They demonstrate often that they are atheophobic and sometimes homophobic. When hard evidence is demanded of them, over and over, they get pissed off and become trolls. They start playing games like evading questions and moving the goal posts. They will ask the same questions over and over hinting that they want us, atheists, what they want to hear. That they are right and we are wrong and that there is a “creator”, but then eventually they give up and leave.

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How do we flip the switch on this?

If they come in here with the preaching mentality, what could we say to stop them in their tracks, and instead get them into learning mode?

Edit - some sort of efficient streamlined approach, that cuts through the initial chaff, so they aren’t worn out when they get to the point of potentially learning.

I disagree. First, that’s an assumption. You have no way of knowing that. Second, not all theists who read these pages make themselves known. I suspect there are those who land here that are questioning their beliefs. I think some may come here to learn.


I’m referencing the ones that come here trying to force their beliefs down our throats like Sid. You’re saying he came here to learn? Hahaha I doubt it. We get plenty of members like that are very domineering and act like we’re idiots for not believing in their god.

And, I’m not talking about the lurkers. I’m talking about those we’ve gotten no where with during the debates. Those who came to preach. The Christians that came on here with their designer and watchmaker arguments that Sheldon, Cog, and countless members of ours that spend days arguing in circles with them only for those Christians to get pissed off and leave.

It is not so much an assumption but a conclusion that I came to by reading through the debates, the debates on here. Those Theists clearly and obviously disagreed with multiple atheist users and I have written it off as such until they come back on here and declare that they have changed, which I doubt they ever will.

I should know? Sorry…just not a mind reader.
I never said Sid came here to learn, now did I?
They act like we’re idiots? Hmmm…turn about is fair play I guess.

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Poor choice of wording.


Hey, dude, just my own personal two cents worth of an opinion here, but I think you are looking at things from the wrong angle. As such, YOU are causing yourself a significant amount of unnecessary “stress”. I’ll try to explain my own perspective as best I can without being too lengthy. Hopefully it will help you.

For starters, why - may I ask - are you so badly concerned with whether or not your explanations change the minds of theists in online chat settings? Like you have already admitted, we can never know for certain one way or the other. Plus, even if an individual DOES confess he/she has been swayed by your remarks, you STILL don’t really know for sure. Therefore, why worry about it? Which brings me to my next point…

I personally spent over 40 years of my life dealing with the fear, uncertainty, anxiety, confusion, and apprehension associated with what I was taught about all the God, Satan, heaven, and hell bullshit. It wasn’t quite seven years ago since I was finally able to break away from that indoctrination. And then there were a few more months of “recovery” after that. Once I was totally free, however, I have not been tormented by anything religious ever since. Matter of fact, I am now more comfortable and at ease around religious stuff more than I ever could have imagined. And it is a fantastic feeling, especially considering how horribly ill-at-ease I had always been prior to my “escape”. Therefore, I refuse to allow myself to get stressed over why people still believe the way do in regards to the bible and god. (Or any other religion, for that matter.) With that in mind, if I encounter a person who wants to “debate”/discuss religion, I actually give them a chance to back out. “Are you SURE you want to have this chat?” Because, while I do enjoy a chance to “enlighten” folks about their “awesome god”, I don’t enter the discussion under the delusion of being able to “change their mind.” Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Honestly doesn’t matter much to me, as I will likely never know the ultimate outcome. Meanwhile, I ain’t gonna worry myself about it AT ALL. Already spent way too many years letting religion worry me. I’ve got more important things to worry about lately.

Last thing… From my experience, those who are here preaching at us are typically not questioning their faith. (Not including the obvious trolls, of course.) If anything, they are here to test/reinforce their faith/belief. In my opinion, those folks cannot be reached or swayed. Anything oppising their belief will just make them dig their heels in deeper. On the other hand, there are those who visit who are having doubts and genuinely starting to question their belief. They are rare, for sure, but THOSE are the ones we can have a pisitive impact on when given the opportunity. Again, though, we may never know the outcome. Therefore, why worry about it? And, as others have already said, we have our “lurkers” here who will be reading what we say. And one never knows how what we say may affect them one way or the other. As such, the best we can do is simply be honest and state our “case” as plainly as possible. No worries required. Hope this helps.

(Edit for the sake of changing things.)

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Which I most certainly value!

You aren’t the first to say as such to me, and honestly, I cannot say I disagree. I get latched onto things very easily, it brings my friends much frustration at times.

If I was to give a short response to this question… I guess, It would be a mixture of being convinced the world would be a better place without religion, and also because I have had a family member and three friends kill themselves, directly due to religious beliefs.

I am aware, neither of these entirely justify my actions, I guess I hope to change the world just that small amount for future generations?

Exactly what I keep telling myself, yet my fingers keep scrolling me down to the comment section. (I have managed to avoid YouTube all day today, which is an achievement.)

THAT is definitely a much healthier approach, as I most definitely try to force the conversation.

You’ve certainly given me much to chew over, It awaits to be seen if it helps, gratitude regardless!

I definitely do plan to step down from YouTube comments for the foreseeable future, I’ve done all I could in that regard anyway, and I think my time would be better spend on more fruitful endeavours.


Part of the problem, centres upon the fact that many of the mythology fanboys that gatecrash this forum, have never left the bubble of apologetic mutual affirmation that is a hallmark of their social groupings.

As a consequence, they arrive here, thinking that the various pieces of drivel they’ve geared themselves up to post, constitute some ineffable brand of “wisdom” that we’ve never seen before, and which they’re going to use triumphantly to "stick it to the stoopid atheists™ ".

None of them bother with the elementary step of checking beforehand, if their “ineffable wisdom” has been brought here before by 379 previous mythology fanboys, and subject to ruthless demolition each time.

Finding out that this is the case is an unheralded and unnerving shock to them. The rapid resort to the usual discoursive failures of tone policing and ad hominem indicate how much of a shock this is to them.

Even more of a shock to them, is being informed that the apologetic practices they were taught purportedly constitute the last word in argument, are at best facile, frequently involve well-known and well-documented logical fallacies, and at worst are egregious violations of the proper rules of discourse. Said rules being, of course, completely unknown to them.

They are so poorly equipped to engage in proper, rigorous discourse, that shredding their canards is frequently akin to hunting dairy cows with an AH-64 Apache helicopter gunship. Most of them wouldn’t last five minutes in a basic class devoted to physics, chemistry or biology, let alone the ruthless intellectual killing field that is pure mathematics.

As for logic, their painfully transparent caricature thereof would make even elementary students of the subject barf, let alone someone of the calibre of Willard Van Ormand Quine.

Just as I have no sympathy for an uppity teenager who thinks his video game experience qualifies him to fly a real F/A-22 Raptor, I have no sympathy for someone who thinks spooning up the lies of the Duplicity Institute or Arsewater in Genesis, qualifies them to hand-wave away 150 years of rigorous scientific research in evolutionary biology, or 70 years of experimental work in prebiotic chemistry.

The usual suspects should not even dream of pretending to know more about cosmological physics than the likes of Paul Steinhardt or Neil Turok, and as for pretending to be able to dismiss the work of the late Stephen Hawking, that constitutes one of the most fulminatingly hubristic fantasies in circulation.

It might be useful to generate a multiple choice questionnaire based upon the aforementioned, in order to weed out the inadequates at source before they’re allowed to sign up, so that we start encountering some competent performers for a change, though this won’t weed out the pathological liars of course.

It’s a measure of the stark difference between us and the mythology fanboys, that we can call upon, and present honestly, the findings of Nobel Laureates to back our statements, while the best they can offer is vacuous platitudes and the farce that is apologetics.

If their choice of cartoon magic man actually exists, you have to ask what sort of inept being would send such low-grade cannon fodder into an arena that is the discoursive equivalent of a nuclear battlefield.

It’s definitely a different mindset, but you have to admit it’s ironic when they invoke logic and don’t appear to even understand what it means. For example @Sid’s claim “I can see no logic in atheism.” Oh, so which principle of logic is being violated by lacking belief in any deity? The answer…it will never ever come of course, as he clearly had not considered the implications of using the word logic purely as rhetoric.

Maybe he will go away and learn about the logical fallacies that littered his claims, you never know.

Just another brick in the wall. Just another grain of sand on the beach. Just another seed in the garden. Some learn and some don’t. We keep making the bricks and hitting them over the head with them. We keep placing sand in front of them and hope they will someday see the beach. We keep putting seeds in the garden in the hope they will grow. (Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t.) Does your hamburger taste different if they don’t learn? If they learn will you get a raise at work?

You may be asking the wrong question. See if you can follow this. I want to change you. I want you to wear skirts instead of pants. The point is not who is right or who is wrong, the point is, you are trying to change something about someone. How do we react to those who try to interfere with our lives? Generally, there are very few people whose opinions we give a shit about. We certainly are not going to care much about some idiot on the internet. So, how should people react to people they don’t know, who try to change their opinion over the internet? “They resist.” Doesn’t that seem like the normal human thing to do?

I would like to invite you to look at your motivation. What message are you sending to others when your motivation is to change them? ‘I want to change you.’ I am the one in a position of power and I want you to think like I think. Isn’t that what the theists are doing to you? Are you engaging in a power struggle over whose opinion is right, and who should be convinced by whom? This is by definition a state of struggle. It’s no wonder you find it frustrating. (The definition of ‘crazy,’ is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.)

Is there another way? What other motivating factors can we find? When I say, “I have not been convinced a god exists.” I am seeking clarification. It is non-confrontational. Frankly, I could care less if the other person changes or not. If they say something illogical or use a fallacious piece of shit, I will certainly point it out. That is my reason for not believing, not your reason to change. (Think about it.) Some might have noticed the disdain in my tone when talking to some theists. Okay, are mumbling that this is an understatement. Some are people are not worth talking to and I could care less about them. (Mostly the ones trying to change me, and not have a real discussion.) People that are actually searching, I enjoy sharing and talking too. Real people with real questions. I am willing to have an open conversation with these people. I will put my own personal beliefs on the chopping block, as I have done many times, and risk being wrong. (Which I have also experienced once or maybe twice.) I am having an honest conversation. That’s all. I enjoy honest conversations. I also enjoy being a flippant sarcastic ass. I am willing and able to do both.

When I confront videos in the way you mention, I am never doing it for the person. I am talking to: First, I do it to help me clarify my own position. I want to express myself and use the information I have studied. I am genuinely interested in their response. I want to see if my arguments/opinions can hold up. When I get the same Christian rhetoric as you, I interpret this as success. My thoughts were sound, and the theist has nowhere to run to but to rely on 'faith, repetitious ignorance, and false assertions. They do this because my arguments are solid. Second, there are other people watching. Other people read the posts. I don’t have to have an effect on the interlocutor to have an effect on the audience. Lastly, I want to say that I make comments because I enjoy making them. I enjoy writing. I enjoy conversing. I enjoy learning new things. I spend more time on forums than I do watching TV or listening to music. This is fun. It is a ‘self-expression’ of sorts. With that said, I do live in South Korea and supervise an elementary school. There aren’t a lot of people around me with whom I can have these sorts of conversations. I’m not pretending to be smart, but rather, the things that interest me are not of interest to the average person. This is my entertainment along with a few other hobbies. I do it because I enjoy it.

Is there a difference between questioning belief and challenging it? If your goal is to change people, it seems likely you may be challenging the belief system and not questioning it. For example: When I am questioning, I probably do not share my opinions. This would be more like,’ Street Epistemology.’ I am not changing the other person, but rather, I am exploring the epistemology. This generally results in their arguments being vacuous and so “I have no reason to change my position.” There is no reason for me to change or take them seriously.

This is what we are discussing: “your motivation.” Your overt motivation appears to be to change the other person. Just like the apologists that come onto the site and repeat fallacy after fallacy like a broken record. (Are you the atheist version of that?)

Why would it matter? Are those the only two options? We don’t get to control the lives of others and we certainly don’t get to know what is going on in their heads. No matter how important this seems, It’s none of our business. By leaving the conversation, they are communicating that the conversation is over and that they no longer wish to talk to you. They are not interested in what you have to say.

For you. YES! If your motivation is wrong, you are setting yourself up for failure. You cannot change other people. People change themselves. They change themselves in their own time and in their own way. There is a difference between the things you can control and the things you cannot control. You don’t get to control the actions or reactions of other people. You don’t get to control their thoughts or ideas. If your sense of accomplishment is tied to the idea that you helped someone see the light or change, your self-esteem is going to bounce up and down like a yo-yo. There are other ways and other reasons to interact with people. If you can change your reasons, your frustrations will vanish. (Think about it.) The only real I do this is because it is fun, educational, and it benefits me. I am a selfish SOB. I don’t know these people, but I love calling them out on their bullshit. I enjoy it. It’s for me. Not for them.

But that brings me full circle, back around, to bricks in the wall, sand on the beach, and seeds in the garden. I’m just a cog in the wheel of atheism, happily spinning away.


Don’t listen to all this ‘don’t concern yourself with whether they saw the light’ stuff, @Wily_cat.

If you’re willing, catch the retreating theists on the way out and send them to me; I’m opening the AR Debriefing Department.

“Tell me about your new Personal Truth.”

“What memes made sense to you?”

“Why do you think White suspended you before your exit?”

“What is ratty talking about?”

“Would you like a diagram to take back to to show where Cog hurt you?”

It’s all planned out.

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…(standing ovationclapping like a madman)… Bravo! Bravo!.. (wiping tear from corner of eye)… Bravo! Bravo!..


See? Did you see what Cog said? Didgya, huh? Didgya? That was fantastic! Sure, my freaky little monkey buddy may be an unbearable asshole sometimes (:thinking: Okay, MOST of the time.), but it’s moments like this that keep us from locking him away in the dungeon. Hang around long enough and you might learn a thing or two from him. (But DO NOT let him try to teach you how to blow butt bubbles. Just sayin’…)