Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

You Can't Win An Argument

I was thumbing through an old book by Dale Carnegie called How to Win Friends & Influence People. It was first published in 1936 with several revisions over the years. This must've been one of the first self-help books ever written. It is simply amazing that after so many years, wars have been fought, technology has advanced, economies have gone boom and bust, yet this book is still as relevant today as it was back in 1936, because human nature hasn't changed one bit.

Anyway, I came across a section that says you can never win an argument. I was instantly reminded of the debates between atheists and theists. Generally, atheists do not constantly engage theists to argue about each other's beliefs, but some, like Sam Harris (I noticed), do participate in a number of such debates. Personally, I think Sam argues very well, always rational, always interesting but how many of his opponents did he manage to convince that there is no god? Even Richard Dawkins - the most famous atheist in the world - only claims to have ever had one convert - his friend, Douglas Adams. Dale Carnegie wrote that, "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still." You may be right, but as far as changing another's mind is concerned, you will probably be just as futile as if you were wrong.

So, with this little piece of wisdom, it's basically pointless arguing with people about their religion, even if you think they are wrong. I also feel that when talking to theists, there is no need for me to justify my beliefs, unless I'm asked about it. I will just remind theists (if they need reminding) that everyone is free to believe whatever they want. I will also stress that I'm not possessed by demons (I get accused of that sometimes!). As far as this blog is concerned, some of the issues I write about here are not written to ridicule theistic beliefs. That's simply because they're not written for theists. They're written mainly for those in the middle-ground - people who care about the truth, people who're a bit uncertain about the uncertainties of life and who'd like to hear alternative, secular views on things. I do apologize, though, if some might find my writings offensive. Anyway, don't forget to read my mission statement.

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At 11:53 PM, March 17, 2007, Blogger mingde said...

I think that there are more people on the "middle ground" that most people think, and these people should be make aware of the fact that "Atheism" is a real option. Too often people have only heard the theists' point of views(rather strongly, I would say) and simply not be aware that they could disagree.

That's the whole deal with freedom of religion isn't it? The choice to choose and express your belief? When someone says to you "You are going to hell, because you don't believe in God", you have the right to say "No, I'm not going to hell because your god doesn't exist."

Dale Carnegie was right. A person opinion is seldom swayed by another's arguments, especially if the opinion is based on faith. However, we could always politely and plainly state our stand on the matter and explain our position. There is no need to turn such a discussion into a big debate on the foundation of the unviverse. Very often, hearing a atheistic person speak about his belief(or lack of) in a rational and easy manner will cause the believer to question and search deeper for answers in his or her own faith. And that's a good thing, to let these ideas sit.

At 10:52 PM, March 22, 2007, Blogger Meursault said...

Hi ming,

Yes, it is important to get the message across, hence, the whole reason for me writing what I'm writing - to raise consciousness. To my slight dismay, though, I realize many people in the middle ground don't really care about the truth. They quite happily accept the theists' views so that they can get on with life. If only they care about the truth like some of us do... the facts are all out there for them to read. It's only whether they want to look at them or not.

At 4:47 PM, April 03, 2007, Anonymous mephis said...

May I ask you why you became an atheist?

At 12:26 AM, April 05, 2007, Blogger Meursault said...

I didn't become an atheist overnight. It wasn't that I read a book or had a revelation or anything like that. It was a gradual process of gathering knowledge (scientific & philosophical) I supposed. I spent years learning about the major religions and I've spoken to theists about their beliefs. I've reached a point where I find their creation myths and their reasons for believing unpalatable. They just don't do it for me anymore.

Plus, you might consider me a geek. Check out the link below.

Why are geeks often atheist?

At 6:15 PM, April 05, 2007, Anonymous mephis said...

I see. Cheers.

I'm an atheist(and can be considered a geek) too btw.

At 11:55 PM, April 05, 2007, Blogger Meursault said...

Wonderful! Are you Malaysian, mephis?

At 4:24 PM, April 06, 2007, Anonymous mephis said...



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