Sunday, December 02, 2007

Atheists And Leftists: A Comparative Look At Their Methods Of Debate

I have just watched a short debate on TV, which was presented in an interview format. The short subject was an atheist holiday display in Philadelphia.

For the first time a regional atheist group will display a holiday tree on the Chester County Courthouse lawn during the winter holidays, potentially setting a seasonal model for other communities.

County commissioners have allowed groups to display a Christmas tree and menorah on the lawn. But last year, The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, an atheist group, asked the commissioners to either let any group set up a seasonal holiday display or ban the displays entirely.

We can debate the validity of an atheist group choosing Christmas as a time to set up a display, but that's not the larger point I want to make here in this particular post. That, I believe, is a topic that would best be covered on my theology blog. And frankly, I do not care to debate it right now.

The TV debate included a Catholic priest and the director of the Freethought Society of Philadelphia, Margaret Downey. Ms. Downey was allowed to answer questions uninterrupted by anyone, to include the priest. Yet, when the questions turned to the cleric, Ms. Downey saw fit to continually interrupt him in his chance to say his piece.

This is not the only debate I have noticed this kind of rude behavior.

When engaging a leftist or watching a debate that has a leftist participating, many times he/she will refuse to allow those with opinions and views different than theirs, the opportunity to articulate them, without a myriad of interruptions. Mind you I am not calling atheists, leftists here. I am only pointing out an observation I have noticed, in that there is often a similarity of debating style.

Atheists. many times, will attempt to evangelize and proselytize every bit as much as many of the evangelical Christians they claim to despise so much. When discussing politics with a leftist, often they will claim their free speech is in danger in this country. Yet when participating in a debate with someone that disagrees with them, they will often try to filibuster the conversation and suppress the person's (with the opposing view) right to state their position.

Other things I have noted are both groups' desire to avoid answering pointed questions. I cannot count how many times I have watched (or attempted to watch) an intelligent debate between two people with one from one of these groups and another that disagrees with their view, and the leftist or atheist will not answer the question. Instead, they will reroute the conversation to a completely different topic, or take it back to the weak and unsupported claim they are trying to make, offering little or no support for how they arrived at such a conclusion.

Don't get me wrong here. There are Christians and right wingers that do the same thing. But, in my experience, it happens far more with the so called freethinkers and leftist politicos. Are they so insecure in their beliefs that they cannot allow someone that disagrees with them the chance to present an alternative to their way of thinking?

Many atheists are good people that have (for whatever reason) chosen to not believe in God or other religions' higher powers. Many do not denigrate others for their beliefs in those powers, but merely quietly go along and believe what they want, which is their right. In short, they live and let live.

Others feel the need to insult and rail against those that choose to believe in God or other higher powers, often times trying to prove that the believers' gods do not exist. They use whatever forum they can to degrade those that have chosen to believe in something, different from their own belief system. This is the same thing they accuse of evangelical Christians of doing.

The same can be said of political leftists. Instead of intelligently presenting an issue-based argument on a given topic, they often will choose to engage in rude behavior that often times include nasty and despicable ad hominem attacks on those they do not agree with. Instead of boosting their arguments with evidence and support, they spend such an inordinate amount of time trying to tear down the other person's arguments.

Personally, I do not care what anyone chooses to believe or disbelieve. I see it as their God-given right to accept or reject, whatever they want. But, I do not believe they do themselves much of a service, when they engage in the kind of behaviors I have described here in this post. It certainly won't win a lot of support from those that sit on the fence (and those are the ones they need to win support from, not the ones that already have their minds made up).

I certainly do not see it as their right to engage in nastiness and rude behavior, just to advance their arguments. If a person cannot use sound reason and judgment to persuade me to re-think my stances, nastiness and vindictive discourse will not be successful. Neither will making an ass of themselves in a public form, like Ms. Downey and many others do.


Anonymous said...

I saw it too, LA. It is no longer suitable to debate issues on the basis of intellect. Today, who ever shouts the loudest wins, and whatever is said last is remembered longest.

We just cannot seem to appreciate what American education has done for us over the past 100 years, eh?

LASunsett said...

//We just cannot seem to appreciate what American education has done for us over the past 100 years, eh?//

That's what we get when we leave too much decision-making to the government.