Religious Debates on Twitter
by Noah Lugeons
There are two memes that sum up most people’s opinion of a religious argument on Twitter. One is the cartoon where the guy can’t come to bed yet because someone is wrong on the internet. The other one is offensive to the mentally disabled and you already know it anyway.
The basic message is that arguing on the internet is a waste of time. You’re not changing anyone’s mind, you’re not solving any problems and you’re never going to win. But I’d like to challenge that stereotype. I suppose if I wanted I could dig around for some anecdote about somebody being converted through a Twitter debate, but I trust our loyal readers to be too smart to be taken in by an anecdote and besides, I think I can argue for the value of a Twitter debate even if I concede that you’re not changing anyone’s mind, you’re not solving any problems and you’re never going to win.
I justify most religious debate by the audience. The people who watch William Lane Craig debate anyone with enough brain power to keep their saliva inside their head will probably walk away realizing that Craig is a jack-off who talks in circles and hopes his audience doesn’t know the difference between truth and truthiness. But you can’t really invoke that when it comes to Twitter. Sure, there’s an audience, but they’re just as partisan as the participants.
So you can’t win, solve problems, change minds or influence an audience. What does that leave? Well, (here come s the anecdote) you can hone your skills, refine your opinions, learn more about the debate tactics of the apologists, learn the various standard rebuttals, find whole new arguments that you never thought of before and be a counter-apologetic mental-ninja the next time you run into a condescending theist in the real world. I’ve watched my wife do exactly that over the last few days. She’s been locked in a debate with some absurd dingle-berry that is trotting out one tired, easily refuted fallacy after the next. And along the way she’s learning to refute all these stupid arguments in 140 characters or less (minus all the @so-and-so shit).
Think about how handy a skill that is to have in the real world. Once you’ve got it mastered you can shut down any religious assertion in about 5 seconds. And if you never take the time to jump into some of these asinine debates, you may never bother thinking of ways to refute some of the dumber ones.
So all hail the Atheist Twitter Trolls. And next time you hear that Special Olympics line, feel free to send this post to whatever retard said it.