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A Tactful Approach

 
Josh
 
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Josh
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04 June 2009 13:23
 
Simpleton - 03 June 2009 07:55 PM

I suggest that you revisit my first three posts, and read them again.  I clearly address this.  If you do not find it there, please ask, and I’ll cut and paste the precisely relevant portions.

“Brusque approach” is well-described in there, and you would not have to guess as to what I meant by it, when it would applicable, etc.

If you want to continue this discussion, and I must admit it can be interesting whereas I did not just a little while earlier, it is kinda crucial that you do.

No need for you to do my work for me by cutting and pasting anything…..I can handle this. Here’s what I found, upon revisiting your initial posts:

I am all for discretion in that you do not not speak or act unless it is appropriate and the opportunity is the right one.  But when you do speak or act, do so truthfully.

... Education is the only way to win the war (I hate that metaphor, but it is not mine).  The only point I would stress is that education is not coupled with mollycuddling.  If something is bullshit, it better be educated as being bullshit, even if you have to call it totally wrong instead of bullshit

Fuckabee.  Now that would have been scary.

Okay, that last one had nothing to do with our current discussion, but I found it mildly humorous.

So, apparently we are more in agreement than our recent spirited verbal exchange would seem to indicate. I would never suggest that we “mollycuddle” and call a spade a pencil. And we agree about discretion…..as you said, “do not speak or act unless it is appropriate and the opportunity is the right one”. Amen, bro!!! SNA took this one step further by opining that our arguments would be the MOST effective after we have befriended, and bonded with, the theist. So you, SNA, and I are pretty much on the same page here, despite our misunderstandings and argumentative exchanges.

 
Josh
 
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04 June 2009 14:04
 
Simpleton - 03 June 2009 07:55 PM

...a little naked kumbhaya will be effective in preparing the theist for the discussion of what exactly to call the spade. As R. Kelly’s hit song SHOULD have said…..“I don’t see nothing wrong…..with a little naked kumbhaya”!

Depends on the theist and then how lusty she is.

Well then, today’s your lucky day! Jan Crouch, co-founder of TBN, eagerly awaits. She’s got her Bible with her, ready to go! Read to her from Song of Solomon…..I hear that’ll get her real excited.

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Slow Nerve Action
 
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04 June 2009 20:05
 
Simpleton - 04 June 2009 04:38 PM
Slow Nerve Action - 04 June 2009 12:47 AM
Josh - 03 June 2009 12:11 PM

For someone who is seemingly advocating a congenial approach, SNA did not exemplify a compelling case in my opinion.

SNA, it looks like Simpleton does have a point here.

I will respond to this with a few points. 

1. You’re absolutely right, this is a skill I am still developing and having trouble doing so to be honest.  I’m still learning and I think its something all of us need to learn more of. 
Notice what I said right after I accused simpleton of misinterpreting me:

The problem with skeptics and rationalists like myself, and many people here I’m sure, is that many of us don’t know how to have a good time unless we’re arguing.


2. I think its great that simpleton has redirected the conversation in this direction.  And I would like to apologize to simpleton if I offended you.

I was not, and an apology is not necessary, although I will say that you appear to be sincere.

3. I don’t intend for this point to undo the first two in anyway…  I think that the friendship approach is probably always the most effective way of convincing someone…  but ...  I do think that after a person has learned to follow reason there is more leeway that can be taken in arguing with them.  Not that this conversation should in anyway be used as an example of a good approach.

You cannot be friends with the unreasonable and not compromise your intellectual honesty.  People who are unwilling to concede that Genesis (and this is just an example) is bullshit (in whatever phraseology you wish to employ), are not reasonable.

Reason only works with people who are reasonable.  Your wanting to be friends so that you can somehow lure them to reason is simply unreasonable.

Humoring the unreasonable is unreasonable.

Being friends with the unreasonable when your intent is to subtly suggest that they reconsider their views on Genesis being true is mollycoddling at best, deception at worst.

It is an unreasonable approach, because you are using one form of deception to replace another.  I am sure that the pastor who inculcated them was friendly as well.


There, I have restated and elaborated some of the same things I said earlier.

I will again emphasize that my main concern is for the effciency of reconfiguring these physical systems.  And although we could get into a debate over whether the ends justifies the means I don’t think we even have to. 

These are good points and I think the difference in our opinion stems from a difference in interpretation of what I’ve said. 
What you’ve said is true if your entire life is consumed and dedicated to these issues.  If you are always focusing on than these issues then I agree.  Because then you would have to be thinking about and intending to convert them while you’re relating to them about other things.  This is not what I was suggesting or imagining. 

For most people, including most religious people, belief issues are hardly the main focus of their lives.  They take their beliefs for granted and just believe without thinking… that is why they beleive what they do.  For most people, their lives are the main focus of their lives. 

IMO The issue isn’t as black and white as you make it out to be.  Let me really strike at the heart of the reason I posted this.—I was not trying to say that we should trick people into liking us so that we may convert them to atheism.  I was merely trying to point out how the human animal works by stateing an observation—that arguing with strangers often times has little influence on them.  This was in the hope that we might develope a better approach or at least question our approach.  When I suggested that we befriend theists first I didn’t intend to mean that you should actively seek out theists and befriend them just so you can convert them, lol.  I was simply trying to infer that nstead of wasting our energy doing arguing with strangers we should be focusing our energy on being friendly, making many many friends, and enjoying people’s company.  <—-  that is what you should focus on most of the time, instead of focusing on how people are wrong, and how you could change them. 

Focus your life on making friends, and when you feel like arguing with your friends.  Go for it.

I can see why you would read it the way you did though.  Stateing that it would be more effective to befriend them first was not intended to be a prescriptive claim that we ought to do exactly this.  It was primarily to elucidate our awareness of how the human operates so that we can create a appropriate approach.  Focusing on friendship and arguing with friends in my opinion of what would work best.


I think that rationalists like us have an argumenative nature.  Its a nature that doesn’t let things rest.  This nature has led us to be more critical and careful when choosing what to believe.  But it also pushing many people away because most of know don’t know how to control this nature.  And I think this nature is definetly being demonstrated in this thread… we can’t just chill out, can we?

[ Edited: 04 June 2009 20:51 by Slow Nerve Action]
 
Josh
 
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04 June 2009 21:03
 
Simpleton - 04 June 2009 04:39 PM
Josh - 04 June 2009 12:04 PM
Simpleton - 03 June 2009 07:55 PM

.....“I don’t see nothing wrong…..with a little naked kumbhaya”!

Depends on the theist and then how lusty she is.

Well then, today’s your lucky day! Jan Crouch, co-founder of TBN, eagerly awaits.

I said lusty.  Not crusty.

Crusty, perhaps. But she is still very much lusty, busty, and trusty…..albeit musty, dusty, and (after all these years) a little rusty.

 
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05 June 2009 06:48
 
eudemonia - 27 May 2009 05:04 PM

Education is the only way to win the war. We can’t kill’em all so….

Young people in America today are more secular-humanist atheist than traditional. We are winning albeit slowly. Scientific discovery and education about such things along with training in skepticism and reason and critical thinking will win out eventually, if we don’t let some rapture ready blockheads destroy the planet first. Thats the really big question…is there enough time for education to work? We need increased funding continuously for education and science if we are to have a chance at eventually erradicating religion. It will probably never go away entirely but if we can make it a distinct minority, we have won., for we can keep superstition in check.

If McCain-Palin had won the election…...I would be petrified right now!

Amen.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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07 June 2009 20:00
 

Sorry if this has been covered, I didn’t notice it amidst all the quibbling.

I think we’ve got to back up a bit and try to define exactly what it is we are trying to accomplish when we engage a theist in debate (if and when we do)

Are we really trying to convert them? I would suggest that we are not and shouldn’t really make that our goal.

I think we can reasonably assume that the average religious person who is motivated to debate an atheist is both firm in their beliefs both about god and about their own ability to argue.

Talking them out of it is likely a lost cause. What we CAN aspire to, though, is to plant a few ideas and change the playing field a bit.

Most significantly we can debate publicly and demonstrate to a cross section of the community the functionality of rationalism over that of superstition. We can draw out the glaring idiosyncrasies and conveinent fabrications that are the inevitable result of the collision of modern science and ancient myth.

We can present the not-fully-indoctrinated with an informed and viable choice.

 
Josh
 
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08 June 2009 04:00
 
Brick Bungalow - 07 June 2009 06:00 PM

...the average religious person who is motivated to debate an atheist is both firm in their beliefs both about god and about their own ability to argue.

Talking them out of it is likely a lost cause. What we CAN aspire to, though, is to plant a few ideas and change the playing field a bit.

Most significantly we can debate publicly and demonstrate to a cross section of the community the functionality of rationalism over that of superstition. We can draw out the glaring idiosyncrasies and conveinent fabrications that are the inevitable result of the collision of modern science and ancient myth.

We can present the not-fully-indoctrinated with an informed and viable choice.

You’re absolutely right. The theists who are motivated to debate me, in my experience, tend to be extremely obstinate. So debating with them is ultimately an exercise in futility…..unless there is at least one other theist who may happen to overhear our debate, and listen in with an open mind. So I agree that public debates can be much more productive than one-on-one. A public debate is not so much about changing the mind of the theist that you’re debating, but about reaching those not-yet-fully-indoctrinated theists who are watching and listening, whose ears may still be open to our “reasonism”.

So it is mission essential that we conduct these debates with civility and respect. We must speak the truth and “call a spade a spade”, but do so tactfully. So the spectator theists will simply be presented with the informed and viable choice of belief, or lack of belief, in a supernatural being…..and will not be turned off to the latter choice right off the bat, simply because we appear to be nothing but a bunch of unpleasant assholes who are only interested in unbridled derision, unconstrained mockery, and uninhibited ridicule. Personally, if I were a believer, and I was watching or listening to a theist/atheist debate, and the atheist side was represented by the likes of Bad Rabbit…..well, let’s just say I’d probably not be too eager to switch sides.

[ Edited: 08 June 2009 04:04 by Josh]
 
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09 June 2009 02:54
 

... Respect has to be earned, and you are already behind when you start with The Yahweh Book o’ Goatherdery as a respect-worthy proposition.

(sigh) Come on, man! Why must you insist on confusing respect for the humanity of the opposing debater, with respect for the veracity of the fairy tales in the book that they defend? When I say “civility and respect”, all I’m saying is that we respect the humanity of the human being debating us. And choosing our words wisely is a good idea if we want the open-minded theists to continue listening to us. For example, we can effectively argue against the scientific accuracy of the creation story, WITHOUT having to use the words “Genesis is bullshit”.

What’s your tactful way to pronounce Genesis is Bullshit?  Or, in the interest of avoiding you getting displeased with the topic and focusing needlessly on why I choose that for an example, what’s your tactful way to pronounce denial of civil rights to homosexuals as nothing but religious bigotry?

Instead of “Genesis is bullshit”, one can open with something like: “I contend that advances in scientific knowledge have successfully negated the historical accuracy and literal credibility of the Genesis creation account”. So you’re still saying the same thing, but just breaking it to them a bit more gently. And as for the gay rights discussion, I think that we can effectively inform open-minded theists that they have no reason to oppose equal civil rights for homosexuals by imposition of their religious beliefs upon secular law, WITHOUT calling them bigots.

You say that as if it is a bad thing.

No. I say “derision, mockery, and ridicue” as if these things are COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE.

When you have a polite Person of Faith telling you that Homosexuality is immoral, homosexuals are an abomination to God, and that he, as a moral believer in God cannot tolerate homosexuals being allowed to have the same rights as everyone else who is not homosexual, unbridled derision, unconstrained mockery, and uninhibited ridicule seem justified.

I’m not arguing against what one may perceive as justification for ridicule. I’m arguing that we restrain ourselves from ridiculing the theists in situations where we sincerely hope to reach them.

Look, use of force is something you already accept in society as the appropriate means to deal with unreasonable behavior.  Why are you against the use of unbridled derision, unconstrained mockery, and uninhibited ridicule against unreasonable positions?

Because some types of unreasonable behavior require a different approach than others. We can continue to reason with theists in non-malevolent ways, to convince them to come around on the gay marriage thing, for example. But as soon as they attempt to tie gays to fences and beat them to death, then we use force.

I understand, from reading another thread, that you don’t think that non-violent protesting works. Yes, 52% voted against gay marriage in California…..but back in 2000, it was 61% who voted against it. That’s a 9% drop in eight years. We’re getting there, man! This is going to be back on the ballot, and at this rate, gays could be getting married in California with voter support, by just after Election Day of 2012.

Not much of an idea as to who this Bad Rabbit dude or dudette is, but methinks me wanna read more.

Oh, you’d like this guy! He’s a bitter old fart with a chip on his shoulder the size of a surfboard…..a crusty, curmudgeonly, cantankerous, condescending, conceited, contentious canker-blossom. He’s the guy who started that other thread, with THIS in the OP…..

...the time for conversational intolerance is long past…..we should treat the faithful like we treat the Ebola virus, with zero tolerance so we can destroy this self-destructive meme with extreme prejudice.

Yeah, go ahead and read more. Study this guy’s words thoroughly, as a perfect example of how to inspire theists to never take a word you say seriously, ever again.

[ Edited: 09 June 2009 02:58 by Josh]
 
Josh
 
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09 June 2009 21:47
 

I fail to see where I confused respect for someone else.

Looking back at what you said, I think what you’re getting at is that you find it extremely difficult to, and/or do not care to, respect a person who expects you to respect their Bible. That’s understandable. I just think that a little respect for their humanity can go a long way, if we truly wish to be listened to.

When I meet someone who I do not know, i.e., a stranger, I do not offer him respect.  I am civil and courteous, by default, though.  I do not start barking “Genesis is bullshit” from the first interaction.
To offer someone respect, in my book, he/she ought to have earned it.

I’m glad to hear that you are civil and courteous, and that is all that I meant by “respect” for the humanity of those we meet. And I agree that the type of “respect” that you speak of, DOES have to be earned. So we’re more in agreement on this “respect” thing than I thought.

However, should a discussion follow which involves the Book o’ Goatherdery, my first comments would be “Genesis is Bullshit”

Now, if the person is open-minded, he or she would at least ask why, and then I’d glad to explain why it is bullshit pointing to scientific discoveries,

And should I find myself in this discussion with a theist, my first comments would be “I contend that advances in scientific knowledge have successfully negated the historical accuracy and literal credibility of the Genesis creation account”. If he/she is open-minded, he/she will ask why, and then I’ll gladly point to scientific discoveries.

I prefer my terser version, unless I need to bend over…..

.....I see no reason to bend over.

Nor do I. I’m rather amused that you would see it this way. Wording things just as effectively, but a little less tersely, is NOT tantamount to dropping the soap in the prison shower, my friend. There…..does this put your mind at ease?

... the bigots have been educated by mollycoddlers, and they still voted.

Again, only 52% against gay marriage, as opposed to 61% back in 2000. That’s progress. I guess “mollycoddling” works, eh?

OK, how many gays would need to tied to fences and beaten to death, before we (whoever that is) are allowed to use force?  How about if a lesbian was gang-raped so that she could understand that God wants her to only mate with males?

I ask this earnestly because I contend you have not properly considered the circumstances under which you think force can or cannot be used.

How many would need to be beaten to death or gang-raped? One would be too many, obviously. So I think that we (meaning you, me, or anyone else) are justified in physically intervening to defend the homosexual victim from harm. That is what I mean by “force”. We should do whatever is necessary to ensure that these innocent people are not harmed…..perhaps even deadly force, but only if absolutely unambiguously necessary, as a very last resort.

To me, this is no different than what happened when we reasoned with Hitler, Saddam, and the Taliban.

If a theist was to say that he/she planned to kill even just ONE homosexual, then I agree with you on this. There is no reasoning with such a person, any more than the aforementioned murderers could be reasoned with.

If reason could work with the unreasonable, we would not be having this conversation.

I fully agree. And I’m not concerned with the unreasonable people. My concern is with maintaining the attention and consideration of those who CAN be reasoned with…..the open-minded ones.

...you endorse voter support for deciding civil rights of other voters as the reasonable means?

Hmmm…..I think ya got me on that one. I guess we never really got around to voting on whether or not to allow HETEROsexuals to marry, did we? I definitely need to think this through a bit more critically (Josh blushes with embarrassment).

... while I have not read all or even many of his posts since he does not seem to have posted a whole lot, I do agree that conversational tolerance is long past.

That’s not what he said. He said conversational intolerance. And he was saying that this form of intolerance was not enough…..that we need to treat the faithful like we treat Ebola. Do you agree with this?

What do YOU, Simpleton, propose that we DO with the faithful? Do you have some kind of “Final Solution” in mind, or will speaking more tersely to them suffice? Or something specific in between?

[ Edited: 09 June 2009 21:52 by Josh]
 
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10 June 2009 12:45
 
teuchter - 09 June 2009 09:45 PM
Josh - 09 June 2009 12:54 AM

He’s a bitter old fart with a chip on his shoulder the size of a surfboard…..a crusty, curmudgeonly, cantankerous, condescending, conceited, contentious canker-blossom.

Huh?  What?  Why are you dissing Bad Rabbit?

If you’re familiar with any of our heated exchanges from the Sam Harris forum, then you would know that Mr. Rabbit deserves to be passionately “dissed” as often as possible, and I’ll explain why. He hates football, Bud Light, and 80s hair bands!!!

AND…..he’s a rowdy, ruffian, roughneck Rabbit with rabies who rants, reviles, and rails against the religious right with rash, reckless ridicule and rough, raucous rhetoric.

 
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10 June 2009 21:15
 
Simpleton - 09 June 2009 08:43 PM
Josh - 09 June 2009 07:47 PM

...a little respect for their humanity can go a long way, if we truly wish to be listened to.

Again, I find no reason to respect someone’s humanity when that includes contempt for other humans.

I’ve given you the reason, but clearly you do not find this reason copacetic, as indicated by the “I find no reason” part (which doesn’t even acknowledge my reason as a reason). I guess we should just agree to disagree here.

Prior to the elections, homosexuals had been able to marry, and they could not after.

I fail to see where it worked.

Obviously, by “mollycoddling works”, I was clearly referring to the fact that it dropped the percentage of anti-gay-marriage Californian voters from 61% to 52%. These numbers suggest that more and more people are coming around and changing their minds on this. But you’re right. Gay Californians ARE worse off right now than they were before Election Day.

Why is a physical beating lot worse than a continual, life-long, financial beating?

This question is based upon the false presupposition that I ever said, or even implied, such a thing. We don’t want either type of beating to take place, of course. I just think that physical force is more justifiable for physical beatings. And metaphorical beatings (such as financial) should be dealt with in a different way. I’m starting to think that the best way to deal with this, is for the state of California to just give the gays back what the voters took away, and let them marry like everyone else.

The more I think about it, the more ridiculous it seems that someone’s equality as a citizen of this country is something that can be VOTED for or against by a fellow citizen. The gays never had the opportunity to vote for or against a heterosexual’s right to marry…..it was given to us. So California should have overturned Prop 8. I’m beginning to realize that It is not one citizen’s place to vote on whether or not a fellow citizen is treated equally.

So you are OK with people coming through on threats of denying civil rights, but not with people planning but not acting on it?

No.

The open-minded ones are the 48%.  The 52% are not.

It’s not as black and white as you make it. Eight years ago, wouldn’t you have claimed that the open-minded ones were the 39%, and the 61% were not? And reasoning with them would have been pointless, right? But something has changed in the past eight years. 9% of Californian voters…..people whom you would have written off as hopelessly unreasonable back in 2000…..have shown themselves to be open-minded enough to change their minds! Our attempts to reason with those whom we PERCEIVE to be unreasonable are not futile, my friend. We never know who will turn out to be reasonable and who will not, so we can’t just give up on anyone, bro! We keep on keepin’ on…..life’s a garden; dig it…..we keep planting those seeds of reason and see what grows.

Any religious bigots who are as virulent as the Ebola virii, should be dealt with the same way:  Marginalized so as to contain the infection, exterminated when they threaten, and hunted to eradication.

You have provided us with a specific example of marginalization, with the scenario of burning down the Mormon Church (I assume you mean all of their churches or at least a good number of them…..not just one). Do you have any examples to help clarify exactly what you mean by “exterminate when they threaten” and “hunt to eradication”?

Now, I’ll explain in detail why this is reasonable.  But first, I want the empty uproar to die down from the tactful approach advocates.  I may need a preliminary discussion as to when and why it is reasonable to use violence, and if necessary, I can start it.

Okay, Simpleton. I think I understand your position much better than I did at the beginning of this thread…..we still have points of disagreement, but hopefully we at least understand each other pretty well. So consider my uproar “died down”, my friend. I can’t speak for the other “tactful approach advocates”, however.

This preliminary discussion you speak of sounds like a great idea for a thread…..if you want to start one. Or we can talk about it here (although this thread has gotten pretty long and tedious). Either way, I would be greatly interested in such a discussion.

[ Edited: 10 June 2009 21:18 by Josh]
 
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10 June 2009 23:43
 

Josh: You have provided us with a specific example of marginalization, with the scenario of burning down the Mormon Church (I assume you mean all of their churches or at least a good number of them…..not just one). Do you have any examples to help clarify exactly what you mean by “exterminate when they threaten” and “hunt to eradication”?

Simpleton: I could, but that detracts this conversation.  Perhaps in a different topic.
_____


Please start a thread, Simpleton, as property destruction and out-of-season hunting are criminal, deserving of jury deliberation, or at least peer review here.

 
 
Beam
 
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11 June 2009 13:42
 

I have no desire to proselytize my lack of religious delusion. People either get it, or they remain ignorant. I have no delusion of getting out of this world alive. If someone is interested enough in my skepticism to ask, then I will talk to them. Otherwise I simply ignore them. Very few people are open to changing their beliefs during a one-on-one discussion. When they are ready to open their minds to new ways of thinking, it will not likely be due to anything that I have or have not said. People rarely have the guts to change their minds based on personal confrontation unless one of those persons is exceedingly good at marketing.

If and when someone is ready to shed their delusions, it is most likely due to something that they have read and seriously considered. Imo, the written word is the key. People are generally more interested in themselves than in any other person’s beliefs; especially when confronted in person.

 
 
eudemonia
 
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11 June 2009 14:38
 

Wonderfully expressed Scotty. Lessons to be learned from that. Talk about commentary rooted in reason, that was it.

I am thankful I stumbled into the likes of yourself, your Bro, Jefe, Sander, Salt and a few others.

You guys have been invaluable to my thought processess.

I guess it is easy for many people to miss the boat, but all you have to do is check your ego at the dock and look for it. It shouldn’t be that hard to do.

As an attorney and friend of mine told me once….‘The people who are the most certain, are the ones who actually understand the least.’

 
 
Crito
 
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11 June 2009 15:27
 

There’s no sense in going on an attack.  It only inspires the person you are debating with to go on a stronger attack themselves.  I find it more effective to stick with the “I know that….” phrase than the “you have no evidence” or the “your beliefs make no sense because…” arguments.  For instance, a theist can tell me “I believe that god created man”.  To counter with something attacking like “that’s ridiculous” or anything that calls them wrong just leads to a stronger argument.  Instead, keeping it with “I” statements (like theists tend to do), but the more affirmative “know” instead of “believe” is less attacking and more enlightening.  “I know that there are inactive body parts that would only be useful to a lessor evolved human and I know that there are fossils….etc. so I find no reason to believe something that contradicts what I know.” 

Let them rest and dwell on what you know, not what you claim they don’t know.

Just as in politics.  I find myself more enlightened and eager to explore more when someone says “I don’t want my taxes raised” rather than “THE GUY YOU LIKE IS GONNA RAISE OUR TAXES”....that just forces me into defense mode rather than inspiring me to learn more. ....poor example for my part being a thrid party guy, but I hope it makes my point.

 
 
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