We Win!

We Win!

We Win!

What are Christians to think when thousands of atheists gather and make plans to mock and belittle them?  There’s only one thing to think:  We win!

In an intellectual debate, logic and evidence are the stuff a winner relies on. For Christians, prayer and love are added in.  But making fun of your opponent?  That is not an intellectual tactic.

That is, however,  the advice Richard Dawkins, author of the best-selling The God Delusion, gave to an estimated twenty-thousand fellow atheists who showed up at the National Mall in Washington, DC last March for the Reason Rally. It was billed as a coming out rather than an anti-religion rally but it seems that being anti-religion is the glue that holds them together.

As reported in  USA Today, five hours into the event, amid a constant drizzle, (Yeah, it makes me want to cry too) the British scientist and rabid atheist appeared. The article stated:

“Then Dawkins got to the part where he calls on the crowd not only to challenge religious people but to ‘ridicule and show contempt’ for their doctrines and sacraments, including the Eucharist, which Catholics believe becomes the body of Christ during Mass.”

To clarify just what he meant, Dawkins modeled an example of how to use dirty tactics. According to the The Christian Post

“Exemplifying how he would approach religious persons, Dawkins said, ‘Do you really believe, for example if they’re Catholic, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ?”

“Mock them, ridicule them in public,” he urged. “Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion.”

The Art of Debate

This is an odd coming from a scientist. Debaters are taught to know their stuff and argue the facts, not stoop to making fun of an opponent.  According to a study published by The Journal of Technology Studies,  teaching students to debate hones their critical thinking skills. There is no mention of name calling skills.  “Debate requires you to think on your feet and respond to tough questions with knowledge and grace, and the skills you acquire through this discipline will improve your ability to communicate in everyday situations,” the study stated.

So what are we to think of Dawkins’ instruction to his flock?  It would seem that relying on reason is not their strongest suit but rather resorting to bullying is more their style.

I have always been taught that when one side starts to ridicule, it’s because he’s run out of intellectual ammo and has nothing left but intimidation. I believe it’s why so often, when people are praying in front of an abortion clinic, drive-by obscenities are shouted from car windows. On one side is a group of self-sacrificing people, standing and praying for others:  the unborn, their mothers and even the abortionists. The group is calm but firm and willing to engage in conversation with others. On the other side is the “F-You!”  Oh, there are those wanting to engage in serious debate—often angry and lacking in information.  But only one side employs ridicule and name calling—the side that comes up short on logic and good will.

In the case of atheists, what is it they are so angry about?  Why does one of their leaders unabashedly encourage followers to skip the logic and make fun of people?

Great Move

I am somewhat glad to hear Dawkins advocating these tactics. It means that more people will experience an epiphany moment:  Something is not right with this picture.  More people who blindly followed and fell for the argument that atheism is based on science and logic, will perhaps feel something stir in their hearts when they find themselves in the middle of a debate that ends in name-calling.

Given we are all people of faith—some believe in God as creator and some believe nothing created us—perhaps the difference in tactics will appeal to hearts and minds. The rally cry to Godlessness has such a hollow ring. Making fun of opponents carries a sharp and angry feel.  It is why we must take care not to lose our cool. Christian leaders offer the exact opposite advice. They appeal to the faithful not to name call, lest a debate end with:  “You’re stupid! …No, you’re stupid!

If this were a cartoon strip, I might almost laugh. Think about it; an educated scientist who scoffs at religion shares his secret weapon:  Let’s make fun of people. Does this sound childish?  Not even in grade school would kids admit publicly to such a plan.

But you’ll not see me laughing over any of this. Only praying and praying hard.

Copyright 2013 Patti Maguire Armstrong


About Author

Patti Maguire Armstrong, is the mother of 10, and has a B.A. in social work and M.A. in public administration. Her newest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Others include Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the Amazing Grace Series. Follow her at @PattiArmstrong and read her blog at PattiMaguireArmstrong.com.


  1. This post is hilarious in its ignorance.

    It is not unintelligent to belittle a belief such as transubstantiation, because its an illogical idea. If someone really believes a cracker turns into the body of christ, they should be checked into a hospital, not praised for the delusional faith.

    Theists as yourself love to misquote and or misunderstand anything Dawkins says because he is intellectually superior to just about all of you. He even understands your religion better than most of you and have left countless religious apologists speechless when attempting to debate him.

    So yes, in the art of debate, it is okay to ask if the person believes in transubstantiation and then ask them what proof or evidence they have for such a ridiculous claim, and faith is not evidence. If they cannot prove that this “miracle” takes place, then by all means, laugh at them and move on.

    So you pray and pray as hard as you want, because while you are sitting in your room talking to yourself, we are organizing and hitting the streets, we are taking away your undeserved power in the American government and legal system. We are fighting for same sex marriage and abortion rights. We are fighting for pure equality and secular values.

    • If he is such a great scientist I question why he chooses to expend his energies on attacking God rather than furthering his exploration of the universe. You are fighting for ”equality” in the West while people are still being killed for being sorcerers and homosexuals in places like Iran. I think your attention is misdirected. All the while the church is actually doing something for people who really need help. They run missions that feed and clothe the homeless, schools that will give people a chance at a future and hospitals that care for the sick and dieing. It is by your words that you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned so keep on fighting for utopian ideas of supposed ‘pure equality’ and we will keep praying and serving others and trying to live the life that Christ calls us to. We believe that every life has meaning and divine plan that God has intended and has a right to be there. Keep calling us names and we will keep praying.

  2. Patti Armstrong on

    Dawkins has publicly said he refuses to debate creationists. Sounds cowardly to me. He claims there’s nothing to debate–convenient excuse because obviously there is something to debate. He did however debate a cardinal http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD1QHO_AVZA. To say that Dawkins knows our religion better than we do, is.

    Taylor makes good points when it comes to charity. Christianity is good for society so why are people like you and Dawkins so angry and against it. There are many studies to support how much more Christians contribute for the good of others but here is one: A comprehensive study by Harvard University professor Robert Putnam found that religious people are more charitable than their irreligious counterparts.[2][3] The study revealed that forty percent of worship service attending Americans volunteer regularly to help the poor and elderly as opposed to 15% of Americans who never attend services.[4][5] Moreover, religious individuals are more likely than non-religious individuals to volunteer for school and youth programs (36% vs. 15%), a neighborhood or civic group (26% vs. 13%), and for health care (21% vs. 13%)

  3. For centuries, Theology was considered the highest form of knowledge–yes, even into the “scientific age”–because questions regarding our purpose in life and our origins cannot be answered in any other way except by reflections on faith and the history of faith. All religions are the study of things which are indeed quite real, but not “verifiable” by the traditional scientific process, although reason and logic help explore the realms of theology.

    The role of virtue, purpose/meaning, morality, death/life and even “order/design” are concepts that come from our faith history and NOT from science. Our universities and schools are decidedly NOT better off for having pushed out the highest form of knowledge.

    Jesus is a verifiable historical figure but His miracles and His willingness to suffer for us are not things that can be dissected under a microscope. So you can go ahead and dissect the “wafer” and belittle us for our faith in the Eucharist; but Patti is to be commended for pointing out that the tactics that will be used against us are not reason or “tolerance” but fear, browbeating and a denial of truth.

    Prager University has a short video on Faith and Reason, by philosophy professor Peter Kreeft, here http://www.prageruniversity.com/Religion-Philosophy/God-or-Atheism–Which-Is-More-Rational.html

  4. I am an atheist. I, however, have no problem if people want to follow a religious doctrine as long as no one is hurt or push it on others. I do think there are too many Christian beliefs holding back laws, such as allowing homosexuals to marry. Your religious belief should take away rights from others. That said, I am not claiming all Christians feel that way. The article asked “In the case of atheists, what is it they are so angry about? ” I don’t think the writer should have referred to all atheists. That is done a few times in this article.

    • I see your point that you don’t want to be lumped in with all atheists, but the prevailing atheist force in our culture is anti-religion. LG, you mention you are okay with religion as long as it does not take away rights of others. That is where our faith is interpreted as taking away someone’s rights. Is it a right to choose abortion if the baby would interfere with personal lifestyle preferences? My faith teaches me that the baby has a right to exist and that it is wrong to allow him to be killed. My faith teaches me that a sacramental marriage is the union between a man and woman open to the creation of children. My religion teaches me that all people are worthy of dignity, but that does not make marriage a right. So, religion is going to cause differences in the public square. We cannot believe something is truth but then not live that out.

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