Whether they're Christians or Atheists, you can't reason with someone who has absolute conviction

reason, faith, fundamentalistOnce upon a time, many centuries ago, men wrote the Bible. Ignorant (as in uneducated) men who did not understand the world around them. These men wrote the Old Testament to keep the Israelites in line and they created laws, like the ones found in Leviticus to frighten people into behaving. Have you ever read Leviticus? Everything under the sun is punishable by death.

If you ask a fundamentalist Christian who wrote the Bible, they will respond that men did, but they were “inspired” by God. Many believe that God literally spoke through these men, thus God wrote the Bible. This is the main reason why you can’t reason with a fundamentalist Christian. They also believe everything in the Bible is true and infallible. If you say “Well, this could mean something else,” their response will be “No, the Bible is true.

This past Tuesday, a woman named Pamela Raintree put Biblical literalism to the test in Louisiana. She spoke out in favor of an anti-discrimination bill after Ron Webb, a council member, drafted legislation to repeal the policy. Webb used the Bible to back up his bigotry, and what Ms. Raintree did during a council meeting was wondrous to behold.

Ms. Raintree, a transgender woman, approached the podium with a large rock in her hand. She looked at Ron Webb and said:

“Leviticus 20:13 states ‘If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with woman, they shall surely put him to death.”

Pamela Raintree then lifted the rock she had brought with her off the podium, showed it to Ron Webb and loudly placed it back down.

“I brought the first stone, Mr. Webb, in case that your Bible talk isn’t just a smoke screen for personal prejudices.”

Webb withdrew his appeal a few minutes later. Pamela Raintree deserves her own national holiday and Ron Webb deserves every bit of scorn and admonition we can give him. Ms. Raintree called the bluff of a fundamentalist Christian who was trying to use the Bible as a weapon, and she won. When push comes to shove, Bible literalists really aren’t willing to do anything the Bible tells them to at all.

reason, faith, fundamentalistPointing this out will not help you win an argument with a fundamentalist Christian. Yes, the Old Testament states quite clearly that if your child is a chronic misbehave-r, you’re allowed to stone him to death. Granted, there is nowhere in the Bible that speaks of this ever being done, but it’s still in there. Women in tents during their periods, shellfish, mixing fabrics, hair cutting, beards, how to correctly slaughter an animal (hey, International Beef-you’re doing it wrong), you name it, it’s bad. And bad equals abomination, which equals in most cases, death.

You simply cannot argue literalism, especially when it’s combined with cherry picking. Yes, fundamentalist Christians believe everyone who is LGBTQ is going to hell in a handcart, but they still eat fried shrimp at Long John Silver’s. A fetus is sacred, but actual children, not so much. Mary, the mother of Christ, was a single mom, but modern single mothers are destroying our country. Jesus had two dads. Just throwing that out there.

There is another group of fundamentalists against whom you will never win an argument either: fundamentalist Atheists. Fundamentalist Atheists lump all religions together as bad, insult anyone and everyone who believes in a deity, and are not shy about calling us names. Stupid, ignorant, dumb, morons, violent, racist, bigoted; all names I have been called by fundamentalist Atheists for being a progressive Christian. I’m not any of those things; that fact does not deter them in the slightest.

Jason Dye is a progressive Christian writer and activist. He has noticed a pronounced attempt by American fundamentalist Atheists to minimize LGBTQ Christians and their allies. He detailed an exchange he and others had with The Friendly Atheist on Twitter that included Christian LGBTQ individuals. Christian members of the LGBTQ community lashed out at the fundamentalist Atheists who claim you cannot be LGBTQ or an ally, and be a Christian. Many on the Twitter thread correctly pointed out that saying so marginalizes the Christian LGBTQ people of the world, and statements like that are as hurtful as the ones that come from fundamentalist Christians.

Fundamentalism, at its core, is the unshakable belief that you are right, no matter what. Fundamentalist Christians believe the Bible is one hundred percent true and accurate, and use that belief to harm others. Fundamentalist Atheists believe all religion is bad, and use that belief to attack others. There is one big difference between fundamentalist Christians and their counterparts across the religious divide. Fundamentalist Atheists, for the most part, do not advocate physical harm against people with whom they do not agree. Fundamentalist Christians, on the other, do so on a regular basis. I’ve always found that interesting: the group that claims to follow a man who preached love are the first to tell someone they should be hurt or killed.

You cannot reason with people or groups who exhibit no willingness to listen. Arguing with a fundamentalist on either side is like banging your head against a wall: It hurts, it’s a huge waste of your time, and eventually, you pass out. While we cannot ignore fundamentalists, we do need to try and bring attention to the dangers of zealotry, no matter where it is found. Hate is hate, whatever religion they practice or don’t practice.

reason_faith, fundamentalist


  1. […] Tell the viewers that the “Other” is coming to take their way of life; that Christians are the chosen people of God and America; and most importantly, that everyone else lies to them. This is how ignorance is nurtured and grown. This is classic population control. More simply put, and as this site has mentioned before, it is impossible to argue with a fundamentalist. […]

  2. I am a reasoning humanist and a moral philosopher. Always seeking WISDOM , the missing element of dogmatic atheism and dogmatic religion . Ignorance of one’s own ignorance is fountainhead of all folly. Intimate knowledge of ones ignorance is the foundation of all wisdom. I will reply to Dawn Murphy Maclear in the same manner as I would Richard Dawkins or Mike Huckabee. Congrats on your moral wisdom that justifies the depersonalisation of Mark Lajoie ,Baraka Obama and myself. As reasoning humanist I of course see all gods as human creations. What moral good can come from judging the vast majority of humanity as unworthy of respect ,consideration or amicable Co existance? Of course it’s cherry picking to find poetry and wisdom in the bible exactly the opposite kind of cherry picking that justifies misogyny, racism and homophobia. I see America as an orgy of illmorallicy , so much rationalization, justification and gratification. Logic wisdom and compassion largely absent. I entirely disagree with Hillary Clintons recent reply to BLM about changing laws not hearts. What we need is another rev. King or a new Churchill to inspire a paradigm shift in MORALITY! The reason the GOP is terrified by Pope Francis is because as a Jesuit he values reason logic and compassion. As the world’s for most authority of Christian morality he has the god given right to declare pathelogical greed as sin. This wise man might just align himself to the teachings of Jesus. Of course Dawkins argues that I’m the fool for seeing Jesus as hero of the Enlightenment equal to Newton and Ghandi. I do believe it quite foolish of Dawkins to proclaim the purpose of the Enlightenment was to make him Bright. The real reason for the Enlightenment is to make all humans equally a commoner. The enemies of the Enlightenment are autocratic and aristocracy. Dawkins and Huckabee occupy the same moral territory from opposite of the fence, agree withme or be ridiculed, vilified and depersonalized . Such wisdom I have no need of . So devisive and judgmentally ill. A friend recently asked me my dream for humanity I of course replied world peace as achieved by each individuals moral and educational self enoblement . I’m obviously a crappie writer because I’ve never touched a computer in my life until a few weeks ago. I think if Noam Chomsky and Pope Francis sat down with me they could Co author The Good Delusion a Unifying Theory of Humanity. Our only options are find common moral purpose or extinction

  3. Thank you, Erin! That’s everything I’VE been trying to tell everyone paraphrased! I also define fundamentalism in the exact same way you do-that, regardless of what their beliefs are or are not, it’s when the person believes that only his or her beliefs are right and everyone else is damned. I was raised as a fundamentalist until I was eight. When I was 11, I was introduced to evolution and agnosticism so I went agnostic for awhile. It made a hundredfold more sense to me but still didn’t leave me feeling very fulfilled. I discovered metaphysics six years ago and have been studying that ever since and I added Buddhism into my life over a year ago.
    Fundamentalism is one issue I’m passionate about for more than one reason and I’m very glad to see an article like yours. I think you’re almost 100% accurate for the most part. However, I’d just like to point out that one thing you’re slightly off on is that while it’s true that Mary and Joseph were not married when she was initially pregnant, they were so well by the time Jesus was born so it can’t really be said that Mary was a single mother.

  4. I would like to say about the transgender person seeming not to understand that Christians are not commanded to follow the OT, I am hoping I am wrong on this one and if I am, please forgive me. Thank you.

  5. That transgender person who quoted the verse from Leviticus seemed not to understand that Christians in general follow the New Testament which include the Four Gospels and the epistles from apostles such as Paul, Peter, Jude and John. The Christian church was and is not commanded to follow the Old Testament. In the book of Acts, a council was convened to determine whether the OT had to follow, after the apostles had to deal with the Judaizers. Who were the Judaizers? They contended that while Christ was Saviour and Lord, gentile converts were to be circumcised if any were men and follow Jewish law. The apostle Paul at the time of Acts was one of the apostles and as well a former Pharisee. He had no small dispute with the Judaizers because he knew what they thought, meaning similar to the Pharisees. I suspect if Israel became so to speak, a fundamentalist Jewish state, and a person like that transgender one would be put to death if the rabbis determined that person was guilty of violating Jewish law by becoming transgender in the first place. While we Christians treat both the Old and New Testaments as wholly the Bible itself, the OT would be for historical reasons and for example the book of Proverbs to glean wisdom from. Now, yes, some Christian sects have been confused which to follow actually. If Paul were to live now in America as one of the apostles, he would be amazed and it would possibly compel him to write a few epistles to Christian churches in this country. He would be very sharp with some of our Christian leaders. He would emphasize preaching the gospel and not compel the unsaved to live as “Christians” because that would make the said unsaved hypocrites. He would also criticize the leaders for “living high on the hog”. I hope this helps clear up a few things.

    • You say that Christians do not have to follow the “Old Testament”, but you surely must be aware, that many Christians would disagree with you. Most Christians, of whatever denomination pick and choose which scriptures they will follow and which they will ignore.
      For instance, Jesus enjoined his followers to refrain from public prayer, but many modern Christians insist upon it.
      Moreover, Paul was not one of the twelve. He was not, in other words, an apostle. And since he was not a follower during Jesus’ lifetime, it could be argued that he was not even a disciple.
      Paul claimed a separate revelation, and his interpretation of the teachings of Jesus were somewhat … idiosyncratic, an amalgam of Judaism with strong components of the mystery rites of Osiris, Tammuz, and Ceres. Later on, there was a strong infusion of Greek philosophy, which made the new cult more palatable to the learned.
      I think Yeshua would have been appalled at the way his teachings have been twisted.

  6. Certainly I have run across atheists who don’t reason very well.
    For instance I had occasion to use this in a discussion:
    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” — Proverbs 15:1
    I was immediately jumped on and told to take my “religious nonsense” elsewhere. Of course it is not a religious proverb at all, merely an observation that we can now explain in terms of “mirror neurons”. Anger in others activates the centers of the brain that are activated when we ourselves are angry. It’s ancient common sense, backed by modern neuropsychology but because I quoted the Bible some atheists simply reacted from the amygdaly without reasoning it out in the anterior cingulate cortex.
    “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly.… ” — Proverbs 1:2
    I guess I still have something to learn. I still don’t know how to make knowledge acceptable.

  7. It is always amusing when atheists use that Levitical law and think they presented something reasonable against Christianity. They almost break their own arm patting themselves on the back for being so clever. The only thing it shows, though, is that they know nothing about Christianity. They need to step up their game and attack Christianity for what it is, and not for what they think it is. Maybe then Christians might take their irrational reasoning more serious and make it worthy of a response.

    • They have every right to look at Leviticus. And Old Testament law in general, since Calvinist theocrats in the Dominionist movement plan to impose it on the non-Christian population after their take over and reserve grace only for themselves (whatever TULIP lovin’ Calvinists see as grace anyway!). Historically its been used in the Christian past to torture 300,000 women, killing around 75,000 by burning, hanging and mutilation. And of course, the Inquisitions…Yes by Christians, full of grace. Members of the religious right used almost the same language today. If you consider wisdom amusing, laugh on. If you are so ignorant of your own religions bloody history, shame on you!

  8. I agree with Jackson. I do not want to pretend. I see that even LBGTQ, still, choose to cling to religion but I always wonder why. Certainly, they, too, are cherry picking the parts that the like out of a highly contradictory book. I, as an atheist, DO lump all religions into one group. That group pretends. It is sad to watch adults pretend.

  9. I have to disagree with your assessment of atheists. I’m not a believer myself, but I choose to call myself a gnostic. I don’t know if there is a God, but I’m pretty sure that if there is one (or any number of them) that they’re not as most (if not all) organized religions describe them. I know quite a few atheists and while they may believe that religious people, fundamentalists in particular, are ignorant, foolish and even dangerous, they don’t go around looking for fights with them. For the most part they just want to be left alone, not proselytized to, attacked, or to have the religious beliefs of others forced on them directly or indirectly. To say that atheists are “Fundamentalists” is rather absurd. Maybe they don’t “suffer fools lightly” but that hardly puts them in the same category as religious fundamentalists/fanatics who want to imkpose their beliefs on others or kill them.

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