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