You have to give them an A for effort – or perhaps for Atheism. At any length the Atheist Apologist is a master at dodging the issue. Faced with a philosophical challenge the Atheist will bust out with dance moves that would be the envy of Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson combined. Thier propensity for finding the one thing that was not your point and making that the focus the discussion is uncanny. Nearly miraculous; if they believed in such things. One will often find them arguing tirelessly for the correct definition of the term “proof” or correcting someone’s misuse of the term “theory” or “hypothesis”. After all, these things are very important when you have little else to argue substantially. And this is a position that I certainly do not envy them for. They are forced to defend a view that cannot be proven, and that is juxtaposed against a view that they cannot disprove. They are however quite valiant in the endeavor; often wrong but never in doubt. I suppose that we should forgive them then for a bit of fancy footwork. The tactics they employ are quite a marvel to behold. I will list a few here:
Look – A Squirrel! Alluded to in the opening paragraph this tactic is one of the first levels of the Atheist response. It usually begins by finding some irrelevent point about a challenge and making this point the focus of debate. For instance if one were to challenge that there is literally no empirical evidence for abiogenesis, the Atheist would respond by stating that “evolution has nothing to do with abiogenesis.” Of course you might not have actually made that challenge, but the damage is done as you will spend the next several minutes trying to convince them that you indeed understand the theory of evolution and how it is distinct from the fantasy of abiogenesis. Which leads us to our next move…
You Are Dumb Therefore I Ignore Your Point – This tactic is so eloquent in its delivery, so poetic in its point. Ad hominem? Sure, but when you are not good at philosophical discussion I say make it up in well placed insults. The way this one plays out is that once a person has made a point, clearly demonstrating their knowledge of the subject at hand, the Atheist will then retort “you obviously need to study subject XYZ.” What brilliance! Now rather than them actually responding to your point, you are forced to spend the next several minutes satisfying their unending need for proof of your qualification to challenge or make a point. The end result – your point is lost in an avalanche of triviality.
Science Proves Stuff – This is one of my favorite. Here the Atheist Apologist will assert that science, which seems to have gained sentience and developed a religious world view, has disproven your faith. In order to substantiate this the Atheist will reiterate some unrelated scientific fact and then assert that it proves them to be correct, while obliterating you. This technique has the two fold blessing of forcing you to show them why their supposed fact does not substantiate their point, as well as the shock value of dealing with the abject absurdity of the claim.
Trolls and Riddles – On the discussion forums where Atheists gather like mating mayflies on a gas station window, you will often find this tactic employed. The beauty here is that it can be employed as either a dodge, or to masquerade as a legitimate point. The dodge version will usually be deployed when the Atheist has been tricked into a line of discussion where he has to address a point logically. This particular dodge works very well in chat rooms where Atheists act as moderators. The Atheist will present a pointless question and then demand a response. This question of course will have little or nothing to do with the topic being discussed and is clearly a ploy to free them from responding to your challenge. The question might be for you to recite some random bit of scientific trivia, which works to make their pseudo-challenge seem relevant. At this point if you do not respond to their riddle, the Atheist will brand you a troll (which is a phrase that I am certain that Atheists are sponsored to use.) If the room is moderated by Atheists this will result in you being banished from their group. Now they are free to respond to your point without the nuisance of you holding them accountable. Victory is theirs.
There are certainly more dodges and dance moves, but these are some of the best. The bottom line in the Atheist playbook is simply this: at no point engage a Theist in an actual philosophical discussion. Those who ignore the wisdom of this rule are doomed to a fate worse than death. Those who listen to the philosophical arguments of Theists, who engage them on an honest intellectual level face the inevitable fact that Atheism is nothing more than another religious world view, and perhaps worse – becoming a Theist. Perish the thought.