I don't like debating religion.
Well, that's a lie, I do like debating religion (amongst other topics), the problem is that you really can't debate religion. Well, you can, but people really, really suck at it. See, my issue is that I have spent the majority of my life aspiring to gain knowledge and understanding of the world around me, which is why I love science so much.
I understand why people want to believe in their religion, or have spirituality, I understand the need for hope of an afterlife. I understand that the idea of an omnipresent father figure watching over you is actually kinda comforting. Knowing (or at least thinking you know) that there's someone out there watching you and giving your life meaning, well, it gives life meaning, and people need that. While I don't appreciate how religion offers comfort without substance, I understand why it exists and I truly do think that everyone has a right to believe what they want to believe.
So why don't I like debating religion? Well, it's because there's no winning a debate with a religious person, and it's NOT because they're right or my arguments fail (neither statement is correct.) I won't debate religion because even if I spent two weeks straight explaining why each and every detail in every bible ever was wrong, debunking myths or explaining how science has a better, more accurate answer, I will never, ever convince the devout that perhaps they need to be a bit more rational and critical of their faith.
The issue is that religious arguments require so many leaps of faith and sometimes flat out faulty logic to get to the conclusion they do. Take the gay rights argument:
1 – First, they need to justify their claim by proving that God thinks gays are bad. This is usually done by quoting Leviticus.
2 – They then have to prove that the vaguely written quote about homosexuality actually meant that gays are bad (hint: the vagueness of the bible's prose in any language means most passages can be interpreted multiple ways.)
3 – Then they have to prove that there are no contradictions counteracting that statement, which isn't common, since there were plenty of things about Jesus saying you're not supposed to judge and that every man woman and child was created in God's own image, meaning that God made gay people gay.
4 – If they manage to somehow properly argue those first points, they then have to explain why their version of their religion is more right than another. For example, Catholics don't like contraception, as it doesn't make offspring, which is a relatively reasonable explanation as to why homosexuality is bad; Protestants, however, aren't as strict with the contraception thing.
5- They have to prove that their religion is the right one, by comparing it to historical data and cross-referencing other religions. This, naturally, can't be done, but assuming it could and Christianity was correct, we'll continue.
6 – They have to prove that the bible was written by GOD and not by MAN.
7 – They then have to prove that the bible was never tampered with and that what is written is pure. If they cannot do this, then it's clear that anything written in any bible is subject to criticism of man and accusations of tampering. Since we're talking about a book written over the course of hundreds of years by too many people to count, the chances of this being the case are astronomically low. Doubly so given man's tendency to manipulate and control others.
8 – They then have to prove that, not only did God write these things and that they're pure, but that there's actually a God. This is usually done by saying that everything had to come from something, citing the fact that science has yet to prove anything concerning the big bang theory, since it's, you know, billions of years before our time. However, this is not proof, only a 'what-if' scenario. While the big bang has science and observation on its side, the 'god did it' argument has only the word of a book written thousands of years ago that says so.
This is mainly why I don't debate religion, or allow people to use religious arguments in non-religious debates. Mostly because as soon as we've skipped past steps 2-7 to get right to the “is there a god” argument to immediately back up the almost certainly faulty argument that God said gays are bad (or whatever argument you need), you have people attacking science, and I have a real problem with that. “Well, you need to have faith in science too, so that makes god just as viable of a theory as the big bang!” No, you fools, it does not. On one hand you have a discipline based on being able to test theories extensively to maintain effects that can be reproduced vs a belief system based, at its core, on “well, there are spots science hasn't or can't explain adequately, so that must mean God did it.”
If you're using 'God' as a metaphor for the unknown or that which is beyond our plausible comprehension, then it kind of works, but accept that God is a metaphor and not an anthropomorphized being. As a conscious, divine being, there's absolutely no proof to substantiate that claim other than a book written thousands of years ago that not only is vague at best but could be (and most likely was) tampered with and no more than an item used by people to control others.
God may be real, but nothing in our history has ever actively pointed towards that being the truth. God is little more than a metaphor used to explain away things we don't know, and as our culture grows towards being more enlightened, with science explaining more and more that was once attributed to God, people who want to believe continue to do so because that's what they want to believe, not because that's where the logic points them, and they will do ANYTHING they can to plant the seed of doubt in others because the very idea that this thing they've dedicated their lives to may be false or flat up lies hurts them.
One book I read concerning the subject was called, I think, Religion as a Social Phenomenon. It likened faith and religion to a local sports team. Think about it, when you gained your religious beliefs, was it something you thought about? Was it something you took the time to weigh the options on before concluding that the religion you follow, or was it something you just kinda were born into? Statistically speaking, something like 2-3% of religious people actually change religions or spend time researching the options before proclaiming themselves one religion, an overwhelming majority just stick with whatever they were born with or what their friends pushed on them. In that respect it's like a Sports Team. Look at the Toronto Maple leafs: Their win/loss record is atrocious, yet people in Ontario cheer them regardless; not because they chose to like or support Toronto, but because they were born in or near Toronto and that's what all their family and friends support.
Religion is a Social Phenomenon, a cultural meme, and nothing more. The fact that people believe in it despite the saddening lack of real evidence supporting it bothers me, which is why I chose not to debate it. I chose to be atheist because I have not experienced or heard of any evidence supporting such a being, and it is incredibly irrational to believe something without good reason (and hope/desperation is not a good reason.) I do not believe there is NO GOD, as there is just as little evidence supporting that theory as there is supporting the existence of god: None. Atheism isn't about actively and aggressively believing there is no god, just that they chose not to have a belief. People believe in God without logic, and the closest thing to proof that any religion is right is an example of them filling in the blanks left by incomplete scientific inquiry with a vague and desperate 'what-if' scenario. That's not good enough for me and it shouldn't be good enough for anyone with the ability to be a critical thinker.
There's a word for that kind of person: Gullible.
So, if you can prove god is real, that your god is the right one, that He wrote the book, that the book wasn't tampered with, and that your interpretation of it is correct, I will gladly debate with you, until then, please keep it to yourself.