The biggest insult in a debate is when nobody even cares enough to debate you. In years past, you almost never heard any theist seriously attack the atheist position; it just wasn't necessary. Religious people were confident in their position, and atheists were mostly dismissed as unimportant. So I guess it's good news that atheists are raising the hackles of religious columnists and commentators everywhere. At least atheism isn't being completely ignored.
But the theists, rather than address atheist's position in an honest debate, are resorting to rhetoric and innuendo. Go to Google, click on "News" at the top, and search for "atheist" and you'll see what I mean. Here is a small sampling of the sort of name calling that's being used to avoid the real debate:
- The tedious 'new' atheism
- Atheism has become a religion of its own
- A plague of atheists has descended, and Catholics are the target
Every dishonest trick and maneuver known to politics and marketing is being used. You'll find personal attacks, name calling, and phrases like "tiresome" and "nothing new." Atheists are being called by disparaging titles such as "militant" or "brigade," in an attempt to paint the entire group as radicals out to demolish the poor, honest theists who are just minding their own business.
What's missing from most of these responses is any rational, thoughtful answers to the questions atheists are posing.
It doesn't speak well for the theist position that they can't address the debate honestly. Are their beliefs so weak that they can't stand scrutiny? Are their arguments so flawed that they're embarrassed to present them? Is their position so tenuous that they dare not even show it?