Debating With Fanatics


Have any of you notcied a particular way most fanatics argue with you about Catholicism. I have and it has been with fanatic Protestants. I belonged to a Protestant forum at one time. I left not to long ago after agruing for over 4 or 5 months. Now let me warn you of how they try to spin things. The first thing you usually encounter is that they cherry pick things and then take them out of context. Then of course they build themselves a strawman so then they can pretend to beat you at an arguement, but they really do not. When they build up a strawman they usually take your own words out of context and try to bring the arguement into a whole different subject that has absolutely nothing to do with the real subject. All of these things are not an accident (at least with my encounters). They do it on purpose, so that they do not have to admit defeat. They can not win a logical arguement with you. So they take up these actions. It just shows how incompetent they really are. So do not let them do any of these things. Tell them to stop taking things out of context, build up strawmen, cherry picking, etc.

Now if you want to know the solution here it is. In fact their are two ways. They both involve confronting them about their cherry picking, building strawmen etc. One way is to rip the main core of their arguement to shreds without mercy, but please it is best to do it in an honorable way. Usually after you do that the rest of their arguement just capitulates. Two, is to meticulously disarm every point of their arguement. This proves to be a very effective defensive method.

Be warned though that fanatics will ignore what you say, even the facts, and even the logic. When they start to feel threatened they usually start to do these things more frequently. So after you invlove any of the two methods above it results in this. This just keeps going in a merry-go-round until they stop the cherry picking, etc. Only after they do that do they stop acting like fools. I hope this helps any one who reads it God speed.


What I Find Facinating Is How Many People Seem To Know Exactly What G-d Is Thinking Or Wants Or Wanted Say A Couple Of Thosusand Years Ago. I’m Extremely Envious. Sometimes I Can’t
Even Figure Our What My Wife Wants. If Only I Had Their Powers


Well from what I have observed, both sides have their share of fanatics who employ similar nonconvincing techniques. Pot, meet kettle.

Actually I tried a couple of those forums on the other side of the house, but dropped out. I can tolerate stupidity coming from the other side; but stupidity from my side of the house is nerve-racking and intolerable.


I agree with mozart. There are fanatics on all sides of every issue. A simple rule is the more extreme a person’s belief about an issue, the more likely he/she will resort to the tactics you pointed out. No ideology, religion or political point of view is exempt.


There have been a few strawmen erected on this forum as well. As was said above, pot often meets kettle.


There are reasons why people become so fanatical that they cannot/will not argue fairly. From what I’ve observed it’s 4 fold:

First is ego. They must be right because they must be right.

Then there’s fear. If what they hold so dear can be shown to be wrong, they think their whole world will fall apart (which it very well might so this fear is sometimes justifiable). Or worse, they fear losing their salvation.

There are persons who feel deep down inside that their beliefs stand or fall on their ability to defend it, so they must use all methods fair or foul.

And there are those who cannot stand the thought that the other person could be right when they have spent so much of their time and energy trying to prove them wrong. They’ve invested too much in their point of view to accept anyone else’s, right or wrong.

And finally, there are those who will never accept being wrong because they will not see anything they do not want to see.

No one can argue against any of these conditions. It takes prayer, love and lots of patience, as well as the realization that you will probably never see any results. So, you have to decide at what point it’s useless to go on and then leave them in God’s hands alone.



I think that can all be covered under one word PRIDE:(


I would be interested in how and where you draw the line between fanatic and someone who does not agree with you.

From your description it seems that anyone who does not in the end admit the superiority of your viewpoint by capitulating is labeled a fanatic and a fool. You are certainly entitled to this opinion (if it is indeed an accurate description of it). I just wanted to make sure I understood the terms of the discussion.


Matt. 7:6 Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you.

Matt. 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words: going forth out of that house or city shake off the dust from your feet.



No, that is not my discription of a fanatic. Sorry that I did not make it more clear. My opinion of what a fanatic is is that they basically do what I have said above. There have been plenty of people who have not agreed with me, and they are most certainly not fanatics. Those who are intent on going in a merry-go-round and resort to these tatics above, and will take any chance at discrediting you (which happened to my farewell address), I label fanatics. God speed.


Roger the pot meeting the kettle.

I don’t go to other web sites and I try not to frame my discussions here as debates. I try to state clearly whatever I need to say. Rarely do I find someone charging all over the barn to re-mount a counter attack. Often people do not respond at all. I just assume that my response has been so excellent that the case is closed and my interlocutor has left the discussion to go sign up for RCIA. :whistle:

When somebody says something blatantly false about a Catholic teaching, I try to clarify the position without saying things like, “hogwash!” And I try not to say: “You’re wrong!” I especially don’t say, “You’re wrong, Stupid!” OK. Sometimes I get cranky when a person is persistently contententious, and when somebody just snipes, I *will *call him on it.

Nevertheless, when the Catholic position has been stated clearly, and the Magisterium has been fairly represented to my best ability, I just stop the dialogue. No sense in arguing. It can take years for a person to stop resisting the Church, and it may never happen; that is not in our hands. We’re not slap-on-the-back evangelists who need to close the sale right this minute. Sometimes the Holy Spirit needs a little time.

Rather than “win” an argument right now, I would get to heaven and meet someone who tells me that something I said took five years to make a difference to him but it ubrought him closer to Christ and eventually into the Church.


Truth be told I have had to leave a forum because their were so many fanatics who attacked my faith, and did not even listen to my words of my defense. I was saddened that I had to leave because I have many friends their, but it was getting old and tiresome to repeat myself. God speed.


I’ve dealt with so much of this sort of thing that now I usually just don’t even bother to get involved. As has been noted, when you’re dealing with unreasonable people who simply want to parrot their position and knock it into you without even trying to appreciate your perspective, there is little point. So if someone sincerely is asking a question with the intent of developing some understanding I’ll answer. Or if something desreves to be said, I’ll state my position clearly ONCE. I might recapitulate once again for clarity sake or to develop a point, answer an objection, point out a problem. But I won’t waste my time going in perpetual circles if I can help it. Generally, I find that if this is where a person is coming from it’s of little value to even start debating with him as everything will go right over his head. There are, afterall, typically better ways to be more productive with my time and efforts, I find.


Here is a good definition for a fanatic. I felt that I did not answer the question well enough that KarenNC asked.

extremist: a holder of extreme or irrational enthusiasms or beliefs, especially in religion or politics.

Hope this is more clear. God speed.


Fair enough. Thanks for the clarification.


One thing to remember is that you can not have a discussion with anyone who refuses to deal in fact. (the old addage “I’ve already made up my mind, don’t bother trying to confuse me with the facts” comes to mind).


Well said. I know the feeling.


I’m not sure if I would hate debating fantics. At least there’s hope for them. It’s the conspiracy theorists that bug me.

No matter what you say, you’re wrong. Literally everything that I say is wrong to the point that even when I agree with them, it’s somehow, and in some way, still wrong-- and deeply interconnected to some conspiracy theory that they hold and no one (and I mean no one) can convince them.

These are indeed the hardest ones to reach. And, yes, there’s certainly hope for these conspiracy theorists too, especially if they’re Christian already. :slight_smile:

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