I've been following the recent arguments over faith and beliefs, and it reminded me of a question I've had for some time. Is it possible to argue a point using logical and evidentiary methods with someone who has accepted the existence of (a) God on faith?

I have had many arguments with folks like this in my time, usually because they've stopped me on the street, or turned to harangue me from the front of a cab, or stood up during speeches to heckle. There seem to be two types. One type I can argue with; usually they are the ones who pose a thoughtful question, or offer an argument that is enticingly difficult to break apart (sometimes I can't, natch). I have found that these folks, even though they have accepted certain large portions of their worldview on faith, are able and more importantly willing to keep their beliefs and their argument separate (unless, of course, we're arguing about beliefs, which I try to avoid).

The other type of person who I end up arguing with and trying to avoid are those who seem to feel that their beliefs constitute a part of reality that is not only firm and unshakable to them - that's fine - but also should be visible and obvious to me. They seem unable to make a distinction between a truth accepted on faith, and a fact that is supported by evidence and/or experiment.

I think many of the problems that arise between 'believers' and atheists* over communication (does that make them metaproblems?) spring from the presence of either the former type of person above, or their counterpart, the atheist who treats all truths based on faith as logical negatives. I find I can't argue with either, lending more credence in my mind to the hypothesis that it's not faith but zealotry that is the problem.

*: I realize that atheist is a bad term here; it isn't the antonym I"m looking for (...it isn't the antonym I'm looking for...). However, my mind is blanking here, and I need to keep writing. (...I need to keep writing...) Move along. (Move along.)

Note: Modified to remove a question at the end which was at odds with the statement in the node title. Thanks proj2501 for the constructive crit.