Can theists be convinced by reason?
I am French, was born into a Catholic family, and was baptized as a Christian (so young I do not even remember), but I must say that my parents, despite their own beliefs, did everything possible to give me a rational and critical mind. As a result, I never shared their religious faith, chose to study sciences and achieved a PhD in artificial intelligence.
For personal and professional reasons, I now live in Brazil, a highly religious country. Here atheism is seen as an illness or a deficiency. The more enlightened persons are actually sad for me, and the less educated look on me as a bizarre entity. As if this was not enough, my girlfriend is a Protestant and a psychoanalyst. Believe me, Freud and religion are very compatible! In fact, they share a lot of irrational and unscientific values. They both rely on pure faith, the kind of beliefs that Popper would designate as “non falsifiable”. But my point here is not to compare Freudianism with religion, although the topic might be quite interesting.
In this environment, I fight every day with my family, my friends, my girlfriend, her colleagues and her co-religionists. I really try to make them use their reason and consider my atheist arguments objectively. Even though the works of Richard Dawkins and others has helped me a lot in clarifying and organizing my arguments, I must admit to having had very poor results in this attempt. Of course, I don't pretend to be as clear and convincing as he is!
I then started to wonder how can one bring to reason someone who is stuck in pure faith ? When we discuss religion and faith with religious people, they eventually end up making arguments that are not logically right or that do not pass rational or scientific scrutiny (even if sometimes they seem rational). And then, they seem to block their mind, not allowing it to use the only tool we all have: reason.
All my atheist arguments rely on reason and therefore can only be understood by reasonable persons. How can I use reason to convince someone who refuses to use reason? It seems to me that this cannot be the right way with such believers. I am afraid I have to use some other tool than logic and reason to make them abandon blind faith. But which tool?
I post these thoughts and questions here in the hope that someone can give me good advice, or tell me about successful cases which I can learn from and build on.