When arguments go awry
It's interesting when you do a lot of debating on message boards and stuff that there are some things you say that are guaranteed to be misunderstood. It's like something happens between the time the words leave your mind and arrive at the other person's mind. They hear something completely different than what you say. Here are a few examples:
When arguing for the resurrection, we will sometimes make the point that since the disciples were willing to lay down their lives for their beliefs, it's clear that they were not just pulling off some kind of scam; they really believed what they were saying. When you make this point, people hear something completely different. What they hear is that since the disciples were willing to die for their beliefs, then Christianity must be true. And then they'll point out the many other people from other religions who have been willing to die for their beliefs. I always respond the same way. I point out that the fact that other people are willing to die for their beliefs proves the same thing in their case as it does in mine. If people die for their beliefs, it proves they really believe it.
When spelling out the kalam cosmological argument, the first premise is "Whatever begins to exist has a cause to its existence." But that's not what people hear. What they hear is, "Whatever exists has a cause to its existence," and then they say, "Who created God?" They figure since God exists, then God must have a cause for his existence, too. Then you have to explain how there are two kinds of things in existence--those which had a beginning, and those which didn't. Those that didn't have a beginning don't require a cause. Those that do have a beginning do require a cause.
When making the moral argument for God, the first premise is that "If there is no God, then there are no objective moral values." But that's not what people hear. What they hear is, "If you don't believe in God, then you can't be moral." And then they go on to point out that atheists are often more moral than Christians, and they think they've refuted your argument.
Here's one more involving same sex marriage. Some people will defend same sex marriage on the basis that anybody ought to be allowed to marry if they love each other. To rebut that argument, we will point out that a brother and sister might love each other, so by their reasoning, we have to allow incest. Or we might point out that Jim, Jill, Jason, Joanna, John, and Jasmine all love each other, so by their reasoning, we'd have to allow polygamy, too. These are ad absurdum arguments. That's where you show that a position is false by taking it to its logical conclusion. The logical conclusion to the premise that people ought to be allowed to marry if they love each other is that brothers and sisters ought to be allowed to marry each other, and multiple partners ought to be allowed to marry each other. If we reject these conclusions, then we have to reject the premise they are based on since that premise leads inevitably to them.
But that's not what people hear. It's especially not what gay people hear. What people usually hear is this: If you start allowing gay marriages, then next thing you know, there'll be incest and polygamy. Then they'll accuse you of committing the slippery slope fallacy. (Of course in a sense, it is a logical slippery slope, but it's not the causal slippery slope they're accusing you of.)
Gay people hear something even worse. What they hear is that you're comparing homosexuality to polygamy and incest, and then they get offended. At this point it becomes impossible to reason with them, because they're offended. They refuse to actually address your argument from here on out, and instead whine about you likening their lifestyle to polygamy and incest because you're such a mean homophobe, and fundie, too. Of course the only sense in which you're likening them to incest and polygamy is in the fact that they love each other, but even heterosexuals love each other!
I tell ya, it's frustrating. The frustrating thing about it is that you know ahead of time that the person is going to hear something completely different than what you say, and you know ahead of time that you're going to have to correct their misunderstanding.
These are just a few examples off the top of my head. There are others. If you've noticed the same thing, please tells us about your experiences in the comments.