The more vehemently devout your opponent, the less likely you’ll convince them. But, at least in MY experience, the more likely you’ll infuriate them.
There actually seems to be an inverse relationship between how cool, calm, and collected you remain, and how bat-sh*t crazy they become. And that plays to your advantage, because at the end of the day, it’s more important you win your audience than your argument.
An angry opponent will say things that alienate anybody listening/reading along with the debate. Let them. If you can inflame their ire with cold hard facts, all the better. The more they swear and hurl invective, the more rational you appear by contrast and the more weight an observer will give your argument.
“These assholes are our friends…”
Letting your opponent exhibit their irrationality is far more compelling than if you’d just called them irrational.
For example, often they’ll throw out the first insult with little or no provocation. If they call you anything synonymous with “fool” (idiot, dumbass, etc.) do NOT respond in kind. We win NO points spewing back “CREATARD!” to their “LIBTARD!” ephithet. (In fact, PLEASE stop using the “-tard” suffix altogether, out of basic human decency. Always take the high road. Well, almost always.)
As a mental exercise, whenever somebody online trips my trigger, I like to take a few seconds and repeat this mantra:
“These assholes are our friends, these assholes are our neighbors. These assholes are our friends, these assholes are our neighbors. These assholes are our friends…”
…until I calm down.
Instead of returning their vitriolic volley, congratulate them on being so quick to dismiss Matthew 5:22 (“…whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire”), and then invite them to throw out the rest of their book as well, and offer (since you’re BOTH hell-bound, now) to save them a front row seat in Hades for the next Jimi Hendrix concert.
And then just move on (unless they’ve given you nothing else to work with, then drop the microphone and wait, Gangsta)…