Friday, November 17, 2006

On Faith and Debate

Newsweek is running a big "conversation" (i.e. a series of essays by people with opinions) entitled "On Faith." The question this time around:
If some religious people believe they have a monopoly on truth, then are conversation and common ground possible? If so, what would be the difficulties and benefits of such a conversation?
Dr. Mohler contributed here. I agree with him (surprise, right?). Here's a poignant part:
The only conversation worth having is an honest conversation among persons who respect each other's deepest beliefs as being honestly held and honestly presented. The reality is that too many "interfaith" discussions are held among those who have only a tenuous hold upon the faiths they claim to represent. We should not be afraid to disagree, nor to risk the conversation. So, let the conversation begin . . . and let us show up as who we are, beliefs and all.
I do disagree with him in some part, though. He says that if only doubt and uncertainty can be brought to any debate, then only liberals can take part. That's not entirely fair. In that case, only agnostics can take part.

I think something worthwhile can come of a discussion between two people who fervently believe in opposite directions. However, it requires that the two people be willing to actually listen to the arguments from each other. Too many people are ready to write off Christians from debate because they take "The Bible is infallible" and start off with "Whatever you say, you're wrong." That's not a productive way to begin.

And let's be realistic; it's not exclusive to Christians. Every ideology, religious or not, has its share of stubborn, bull-headed people who won't listen to arguments and refuse to even entertain the idea of a reasonable debate. It's, "You're wrong, end of story, and you're a puppy-raping pedophile for thinking like you do" (That's the last time I argue with someone about block scheduling in high schools).

You can have fruitful debate between people who disagree. I've done it on a number of occasions. It's just a matter of not being a jerk about it when you disagree.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Hmm - the last paragraph reminds me of a conversation that also discussed females who find you intimidating and adore soft, cuddly kittens. =)

Seriously, I like what you have to say about disagreeing but still discussing. But then, you already knew that. I just thought a comment would make you happy.