10.21.2009

Tips for debate - pack a lunch


“We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children are smart.”
H.L. Mencken
1880 – 1956



Let's be clear, I'm under no obligation to respect your ideas. I may need to respect you to get along if we work together or want to have a fair debate. Attacking you personally isn't going to help either of us. If you have a personal religion, fine. But if you're going to come into the conversation in a rage over my opinions on religion be ready to back it up with some rationality. If you think I shouldn't say anything that might be taken as offensive by a person of faith, pack a lunch. It's probably going to be a long day. If you think we should all just get along and live and let live then I expect to see some effort on my behalf from you. And I'm not going to live and let live when I see what I think is injustice, lunacy, or just plain folly. If you have a problem with me shining a light in dark places or playing court jester to call attention to peoples foibles, again, pack a lunch. 


It is a tenet of many religions to proselytize, witness or otherwise gain converts. I am the type who requires more than ideas. I need facts. I need something tangible. If I listen to your argument but still am unconvinced, do you have a right to condemn me? To be mad at me? If I take apart your pitch with my own viewpoint do you have the right to throw a temper tantrum and call me names? I guess you can but you'll only get further from your goal.


If I call attention to inconsistencies in your faith what is your reaction? If I give you my list of reasons I don't (and can't) believe as you do, what do you day? Do you trod out the same tired retorts like Pascal's Wager and the Argument From Ignorance? Do you swish it away with some vague comment about god's will? Do you refocus your argument and try to come from a different angle? Do you think about what you believe and wonder if you should change your beliefs? Do you fear that last possibility? I do not.