On the eve of Easter Sunday just shy of 3am, what better activity to begin for a 1/2 hour drive home than a heated debate on religion.
The mere fact I allowed myself to get involved in a debate with two catholics about religion, for over an hour, was my first mistake.
The more logical thinkers I meet and discuss life, religion, and philosophy with, the more I am told to choose my conversations based on an understanding of listening and mutual respect, not on circular religious debate. Better to speak through open windows than closed doors. More and more I see what they mean, but only to an extent.
If you choose only to embark on discussions of faith and fairytale that is religious based reality, with those that are in your corner, it furthers no one’s point of view, merely your own ego. Which is I think I truly enjoy, as much as they might bother me, a debate with those who clearly see the holes in their faith, yet still shield themselves from the blinding light of truth that shine through.
No two opinions collide more violently than those of believers and non-believers, and in this context I wish to use the term ‘believers’ as those that believe in the religious doctrine, not specifically that of a superpowered, magical being who allows football players to make amazing touchdown receptions.
My only problem with this sort of debate is being referred to as “stubborn”, because to me, that is a clear indication that I am no longer engaged in discussion. My company is now clearly focused in a defensive win or lose war and not in a sharing of opinions and open minds.
Dictionary.com defines Stubborn in the following way:
unreasonably obstinate; obstinately unmoving: a stubborn child.
In the context of friendly discussion and debate, should one person say, “I cannot believe how stubborn you are being” means they believe that I agree with their opinions but am purposely not admitting so because I wish to be correct. This is not just arrogant and close-minded, but it also removes any positive benefit of having a discussion.
I have discussions, both to refine my points of view vs. an intelligent sounding board and hopefully gain new and hopefully more accurate perspectives into the topic at hand.
But I admit, getting to this realization has come from years of my looking at people and thinking, ‘Why is this person being so bloody stubborn? They obviously see what I mean and know I’m right.” Once I realized the arrogance of my perspective I began to learn through discussion in a much more meaningful and self-evolving manner, mainly because all of my interactions became more valuable and obvious to me.”
I started to realize that, surprise surprise, the majority of these people I had been speaking with, were not stubborn (in the definition above) at all. So that left me to accept two possible alternatives:
#1 I was not properly communicating my message so to resonate with them, meaning I had to refine my evidence and perspective more accurately and simply so to engage my partner better.
#2 (and most important) I should listen more carefully to what my partner is saying and try to understand their perspective as there may have been something I have been overlooking.
Let’s take last night’s religious debate for example.
I will never agree with anyone that religion is good for humanity or that the catholic church specifically is not totally irrelevant and harmful to the planet.
Now, let me be clear on something.
I do not say NEVER in this context because I am being stubborn and refuse to listen to opposing perspectives, I say never, because throughout the last 4 or 5 years I have done a lot of reading, research, and discussing on the matter and I am fully informed on my opinion and why I believe what I do. I have chosen my side of the fence for a reason, whereas most christian opinions are based, still in fairytale and not able to properly deal with the reality of religion’s impact on our lives. This also does not mean that there are not some positives within christianity, but in my opinion, the bad is an irremovable by-product of the good.
Somehow through this frustrating yet interesting debate, I managed to take a few very important perspectives away from my discussion last night.
I think I have a better understanding of how some christians almost talk themselves into apathy and continuing with the faith, even when the evidence is clear as day. I also learned how to better form my own thoughts into words on such matters, so to faciliate a better dialogue with those viewing me simply as ‘stubborn’ for not agreeing with them (or even why they may be thinking that in the first place), this was very valuable.
When you value the people you engage in discussion with, to at least take the time to see through their eyes is very important. You may not like the view, and in fact, it may even be frightening on a macro level, but at least you took the time to open your eyes.
I now always make sure, at least internally, I take a moment to appreciate those that care enough to share their opposing opinions with me and at least attempt to listen.
Anyone can talk at someone, but as I am still learning, it is an ongoing skill to be able to listen and speak with someone while leaving pride and ego at home.
Here is a good quote from a FB profile of a good friend of mine that I’ve always enjoyed:
The recipe for perpetual ignorance: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge
Thanks for reading.