Screwing for Virginity

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Let's talk, damn you!

In my Epistemology class last semester, we read the book Search for Community on a Withering Tradition, a collection of essays in which Kai Nielsen (an atheist) and Hendrik Hart (a Christian) discussed the arguments for God's existence. As I read it, the conversation consisted of Nielsen claiming that Hart's rational thinking should lead him to reject belief in God, while Hart claimed that all belief systems (including atheism) begin with faith statements, and so Nielsen should recognize faith as viable. In other words, the arguments ran, "I am right, and you agree with me."

Much discussion ensued over whether Christians could sit at the discussion table with atheists and vice versa. My conclusion was that they cannot, although conversation can exist among tables. For example, if Christians are sitting together discussing peace, atheists who are also discussing peace may contribute to the discussion.

I have since added this amendment to my understanding: Conversation cannot exist between two parties when one party believes that the other stands condemn for disagreeing. For example, a conversation between an atheist and a Christian over the existence of God is a pointless endeavor, because the Christian does not only believe that the atheist is wrong, but believes that she is "going to hell" for disbelief. They can discuss movies, ethics, food, literature, etc., but condemnation precludes conversation.

Unfortunately, this does not apply only to conversation among tables. I discovered this when a fellow Christian told me that I was on the "Highway to Hell" (no joke) for disagreeing with his political opinions. Certain Christians (especially conservative fundamentalists) cannot converse with anyone, even other Christians because they believe that unless you think like they do, you're going to hell.

I have welcomed input from people of other creeds, and I still do. I think other views are important to consider. But Dr. Joyce and I will never be able to have a conversation about whether God exists. At best, we can share our reasons and agree to disagree. While many Christians would accuse me of ignoring an opportunity to "witness," I recognize that evangelism is not a conversation. I do not believe that rational reasoning or convincing arguments change people's minds in those areas, so I won't attempt to overstep my bounds.

So if you find yourself condemning another person on this blog for a belief that differs from your own, don't get into it with them. Read their opinion, weigh it, and if you realize that you can engage in conversation, please do so. If not, agree to disagree and move on. As Matt Bonzo, my professor for Epistemology, said, "A time comes when one must rip his clothing, brush the dust off his feet, and cease to talk. Sadly, it is often a brother or sister who marginalizes us."

Let those who have ears hear.


  • At 6:21 PM, September 01, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You have a good point there. Proverbs advises people not to even bother speaking with some people because it is useless. I think of the Christian and the Mormon both trying to convert each other. It usually is just a waist of everyone's time.

  • At 9:33 PM, September 01, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I asked Dr. Mayers about that in class one day and he had an interesting response. Due to the fact that all humans are made in the image of God (whether they like it or believe it) gives them all the ability to reason about God in one sense or another. I guess it all just depends on whether a person is willing to accept it or not. I do agree that it is nearly impossible to have a reasonable conversation with someone who disagrees with you without an open mind. There is always the possibility of it happening but the probability is very low.


Post a Comment

<< Home