Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Line em' up
How do individuals get past the extreme differences they have? Can differences be overcome? As already mentioned, in order to have meaningful dialogue the first thing that cannot take place is name calling or ad hominem attacks. Nothing does more to close the debate door than to rely on name calling. This form of speech is arrogant and in no way opens individuals up to any ideas you may want to put forth.
One way to dialogue is to try and be as open-minded as possible. Being open-minded is difficult, but not impossible. Sure, all individuals come with preconceived ideas, but trying to see and understand your opponents point before dialoguing with them is a good way to start. Practice empathetic consideration. Take time to chew on others ideas that are different from your own. Again, all individuals do not have a monopoly of being absolutely indifferent when it comes to worldview questions, but openness can be achieved to a high degree.
One of the worst arguments that I have heard from Christians is: "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!" This settles nothing except closing conversation for someone's worldview that doesn't believe in God. On the flip side, many atheist thinkers, like the ones I mentioned earlier, do a disservice to dialogue by simply name calling and assuming that their view does not need to be debated. In other words, some atheist thinkers seem to think that have a cornered the market of truth. Some even refer to themselves as "Free Thinkers" as if theism is relegated to the community of "Closed Thinkers." Part of open-mindedness involves humility in knowing that you are coming from a position of certain held presuppositions. Being unable to truly consider the others argument does nothing to help dialogue out.
Perhaps the best method of dialogue is to argue solely based on the specific points of difference you have with your opponent. It is good and necessary to present your arguments for others to view. Likewise, it is meaningful for discussion and ultimately to discover truth to argue your differences with your opponent based on specific points of difference that you have. You may not solve the point at hand, but at least dialogue is free and you can line up your points to try and sway individuals toward truth. Ultimately, truth is what any argument is based upon (or it should be). When individuals argue, they are trying to sway individuals to what they believe is true. In other words, when you line up your points, do they have more weight than your opponents? Which argument(s) tip the scale of truth?
Many of the arguments need to address specific points with cumulative evidence, because it is impossible to have 100% proof. For example, the question of the existence of God cannot be proved with 100% certainty from either camp (Christian or Atheist). A cumulative way of argumentation is helpful in providing evidence that can lead to an inference of best explanation.
The best way to dialogue/argue is simply to line em' up. Put your cards on the table and make your points. When addressing your opponent, point out why he/she is incorrect. Be willing to think outside of your own worldview box and follow the evidence wherever it goes. This type of dialogue brings true enlightenment to the big questions of life. By the way, if my arguments are just rehashed Josh McDowell comments, does that mean my arguments were wrong? Actually, I take that comment not as an ad hominem attack, but as a complement. Thank you my atheist friend!