Tired of the Usual Debates

Amanda Metskas, the director of Camp Quest, saw this quotation recently:

“People who are interested in telling you about their religion usually aren’t interested in hearing about yours.”

It got her thinking about her own views on religious debates. As an atheist, she’s tired of them:

I’m bored of having debates with religious believers. Really. Been there, done that. When I was trying to figure out what my worldview was, and I was exploring all sorts of ideas, I found debates very compelling. They were a way that I could think through things I hadn’t thought through before. They were a way that I could test my emerging worldview and see if it held up. But now, I’ve got to say that my mind is pretty well made up. Sure, if presented with absolutely extraordinary evidence, it’s subject to change, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening.

Instead of the debate where one side tries to prove it’s validity against the other, and neither side budges at all, Amanda opts for something else:

… I don’t want the terms of the conversation to be an argument to try to convince the other party that one of us is right. I’m bored of that conversation. I’ve had it too many times.

How do I want to talk with religious folks instead? I could use a little less debate and a lot more dialogue.

I want to talk about public policy. I want to find out what religious people think about the issues of the day, and how they think religion should interact with those issues. I want to find out what they think about separation of church and state. I imagine the answers will vary a lot from person to person, and I want to see if we can be allies on issues that matter to me, even if we disagree about metaphysics.

It’s definitely more compelling, and both sides might actually walk away having learned something new.

Check out the rest of Amanda’s article here!


[tags]atheist, atheism, debate, Christian, religion[/tags]

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I can very much relate to Amanda’s experiences of “been there done that” and I definitely agree – dialogue is so much more interesting than debate these days.

  • Maria

    I can very much relate to Amanda’s experiences of “been there done that” and I definitely agree – dialogue is so much more interesting than debate these days.

    agreed. good article!

  • Susan

    She should come to DDD!

    DDD is a discussion group started by the Campus Protestant Ministry at my school, and it originally stood for “Dinner, Devotion, and Discussion” until so many atheists, agnostics, and people of all religions started coming that they changed the name to “Dinner and Discussion across Differences”. We talk over dinner about various issues relating to religion and spirituality (or lack of them), and I think it’s exactly the kind of thing Amanda is talking about–sharing and thinking about each other’s perspectives, and very rarely slipping into debate.

  • Karen

    Susan:

    We talk over dinner about various issues relating to religion and spirituality (or lack of them), and I think it’s exactly the kind of thing Amanda is talking about–sharing and thinking about each other’s perspectives, and very rarely slipping into debate.

    What a wonderful idea, Susan! What school is this? It sounds like a model that other campus ministry groups might want to adopt – if they can put the evangelism agenda on hold for a while.

  • Brendon

    I’m sure everyone is tired about arguing! I’m more into dialog myself….

    Having said that, I don’t see anything wrong with a friendly debate now and again. It helps to keep me focused of why I believe what I believe and challenges me in my own faith.

  • Polly

    What? I can refute that claim!
    Debates are necessary and a sound method for sharpening one’s skills and stopping your ideological opponents, and humiliating the enemy and you should always want to debate unless you are a coward.
    You made a positive assertion with no factual support. It’s incumbant on YOU to justify it. I’m not going to buy into this unless you give me at least 15 compelling reasons why we shouldn’t debate! Then if you can answer my point by point rebuttals, maybe then I’ll acknowledge that dialogue might be OK. But, you can’t! I know you can’t! Your contention about debating is weak. WEAK I tell you!!!!!!

    :P

  • Steven Carr

    Dialogue is extremely important to find out what other people think.

    Never break off dialogue.

    Always listen to the other person’s arguments and try to interact with them.

    Forgive them when they say that they do not want to dialogue with you.

    Ask them questions about what they believe, so you can find out why they believe it.

    Of course, the other person may not want to answer your questions about what they believe, so perseverance in dialogue is very important.

  • Pingback: The Conversation I’d Like to Have with Religious People « The High Inquisitor


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