I’ve had something on my mind lately, but wanted to wait until I was back home in my office to write about it.
More often than not when people get into arguments over politics and/or religion, it seems that few can entertain the idea that their opponent is just wrong. I frequently see more emphasis getting placed on other sinister motives we think the other person must have. Not only are they wrong, they must also be malicious or have some sort of agenda against something or someone that led to their wrongness.
If somebody thinks religion is false, they must have an agenda against god. They can’t just have that opinion because they think it’s right.
If a video game tournament has male-only tournaments (and later fixes it after being apprised to why it was wrong), they must have an agenda against women. They can’t just be good people who were wrong – they must also be hateful.
If someone thinks marriage equality doesn’t hurt anybody, they must have an agenda against straight people or god. They can’t be decent folk who are just unconvinced by the bible.
Ditto for people who think gay rights are a threat. We can’t seem to view some of them as people with good hearts who have been inundated with misinformation, resulting in them holding a position that is bad for the world. We often leap right to asserting that they have an agenda against gay people or that they must be cruel.
Now, this isn’t to say that agendas and assholes don’t exist – they most certainly do. But we often leap over saying “you’re wrong” and explaining why our opponents are wrong by first giving them the benefit of the doubt. Often from atheists and believers alike we seem more interested in tearing down our opponents by trying way harder to paint our opponents as evil people and getting around to deconstructing their arguments second (if at all).
This is why I was so impressed on Seth Andrews show the other day when somebody asked the panel why we thought Christians often brought up a certain argument and Matt Dillahunty immediately responded “Ask them.” Matt didn’t appear to care what motivated somebody to use a particular argument – instead he seemed primarily concerned with why that argument was wrong.
That is how I want to be, and I hope I’ve grown more toward that over the last few years. I feel that people would be less resentful of being told they were wrong if they weren’t so accustomed to it automatically coming attached to slights on their character.
But maybe that’s just me.