I really waffle on the whole debate thing. I mentioned in my previous post that I don’t like debates. But there are times when I feel strongly about something, and I don’t know exactly why. I’ve found myself picking fights (excuse me) encouraging debate on these topics because I want to figure out why.
One example is Churchy issues. I won’t make a list here, but there are several places where I (because of the tradition I grew up in) differ from a number of people in my circle of friends. Some of them actually went to Bible School/Bible College (where my dad says they learned their stance. “Students tend to end up thinking like their teachers.” I pointed out the same holds true for us too). So they (seem to) feel absolutely confident in what they believe, and sometimes will even articulate with great lucidity (I like that word) why their view is true and/or reality from their point of view.
This showed me there are a couple ways to approach/use controversial topics. One is to explain the issue/topic using arguments and evidence, and one is to explain reality through the issue/topic. (Use the Creation/Evolution debate for your clarifying example here.)
Anyway. I have not been to Bible College, so I don’t have neatly packaged explanations for what I (think I) believe. But I do have a reasonable background in the Bible and have had the privilege to listen to people more articulate and experienced than me. So sometimes, when an issue arises, I punch out that I have a different view that makes me see reality *this* way, so can you show me why my view is inaccurate? Or, “This is why your view seems wrong to me. Did I misunderstand?”
This is when I like a debate. I like to find out if I have a reason for believing something. If they have a reason for believing what they believe, and whether those reasons are convincing.
The main difficulty that seems to grow from this is when the person I’m speaking with feels threatened or feels we are entering a competition. Then all the usefulness/fun is gone. Either they passively won’t engage (which drives me *nuts*!) or the interaction becomes much too high-stakes for my purposes. I really don’t expect they will change my mind.
Maybe I am trying to change theirs. But mostly, I think I’m asking for rain on my roof, so I can find the leaks. I’m not likely to move, but I’d hate to be living under a holey roof if a real storm came, so I’m trying to get things repaired now.
know what ya mean! I tend to have what I label rather ‘intense discussions’ with certain folks that Brian (hubby) sometimes interprets as arguments, simply because of the intensity. Thing is, these discussions only occur with certain people and there is usually a mutual agreement that it is not personal, we are both just hashing out and refining what we believe, and at least from my end, no matter how passionately I speak regarding my pov, if I see compelling evidence/arguments to the contrary, I am more than happy to (and often do) go home, think things over, research a little more. It is a sharpening tool for me. But you are so right that it is not a method of communication that I can use with most people. I must admit I tend to listen in when I hear others thus engaged. Is it just because there are so few people willing to engage in such publicly private discussions? On the surface it seems so confrontational, but there is also a level of intimacy, airing your personal views, despite known imperfections. I can understand why it is intimidating, and it certainly takes thought and energy, but I usually walk away from it refreshed, sometimes even excited about a new perspective…
“I like to find out if I have a reason for believing something. If they have a reason for believing what they believe, and whether those reasons are convincing.
I think that’s a great idea! I think that’s another example of a good exchange. Conversation like that sharpens people.