[personal profile] wingedbeast
This is another tip that goes to your motivations for your attempts at evangelism and apologetics. Are you trying to convince people of the truth of your faith? Are you trying to win the conversation? You can't do both.

In a recent face-to-face conversation, I listened to a case made... and made and made at high speed. No breath was taken and no space was left for response. Finally I just straight up asked the person to let me respond and I got an explicit rejection. This person didn't want a conversation. They said "everybody has an opinion and you can keep yours to yourself." To the idea that that applies as readily to themselves, there was the response "I've already given you my opinion."

For a different method to similar effect, look to William Lane Craig. Among apologists, William Lane Craig has a reputation for winning debates, which results in a lot of apologists aping William Lane Craig's style and often, word-for-word, his arguments. Among atheists and others who are aware of modern apologetics without taking part (which includes many a Christian), William Lane Craig has a reputation for dishonestly setting the terms of debate, making unfairly uncharitable assumptions of his opponents, and assuming his conclusions.

Either method can leave someone you're talking to feeling like the loser in that conversation. But, they won't feel like the loser because your position was so much better. They'll feel like losers because they had the bad judgement to treat the conversation like a conversation. You tricked them into thinking that this was Hobbes style conversation when it was really Calvin style.



Conversing according to Calvin's philosophy of conversation as contest is likely to make you feel like you've won and they've lost, if they mistakenly take on the Hobbes philosophy. It's also likely to get you the praise of others who share the specifics of your faith. A shared laugh, a pat on the back, or even a reputation for "winning".

If that's what you want out of these attempts, I can't stop you. I can, however, remind you that that isn't compatable with the effort to convince them of the truth of your position. Talking over people, constructing socially difficult positions to force them into, all these ways of "winning" don't win you any credibility among nonbelievers. But, that feeling of winning is distracting and it can distract without you noticing.

When I feel like I've just been tricked into a contest where I thought there might be a conversation, I don't feel like the other person's position is any better. I feel like their position is the position of people who readily show that kind of disrespect to people who disagree.

Date: 2016-07-25 12:38 pm (UTC)
dragoness_e: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dragoness_e
Thank you for articulating this. When I get hit with a "conversation" like that (and Christian apologetics are far from the only ones to use this), my main thought is not "oh my gosh, you're right!", it's "You're such an intellectually dishonest slimeball that you obviously don't believe your own position, because you can't debate it honestly."

Moving goalposts usually feature quite prominently in this sort of "debate", and the nastiest I've run into have been Young Earth Creationists, presumably because all science contradicts them, and their theology is pretty weak-sauce. (Their theological argument boils down to "If Genesis isn't literally true, then you can trust nothing in the Bible, and Jesus didn't save you, you are still dead in your sins" etc. This is an argument that doesn't work with Catholic theology and mainstream Protestantism, let alone atheists and non-Christians.)

ETA: I think the pro-gun control nutjobs are the 2nd worst offenders of this sort...

ETA 2: How did we get from Blackhat Brigade #41 to #68? Did I miss a bunch of episodes posted elsewhere?
Edited Date: 2016-07-25 12:42 pm (UTC)

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