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Atheist-Believer Conversations: What's the Anger About?
Dump the anger and listen if you want to get anywhere with religious debates.
When it comes to religion (as well as politics, money, and sexual behavior for that matter) people can get pretty hot under the collar pretty quickly. When folks don't see eye-to-eye on these topics conversations can easily escalate into to angry outbursts, raised voices, name calling, and bullying. Sadly, some people of faith (and some people of no faith) can tangle in ways that are disrespectful, inhumane, and cruel. What’s up with that? I wonder why so many are so angry when religion is discussed. The meta-message too often in these debates is “I’m right and have all the answers while you’re wrong…and you should agree with me on that!”
As a psychologist I have to wonder about what lies beneath the surface of these conflicts. Perhaps many who argue the loudest and with the most aggression have unresolved issues that may actually appear contradictory. For example, do their strong statements really reflect their certainty or perhaps suggest doubt in their own arguments and beliefs? Freud referred to this as reaction formation…basically act the opposite as you really, deep in your soul, believe. Or as Shakespeare put it so eloquently in Hamlet, perhaps “the lady doth protest too much.”