Atheist-Believer Conversations: What's the Anger About?
Dump the anger and listen if you want to get anywhere with religious debates.
Posted Feb 18, 2014
It seems to be a great disservice to both religious people as well as to atheists that their often most vocal and well known proponents tend to behave in angry and know-it-all ways. For example, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins come to mind on the atheist side while Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell come to mind on the religious side. Let’s face it, when it comes to really fully understating the Ultimate Truths there is no way that any human being can have all the answers and know for sure. Additionally, these "representatives" are not exactly informed scholars on the topics that they claim expertise in either. Those who often know the most tend to speak softly after all and with humility. Some degree of humble doubt and struggle has to be part of the any truthful believer or non-believer’s experience. Otherwise, they are simply deluded, defended, and perhaps full of hot air. In the words of the famous contemporary writer, Annie Lamott, "The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty."
So, atheists, believers, agnostics, and everyone in between might be better for it if they engage in thoughtful, meaningful, open, and tolerant dialogue if learning and enrichment is to be expected. Yelling, bullying, and anger is counterproductive in these conversations for sure and likely reflect underlying issues that have little to do with the real discussion going on.
Copyright 2014 Thomas G. Plante, PhD, ABPP