People can be pretty mean to each other when they think they’re right and someone else is wrong. Famous atheist Richard Dawkins once said of religious yokels, “Don’t interact with their arguments, instead mock them, ridicule them, in public … with contempt.”
Sadly, religious people can be pretty good about doing that to one another. I used to become upset when a Christian would call me a damnable heretic or something along those lines when I’d mention that “you know, the Bible actually says X and not Y, from what I can tell…worth studying.” Why would people attack?
I am no longer overtaken with shock and awe when I’m told that someone would like to light the match to speed me on my journey to hell, nor am I angered. Why? When we learn something new, it’s easy to be mean.
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
― Frantz Fanon
We can learn from this. Don’t be a reed-in-the-wind, changing with every new thing you hear, but do see if things are as they’re claimed. Seek the truth, which does not fear examination. Be curious. Question your beliefs constantly, no matter how fearful it makes you, because if you cannot be open-minded, then you do not possess your ideas; your ideas possess you.
And when you are right, and someone else is wrong, approach this with grace and humility (hard for me, still). We tear down arguments, not people. As Paul said. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5)
Attack the argument, but not its proponent. Practice kindness in your convictions.
With love, always (or that’s my goal)