Oct 12 2012

Confronting Friends and Family

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9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Confronting Friends and Family”

  1. shamon 12 Oct 2012 at 11:00 am

    Thank you for this very interesting post! I myself have similar issues with friends and most of the time with very close friends. In addition to the great strategies you suggest, I often also ask the one I’m arguing with what evidence will change his mind. What argument, proof, evidence, etc. would be enough to make him change his mind? I find It’s a good strategy to engage in such a path if you’re in a very strong opposition.

  2. etatroon 12 Oct 2012 at 2:15 pm

    The additional strategy that Sham mentions is also good, but you have to be willing to do the same thing. The person you’re arguing with can answer your question, then ask you what evidence will change your mind. This is something you’d have to think about ahead of time. What evidence would convince you that evolution is wrong or that creationism is right? A few possible suggestions are mentioned in this blog …. DNA evidence that there is a species or genus on Earth with no possible ancestors and appears to have been magically placed here. A fossil of a species with no possible ancestors or prior mechanism on which evolution could have acted — like wings from shoulderblades in a vertebrate. A fossil that is in the wrong geological area. Or scientific documentation of a bona fide miracle. This also helps to point out the huge stretch in logic that is necessary to accept creationism.

  3. BillyJoe7on 13 Oct 2012 at 4:47 am

    It can work the other way sometimes.

    You can be so careful not to upset the other person, and vice versa, that you both continually avoid certain subjects in case you risk ending up with an important area of disagreement in a hitherto friendly and agreeable relationship.

    So it was with one of my employees (I actually tell her she is the boss, because she has to feel that way in order to do her work properly). Whenever any topic with religious overtones came up, both of us would avoid saying anything specific about our views. Over time I suspected why and I just came right out and asked her, “Do you believe in god”. It turned out our views were identical, but we both thought the other was religious (strangely, I have found that most people I meet think I’m religious!)

    Since then our working relationship has been much more open, friendly, and relaxed.
    …until I discovered that she is a supporter of Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party!!!

  4. Jared Olsenon 13 Oct 2012 at 5:49 am

    TO BillyJoe7, so you two agree on religion and then
    “…until I discovered that she is a supporter of Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party!!!”

    ouch!! :-)

  5. Jared Olsenon 13 Oct 2012 at 5:54 am

    Take Steve’s advice, don’t attack the person, attack the Party!!

  6. Macon 13 Oct 2012 at 10:20 am

    I wish it were as easy as taking Steve’s advice. Anyone who has spoken with close family or friends on this subject knows very well that someone who is so uninformed that they believe in creationism, will not take your politeness in the spirit which you are giving it.

    If you would like to have an easy, stress free relationship with someone who believes the opposite of you, I would suggest just leaving topics like this alone, or even deflecting when the topic comes up.

    If you don’t mind having a strained relationship in order to continually pound your point home, then go ahead and make your arguments as polite as possible.

    But if these people don’t believe the “experts” speaking to them on TV about evolution, how much of a possibility do you think there is that they will believe you, someone they likely view as their intellectual equal?

    Just my .02.

  7. Eternally Learningon 18 Oct 2012 at 10:44 am

    I just had this happen to me the other week. It was right after my grandmother’s memorial service we were at home and a friend of the family I’d not seen since I was 6 or 7 was with us. Somehow he casually mentioned that “Darwinists” theory of evolution stems from certain philosophical underpinnings (can’t remember what exactly now, but something along the lines of social Darwinism) more than the actual scientific facts. He was basically saying that “Evolutionists” found so-called evidence to support their philosophy. He said this casually because he assumed I was still the devout Christian I was at 6 or 7 and like the rest of my family was.

    Being that this was the day of my Grandmother’s memorial service (who was quite religious herself), I didn’t think it was terribly appropriate to drop the A bomb on the get-together so I basically took the third person approach and didn’t assume a view myself and stuck to correcting his views of their views. I also took a page out of your book Steve, and directed him to Talk Origins. I happen to think that entrenched individuals tend to gain more from actually bothering to answer their own questions themselves anyway.

    Well, that’s just my story and another idea I suppose. Nothing says you have to make the debate a “me vs you” event and sometimes it’s better to refer a closed mind claiming openness to a comprehensive resource.

  8. expblaston 19 Oct 2012 at 12:25 pm

    When I was a believer, I surrounded myself with a Christian world view that backed up everything I believed in. There was no listening to the other side, because in most Christian faiths it is a sin to listen to a non believer or read books that contradict the teachings of the bible. Pastors would always warn of “backsliding” or the evil in books or persons that were against god. You were discouraged from even considering another point of view for fear of hell or damnation. I know this doesn’t represent all Christian faiths, but how is it possible for a logical person to present evidence to a person who uses none? I argue with my Christian friends when the time is suitable, but I never expect to change their mind. Even armed with the most logical, evidence based facts – they simply will not consider anything but their “FAITH”. I am an atheist and skeptic now, with a particular knack for arguing against faith because I was in the faith. Plant the seeds definitely. But do not have “faith” that they will bare fruit. Getting everyone to a secular/humanist world view is going to be a long road. Faith is some powerful Malarkey.

  9. Dianeon 19 Oct 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I have only tried to argue with people a few times, mostly because I don’t like argument and offending people. In one case, an acquaintance whose son went to preschool with my son told me offhand that she had won a battle with the preschool to not vaccinate her children. I was taken by surprise, and stumbled around a bit, so I tried to bring it up again later. I’m actually a biomedical scientist and I work on vaccines, and I felt a certain professional responsibility to say something to her because she was clearly pretty confused about the biology of vaccination and neurological disease. I didn’t get anywhere the second time either because she really didn’t have clear arguments that I could refute. She cited a few studies but couldn’t remember enough about them for me to identify them or critique them intelligently, and a vague sense that vaccines were dangerous and it was better to be safe than sorry (and not vaccinating was being safe). Since then I have been wondering how you argue with people who don’t actually have much of an argument.

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