I love online discussions. I don’t like echo chambers. And I don’t like ad hominem attacks.
But, a well reasoned solid discussion? Yeah, I love that. Especially if it’s with someone who disagrees with me. I have a style of online discussions, as I’m sure most people do. Mine has been described as the Socratic method. I tend to ask questions. Really inconvenient questions. But, they are questions that are valid.
I was in a discussion recently with an online friend. We were discussing religion and how it relates to politics. He posted one of those memes that said the Bible forbade charging interest so the Democrats should propose suspending the interest on student loans.
We were discussing what the Bible had to say about hate. (Jesus was opposed. Much of the Old Testament, not so much.) A new person joined in simply to say that the Bible was fiction and most of it was written after that “supposed Jesus guy.”
Typical troll tactic.
I decided to engage with him.
Huh, that’s weird. I thought most of it was written before the supposed Jesus guy. Clearly you have a better understanding than I do.
Okay, sure it was sarcasm. But, he clearly had no idea what he was talking about. And to my surprise he responded to me. We had a conversation about it. My discussion partner was way out of his element. He had no idea about the Bible, it’s history, its content or any of the various translations.
I ran him around in circles for a few minutes until he got frustrated. He thought to end the conversation by saying,
I don’t care about the Bible or anything in it. Good day, sir.
Well, you cared enough to hijack a thread about it. So, you seem to care a little more than you say you do.
It was at that point that he blocked me. All of his comments in our mutual friend’s thread disappeared from my view. Other than the initial sarcasm, I was nothing but polite. He simply couldn’t abide a reasonable conversation.
Getting blocked was clear evidence that if there was a “winner” in our discussion, it wasn’t him. I don’t typically like getting blocked. But, it’s happened several times over the past few months. And it always follows the same pattern. At some point they run out of discussion points. And it’s not like there’s a way to “win” many of these arguments.
For example, in my above example, I’m fully aware that it’s impossible to prove the existence of God. It literally cannot be done. Neither it is possible to DISprove the existence of God. If I believe that God exists and you believe (as this person did) that he does not, there’s no way either of us can “win” that argument.
But, if you suggest that the Bible was mostly written AFTER the meridian of time, that’s a pretty easy statement to disprove. But, many people who have a set of beliefs simply cannot abide a disagreement. If you do not agree with them, you are not just wrong, but bad.
Some of my most enjoyable discussions have been with people that I completely disagree with. I might not agree with them, but I respect their arguments. And if they respect mine, we can have a very interesting discussion on the merits of both are aguments.
And while neither of us will “win,” it’s obvious when someone loses.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here
(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved