Neil Carter, like many of us, has had his share of debates and conversations with religious people. Is it worth it? When both sides appear to be forever-committed to their ideas, why bother trying to convince the other person s/he’s wrong?
He offers these five reasons for why he believes those conversations are worthwhile:
1. Because I’m an educator by profession, and I can’t resist the urge to make people think and question and defend what they believe.
2. Because while minds don’t change overnight (much less during the course of one conversation), you can plant seeds of doubt which in time grow into full-fledged skepticism.
3. Because some people are “fencesitters” or are still in transition out of a dogmatic ideology, so they benefit from listening in on these conversations.
4. Because sometimes it’s just fun, okay?
5. Because even if their minds never change, reasoning with them helps me process my own thoughts so I can root out and eliminate the many pockets of irrationality still left in my own thinking.
(He elaborates on each item on his site.)
Of all of those, #2 may be the most important. You probably won’t convince people God doesn’t exist overnight, but if you can throw some logic and reason in their direction, those strong arguments will forever fester in their minds and they won’t be able to shake it off. The rebuttals will stay with them when they attend church, when a communion wafer is put in their mouths, when prayer is offered as a solution for anything, and when people talk about the afterlife.
That’s always in the back of my mind when I write posts on this site — For the most part, I’m preaching to the choir, but I know there are some religious people reading who might be open to hearing a different perspective.