Rising Above Emotionalism


      This will be a short post. It’s meant to address a problem in the debate between theists and non-theists. It’s a response to a particularly thoughtless and insulting action by an acquaintance which set off a firestorm within his family( several members of which mean a lot to me) The situation  illustrates a common and recurring  problem with the conversation however and so I address my comments to the wider audience.

I see, and I’m sure anyone else involved in the conversation sees it to, a great deal of anger, animosity, bitterness and name calling in the debate between the theist and the non-theist. I see it coming from both sides, as well as those who claim not to have a side. I really don’t see any purpose or need for this in the conversation.

For the non-theist:

If your position is based on a healthy skepticism as well as a thoughtful examination of fact and probability it shouldn’t be necessary to attack the person you’re speaking to. You should be able to make your case more than convincingly without needing to resort to this kind of overt and negative emotionalism.

For the theist:

If you can’t take part in the conversation in a thoughtful and unemotional way, if your faith can’t stand up to being questioned or challenged then perhaps it would be better if you didn’t take part in the debate to start with.  If you’re going to take part however don’t prate about tolerance and understanding with one breath and then deride and name call with the next. This is disingenuous as well as being just plain hypocrisy.

For both sides of the argument:

The point of this debate should be about improving the human condition. It should be about encouraging thought and skepticism and enhancing understanding of whatever side of the debate you come down on. If your position is based on your emotions, and your feelings that’s fine, but if you can’t control your emotionalism and have a mature, grown-up outlook on your subject then please don’t participate. The rest of us, those of us who have thoughtful, rational, reasoned things to say on the subject are hindered by your presence. These kinds of reactionary and bigoted histrionics are one of the reasons why progress on this debate is so difficult to achieve.

Everybody, we’re not children, this is not recess, can we please stop with the name calling and hair pulling and approach what I feel is a very important and integral conversation with the thoughtful circumspection it deserves and demands? If you want to call people names, and vent your inadequacies on the world feel free, but in doing so you abdicate your right to be taken seriously and any claim to rational reasonable discourse. Everyone, let’s elevate our thinking a little please.


Posted on October 24, 2012, in Editorial and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Thank you for saying this. It’s pittiful when people run out of things to say so they resort to childish name calling and insults. What I hate most are the HYPOCRITES who talk about acceptance, then talk shit when they realize they don’t have anything logical to say any more. This isn’t never land ,like it or not we all have to grow up sometime. I know that sounds scary to some but it not my fault you can’t act like a grown up.

    • Glad you liked the post. I try to approach the conversation reasonably. If I don’t have something substantive to say I don’t say anything at all. What purpose does name calling serve? Thanks for the comment

  2. This is really good advice. So much energy is spent, and so many relationships damaged by not following your advice. Too bad. Relationships are important.

    • I agree entirely, relationships are important. Respect for people is important, and respect for the right and wrongs ways to deal with disagreement is important. Emotion is a good thing when it’s used properly, but like anything else it has to be controlled to keep it from being destructive. Thanks for commenting.

  3. One problem with the Internet is that it’s hard to ask strong questions without sounding rude. In person, we are capable of doing it. I can easily ask something like, “How can you not believe in evolution, considering all the evidence in its favor?” in person and sound peaceful and genuinely curious. But reading it in text looks like an attack. So, I guess, we should be cognizant of this and insert things like, “I’m not meaning to sound mean or rude,” before any question that could be construed as an attack.

    • I agree, tone is difficult to judge in text. We should all be very careful how we phrase things in order to keep the conversation civil and fruitful. I was speaking more about those who are actively rude and derisive to those they’re speaking with but I appreciate your point. Thanks for the comment.

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