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The Need for Debate

From:Chris Bates <chris.maths_student@...>
Date:Sunday, December 5, 2004, 18:21
Recently there have been more accusations of flames etc on the list. I'm
reminded of when there were accusations of flames after I made certain
comments about American foreign policy and I'd say this: please will
everyone stop taking everything so personally and being so emotionally
sensitive (Since this issue keeps recurring with different people
accused of flaming, it obviously isn't just a problem with me). You have
to realize that most of these comments aren't intended to be personal
until people take them the wrong way and then a real flame war starts; I
would go further and argue that debate is a good thing. Why was there
little progress during most of the Middle Ages? Because the Church and
Governments repressed dissenting voices and prevented debate, which is
the key to new understanding and progress. With most of my friends I
often have debates that aren't personal, that are simply for enjoyment,
and which might change my point of view or help me understand the issue
more throughly. I am always willing in any debate to be swayed by a good
argument, and I almost always learn something from arguing about an
issue with someone. The same has applied to all my statements to this
list: I have simply stated my beliefs, and when a good argument is
presented to the contrary I am always willing to change them.
Unfortunately instead people often tend to interpret a statement of
belief as a personal attack on them even when they aren't even mentioned
in the email, especially on the issues of politics and religion, which
is why people on list try to avoid them. Why can't people just try to
take things less personally, to not interpret a critism of american
foreign policy as an attack on individual americans, to not interpret an
argument about the Bible as a personal attack on Christians? I might
argue about contradictory aspects of the Bible as I see them, but since
I am not omniscient I could be wrong and I know that, and you are free
to either ignore me if you choose, or debate the issue with me, and you
may convince me or I may convince you.
 It is very easy when there is no tone of voice, no facial expressions,
as in email, to see the worst in what someone has written. Will everyone
please please just try to assume the best, and then (since a lot of us
happen to be argumentative, as several people have pointed out) maybe we
can all just talk happily and not have the constant angry replies to
what was probably not intended to be offensive in the first place.
 And since I was talking about admitting when you're wrong, I have a
confession: all the bibles I've seen have been difficult to follow, so I
unfairly generalized. I'm perfectly happy to accept that there are good
translations I simply haven't come across, and that the priesthood isn't
simply happy with the Bible being difficult to interpret. I was wrong
and I'm perfectly happy to say so. :)

I hope no one takes offense at this, since it really isn't meant to offend,



Paul Bennett <paul-bennett@...>
John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>