Why Do We Avoid Discussions With Those Who Have Different Beliefs?
Your experience may not be mine. I am writing out of frustration. I tend to be more skeptical than most, whether it be about religion, my profession of psychology, or now science. Over time I realized “truth” may be less certain than proclaimed. I needed to be more open-minded. When one is willing to have a calm discussion, why might we hesitate to discuss our views with others who believe differently?
Certainty, not uncertainty, is more comforting
One may not feel confident defending their beliefs. But there may be a stronger reason why we hesitate to discuss different views with others. One may believe what seems to be the popular narrative, without exploration, to avoid anxiety not knowing. Disagreeing with the popular science narrative or church leadership about God’s character can lead to isolation. When universal agreement doesn’t exist, it should be obvious that one must be allowed to form their own opinions since uncertainty exists.
What are the consequences of avoiding uncertainty?
When only one side is presented, control and power grow intentionally or unintentionally. It should be intuitive denying diverse opinions is unloving and controlling. Most don’t except such behaviors in their personal relationships. Having good intentions by believing you are right for the whole doesn’t matter if you could be wrong. Often, we determine one’s rationality based on if their beliefs are different than ours.
Is there any Truth?
Certain absolutes are universal and obvious to all rational beings. Does anyone reading this not believe physical or sexual abuse is wrong? No reasonable God or non-God person doesn’t respect the golden rule in relationships. Criminals don’t defend their murders or thefts; instead, they deny committing such crimes. Adultery only isn’t wrong in the eyes of the betrayer. We don’t debate many laws, only the decisions what is a just punishment.
How can we begin to discuss different views more openly?
I left the institutional church, but not God, because others wouldn’t engage in non-dogmatic conversations. It can provoke anxiety to imagine our beliefs may not be as certain as we once thought. We must have open discussions and avoid thinking and demanding “supposed truths.” We can stop labeling those who disagree with our biblical interpretations as heretics. We can stop calling those who disagree with our views of science or Covid vaccines as conspiracists. Imagine how different as a people we would be if religious, political, or science folks admitted “truth” is something we strive for together, not always thinking our opinions are the truth!
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