Are Debates too Polarizing?

Hello. First things first, I would like to state that I am an unbeliever. My question is pertaining to the promotion of understanding toward the secular side of the debates you so often hold or participate in.

It seems like when you enter into these debates you take a very offensive stance that leaves little room for discussion. By only dealing with what you consider facts it seems as though you are attempting to leave yourself out of the discussion as a factor.

You cannot be surprised when later this is seen as disingenuous.

Getting to the point, I noticed watching all of your debates that you take nearly everything point by point, and disallow any wiggle room on the opposing side. Naturally not many people so adamantly conform to the outlines of the debate at hand.

Often you use this as evidence in your debates that there are no good secular arguments or explanations for things like morality and the fine tuning of the universe. But I see this as a sort of strong man approach to debate and limits understanding of both sides, undermining any ground one should have of respecting an atheists opinions on any of these matters and it becomes harder not to take this personally.

Needless to say this has a polarizing affect on the conversations themselves and they become combative rather than informative.

So my question would be, are you actively seeking to understand your opponents before you engage them? Not just on an intellectual level, but on a personal, moral and emotional level? Do you often ask yourself how they find meaning in their lives and behave well whilst still holding these views? And is this a priority for you? I find it absolutely necessary for two people to not only respect each other, but to understand each others points on intellectual as well as personal levels for a meaningful conversation to be had.

From what I have seen of your debates, you are not committed to this idea, and perhaps do not value it. Or perhaps just let your competitive nature get the best of you. In any case, I respect any form of truth seeking and I would like to hear a response to this issue. I feel like the debate structure in general is to competitive to produce any sort of impact or meaningful outcome, especially on larger issues like this. One side agrees with the atheist, one side agrees with the theist. Hardly anyone questions the validity of their own side's arguments.

In this sense I expect it would be much more fruitful to engage in personal conversations with atheists like me, on more than a professional level. Maybe you should try to befriend Richard Dawkins instead of giving him a hard time? Maybe then he would want to debate you. That's all I'm saying. The man is clearly not a coward.


United States

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