Debates: Why Bother?

I’m writing this because I saw in my Facebook feed, an article on The Christian Post (CP) titled, “Is it worth debating people if you can’t change their mind?”* First thought; interesting question. And, I am writing here before ever clicking on the link to read the article; very interesting question. First, I must question as to whether or not any real debating goes on today. I mean by that; specifically, does any civil debate take place in these current times. Do schools and universities even teach such a thing? Perhaps.

We the public, would never know. In today’s world, one’s idea of what a civil debate might be would likely stretch quite wide. While I cannot claim any personal, master knowledge of debating, I can say that I have heard of them taking place in days gone by.

In the past, debates had been held both in person; (publicly), and in writing. The great apologist, C.S. Lewis, discusses both in numerous writings. If memory serves, it was a club that Lewis had participated in for a number of years, even leading it for some time.

In addition to public debates being held amongst and witnessed by club members, often times they were entertained via writing. Questions and comments would be sent to one side or the other. The opposing member would then respond in kind.

I have from time to time attempted to engage some in debates and discussions involving religious topics via a Facebook Group which I actually created; called, “The Bible Debates.” Firstly, I learned that when one proposes a question, one is automatically assumed to be making an attempt to be “taught” by someone else.

Whenever I asked a question, people always assumed that I was “searching for the answer.” In actuality this was not the case at all. When I proposed a question, it was because I am genuinely interested  in hearing differing opinions; I’m not searching for an online teacher.

I realize it’s not always easy to get people to open up and discuss a topic such as religion, but I had always heard how people are less inhibited and may be more inclined to do so when talking from behind their computers or cartoon-ized profile pictures. Like they say; you can’t believe everything you hear. While I was able to have good conversation with a limited few, (mainly one person), there was really no one interested in participating.

It deeply saddens me that no one can any longer carry on a civil discourse today. But, allow me to stop here and get a quick read of the Christian Post’s article.

Alas, the author of the article is actually referring more to “conversations;”- “worthwhile” conversations at that. I believe however, my comments thus far would still apply since I do believe he’s using the term loosely and does mention “debate” in the sub-title. So. onward and forward.

One should never assume a debate to be unfruitful simply because your discussion-partner fails to change their mind or fails to change yours; especially if there is anyone in audience. Assertions made respectively, by the speakers, just might sway some one else’s opinion. Don’t forget, often times our debates (conversations) have audiences without either speaker being aware.

Now, that doesn’t mean a debate of the same topic need be repeated constantly, until driving a stake through it a burying it. As do many others, I too believe that many of the serious problems in our world today stem from people’s refusal to debate/discuss with civility.

I’ve seen some recent videos of Congress-people and Senators debating and discussing. I would have to say that they all should sign up for “Intro-to-debating” course at their local college; if such a course is still supplied.

Yes, the debate is still needed. Without the debate, the civil debate, the world can become a pretty ugly place.

*Source: (Randall Rauser, CP, 7-19-18)












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