All in all, I think we should do our best to make sure we actually understand what people are saying. If you are going to make a tweet about a conversation you have had with someone else, you should make sure you fully clarify what they mean.
We (regardless of belief) should all try and have good and productive conversations with each other. I can admit my part in the conversation going south, and it is something I try to avoid in conversation, though I hope it is understandable, even if not excusable, as to why some of my responses were as harsh as they were.
Most of this could have been avoided if he had simply asked what I meant or accepted my corrections of misunderstandings. I think a large reason he didn’t was perhaps the perception of me being the big bad atheist.
I hope I made it clear as well where I have assumed something from context instead of saying “this is his opinion”. After an entire article that revolved around heavy misrepresentation of something I said, I don’t want to have equally misrepresented him. If you need anything clarified, please ask!
I am unsure if I will attempt to engage in a proper conversation with Daniel Ray again. I will still accept the offer of the one on one if he publicly corrects himself about the misrepresentation and even I will concede that I was wrong about the dishonesty if that is the case and it doesn’t happen again. Equally, I won’t stand by and watch any misrepresentation in action.
A few days after writing the article (I hadn’t posted yet, I tend to sit on an article for a while tweaking), he sent me a message indicating some of my thoughts around tribalism being at play could be correct. I think this furthers what I have been trying to say both to my fellow atheists and theists that we have to do better in our conversations.
There is already enough animosity between groups, and we are all too quick to dismiss each other or assume positions that we don’t hold. We need to remember we are all people, and in most cases we only really disagree on one major topic. Not every theist is that fire and brimstone fundamentalist that lies for Jesus and not every atheist is that angry, shouty, philosophically illiterate, arrogant, science worshiper. Due to interactions with so many of these types, we all have a bias expecting the atheist or theist to be one of the aforementioned types.
We need to try and go in to each conversation assuming they are honest actors. Assume they are intelligent and reasonable people, take time to clarify what they say. If you think they are saying something ridiculous, it doesn’t take time to say, “when you say x, do you mean y?” for if you say “you said y” and that is not what they said, not only have you misrepresented them, you have committed a strawman.
Hopefully there has been something useful to you in this article. Whether it a deeper understanding of begging the question, the links to divine hiddenness SEP page or the divineness hiddenness video, the analysis of the thread, an examination of the behaviours, or my suggestions that we should all try and do better and how we could achieve that.
For me, I think it has given me enough to think on about how I might approach a conversation going south in the future. Perhaps trying to ask questions like, “why do you think I am saying defining god using the bible is question-begging?” could have helped prevent that and acknowledge that even though I clearly said it is the justification of God existing and not the definition, if someone is continuing that line of thought, asking the question could break the pattern, give pause for thought and allow a moment to clarify. If that doesn’t work, the best option is to just walk away.
I mentioned logic a few times in this article, so I thought it would be beneficial to link a few articles in.
- You won’t believe this… An intro to Propositional Logic.
- What Does it Mean to Be Logical? – An overview of Logic and Rationality
- Propositional Logic and Beliefs – Podcast with PDF on Propositional Logic.
- Propositional Logic and Beliefs – Video Version of the Above.
- Beliefs, Language, and Logic – An overview of Logic, language and beliefs.
- Why should we use the rules of logic? – Demonstration of propositional logic with ‘God exists’.
- GDC: The Basics of the Laws of Logic.
- GDC: Breaking logic: Playing with Modal logic. (False conclusions from valid and sound arguments?).
- So what is this ‘Normative’ thing all about anyway? – Normative language and its ties to logic.
- Normatively Atheist – Why the ‘Belief God Does Not Exist’ definition of atheist is considered ‘Normative’.
- Wiki: List of logic symbols – Really useful guide to logic symbols.
- Wiki: Truth Tables – an overview of truth tables.
- Bad Atheist Arguments – Vol: 02 – Beliefs and Logic
- Beliefs and Rationality – CMT Vol: 10
- Rationality: How Can a Belief Be Rational? – SciPhi Shortz