August 30, 2007

Agreeing to Disagree

Most of my close friends are Christians, and I've certainly had my share of good friends who were...(gasp)...Republicans. I suppose that we've generally accomplished this through implicit agreements that certain topics are off limits. Other times, we'll discuss something briefly, disagree and realize the futility of persuading the other party, and then agree to disagree, setting the topic aside.

A Load of Bright just did an interesting post on the subject of agreeing to disagree, and I think it warrants comment. The just of the post is that it isn't always easy to agree to disagree - sometimes one wants to continue the argument, risking being called "a bad sport" or worse. Often, one must make a judgment call as to whether the disagreement is genuinely unresolvable or whether the other party is merely hiding being the agreeing to disagree suggestion so as not to give serious reconsideration of his or her position.

What is not directly addressed in the post and what I believe to be critical here is the factual nature of the disagreement. Far too often, Christians jump to the agree to disagree position when the facts are against them. This is the time when agreeing to disagree is untenable.

The claim that the Earth is 6,000 years old is factually false. Overwhelming evidence contradicts this claim. If the Christian makes this claim and I challenge him, we cannot very well agree to disagree. This is a matter of fact and not a matter of beliefs or values. Remember, belief does not equal truth. The Christian can insist, "But I really believe it" until he's blue in the face. This has absolutely nothing to do with the veracity of the claim (although it would suggest that the Christian is delusional). Agreeing to disagree here might reduce conflict but would do the Christian a disservice by reinforcing his delusion.

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