This is an excellent article on something that can be seen by anyone, every single time they go on the internet.
While I was reading the article the second or third time through I couldn’t help but imagine if it were written by a theologian, pastor, or biblical scholar rather than a political policy expert. The wording would have to be changed a bit but the intent and meaning of the author would lose no validity.
To make this point, here is an excerpt I have tweaked a bit.
In religion, too, the problem has reached ridiculous proportions. People in religious debates no longer distinguish the phrase “you’re wrong” from the phrase “you’re stupid.” To disagree is to insult. To correct another is to be a hater. And to refuse to acknowledge alternative views, no matter how fantastic or inane, is to be closed-minded.
How conversation became exhausting:
Critics might dismiss all this by saying that everyone has a right to participate in the public sphere. That’s true. But every discussion must take place within limits and above a certain baseline of competence. And competence is sorely lacking in the public arena. People with strong negative views on Christian faith, for example, get the basic tenets of the faith wrong yet fail to let their profound ignorance keep them from arguing as if they are noted biblical scholars.
This subverts any real hope of a conversation and it is simply exhausting.”
The author ends the article with a few points anyone who wishes to engage an expert in their field should take to heart. Most notably, IMHO, this point.
In any discussion, you have a positive obligation to learn at least enough to make the conversation possible. The University of Google doesn’t count. Remember: having a strong opinion about something isn’t the same as knowing something.
“In any discussion, you have a positive obligation to learn at least enough to make the conversation possible” is a great line and something everyone who enjoys discussion should take to heart.
Sadly, though, not enough people take their obligation seriously so we end up with stuff like this.
Not knocking Mr. Barker, per se, he could be a great guy and highly intelligent in many ways. But, regarding Christianity, it is painfully obvious that he has not risen above the baseline of competence necessary to have a rational conversation about the faith.
I love evangelism and answering honest questions people have about the Christian faith. What I’ve never understood however, and I’ve done it myself plenty, is why well meaning Christians participate in discussions with people with whom they know fruitful discourse is not possible.
Red Pen Logic with Mr. B does a great job of highlighting the profound ignorance in anti-Christian social media posts and I think that is a good thing. Having a conversation with people who put this stuff out there though is, as Tom Nichols accurately phrased it, exhausting.
*The author of the article, Tom Nichols, has also written a book with the same title I ordered this morning. If it’s as good as the article, it will be worth a read.
Also, here are a couple more things from Mr. B. a Facebook page I highly recommend.