Let’s Be More Reasonable With Each Other

Recently, a friend posted:

Reasonable people can see the same facts and come to different conclusions.

People can be wrong without being stupid, deluded or evil.

If you have opinions, you should actively seek the best and most principled people who disagree with them to test whether you are correct.

If your argument takes the form of “the same people who say thing X also say thing Y and that makes them hypocritical” you’re only attacking the worst advocates of thing X, rather than making a good case for what you believe.

Do not be scared of changing your mind. If seeing solid counter-arguments to a thing you believe in upsets you, then you have an emotional investment in the thing you believe in and that’s usually quite a bad idea.

Let’s be more reasonable with each other.

I would define my friend as an atheist from England. He was probably posting about the opinions of those supporting and opposing the recent  referendum by British voters to exit the European Union.

However, I like his advice for open-mindedness in general, like a set of rules for any open debate.

  1. Expect others to arrive at their own conclusions.
  2. Presuppose good will and intelligence. Demonstrate respect and humility.
  3. Acknowledge that the person with the worst opinions and weakest arguments may not typically represent everyone that opposes you.
  4. Ally yourself with a conscientious worthy opponent and examine what you believe.
  5. Override personal emotional attachment to your conclusion.
  6. If an opposing argument is valid, adopt the new conclusion and revise your previous viewpoint.

Selective Application of Scripture (Matthew chapter 7)

I was recently told:

Some people believe, and some people don’t. Bad logic is picking and choosing which bible verses or “versions” of G-d (the spiteful god, the loving, compassionate god, etc.) you want to use to justify whatever subject is being discussed. That’s how modern Christianity can somehow condemn homosexuality and in the next breath, justify capital punishment.

The context of this comment was a discussion about the basis of morality. Within that discussion, one of the contenders had played the “Judge Not” card. The “Judge Not” card seems to serve as a universal wildcard which always trumps all other cards including those of logic and authority.

Let’s be open-minded and willing to examine the argument.

  1. In the first place, the person citing “judge not” actually rejects the authority of Scripture. It is self-contradictory to cite the Bible if you don’t believe it matters.
  2. Also, consider the biased process of selecting a phrase from the Bible and fitting it to your opinion. This requires ignoring the other approximately 783,135 words in the Bible because they do not fit your personal agenda. If you are not willing to make an open-minded investigation of the teachings of Jesus Christ (and His agenda), then the rest of Scripture is irrelevant. To the mind without objectivity, only two words in the Bible are important: the two words, “judge not.”
  3. Furthermore, those two words have been stripped of any contextual meaning. This is particularly important in the “judge not” passage which is Matthew chapter 7.
  4. The immediate context commands you to “remove the plank from your own eye so that you can see clearly before you attempt to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Matthew 7 was never a prohibition against the use of sound judgment by Christians. Matthew 7 is a warning against clouded and obscured judgment, a condemnation against biased opinions, an indictment against narrow-mindedness.g14231

    • The sixth verse of Matthew 7 warns us against the emptiness of arguing with someone who does not value Scripture. “Do nor throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn around and attack you.”
    • The greater context of Matthew 7 actually warns us to turn away from the popularity of sinful  living. “Enter at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who are going through it, because small is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
    • Matthew 7 tells us that false teachers can be identified by their behavior.
    • Matthew 7 tells us that not everyone gets to go to heaven.
    • Matthew 7 tells us that if we choose to build our lives upon a strong foundation of obedience to God’s Word that the storms of life won’t devastate us.

I invite you to read it with an open mind.

Matthew Seven

 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged. And with the measure you use, it will be measured again for you.

 “And why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank that is in your own eye? Or how will you say to your brother, ‘Let me pull the speck out of your eye,’ when a log is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn around and attack you.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened.

“What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, everything you would like men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter at the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who are going through it, because small is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

“Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit. But a corrupt tree bears evil fruit. A good tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bear good fruit.Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruit you will know them.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?’ But then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil.’

“Whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it did not fall, for it was founded a rock. And every one who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them will be likened to a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house. And it fell. And its fall was great.”

When Jesus finished these sayings, the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Can you explain to me why you feel it is wrong?

I recently took some bait. The bait was in the form of a question asking for discussion about the basis of morality. It is not possible to determine the tone of voice in a post. So, when I saw that my tone of voice was being misinterpreted, I dropped out of the thread… hoping to leave the door open for future friendly relationships.


This is one of my own observations. The Bible is referenced in a very selective “picking and choosing” manner by someone critical of the Christian position. Then, at the end, a new critic joins in to say that Christians are the ones “picking and choosing” scriptures to suit their own agenda! If the anti-Christian voices can pick and choose, why can’t the Christians do the same? It is their book after all.

Trudy: Can someone please explain to me why you feel that being gay/transgender/etc, is wrong? I don’t get it.
Oh, and you won’t convince me otherwise. It is none of my business who you are sleeping with, as long as they are consenting adults. Nothing else matters.

Candace: Couldn’t agree with you more! Usually it is a bible reference that people quote saying it’s wrong. But the bible also says judge not lest ye be judged!
Dana: Being transgender isn’t even an issue of who you’re sleeping with. I don’t get why everyone makes such a big deal out of what’s in someone’s pants when they don’t have a valid reason to know.
Trudy: You are right about that aspect of it. What part of NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS do these people not get?
Dana: Evidently, the “none of” part.
Selena: I love your reasoning Dana. Private things are private things and that’s that.
Hannah: I agree, Dana, I really dont care what is anyones pants – yuk! glad no one wants to see inside my pants! Seriously I find it unaccptable that anyone should be bothered – it’s about time everyone got on with thier lives and left the rest of us to get on with ours.
Selena: Thank you Trudy; I love this post and feel so touched. You are teaching society to be more accepting of LGBT people, which is definitely what we need in this world.
Me: I guess that depends on what you mean by “wrong.” If we only measured by human standards maybe nothing is “wrong”. On the other hand, if morality appeals to a higher standard, then maybe we should ask Him what is right and wrong.
Dana: While I don’t want to start an argument, especially since we haven’t communicated before and I do respect other people’s religious beliefs, I’d like to ask you something. Most people think that a god would consider things such as being LGBT, autistic, atheist, and so forth to be “wrong”. But people also say that a god would be loving, compassionate, and accepting. There’s a flaw in this logic; if a god is compassionate and accepting, why would that god pick out people who are different, label them as “wrong”, and then permit them to exist in the world anyway? Alternatively, if the god was cruel, disparaging, and probably not something most religious groups would want, who’s to say that what’s considered “wrong” by this god isn’t the fact that humans came to power in the first place, the fact that we have our own opinions?
Again, I do respect your own beliefs, but this is just how I see it, and I want to know your opinion: if a god thought something was “wrong”, why would they allow it to exist?
Me: I don’t know anything about that kind of small “g” god that forces himself on everyone and everything. The God that I have known is loving and holy. He asks me to choose “right” and provides a clear definition of what that means.
Dana: I was referring to all gods, not the Christian “God”. Now I have to ask, since you didn’t answer my original question: if your “God” asks you to choose what “right” is, then what do you define as “right”?
Trudy: And why is one religion’s ‘right’ more, or less, valid than another religion;s ‘right’. This is, by no means, not an attack on christianity. This applies to all people’s belief in what the ‘book’ says. For me, anyway.
Me: Dana , I cannot answer a question about “all gods” since only one true God exists. I don’t know anything about imaginary gods. I could answer with a question, if God exists, shouldn’t we choose to live His way?
Me: Trudy , I think that would make a great “comparative religions” study. I have been in several.
Dana: So riddle me this: I’m an atheist. I don’t think there’s any god. I’m transgender, bisexual, and autistic. There are many other people who believe in gods other than the one YOU do, or don’t believe in them at all. There are many other people who go against the rules of Christianity, of your “God”. So because I, as well as millions of other people, don’t believe in the exact same things that you do (whether it’s due to cultural belief, logical fallacies, or more), and don’t behave in the same way that you do (whether because of religion or because of other things, such as disability – cough cough autism cough cough – or gender or sexual orientation), what they do is “wrong”?
Me: I don’t know why you list “autism” and “disability” as something that is “wrong”. Where do you get that idea? I’ve never heard of it before.
Me: Trudy, I did not intend to hijack your thread. Sorry. You can stop me anytime.
Dana: You’re conveniently not answering my other questions. But in response to what you just asked: the anti-MMR vaccine movement is because of (discredited and fraudulent) beliefs that autism is caused by the MMR vaccine. People would rather not have autistic children than protect people from outbreaks of diseases that could easily be prevented. People would rather let other people die than supposedly have autism “develop” in their child. And Autism Speaks, a supposed advocate group – one of the women who runs the company (or ran it, not sure if she stepped down) said that when her daughter was diagnosed with autism, she wanted to drive herself and her daughter off a bridge. She would have rather killed herself and her daughter than loved an autistic daughter.
Another example: Downs syndrome. When someone who’s pregnant is told they’re going to have a child with Downs, they’re given the option, sometimes even pressured, to abort their child. (Don’t even get me started on the whole abortion debate.) Just because someone has Downs doesn’t mean that they’re less of a person or not worthy of being in the world.
Actually, disability in general. If a disability can’t be cured, the person who has said disability is often written off. People are always automatically assumed to be able-bodied, able to communicate verbally, and they’re expected to function in the “real world” without any help. It took decades for ramps to be installed on buildings or vehicles to allow those with wheelchairs, walkers, or even crutches to access them. We didn’t have IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) until pretty late in the game. Many autistic individuals are misdiagnosed because autism is forced away as “not real”, and autistic people who have trouble with executive dysfunction or certain environments are brushed off as childish and “having temper tantrums” and “picky eaters”. Learning disabilities? You don’t hear about those outside of elementary school. I could go on, and on, and on.
Long story short: disabled people are not treated well, and many parents would rather have had a healthy child than a disabled child.
Trudy: Zachary B. Rainey I am trying to start a dialog. Not just between you and I or anyone, but to help others that might be searching.
Me: Dana, Autism isn’t immoral. Down’s isn’t immoral. Therefore, I can’t answer questions based upon a premise that a disability makes a person right or wrong, moral or immoral.
Dana: But you still conveniently ignored the other questions I asked you. What do you think is immoral? And why do you think that everyone believes in your god?
Me: Dana, Nope. That isn’t what I believe.
Dana: Okay, I’m not even bothering anymore, because you’re still ignoring the other questions I ask you. My guess is that you have a problem with me, and just don’t have the courage to say it.
Me: Ask Trudy about me. I’m not like that. She has met me.
Trudy: Zachary is a great guy. I really like him. Nothing wrong with a belief system. This isn’t directed towards you, Dana. He is discussing various parts of a concept/question/belief.
Dana: But when I’m continuously asking questions, and they’re not being answered, I become inclined to believe that the reason they’re not being answered is because the person has some issue with me.
Trudy: Why is it morally wrong? Says who? A book? Written by people (with an agenda), translated by people (with an agenda), rewritten by people (with an agenda), read by people (with an agenda). Don’t get me wrong. I am not denigrating a belief system. Just people acting like the bible is made up of words directly from some’body’s’ mouth.
Candace: “Maybe we should ask him what is right and wrong.” Unless you have a direct pipeline (and I’ve never met anyone who did) you are relying on a book written by men with an agenda. Not for us to judge; in that same book we are told not to judge; and Jesus gave us many examples of loving our fellow people.
Me: No. I don’t agree.
Me: I don’t agree with the bad logic of dismissing the teachings of Jesus Christ so quickly. I personally have decided to keep an open mind as I study the person of Jesus and His teachings about life.
Trudy: I support your believing what you believe and admire you for it. But I don’t believe in the ‘one true god’ or religion, or whatever. That is my belief.
James: It’s not bad logic. It’s that some people believe, and some people don’t. Bad logic is picking and choosing which bible verses or “versions” of G-d (the spiteful god, the loving, compassionate god, etc.) you want to use to justify whatever subject is being discussed. That’s how modern Christianity can somehow condemn homosexuality and in the next breath, justify capital punishment.
Trudy: If people are happy with themselves and their life, and if that is with someone of the same gender, or not, means absolutely nothing. How in the world that is considered ‘immoral’ is simply insane. Why do religions have anything to say about it…any religion.

I changed the names except my own. At least one of these was a pre-teen, not a “consenting adult.”

I liked the part that goes something like, “I respect your beliefs, but I’m gonna de-capitalize God’s name and say mean things about Him.”

It’s sad to see the comments about autism, Down’s syndrome, and other disabilities. They do not belong in this discussion. Maybe it was a failed attempt to force the “born this way” argument? Not sure.