Below are three major tools to aid religious dialogue:
(1) Please Share Thyself
The most important dialogue tool is to be open and to share yourself whenever possible.
Without knowing each others positions, a dialogue can be frustrating. The first major obstacle to true communication is stereotyping. You may have a certain idea of what a “Christian” or an “Atheist” is, but they a primarily people and may hold a unique set of beliefs, experiences and actions that don’t match the stereotype in your head.
The posts linked below are tables to help you share your positions. There are many different types of Christians — lots of different theologies — let’s not assume there is only one kind. Likewise for Atheists or anyone who does philosophy.
- Christian Sharing : Share your particular theology — your beliefs. There are many different kinds of Christians — let’s admit that and use our understanding to further real communication.
- Philosopher Sharing : Religious and non-religious folks hold philosophical assumptions which color their worldview.
- Atheist Sharing : Share your type of Atheism – Atheists hold many different perspectives toward religion.
May I challenge you share your beliefs on your blog. That way, any debator can quickly get a picture of some of the many things you believe. To put the appropriate table in your blog, simply go to the post, drag your mouse over the whole table and then cut and paste the contents into a post or comment and touch it up to make it tell your position.
I wrote a post which does the same: I copied a table and put in my beliefs. Go to the link if you’d like to see an example of how I have used a simple table to share my present stances.
It is my hope that this will facilitate dialogue. Note how I use percentages at times to show how I realize that my mind holds various opinions simultaneously. As I acknowledge in my post on Taxonomies that there are huge obvious caveats with using such simple categorical taxonomy of ideas. But when viewed primarily as a tool for dialog, I think this may be useful.
(2) Dialogue Ethics
After being open, you will feel vulnerable and may feel threatened or actually be attacked. There are high grounds to take in debating that can help turn this around. Here are a few ideas:
- The Debator’s Golden Rule: See if you can agree to this?
- Generous Translation: Even if you disagree with someone, how could you translate it into your system?
I hope to further expand this section. Blogging is all about dialoguing. I am making mistakes, learning and trying to improve. Here I will list posts pertinent to “how to dialogue and relate to others”.
(3) Defining Terms
In my right side bar, I list several quotes I love. One is Humpty Dumpty (Alice in Wonderland) saying:
“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
— Humpty Dumpty
Humpty is being both naive and perhaps a bit arrogant. Words don’t work like that. Instead, Socrates tells us a better approach:
“The beginning of wisdom, is the definition of terms”
For people without common vocabulary and agreed meanings, defining terms is often a necessary starting point. Without a common language, debaters often inadvertently fall into the ambiguity logical fallacy called the Equivocation Fallacy where they jump between the various meanings of a word and keep the conversation confused. Most words are used in many different ways. It is important be clear to ourselves and others what usage we mean by the words. Here are examples of two words commonly that act as stumbling blocks in debates between Christians and Atheists. Check out my attempts to describe the many uses that confuse conversations.
HT: for pic to Handy Manny’s Talkin’ Tool Box