Saturday, March 08, 2008

Could you just shut up?

I’m listening to NPR on the way home from work yesterday and hear an interview with Richard Dawkins, noted atheist and author of The God Delusion. I’ll admit that people who don’t think like me can be very interesting, especially when you have thought out your point of view as thoroughly as he has. I don’t know if it was my 4 Laws training or just human nature, but I found myself reflexively trying to mentally refute or respond to his arguments about why he does not believe in God. With every statement, I would come up with a counterpoint. But then I realized what I was doing. I was not listening to the man’s position. I was only setting myself up to swat the ball back into his court. I was not trying to understand, because I was not taught to do so. It seems imbedded into the evangelical DNA since so many of us seem to be guilty of this kind of response. The radar is always scanning for thoughts to take captive, for fear that if I don’t, I will be guilty of some sort of treason. Future Pastor, this is my point I’ve been trying to make that the Church of the Future will not feel this need to impulsively be defensive. As I was listening to Dawkins, I kept asking myself if I could just listen to him and try to understand where he was coming from. But for some reason, to do this has become equivalent to compromising your faith. Solomon reminded young people like you that speaking before listening is not a good thing. He went so far as to call it foolish, even shameful. I don’t know anyone with whom I’ve argued that changed their position because I refuted it, but I do know plenty of people who have said, “Thanks for listening.”


Maria said...

Isn't it interesting how fear motivates so much of our church as we know it behavior? Fear that we're not being faithful if we don't refute Dawkins -- or perhaps that he'll convince us if we listen. Fear that we won't get a chance to get our points in if we take the time to hear the other person out. It seems like love takes an entirely different stance -- a genuine interest in the person, including their beliefs. I heard a quote from Parker Palmer yesterday about defining education as "drawing out." Listening can be like that, drawing out from the other person what God has already put there, including the seeds of faith. But you have to lay down the defensiveness to get there.

Anonymous said...


I agree! Excellent observation!


Christopher Barras said...

I heard this same interview with Dawkins. He had some interesting things to say, but I found myself doing the same thing you did.
Nice post man.

I think if I'm ever in Lincoln, i would have to look you up. I just can't come up with a reason to ever be in Lincoln.

Tera Rose said...

This is one of the best posts that I have read in a long time. You're so very right. I wonder if most of us spent more time listening, people who are talking would come to the truth on their own...just a thought.

I find that with my children, sometimes they argue for the mere sake of why not adults?

I don't have much patience for adults on either side of the fence who ramble with memorized statements that support their belief system.

Feels like they are a taperecorder gone bad and not like they care what really happens to me in eternity.

great perspective, thanks for printing it.