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    Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

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    Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

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    Paeter
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    Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  Paeter on November 8th 2017, 10:09 am

    I want to define "Debate" as discussion (whether patient and even-tempered or heated and furious) with someone else over a point of disagreement in which you hope to either defend a viewpoint  or highlight shortcomings in another viewpoint.

    About every week or so, or sometimes in longer lasting spurts, I find myself defending a view I've expressed on youtube, usually of a moral/philosophical/biblical nature. It's been so long since I've been an internet user who isn't also doing work and ministry online. Honestly, I don't know how often I'd find myself in these kinds of discussions if it weren't for my work. So I'm curious if you guys find yourselves in these situations, if you seek out discussions like these, or if you avoid them like the plague.


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    Re: Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  mindspike on November 8th 2017, 11:10 am

    I used to believe I could influence people and help educate them by engaging in debates, in person or in whatever venue was available. It was pointed out to me by a friend that all I ever accomplished was to hurt people and destroy any chance I had of speaking into their lives in a meaningful way. It was suggested to me that people who ask me to defend my point of view actually hope to change my mind themselves and are not so interested in changing their own views. It was pointed out to me that the Bible ordains only one way to distribute the gospel, and it is through preaching and not debate. When asked to engage in a theological debate, the apostle Paul refused. It was suggested to me that if I did the same, it would hurt fewer people. I've already hurt too many people in my life, so that seemed like good advice.


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    Re: Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  jorowi on November 8th 2017, 1:31 pm

    I will only converse with people if they're nice. If they start getting nasty I block them. Ain't nobody got time for that. I never try to "debate" to convince. I ask questions about a person's point of view so I can, hopefully, empathize with them. I state my case and I always say, "This is a conversation better had face-to-face."

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    Re: Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  Rohelf on November 8th 2017, 2:43 pm

    I picked the third option because that's the closest to my current stance, but in my case I'd word it more like "sometimes, when someone I know says something so badly reasoned, antithetical to what I believe, or just plain bizarre that I feel compelled to offer a counterargument." I've been finding that, much like Mindspike mentioned, this almost never results in persuading the other party, but sometimes I still feel like I have to say something when said other person is making public pronouncements that grind my gears, if only for the benefit of anyone else reading/listening. I don't do it as much as I used to, mostly because I'm trying to just eliminate people who bring me nothing but aggravation from my life. So if someone who claims/tries to be friends with me says something bizarre, offensive, or stupid once in a while, I'm likely to try to debate them. If they keep saying things like that, or worse, tell me to shut up, they just go on my list of people I interact with as little as possible, and I try to ignore their aggravating statements from then on. (Which isn't easy if I still have to have some level of interaction with them... sometimes they'll say something so outrageous that I can't believe no one else is calling them on it, and I go for it even though I know it's likely futile.) Worst of all is anyone who tries to censor me. I've broken friendships for that and not looked back. Clearly that person is not interested in having an actual relationship with an independent person, only in having a sycophantic cheerleader. Besides, I figure popularity is not something I'll ever have anyway, so I might as well be honest.
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    Re: Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  Reed Benson on November 9th 2017, 8:09 am

    jorowi wrote:I will only converse with people if they're nice. If they start getting nasty I block them. Ain't nobody got time for that. I never try to "debate" to convince. I ask questions about a person's point of view so I can, hopefully, empathize with them. I state my case and I always say, "This is a conversation better had face-to-face."

    That's the way to do it. Back in the days of Xanga, I was all about arguing online. It was like a ministry to me. Now, I know better. Changing someone's mind isn't likely to happen over the web, especially if you're being a jerk about making your case. I was often a jerk.

    These days, I hardly ever get into debates or arguments online. The last time I remember doing it was on Chinese social media (in English), and I ended up apologizing to the other guy because I realized I was being to snide about my point.

    Now, if someone posts something I don't agree with on Facebook or something, I usually ignore it. If someone directly comments on something I've posted, I'll try to respond nicely, but if they keep pushing (which hasn't happened yet), I'll either say I'm done or insist on continuing in private message form.

    This doesn't stop other people from arguing on my Facebook wall, though...
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    Re: Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  Reed Benson on November 9th 2017, 8:13 am

    mindspike wrote:It was pointed out to me that the Bible ordains only one way to distribute the gospel, and it is through preaching and not debate. When asked to engage in a theological debate, the apostle Paul refused.

    That's interesting. Do you think that it's wrong for people like Dr. William Lane Craig to participate in public debates with atheists, then?
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    Re: Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  mindspike on November 9th 2017, 12:14 pm

    Reed Benson wrote:That's interesting. Do you think that it's wrong for people like Dr. William Lane Craig to participate in public debates with atheists, then?

    Do I think it's wrong? No. But I don't think it's productive either. I'm not the only one with this view. Pastor John MacArthur of Grace Community Church and The Master's Seminary is often asked to participate in televised debates and documentaries. He always refuses these offers because he does not believe they are a good representation of the gospel. Even if you "win" the debate by presenting a mountain of undeniable evidence for your case, you cannot create a believer. The gospel can only be grasped through revelation, never by investigation.

    1 Corinthians 2:14 wrote:The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.


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    Re: Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  jorowi on November 9th 2017, 1:48 pm

    mindspike wrote:The gospel can only be grasped through revelation, never by investigation.

    Josh McDowell, Ken Hamm, and Ray Comfort may try to convince you otherwise but mostly what it does is fuel the mockers and scoffers.

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    Re: Do You Get Into Internet "Debates"?

    Post  Paeter on November 13th 2017, 10:22 am

    I think it would be hard to build a case against using the debate format on grounds of spiritual productivity. I just don't know how you gather and sort through that data. What I have noted is the numerous times Dr. Craig has reported that many people continually come to know Christ as a result of seeing the evidence for his resurrection and other arguments.

    But a few things are important to take into account:

    Someone like Dr. Craig isn't "debating" in the sense that you and I "debate" things with people, or in the sense of my original survey question. (So this is related to the topic of this thread, but should still be noted as separate from it.) He uses a formal academic debate format with rules and structure designed to allow equal opportunity for two different views to be presented in contrast with each other. Dr. Craig has also said before that he doesn't enter into these debates with any expectation that he will sway his opponent. He enters these public, formal debates in order to demonstrate to the audience the strength of the biblical Christian view in comparison to alternative truth claims. He also doesn't advocate imitation of this format in personal exchanges, but urges a more conversational and relational approach.

    In addition, when Dr. Craig talks about people coming to know Christ through hearing the arguments for biblical truth claims, he carefully and repeatedly clarifies that it is the Holy Spirit who draws people to repent and brings about a change of heart. The evidence is simply a means the Spirit may use if that is legitimately a road block for a person.

    Dr. Craig has also repeatedly said that in most cases it is not a lack of evidence that keeps a person from Christ, but their own will. Their claim to a lack of evidence is like a smokescreen to conceal their true reasons for unbelief (which I thought was demonstrated well in the movie "The Case For Christ").

    So I think if we agree on some terms, Christian apologetics (which sometimes comes in the form of debates), can be useful in bolstering the faith of the believer, exposing the smokescreens of the rebellious and removing obstacles to faith for those genuinely seeking the truth.

    I haven't given my response to the survey question, but for me it would be #3. And I try to take the conversation private whenever possible, as I think those involved listen to each other better when not standing at digital podiums. (And those who seem publicly interested only in a "gotcha" conversation rarely follow up with me privately when invited, which helps weed out unproductive exchanges.) But I'll still respond in public if I think my response can be useful or can prevent some misconception of fact.

    So I'd agree that most public and even one-on-one "debates" online at least seem unfruitful in the moment and may even be unfruitful in both the short and long term. I don't think I've ever changed my mind or seen anyone else change their mind in the middle of a "debate". But when the conversation ends the words can continue to echo and lead to a change of mind later. That's certainly happened to me before.

    So for me, each "debate" is:

    1. evaluated for its potential fruitfulness on a case by case basis
    2. steered to private exchange when possible
    3. continued or aborted as I think seems appropriate in relation to fruitfulness


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