Tag Archives: cognitive dissonance

21 Reasons It’s Impossible To Argue With Christians

1. Christians are close-minded.

This sounds insulting at first, but hear me out. Christianity demands its believers have faith. To have faith is to believe in your preconceived conclusion no matter what. Faith is the very definition of being closed-minded.

A good Christian isn’t supposed to consider divergent (aka heretical or blasphemous) points of view. So when a Christian tries to debate me I have to be suspicious as to whether or not they’re really trying to have an open-minded debate or simply trying to blindly argue against my position.

In my experience, the Christians I have debated never had any intention of considering my point of view. They just wanted to tear me down so they could feel secure in their dogma and hopefully convert me.

It’s not unfair to say “Christians are closed-minded,” because believing in Christianity doesn’t require passive faith in the absence of evidence. Believing in Christianity requires active denial of evidence that proves you’re wrong. The next 20 items on this list are ways Christians use logical fallacies and cognitive dissonance to sidestep the evidence that Christianity is mythology.

Belief in Christianity isn’t one of those issues where everyone gets to believe what they want and everyone else should respect that. Christianity deserves no more reverence or patience than the mythologies Pacific Islanders made up thousands of years ago. Jesus is no more the savior of mankind than Maui is the hero who pulled New Zealand out of the sea with a fishing pole. Believing either of those stories requires one to deny mountains of evidence. So yes, it’s an accurate generalization to say that Christians are close-minded.

I know this sounds harsh, but that’s only because the truth hurts. You don’t have to take my word for it. Anyone can put Christianity to the test. As long as they don’t hide behind logical fallacies and mental gymnastics, they can discover for themselves the Bible doesn’t hold up.

Real photo of a sign in front of a church that says, "Don't be so open-minded your brains fall out."

 2. Christians don’t play by the rules of logic.

The sane way to think is to analyze the facts in front of you and try to find meaningful and consistent connections in the data to draw consistently reproducible conclusion from. Then, once you’ve come to a conclusion, you should be eager to test it against new evidence to see if it still holds up. If it doesn’t, you should update your conclusion until new evidence disproves that conclusion in part or in whole. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. If both members of a debate do that, then two people can start with opposing conclusions, analyze the data and agree on a reasonably objective conclusion.

Christians start from the assumption that the Bible is fact and look for evidence to support that conclusion. There’s no point having a debate with someone who doesn’t question their own data or objectively analyze their opponent’s data. It’s even more pointless to argue with someone who reverse-engineers fantasy data to negate actual, empirical data.

Creationism is full of examples of reverse engineered fantasy data. You can’t win a debate with a creationist because your hands are tied with reason and evidence while creationists have free reign to make up unverifiable data on the fly. They can even use data that is objectively, empirically false, and they all they have to say to back it up is, “No. You’re wrong,” whereas a scientific thinker will have to use the scientific method to prove they’re right.

Cooking evidence to support your preconceived conclusion gives you a powerful advantage in an argument. Since you’re not bound by the rules of logic, you can say anything you want, twist anything how you want it, and makes excuses to dismiss actual logic or evidence. After having a number of Christians use this style of debate against me I’ve become extremely hesitant to debate Christians because it’s unfair, unproductive, immoral and insulting.

The Scientific method says, "Here are the facts. What conclusions can we draw from them?" The Creationist method says, "Here's the conclusion. what facts can we find to support it?"

3. There’s a good chance they’ll use hearsay and/or dubious sources to back up their claims. 

Even when I was a Christian attending an overpriced Christian university I recognized that half the statistics and secondary sources my Christian brethren quoted were unreliable. So I was very hesitant to use Christian literature to back up my arguments.

Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, I’ve argued against Christians who quote statistics and facts from unverified and unverifiable sources, which is effectively the same as just making up the data on their own. Two people can’t have a productive argument when one of them is using made up data.

Similarly, Christians will often use subjective experiences to back up their argument. For instance, they’ll say, “I prayed that I would get better from a disease, and I did. So Jesus must have healed me.” or “I survived a car wreck, and it surprised the doctors in the emergency room.” or “I felt a strong heavenly presence once. So Jesus must be real.” These are all examples of basing decisions on emotional experiences, and attributing divine intervention to secular events… especially in cases where doctors saved someone’s life using scientific principles. I can’t use reason and evidence to argue a point against someone who uses subjective emotions to make decisions that ignore facts.

4. Christians will make stuff up and interpret scriptures however is convenient.

If you ask a Christian how an all loving god could fill the books of Exodus and Leviticus with barbaric rules such as when it’s okay to beat your slaves and when you should kill your children they’ll quote Mathew 5:17 ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Then they’ll say, “See, that passage erases all the laws of the Old Testament… except the ones we want to keep, like the Ten Commandments.”

This passage could mean that modern people don’t have to follow all the barbaric and inconvenient laws in the Old Testament, but nobody really knows that for sure. At the end of the day, Christians just interpret this passage however is convenient for them and declare dogmatically that they’re unquestionably right.

I told a Christian once that the Bible was chauvinistic. He got offended and said that wasn’t true. So I pointed out 1 Corinthians 14:34 “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” The Christian laughed and said, “No, no, no. Paul was only directing that comment to a single group of unruly woman at the church he was writing to.” Maybe, but there’s no way to back that claim up. That was just a convenient argument he, or someone else, made up and accepted as fact.

A lot of times Christians’ arguments sound reasonable, especially when they deliver them so confidently, but a lot of times, when you scratch the surface, you’ll find they can’t back their arguments up, because they’re just convenient excuses someone invented.

5. The Bible is true because it says so.

How do Christians know the Bible is true? Because the Bible says so, or at least it implies it. You can’t argue with that. It’s logic proof. It’s sanity proof. There’s no point arguing with someone who can always prove that they’re right by pointing at a piece of paper that says they’re right. So why argue at all when I’ve lost the argument before I’ve even started?

Picture of a circle of words that say, "The Bible is true because the bible says the Bible is true..."

6. Every Christian is an expert. Every non-Christian needs to study more.

It doesn’t matter how long I was a Christian, how many times I read the Bible, how many books I’ve read about the Bible and ancient Middle Eastern culture or how logical my observations on the Bible are. Nor does it matter how little any given Christian understands the Bible. In my experience with debating Christians, it doesn’t matter what I say or how much supporting evidence I give, because most of my arguments have ended with them saying, “I don’t know the rebuttals to your arguments, but I know you’re wrong, because if you really understood the Bible, you’d believe it. So you need to go back and study the Bible more.”

If I respond, “Maybe you don’t understand the Bible,” they’ll just say, “No, you don’t. Pray to God, and He’ll show you the truth.” There’s no amount of evidence I could find to prove the Bible is mythology, because as long as I don’t believe in its divinity, I’ll always be unqualified to debate it.

7. Non-Christians take every passage out of context.

No matter what passage you pick out of the Bible to criticize, Christians tend to dismiss you by saying, “You’re taking that passage out of context.” It doesn’t matter how qualified the Christian is to interpret that passage. It doesn’t matter how many passages before and after the verse in question you include in the argument. It doesn’t matter how cut and dry the message in the passage is. If I debate passages in the Bible with a Christian, there’s a good chance they’re going to tell me I took it out of context, and there’s no argument I can use to prove to them that my stance has any validity because they assume that my lack of faith is proof of lack of understanding.

Photo of Exodus 21-22 highlighted in a Bible, "If a man beats his male or female lsave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two since the slave is his property." With the caption, "Go ahead and tell me I'm taking it out of context."

8.The Bible contradicts itself.

Whenever I try to point out to Christians how absurd the Bible is, they prove I don’t understand the passages in question and am taking them out of context by quoting other passages that contradict the ones I bring up. Then they’ll say, “See. You’re wrong.” Call me crazy, but I believe the 63, 779 documented contradictions in the Bible, make it less credible and impossible to debate.

9. The Old Testament is obsolete…except when its the word of God.

As I mentioned earlier, if you quote an illogical or absurd passage from the Old Testament there’s a good chance the Christian you’re talking to will wipe away thousands of years of their own religious history and thousands of pages of their religious book by saying the Old Testament doesn’t count, because Jesus made it obsolete.

Therefore, non-Christians can’t introduce any passage from the Old Testament into an argument. However, if a Christian ever needs to quote a passage from the Old Testament to prove a point, then any passage they choose will automatically become the unerring and eternal word of God and would be blasphemous to question.

10. The Bible is the word of God…except when it’s not.

Christians tend to use another, similar technique on the Old and New Testament alike. If they like a passage in the Bible they’ll simply say it’s the unerring and eternal word of God and that it’s blasphemous to question it. However, any passages they don’t like, they’ll dismiss by saying that fallible humans acted as God’s pen to write the Bible. So you have to take that into consideration and use prayer, reason and common sense to determine which parts you have to listen to.

I’ve had several Christians tell me that the Bible never even hinted that it was unerring or that you have to have complete faith in it. It’s extremely frustrating to argue with someone who can constantly pick and choose which of the statements made in their premise are open to argument. It’s enough to make me extremely hesitant to debate Christians.

11. Everything is a metaphor…when it’s convenient.

Try telling a Christian that you can’t live in the belly of a whale for 3 days. Long hair doesn’t give you magical powers. There was never a talking snake in a magic garden passing out magic fruit to mammals with no belly buttons. Nobody saw God and Satan taking juvenile bets on Job’s faith. Donkeys don’t talk. The world wasn’t flooded, and two of every animal didn’t fit on one boat for forty days.

Christians tend to sidestep these absurdities by saying, “That wasn’t meant to be taken literally. That was a metaphor.” But if they want to take any of those, or any other passage, literally, then will, and I can’t prove that they’re wrong. You can’t argue with someone who can dismiss any of their own premises as a metaphor.

And another thing, if everything in the Bible is a metaphor, then maybe the story of Jesus was just a metaphor too.

12. Christianity is a moving target

Every point I’ve made about how Christians argue is wrong, and every criticism I have about Christianity is wrong… to someone. That’s because the Bible never explicitly states what Christianity is, and no two Christians will agree 100% on every aspect of Christianity. I can’t say, “This belief of Christianity is illogical and absurd,” because some Christian out there will say, “That’s not what true Christians believe.” If I say, “A lot of Christians believe it.” They can say, “Well, they’re not true Christians.” And

Every Christian has to use the No True Scotsman argument eventually because there are no true Christians. There’s just a bunch of people projecting their own cultural values into a foreign, obsolete book they’ll never understand.

When you go into a debate with a Christian you have no idea how they define Christianity. So you have no idea what they’ll claim or dismiss. It doesn’t matter how accepted the beliefs you’re arguing against are, if you say Christianity is anything other than exactly what they believe it is, then they’ll shoot you down for not understanding what Christianity really is. So fighting Christianity is like fighting a shape-shifting ghost with multiple personality disorders who is in denial.

13. If all else fails, you’re going to hell and/or you’re a fool.

Psalm 14:1 states,  “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 states, “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” or

1 Corinthians 3:19 states “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.”

If you’re a non-Christian, it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are about the textual or historical context in the Bible. Your point of view is invalid, because why would a Christian listen to a Hell-bound servant of Satan? By Biblical standards, they shouldn’t. The Bible says to have faith and put Satan behind them.

It’s circular logic to say that any criticism of the Bible is foolish because the Bible says that any criticisms of the Bible are foolish. Not only that, but these passages teach Christians that losing an argument proves you’re right. That’s logic-proof. It’s impossible to debate someone if the premise of their argument is that you and all your evidence are automatically invalid.

Photo of a real sign in front of a church that says, "A free thinker is Satan's slave."

14. Faith and reason are apples and oranges.

Back a Christian into a corner with enough facts and logic, and they’ll eventually resort to sidestepping reality by saying that faith/religion fills a void that logic/science can’t.

The idea is that logic and science can only take you so far in understanding this giant, bizarre universe we’ve all found ourselves stranded in; and when those tools fail, faith/religion pick up the trail and fill in the gaps. Therefore, you can not and should not tread on the domain of religion, because it’s exempt from logical criticisms.

On its own, this argument sounds nice. It ties up the universe in a pretty package with a nice bow on top. In reality, this argument is meaningless. Remember that religion is merely an expression of a primitive society’s cultural values. So faith in religion is not a transcendental experience. It’s just refusing to think about what you’ve been told. Choosing faith over logic is ultimately just choosing ignorance over awareness.

So yes, faith and logic are separate languages, but faith is the language of insanity. Math is the language of science, and logic is the language of sanity. Since  I don’t have the psychiatric training to communicate effectively with people who demonize sanity, I can’t debate Christians about the difference between their antiquated delusions and scientific reality.

"Faith is belief without evidence and reason; coincidentally that's also the definition of delusion." Richard Dawkins

 15. What would we argue about anyway?

Christianity is mythology, and every single page of the Bible contains evidence to support this conclusion. Debating individual passages in the Bible is like debating individual passages in Mein Kampf. Even Hitler was right about a few things. That doesn’t mean I’m joining the Third Reich. (Fun fact, do you know what the First Reich was? The Holy Roman Empire.)

The only debate I could possibly have with a Christian would be me trying to convince them they’ve accidentally based their life on an embarrassing mythology, while my Christian opponent would try to convince me to ignore all the glaring evidence in the Bible that reveals it as a primitive culture’s mythology. Well, I’m not going to abandon reason, and Christians aren’t going to abandon their faith over the course of a debate. So we really don’t have much to discuss anyway.

16. Why would I argue about a book you don’t completely believe in or follow yourself?

As pointed out in reason #10, every self-proclaimed Christian believes Christianity is something different. But if we can’t agree on anything else about Christianity I have to assume that being a Christian means being Christ-like. Being a Christian means asking yourself, “What would Jesus do?” and then actually doing what Jesus would do.

This raises the question, what did Jesus do? Jesus gave away everything he owned and devoted his life to helping people in need and publicly advocating forgiveness, acceptance, and love. By that definition, I’ve never met a single Christian in my entire life. Not even close.

All the Christians I’ve met make up for their lack of walking the walk by talking louder and meaner. If you’re not going to walk the walk then I don’t want to hear you talk the talk. Don’t tell me I need to devote my life to a cause you won’t devote yours too. Even without living like Christ, Christians don’t even believe in the Bible.

As pointed out in reason #10, before I can have a discussion with a Christian I have to establish all the passages you’ve dismissed as being metaphors or obsolete until the only teachings in the Bible left for you to follow are the ones that coincide with your modern cultural values, and we already share most of those. Don’t tell me to take a step backward when you’re already an apostate yourself.

17. When all else fails they just shout.

If you read enough arguments between Christians and non-believers on the internet you’ll see Christians who, unable to make a logical argument, will just type something like, “JESUS IS LORD!” as if it were fact. Shouting that your conclusion is right and walking away doesn’t prove you’re right. It’s not even good witnessing. What it does do is make you look like a lunatic and underscore the fact that you have no real argument to make.

18…. or they’ll accuse you of being judgmental

Christian mythology drives people insane, makes them immoral and ruins society. Those are strong words, but they’re true. Christian mythology is crippling humanity. I don’t say this to be mean. I say it because I value humanity, and I want every single human to fulfill their potential, but humanity can’t fulfill its potential as long as it’s being crippled by Christian mythology.

I don’t say these things because I’m a smug, condescending, judgmental jerk who enjoys tearing down other people just to see them hurt. I hate the insanity that Christian mythology plagues humanity with, but I don’t hate the Christian who has been brainwashed and driven insane by it.

Criticizing the obvious flaws in Christian mythology is like pointing out the broccoli in a friend’s teeth. It’s constructive criticism. To say it’s doing Christians a favor is an understatement. I’m trying to save Christians from wasting their lives and bringing the rest of humanity down with them.

But since Christian mythology exploits brainwashing techniques that shut down your ability to reason, when I try to tell my fellow human beings the truth and set them free, they respond that I’m just being judgmental, and I think I’m better than everyone else, and I should just let people have the right to believe what they want to believe. And they’ll say this completely ignoring the fact that the premise of their belief system says that I’m such a terrible person that I deserve to burn for eternity, and every Christian is obligated to cram their beliefs down my throat for the rest of my life.

Cartoon of a Christian screaming, "Blind idiot! Rat fink! Pervert! Commie! Blasphemer! Immoral creep and scum of the Earth!," while beating an Atheist with a cross. The Atheist takes the cross and is about to break it over his own knee as the Christian screams, "Hey, Let's have a little respect here!"

19. Even when Christians admit defeat they still refuse to admit that they’re wrong.

You can overwhelm a Christian with evidence and arguments supporting the conclusion that Christianity is mythology, and even after they’ve been completely proven wrong they’ll still say something like, “I don’t care if I’m wrong. I don’t care if nothing I’m saying makes sense and it contradicts a million facts. I feel safe as a Christian. My beliefs help me get through life, and as long as that doesn’t hurt anybody then you should let me go on living my life even if it’s not true.”

It’s disheartening to show someone the light and have them look straight at it and say, “Nah, I’d rather continue living a white lie.” As Jesus put it, it’s like throwing pearls to swine. Jesus himself said not to bother wasting your time trying to enlighten those who have chosen to embrace ignorance. Granted, I still argue with Christians sometimes in the hopes that even though I’m almost guaranteed to lose the argument, I may still be able to plant a seed of doubt that will blossom later.

20. Sometimes their arguments just don’t make sense.

Rarely, but sometimes, you’ll argue with a Christian and they’ll say something like, “God is one, and we know the one because all are one! Those who are not of that which is will be without when the lamb of Judea shows his face within, and there will be no argument then!” I’ll argue with more rational, eloquent Christians, but someone who speaks in fanatical prose can’t be reasoned with, and experience has taught me not to try.

"To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an Atheist by scripture." Thomas Paine

21. The smarter the Christian, the better they are at reverse engineering excuses to justify their preconceived conclusion.

There are many extremely intelligent people who believe in Christianity and can give you extremely well thought-out explanations for all the hard questions the Bible raises, but no matter how convincing those explanations sound, they’re reverse-engineered to support a preconceived conclusion.

It would take a Christian thousands, if not millions of words to answer the Bible’s hard questions, but a skeptic can explain every single one of those questions in just four words, “The Bible is mythology.” You can find evidence of it on every page of the Bible, and it answers all of the Bible’s hard questions completely, succinctly, elegant, and in a way the conforms to humanity’s collective scientific understanding of the observable universe.

Christians have to spend thousands of words on their explanations because they have to reverse engineer their way around evidence that conflicts with their preconceived conclusion. The smarter the Christian, the better mental gymnastics they can do.

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

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How To Read For Truth

The quality of your person is equal to the quality of the information in your brain. This means that if you hope to grow up and make the most of your life, you need to consciously and systematically undertake a lifelong quest to gain and refine the quality of knowledge in your brain.

In a Utopian society, the path of knowledge would be well paved and streamlined. Every level of education would be free for anyone of any age, and every curriculum would be painstakingly edited for objectivity and clarity. Unfortunately, humanity has opted to devote more of its resources to killing each other than raising each other.

The good news is that you live in the information age. Technology allows the average person access to more information than kings in ancient times had. Unfortunately, freedom of information has come with a cost. When production and distribution of information was largely controlled by wealthy publishing houses, information was expensive and had limited distribution channels but did a pretty good job of filtering information for quality. Today anyone can publish anything and put it on the Internet right next to the most professionally crafted literature humanity has ever produced.

As soon as the internet was invented, journalists started warning us that equal access to information distribution would result in a fog of white noise that makes it exceedingly difficult to find the quality information, and I’m sad to say that the situation is even worse than that. The problem isn’t just that there’s too much information written by amateurs who can’t write coherently and don’t do a professional job of fact-checking their data. There are news outlets with biased agendas bending the truth and misleading their consumers for their own benefit. Even the consumers themselves are guilty of mangling the truth by littering social news sites with their insane, or at least misinformed, editorial comments.

 

 

This situation isn’t fair, but life isn’t fair, and your life is your responsibility. So it’s up to you to sift through the white noise and misinformation to arrive at truth on your own. You can point fingers all day long at writers for not doing a good job of paving the way to truth, but you’re really the biggest obstacle standing between you and enlightenment.

As a child, your brain soaked up all the knowledge available to you in your environment like a sponge, but your ability to use formal reasoning didn’t develop until after you’d already established your perception of reality. In other words, during childhood, you just assumed that what you learned was true, but a lot of it wasn’t, and all of it was filtered through your subjective culture. This means you were doomed to grow up with a warped perception of reality. We all were, and to make matters worse, there may not be one true perception of reality. So not only were we born so lost we didn’t even know we’re lost, we’re probably doomed to be lost by degrees our entire lives no matter how many of our misconceptions we slay.

This is made all the direr by the fact that we don’t know what we don’t know. So the tendency is to assume that what we know is all we need to know (or close enough). You’ll find conceited people who are totally convinced of their intellectual mastery from every walk of life, from the most inbred redneck to the most ordinary office secretary to the most tenured professor… and they’re all wrong.

 

 

Every individual in the world will be guilty of being conceited about being smart at some time/s in their lives, which is bad enough, but when everyone in a society does the same thing, that behavior becomes a part of their culture. This is why every culture in the world tends to assume it’s the best culture in the world. Xenophobia, ethnocentrism, and patriotism aren’t mistakes only the worst humans make. They’re an inevitable product of the human brain. So no matter where you were born, I can guarantee you that your culture tends to celebrate its obsolete past and demonize beliefs and behaviors outside of your ancestors’ experience. Since culture tends to blindly label anything outside of its past experiences as bad, that means popular culture tends to demonize progress because progressive thought is inherently deviant thought.

Ironically, the fact that humans are born with their minds set to auto-reject isn’t a flaw in the design of the brain. Our brains are supercomputers that receive, process, store and recall an astronomical amount of information every moment of our lives. Our brains have to manage all this information while also operating a body that grows, generates its own energy, processes waste, heals itself and reproduces. This necessitates that the brain process information as efficiently as possible, which it does partly by saddling the subconscious mind with the burden of making as many decisions as possible. It does this by assuming that whatever it has done in the past to survive will ensure its survival in the future. This means we’re all born on autopilot. We learn schemas and repeat the same patterns of thoughts and behaviors the rest of our lives while tending to automatically reject any new and unfamiliar information and then reverse engineering reasons why afterward.

 

 

You can see the human autopilot function at work on any social news sites or internet forum. Go to any social media site and click on the “Comments” button under any news article. The more comment threads you read, the more you’ll see the auto-pilot/auto-reject phenomenon. The more forward-looking or creative the article is, the more of a backlash you’ll see.

Undoubtedly you’ve seen this behavior in real life. Have you ever met a person who contradicts everything anyone says? They’re probably smug and eloquent, but they don’t really stand for anything other than standing against anything anyone says to them. That’s because their mind isn’t tuned into searching for truth. Their mind is tuned into auto-rejecting everything and confirming their biases. Sadly, they’ll win every argument they ever have, but that won’t bring them any closer to the truth. It’ll just reinforce their belief that they can never be wrong. For all the effort they put into proving they’re right, they’re really building a wall around them that keeps the truth out.

When you’re looking for it, it’s easy to browse through comment threads and see people genuinely celebrating their superior genius by finding the most pointless flaws in the text in question and tearing apart anyone who challenges their irrelevant position. It’s easy to see grammar Nazis do this. It’s harder to catch ourselves doing it, especially when we don’t type out our arguments in a comment thread to look back over and get feedback from others on. More often, we just read or hear something and quietly bury whatever nuggets of truth we could have learned under smug, short-sighted, self-serving complaints.

I’m not saying this to sound smug by putting down stupid people. I’m saying this to warn you that everyone, myself included, has an instinctive drive to do this, and no matter how vigilantly we watch ourselves for this destructive behavior, we all slip, and the consequences are twofold. First, by tearing down other people indiscriminately just so we can win an argument we actually reinforce our opponents’ incorrect perceptions since the only thing we’ll have taught our opponent is that people who think differently than them are jerks.

 

 

Not only do we stop other people from perceiving truth, we stop ourselves as well. Here’s a perfect example. I published blog about how borders are inhumane. A self-proclaimed Christian responded in a comment saying opening borders is like taking the hinges off the door to your house; you’re just inviting the scum of the earth to come in. I replied that Jesus would have taken the door off the hinges to his house and let anyone in. He rebutted that Jesus didn’t have a house. So I was wrong. That’s when I stopped responding and deleted the whole conversation; it was obvious he wasn’t interested in arriving at truth. He just wanted to win an argument.

Technically, you could say he did win, because he was right. Jesus, in fact, did not have a house of his own after he started his ministry, but by winning that pointless, irrelevant, distracting argument, my opponent missed any truth he could have gained from the conversation. Sure, I’m at fault for not articulating my point better, but that just goes back to what I said in the beginning of this essay. Life isn’t fair. The world isn’t going to gift wrap truth for you and give it to you with a spoon full of sugar. The water is murky, but your education is your responsibility. It’s up to you to read for truth.

On a societal level, it’s important for every author or speaker to present factual information in a clear and understandable manner for the benefit of the masses. On an individual level though, you’re not going to read many books twice, which means you only have one chance to learn something from them. If you waste the opportunity nit-picking grammatical errors and technical flaws, then you miss the opportunity to learn the more important lessons in the text. Sometimes you could read 100 pages of bullshit with only 10 lines of useful, enriching information. You win the reading game by finding those 10 lines that will make you a better person, not by finding 1000 reasons you’re smarter than the author.

Even if you read 90 pages of garbage, you can still learn something by figuring out what the author didn’t say or should have said. One of the most productive intellectual exercises you may ever perform is to read “The Satanic Bible” and “Mein Kampf” for the express purpose of finding one useful piece of information in each of them. Afterwards, look at everything else you read with the same stoic, purposeful objectivity as you did when you read those two books. When you read anything, always ask yourself what useful truth you can tweeze from the text for the purpose of enriching yourself, and anytime you feel compelled to argue with an author of a blog, book or even another person’s comment on a chat forum, ask yourself what you really have to gain by tearing them down, and ask yourself if you’re really doing it in the honest pursuit of mutually beneficial truth or if you’re just auto-rejecting for the purpose to subconsciously proving your intellectual superiority to yourself.

 

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Don’t Argue With People Who Point Out Your Flaws

 

What would you do if one of your friends had a big piece of broccoli in their teeth that they were oblivious about, and the two of you were about to go out in public? If they’re your friend, you’d say, “Hey, you’ve got some broccoli in your teeth. You should pick it out so you don’t embarrass yourself, friend.”

Broccoli in your teeth is a metaphor for everything you do wrong. For example, growing up I went through a series of bad haircuts. In fact, it was pretty late in life before I ever had a good haircut. I had a lot of friends through the course of those haircuts who should have told me I looked like a waterlogged circus clown. My friends would have told me if I broccoli in my teeth. So why didn’t they tell me my haircut sucked?

We all know acquaintances, family, and friends who are doing something wrong in life, but we don’t say anything because it would be rude. In 2004, I worked with a guy who acted ridiculous, and everyone complained about him behind his back. I always felt guilty every time he made a fool out of himself because he didn’t realize it. Everybody else did though, and they were just going to let him keep on being a moron and keep ruining his life. Well, I couldn’t live with that on my conscience. So one day I had a long conversation with him about how he was making his life harder, and he needed to put more thought into the decisions he made.

He lashed back, demanding me to explain what made me think I was so great. From then on he was quick to criticize me. I’d made an enemy by trying to help him. And all the people he thought were his friends just kept laughing at him behind his back and letting him be an idiot. But I didn’t give up. There were a few times after that when he did something stupid again, and I said, “This is what we talked about. That was a bad idea, and you’re going to regret it, and when that happens, you need to analyze the situation and learn a lesson from it.” His stupidity always came back to haunt him, and he never learned a lesson…but he did resent me more.

It was ironic that he thought I was a prick, because I was the most honest, concerned, and helpful friend he had in that circle. It absolutely blows my mind the unwavering resolve people have when it comes to not listening to (or more precisely, thinking about) advice and staying stupid. I’ve seen this time and time again, even when people ask you for advice. You give it to them, they argue with you, do the opposite, regret it, and then do the same thing over again and wonder why their life sucks.

So do you think I was being a prick by calling out my friend’s mistakes? Don’t answer. It’s a trick question. It doesn’t matter if I was. He needed someone to point of the proverbial broccoli in his teeth by any means necessary for his own good.

Do your self and the world a favor. Embrace criticism. It’s better to lose face and look dumb for a minute than to be dumb for the rest of your life.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you’ll also like these:

 

Growing up and Becoming You
Happiness and Peace
Self-Esteem
Health
Drugs and Addiction
Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Leadership and Authority
My Tweets About Self-Help

 


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