A Load of Bright
An atheist's views on religion and the supernatural

Let’s Just Agree to Disagree


Often in a discussion, whether in person or online, the person I am talking to will declare, “let’s just agree to disagree”. Sometimes I accept this and let the debate end there, and sometimes I get a bit annoyed and try to press my point. When I do the latter, I am told that I’m a bad sport, or I’m accused of suffering from an obsession to force people to agree with me.

Let me explain how I decide my course of action when I hear those familiar words. If there is a genuine stalemate, that is, if there are key issues to the discussion that simply cannot be resolved through objective, rational means, if our views clearly cannot be reconciled through progressive, evidence based discussion, then I have absolutely no problem agreeing to disagree. I may even suggest it myself.

What really presses my buttons, is someone hiding behind “let’s just agree to disagree” to save face while retreating from an argument that they know they have lost. Imagine, if you will, a football (soccer) match where one team is enjoying a triumphant 6-0 score-line, but with two minutes left to play, the losing side picks up the ball and marches off the field saying, “well, let’s just call it a draw (tie)”. That is how some people use the “agree to disagree” excuse. Sometimes I can even see it coming. I watch as they summarise each of their points just one last time, just to check that they can’t argue any of them any further, before they say it.

So, who’s the bad sport? This is exactly the point where they should be conceding defeat. Now, coming out of one discussion badly doesn’t mean that you’re wrong all together, or that you have to change your beliefs on the spot. However, I’m reminded of a face to face discussion I had at work last Christmas with a fundamentalist Christian. After nearly an hour of intense but amicable discussion, he told me, “I can’t answer your points. I’ll have to go and think about what you’ve said and look into the arguments you’ve made more closely”, after which he held out his hand and shook mine warmly. Now, that’s sportsmanship.

I aspire to do the same. If I genuinely can’t refute someone’s arguments, I try to have the intellectual honesty to accept it, and the courtesy to acknowledge it.

I have noticed this during discussions with a wide range of people on a wide range of topics, but I tend to find it more so with Christians. To be fair, that could be because I debate with Christians more than any other group. But I do often find the same thought occurring to me after long discussions with the followers of Christ – defeating them in a debate is easy, but getting them to realise or admit that defeat, that’s the real challenge.

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30 Responses to “Let’s Just Agree to Disagree”

  1. I think you’re horribly wrong…but we can just agree to disagree about it…hehe. :-)

  2. the soccer game described sounds a lot like the black knight scene from “monty python an the holy grail.”

    i suppose, in a christian’s mind, that if they lose, god loses. so they simply do not admit defeat.

  3. @ overcaffein8d

    the soccer game described sounds a lot like the black knight scene from “monty python an the holy grail.”

    I’m a massive fan of Life of Brian (big surprise!) but I haven’t seen The Holy Grail for years. I’ll have to check it out again.

    i suppose, in a christian’s mind, that if they lose, god loses. so they simply do not admit defeat.

    I think in some cases that does happen, the idea of God not existing truly is incomprehinsible to some believers.

    @ Liza

    I think you’re horribly wrong…but we can just agree to disagree about it…hehe.

    Lol. Yes, well, I suppose I asked for that! ;)

  4. God.Damn.Spot.On!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Tobe, you hit that nail smack dab on the head.This gors to the top of Must-Read posts. You are so right.

    As for Monty Python. You must go watch the Holy Grail. I got an “A” on my Arthurian Legend English course in college on this movie. Back on the early 70s (were you alive then?)

    BLACK KNIGHT: Come on you pansy!
    [hah]
    [parry thrust]
    [ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT's right arm off]
    ARTHUR: Victory is mine!
    [kneeling]
    We thank thee Lord, that in thy merc-
    [hah]
    BLACK KNIGHT: Come on then.
    ARTHUR: What?
    BLACK KNIGHT: Have at you!
    ARTHUR: You are indeed brave, Sir knight, but the fight is mine.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Oh, had enough, eh?
    ARTHUR: Look, you stupid bastard, you’ve got no arms left.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Yes I have.
    ARTHUR: Look!
    BLACK KNIGHT: Just a flesh wound.
    [bang]
    ARTHUR: Look, stop that.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Chicken! Chicken!
    ARTHUR: Look, I’ll have your leg. Right!
    [whop]
    BLACK KNIGHT: Right, I’ll do you for that!
    ARTHUR: You’ll what?
    BLACK KNIGHT: Come ‘ere!
    ARTHUR: What are you going to do, bleed on me?
    BLACK KNIGHT: I’m invincible!
    ARTHUR: You’re a loony.
    BLACK KNIGHT: The Black Knight always triumphs!
    Have at you! Come on then.
    [whop]
    [ARTHUR chops the BLACK KNIGHT's other leg off]
    BLACK KNIGHT: All right; we’ll call it a draw.
    ARTHUR: Come, Patsy.
    BLACK KNIGHT: Oh, oh, I see, running away then. You yellow
    bastards! Come back here and take what’s coming to you.
    I’ll bite your legs off!

  5. @ Span

    Cheers, all coming back to me now, and I found it on You Tube as well. Hilarious. It’s uncanny how much it illustrates the point I’m trying to make! :)

    Oh, and no, sorry, missed the 70’s.

  6. This is the one I remember. Of course, my memory of matters from the 70s could have been affected by all the drugs. ;)

    But, still, add this post to your Must Reads list. I was serious about that.

  7. Wouldn’t you rather live in a world of “Let’s agree to disagree” rather than a world of “Let’s agree that I should kill you because you’re obviously wrong!”

    That’s how most of those debates ended in the old days….be they religious, tribal, or individual.

    There’s nothing like a culturally acceptable saying or proverb to defuse a situation.

  8. @ Liza

    Wouldn’t you rather live in a world of “Let’s agree to disagree” rather than a world of “Let’s agree that I should kill you because you’re obviously wrong!”

    Of course I would (what have I said that suggests otherwise?). Even better still would be a world where people have the humility to admit they are wrong and concede arguments, or at least points within arguments.

    That’s how most of those debates ended in the old days….be they religious, tribal, or individual.

    I have no idea what you’re getting at.

    There’s nothing like a culturally acceptable saying or proverb to defuse a situation.

    Liza, I’m talking about debate here, not phsyical battle. Just discussion. And if someone in a situation that really could lead to genuine harm were to say, “let’s just agree to disasgree”, I couldn’t somehow see that doing much good.

    Let me put it bluntly: are you disagreeing with my point that people who know they’ve lost an argument or a point within an argument should have the common decency to acknowledge it, rather than just try to worm their way out of it?

  9. tobe:

    I think you’ve made a silly point in this post. If I read you correctly, debating for you is a matter of winning or losing. That’s cool if you’re in a debating competition, but not in real life.

    Yes, the person who says, “let’s just agree to disagree” after you feel you’ve “scored” the coup de grace is giving your ideas a smug dismissal. But after all, your “job” is to make your points and leave others free to agree with them or not. That’s what real-life discussion is. Maybe we here in the Atheosphere — and Christians in their own Jesonet — have become so used to being patted on the back for every doctrinaire platitude, that we’ve lost sight of what discussions are. A discussion, as I see it, is an opportunity for two or more people to express their views and to have those views given a fair hearing by others. Discussions do not have winning and losing sides.

    If you’re actually tallying the number of Christians you’ve convinced to reevaluate their belief, I suspect your score is zero. If you’re lucky, it might get up to as many as ten or twenty over your liftetime, which would be fine work. But if you continue counting — and judging yourself by that count — we’ll all be visiting you in the loony bin before long.

  10. @ The Exterminator

    I did wonder if someone would make this point. Personally, I think it’s a bit naive to see a discussion as a case of one person putting his views forward, and the other person putting their views forward, and then both going away to consider them. I don’t see anything wrong with a healthy sense of competition.

    The way I see it is that I want to know the truth, whatever it is. The views that I hold at any one time are held precisely because I think they’re true, based on the evidence. If someone disagrees with me, then I’m happy to engage them in debate about it and yes, I do want to persuade them that I’m right. I know a lot of people see may see that as aggressive or whatever, but I don’t. For me, it’s the point of holding the discussion. I want to know the truth, but I also want everyone else to know the truth too, and debate and discussion is a good way to do that.

    But I want to persuade through reason and evidence, not force, and in turn I’m prepared to put my beliefs on the line and have them scrutinised. I’m prepared to be wrong, and if I am, so much the better! If I’m holding a belief that I think is true but is actually false, then the sooner I’m rid of it the better, and I would thank my opponent for helping me to do that.

    Now, I’m guessing you’re wincing because I used the word ‘opponent’. I use “competitive” vernacular because it’s easy and applicable. I know it’s not an actual competition. But it can be competitive and I really don’t see a problem with that. One thing that really annoys me about political correctness is it’s view that being competitive is a bad thing. It’s not, as long as it’s blended with honour and fair play.

    Even in this discussion now, I want to persuade you that I’m right, but I’m prepared to admit I’m wrong if you show me how. You might say that we’re competing and working together at the same time, because we both want to know the truth.

    And I stand by the point I made in the article: even in a casual discussion, saying “let’s agree to disagree” because you can’t answer someone’s points is cowardly.

  11. My point is only that the saying is not a cowardly end to a debate, although I suppose it could be used as one. Usually, its used more as a way to peacably move on from a heated argument.

    The Exterminator has touched on the issue in his comment…which is that being “right” in your relationships with others and “winning” debates is not really conducive to healthy relationships and a balanced life.

    I keep witing for my husband to learn the “right” way to do things and admit “defeat”, telling me how correct I am in all my ways…..uh….hasn’t happened yet. :-)

    Of course, that is not to trivialize the importance you place on your intellectual pursuits, but merely to say that’s not all othat life is about.

  12. I’m a terrible typist…sorry.

  13. tobe, you said:
    One thing that really annoys me about political correctness is it’s view that being competitive is a bad thing. It’s not, as long as it’s blended with honour and fair play.

    Oh, I agree wholeheartedly. However … I wasn’t talking about political correctness. (If you’ve been reading me lo these many months you probably know how ridiculous it is even to suggest such a thing.) I was talking about reason. We atheists are all so ‘et up (as they say in the Southern U.S.) with reason, that we forget how many people in the world go through life without ever reasoning at all. At best, it’s impractical and a waste of time trying to reason with such people. To me, it’s unreasonable trying to reason with such people. Because I’m a reasoning person, I know that a strategy of reason will not work with them.

    Now, in a discussion, as opposed to a debate, two or more people express their views. Obviously, you want your view to “prevail.” It’s the view you espouse, whether it’s arrived at through reason, or blind faith, or the reading of goat entrails. If the discussion devolves into a debate — which discussions often do — you try your best to “sell” your position. Sometimes, though, you have to accept that you’re not going to make that sale right away; it will only come later when the person who has “agreed to disagree” evaluates what you’ve said. But you’ve got to leave him room to retreat if he’s going to do that comfortably. If, instead, you decide to press on with a hard sell, you’ll almost definitely fail. I’ve found that very few people change their minds on deeply held convictions because they credit another with creating an “aha!” moment.

    So instead of trying to win every debate there and then — that is, if you can swallow your intellectual pride and accept that your impeccable reasoning doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to an unreasoning idiot — it’s better to plant a small seed of skepticism and let it grow on its own. You don’t have to lay out your entire worldview and get an immediate stamp of approval; all you need to do is encourage you “opponent” to indulge in some healthy self-questioning. The person who “agrees to disagree” may seem like he’s dismissing your ideas in the heat of the moment. And nine times out of ten, or nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, that will be exactly the case. The moron was unreachable anyway, no matter how brilliant and articulate you think your arguments were. Ah, but there’s always that one other person. If you’ve managed to express yourself cogently, without putting him or her in the position of having to defend the indefensible turf of superstition in the heat of verbal battle, you may have succeeded in sowing doubt without even realizing it.

    I’ve found this, in my personal life, to be a far more successful tactic than indulging in a shouting match. A shouting match is much more fun, and makes you feel mighty self-righteous. But planting even the tiniest nugget of doubt is far more effective.

  14. Hi Exterminator, you might be right; I’ve argued with my family on issues of theology and have left them lost for words and their arguments in tatters. And it’s changed…absolutely nothing!

    Even when I de-converted, it wasn’t by somebody destroying all my arguments, because I might have just clung even more to my faith. I had to make the steps myself and learn myself, after seeds of doubt provided by critical thinking had been sown.

    When I debate with theists online however, who try to preach or just attack evolution, or have no interest in discovering truth, all I do is refute their arguments for the benefit of onlookers, because the person you’re debating with (most of the time) really has no interest in truth, only converting you, and as soon as they realise you’re a waste of time they’ll probably give up and try somewhere else.

  15. Well, Tobe, you can probably guess where I stand based on our e-mail exchange a while back. I mentioned exactly this point. I agree with the Exterminator about discussions being about presenting one’s point of view. But, I don’t think it’s a silly point you’re making. It’s two sides of the same coin.

    The problem with debating something sensitive like this is that the theistic side doesn’t see the issue as a search for the Truth as much as the defense of their deepest relationship. There was a discussion about this topic just recently over at Friendlychristian.com. You’re putting your arguments on the line, but the theist is putting their hearts and (literally for them) souls on the line. Doubt means possible Hell.

    Religion is different from most topics. I find that treading carefully is more conducive to building a relationship or at least an amicable interaction that won’t have the other side resenting me as a know-it-all atheist out to convince them that they’re an idiot.
    But, if there is a theist who feels he/she can argue without the emotional baggage “just for sport” then by all means, go for it. But, more often that not, it’s a one sided competition. Like the fat kid on the basketball court who just wants to throw the ball at the hoop, while you are trying to destroy him with repeated slam dunks as he watches on in growing disdain for you and your skills. Um…not that I’m speaking from experience or anything… ;)

  16. @ Liza

    My point is only that the saying is not a cowardly end to a debate, although I suppose it could be used as one. Usually, its used more as a way to peacably move on from a heated argument.

    I think I covered this in the article. Sometimes it’s appropriate and necessary to agree to disagree, sometimes people just use it as an excuse, as I showed.

    The Exterminator has touched on the issue in his comment…which is that being “right” in your relationships with others and “winning” debates is not really conducive to healthy relationships and a balanced life.

    Why do I suddenly feel like I’m being psycho-analysed? My relationships are fine. My friends and family know I have strong opinions, and most of them do too. We have lively, passionate discussions, but we’re always fine after them.

    I keep witing for my husband to learn the “right” way to do things and admit “defeat”, telling me how correct I am in all my ways…..uh….hasn’t happened yet. :-)

    Lol.

    Of course, that is not to trivialize the importance you place on your intellectual pursuits, but merely to say that’s not all othat life is about.

    I quite agree, and if I implied that I thought that, I didn’t mean to.

    @ The Exterminator

    I wasn’t talking about political correctness. (If you’ve been reading me lo these many months you probably know how ridiculous it is even to suggest such a thing.)

    The political correctness comment was really meant as an aside. I didn’t mean to imply that you were being politically correct, and for that I apologise.

    I was talking about reason. We atheists are all so ‘et up (as they say in the Southern U.S.) with reason, that we forget how many people in the world go through life without ever reasoning at all. At best, it’s impractical and a waste of time trying to reason with such people. To me, it’s unreasonable trying to reason with such people. Because I’m a reasoning person, I know that a strategy of reason will not work with them.

    With the kind of people you are talking about, I agree. The kind of people who annoy me when they say “let’s agree to disagree” are people who at least purport to have reason on their side, and are quite confident that the evidence is in their favour. But when shown that actually it isn’t, they don’t want to acknowledge it.

    Now, in a discussion, as opposed to a debate, two or more people express their views. Obviously, you want your view to “prevail.” It’s the view you espouse, whether it’s arrived at through reason, or blind faith, or the reading of goat entrails. If the discussion devolves into a debate — which discussions often do — you try your best to “sell” your position. Sometimes, though, you have to accept that you’re not going to make that sale right away; it will only come later when the person who has “agreed to disagree” evaluates what you’ve said. But you’ve got to leave him room to retreat if he’s going to do that comfortably. If, instead, you decide to press on with a hard sell, you’ll almost definitely fail. I’ve found that very few people change their minds on deeply held convictions because they credit another with creating an “aha!” moment.

    I agree, but again, I think I accounted for this in the article, here:

    Now, coming out of one discussion badly doesn’t mean that you’re wrong all together, or that you have to change your beliefs on the spot. However, I’m reminded of a face to face discussion I had at work last Christmas with a fundamentalist Christian. After nearly an hour of intense but amicable discussion, he told me, “I can’t answer your points. I’ll have to go and think about what you’ve said and look into the arguments you’ve made more closely”, after which he held out his hand and shook mine warmly. Now, that’s sportsmanship.

    I completely agree that people won’t change their mind on the spot, but they could acknowledge that you’ve given them something to think about – as the Christian I debated with in the example did.

    So instead of trying to win every debate there and then — that is, if you can swallow your intellectual pride and accept that your impeccable reasoning doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to an unreasoning idiot — it’s better to plant a small seed of skepticism and let it grow on its own. You don’t have to lay out your entire worldview and get an immediate stamp of approval; all you need to do is encourage you “opponent” to indulge in some healthy self-questioning. The person who “agrees to disagree” may seem like he’s dismissing your ideas in the heat of the moment. And nine times out of ten, or nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, that will be exactly the case. The moron was unreachable anyway, no matter how brilliant and articulate you think your arguments were. Ah, but there’s always that one other person. If you’ve managed to express yourself cogently, without putting him or her in the position of having to defend the indefensible turf of superstition in the heat of verbal battle, you may have succeeded in sowing doubt without even realizing it.

    I know what you’re saying and I pretty much agree. It just annoys me when people are happy to engage in discussion and claim to be using reason to make their points, then don’t have the humility to acknowledge that things are perhaps not what they first thought. Most of the time I do let it go.

    I’ve found this, in my personal life, to be a far more successful tactic than indulging in a shouting match. A shouting match is much more fun, and makes you feel mighty self-righteous. But planting even the tiniest nugget of doubt is far more effective.

    Where did shouting matches come from? If you met me in person I’m about the least confrontational person you could imagine. I hate shout ups. I do agree with you though.

    @ Evanescent

    Hi Exterminator, you might be right; I’ve argued with my family on issues of theology and have left them lost for words and their arguments in tatters. And it’s changed…absolutely nothing!

    Me too with my family mate, but on issues other than theology.

    @ Polly

    The problem with debating something sensitive like this is that the theistic side doesn’t see the issue as a search for the Truth as much as the defense of their deepest relationship. There was a discussion about this topic just recently over at Friendlychristian.com. You’re putting your arguments on the line, but the theist is putting their hearts and (literally for them) souls on the line. Doubt means possible Hell.

    You’re quite right, and if I’ve created the impression that I try to bully people into discussion that they don’t want to have, then I’ve mislead you. I’ll engage people exactly as far as they want to go.

    Religion is different from most topics. I find that treading carefully is more conducive to building a relationship or at least an amicable interaction that won’t have the other side resenting me as a know-it-all atheist out to convince them that they’re an idiot.

    You’re right that religion is different, but should it be? This is where Richard Dawkins’ point about religion getting undeserved respect comes in to play. Why should we pussyfoot around? I don’t want to offend anyone, but sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade. If people don’t want to talk about it at all, I won’t press them, but if a discussion is in full flow I will speak my mind.

    But, more often that not, it’s a one sided competition. Like the fat kid on the basketball court who just wants to throw the ball at the hoop, while you are trying to destroy him with repeated slam dunks as he watches on in growing disdain for you and your skills. Um…not that I’m speaking from experience or anything… ;)

    Lol. I played basketball a lot in my teens, and because nobody else in Britain played I was relatively good (it was where I got my revenge for being forced to play rugby!). I was very competitive and not very merciful. Your point hits a bit close to home… ;)

  17. Hah! How ironic. I wasn’t sure whether I should include that analogy because I didn’t know if basketball is even played in the UK. I think I’d be killed playing rugby.

    I think the overall approach can be summed up by knowing your “oponent.” Sometimes, we don’t know where others are coming from – and this can be about anything. Religion, whether we like it or not, IS different because so much of a believer’s own self is invested in it. I don’t respect religion so much as the person. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to separate the two, in many cases.
    However, we definitely shouldn’t shy away from giving our own reasons for why we don’t believe, when the conversation steers in that direction. But, some sensitivity is always appreciated while still saying exactly what we mean.

    compare:

    “You’re worshiping a damn lie with no more factual evidence than the loch ness monster…and perhaps even less. At least we have fotos of old Nessie…” (Do I think that? Yes.)
    vs.
    “I just don’t feel there’s sufficient corroborating historical evidence for the events described in the NT/OT/Koran for me to take the claims at face value. I am deeply disturbed by the passages that depict god ordering the slaughter of innocent human beings, children, etc…”

    I think a focus on our own reasons and experiences, rather than a blunt force frontal assault on others is helpful.

    btw-I don’t at all get the sense that you beat anyone over the head. So, this is just a friendly discussion about methodology. If you disagree, that’s OK ;)

  18. You know, tobe, I think we’re basically saying exactly the same thing. Let’s agree to agree.

  19. tobe:

    I’ve jumped off from this post in a post of my own, showing a real-life practical application of agreeing to disagree. You might enjoy reading it.

  20. @ Polly

    Religion, whether we like it or not, IS different because so much of a believer’s own self is invested in it.

    Very true, but you could argue that this is all the more reason to be honest. The more siginificane a belief has for the individual, the more important it is that it’s true.

    compare:

    “You’re worshiping a damn lie with no more factual evidence than the loch ness monster…and perhaps even less. At least we have fotos of old Nessie…” (Do I think that? Yes.)
    vs.
    “I just don’t feel there’s sufficient corroborating historical evidence for the events described in the NT/OT/Koran for me to take the claims at face value. I am deeply disturbed by the passages that depict god ordering the slaughter of innocent human beings, children, etc…”

    I think a focus on our own reasons and experiences, rather than a blunt force frontal assault on others is helpful.

    I agree completely. It is important that we show respect and sensitivity while engaging theists. Sometimes when they do not recipricote it’s hard not to stoop to their level, but I admit it’s important to try. I always think the best comments in the face of provocation are the ones where we don’t rise to the bait, and keep our composure.

    btw-I don’t at all get the sense that you beat anyone over the head. So, this is just a friendly discussion about methodology. If you disagree, that’s OK ;)

    Lol. To be honest, I do agree with you on this.

    @ The Exterminator

    You know, tobe, I think we’re basically saying exactly the same thing. Let’s agree to agree.

    Lol. That works for me :)

    I’ll check out your post and comment on it.

  21. Tobe38 – seems to me these nice folks posting comments just simply don’t like debate and/or understand what debate is. I thought you presented your case very succinctly and to me at least it makes perfect sense. In fact you made me think about this as I hadn’t before – I will now be aware of that tactic in future debates. It sounds like the commentors just don’t want you to debate religion with those of that faith. They seem to be reading way too much into it.

  22. hunky:

    A debate is a competition in which two parties, or teams, present their ideas for an audience to judge. A discussion is a conversation in which the parties themselves judge one another’s ideas. Let’s stop using the word “debate” every time we mean “disagreement.” Those of us who spend so much time debating need to ask ourselves, what audience have we swayed? I don’t know about anyone else in the Atheosphere, but I’m willing to admit that I’ve scored damn few points persuading religionists to renounce their silliness. On the other hand, I have persuaded some of them to listen to my views and try to understand why their pious fervor sometimes infringes on my freedom. That understanding could result in real political change.

    I just don’t see it as my mission to hawk atheism to people who don’t want to hear what I have to say. Those atheists who act as if they’re Darwin’s Witnesses need to put their energies to more practical use than figuratively knocking on doors.

  23. Exterminator said:
    “I just don’t see it as my mission to hawk atheism to people who don’t want to hear what I have to say.”

    I wholeheartedly agree. Perhaps some enjoy that sort of thing. I never relished the idea of HAVING to go out and convert the world to xianity. So, I’m damn sure not interested in converting others to materialism – as liberating and wonderful a worldview as it might be. :D

  24. I see nothing wrong with competitiveness and sportsmanship but there’s not much of that talking one-on-one with a theist. There are people who think we should try to “cure” theists. There are some who have instructional videos on YouTube about this. I think that’s 99.9% a waste of our time to attempt such stuff.

    I do see the value in arguing points. First of all, you can’t let some issues like pushing creationism into schools go unchallenged. Second, if there’s a public audience like say an online forum, the argument is not so much for converting your opponent or in any way “defeating” him, but for the sake of the onlookers. I know I venture into places where they don’t experience anyone thinking different from themselves so it’s valuable to them to hear my views. Lastly, the experience of arguing something strengthens your knowledge of an issue.

    I have come face to face with the “we’ll have to agree to disagree” line when I’ve felt I’ve put forth a stronger argument and yes, it’s frustrating. If one one one, I’ll let it go but if there’s an audience, I won’t because it sends the message that both sides are equally viable when in the case of creationism vs evolution in science class for instance, they are not.

  25. Phillychief,

    Regarding the difference when an audience is present – very good point, which I hadn’t considered :)

  26. This was recommended to me by someone else, and I think there is a major cultural difference here. Can we agree to disagree on that?

    I suspect that the sentiment comes from the heart of the culture that believes that winning isn’t the most important thing, it’s the only thing, and the zero-sum game is the only game in town.

  27. [...] “absence of evidence” quote is normally one of the last resorts before the proposal to agree to disagree. To my mind, it is to all intents and purposes a concession of, and withdrawal from the argument. [...]

  28. I know this is old, but really – I couldnt agree more. Although I must say, what i think it comes down to, is truly just pride…

    I have a few friends who have so much pride, there is just no way they would be willing to let it go even just once.

  29. [...] In Blogger on Thu 2007-08-30 at 13:32 Re: Agreeing to Disagree (Atheist Revolution),Re: Re: Let’s Just Agree to Disagree (A Load of [...]

  30. In cases where “the discussion … simply cannot be resolved through objective, rational means, if our views clearly cannot be reconciled through progressive, evidence based discussion” is quite possibly the only point where ATD makes sense. For example, I am a Christian and, consequently, I believe in a G-d which created the universe. However, I also recognize the existence of such a G-d necessitates My G-d be transcendent of physical reality because, as noted, My G-d created that reality. As such, My G-d’s existence can neither be proven nor disproven by “progressive, evidence based discussion” and, quite frankly, I am okay with that conclusion. My faith works for Me and I do not expect it to work for Anyone Else. Nobody Else has to adopt it for Me to maintain My faith. In fact, I should not even want the existence of My G-d to be provable by “progressive, evidence based discussion” (although, I readily admit proof by logical deduction could be considered a nice thing to have) because evidence based proof would destroy the very point of having faith. No, for Me, I am quite content to go about My business without evidence one way or the other and to let Others go about Theirs in similar fashion because, the way I see it, My G-d recognizes a lack of belief on Anyone’s part is not going to hurt My G-d any time soon, if ever, and My G-d is far more concerned with how We treat Each Other than whether We believe.


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