Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why Can't People of Religion Ever Just Admit That They Might Be Wrong?

I've had a lot of debates online with religious people, mostly Christians. Sometimes these debates are interesting, sometimes they are enlightening, more often though they are simply arguments intended to prove one is right rather than trying to learn the other person's opinion or to understand their point of view. One thing that I find really negative and annoying though is what seems to me to be a complete inability for Christian believers to ever accept that they might be wrong. Why is that?

Countless times I've commented on a blog post, engaged in conversation on a youtube video, et cetera and become involved in lengthy conversations about religion and atheism. I try to only engage in these conversations when they are respectful, I have no need for hateful, ignorant conversations. Some of these conversations have been truly enjoyable and enlightening. There is one acquaintance I have with whom I often converse online and I very much appreciate his perspective and his deep desire to make the world a better place. But, I find that almost without exception, someone who has a religious belief is unable, at the conclusion of a discussion, to ever accept that you've constructed a rational, logical argument that comes to a conclusion that cannot be denied. The conversation always ends with something along the lines of: "Well, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree." Why is this?

My opinion on why this happens is because of the foundation of the belief system that the religious have. Their beliefs are not formed following rational logical thought about the nature of the world. Rather, their primary belief is based on revelation and faith. For example, a Christian is, by the very definition of what it means to be a Christian, unable to ever accept that Jesus did not exist. Therefore, they may enter into an argument about the possibility of the existence of Jesus, but their end point will always be that he existed. Even if you present a rational, logical, and evidence-based case for how unlikely it is that Jesus ever existed (just as an example), the conversation will have to end with the Christian saying that they will have to disagree with you, even if they have no ability to respond to your points. It's either that, or they have to admit that you have made your case and decide not to be a Christian anymore. That's usually not an option in one conversation.

The topics that I encounter this phenomenon more often are those relating to science and evolution. No matter how much evidence you present to a creationist, they will always simply end the conversation with: "Well, we'll have to just agree to disagree" because they are fundamentally unable to change their point of view, even if they've been shown the error of their belief. This is fundamentally opposed to the process of discussion used in science. At a scientific meeting, no scientist will ever simply state that he/she has to disagree with someone after they've been shown conclusively to be wrong. They accept their error and move on, humbly.

To me, this is another example of Christians putting the cart before the horse, of drawing your conclusion before you look for evidence, and of the immense arrogance of their position that there are certain pillars of their belief system that they will never give up no matter how wrong they are shown to be.


  1. A thoughtful post, thanks for sharing. While I agree with you that Christians often refuse to publicly renounce their beliefs under the pressure of a counter-argument, it may be that over time, their beliefs actually change as counter-arguments accumulate. A lot of Christians know so little about the Bible that I suspect they can't evaluate a substantive argument.

  2. It was my very desire to have and know 'Truth" esepcially when it came to Being a christian that led me on the road somewhere between being an atheist and agnostic. The more I set out on the path to learn as much as I could about the origins of Christianity and the Bible and wanting to be a "true" Chrsitan the more I came to realize what a lie it really was!! How is that for irony!

  3. If I believed in a God for every time a theist admitted they were wrong, I'd still be an atheist.

  4. I didnt read your whole post, didn't have to in order to answer your question. Why won't christians ever admit they might be wrong. Because they are brainwashed. Because there is absolutely no proof of god, faith is all they have. To them " I might be wrong" is like saying " maybe I dont believe". And since they are taught from the earliest ages possible, that not believing is the quikest way to hell, and hell is the most torturouse thing ever, there ya go. On a side note, my favorite christ pushers are the " You missed the best service ever". And on about how great it was. Really? Ya I bet seeing some asshole stand up ranting and raving was way better than sleeping in on my day off, hands down.