August 16, 2008

A Costly Lesson in Rhetoric I

This was probably one of the more important posts on my blog because posting it actually impacted me.

When I was growing up, I loved dinosaurs. I thought they were the coolest thing. I passionately studied them and hoped to be a paleontologist when I grew up. I was also a believer in God, but saw them as separate things. When I was in high school, I became fascinated with genetics because of its connection to dinosaurs. If you wanted to classify me theologically, you would have called me a theo-evolutionist.

Then when I went to college I ran into something called Young Earth Creationism. It went contrary to everything that I had heard before, but made a lot of good points. Looking back, I see the foolishness of a lot of them. The first YEC teacher I got a hold of was Kent Hoven, someone who I now see as a nut. However, I became convinced of YEC, and remain a convicted creationist to this day, though far less naive than I was at first.

On July 20th, 2004 I published this piece. It was meant to be a light thing, reflecting on a book I was currently reading. It wasn't anything impressive. However, an old High School friend, who I shall call Lindsey, commented and became angry with the content. I was confused. I clearly stated my opinion, and yet somehow her arguments had nothing to do with what I was saying. So, I just carried on with the conversation, hoping to clarify what my position was. This resulted in a comment to her original one, plus a follow up post two days later.

The result was she wasn't convinced of anything, and has never talked to me since. I learned a lot about why she didn't understand what I was saying, but also about looking beyond someone's words to their heart. My failure to do this lost me a good friend. I figured she just didn't understand, but there was so much more to it than that. When you attack a person's worldview, no matter how rational that person is, no matter whether that worldview be false or fiction, the person feels like you are attacking them. One needs to be sensitive to what one's words do, and listen to what the other is truly saying.

Another important result is that it altered my way of expressing Creationism. Instead of the micro/macroevolution distinction (which didn't help Lindsey at all), I switched to a Evolution/Darwinism distinction. Thus I could say that I was excepting the science but reject the philosophy. I later found that the ID movement used the same distinction, and began to listen to what those scientists were saying.

I've split this into 3 posts, posted first to last, rather than last to first which is typical. This first one is simply the explanation of the event. The second is the original post with Lindsey's and my comments, and the third the followup post with the comments.

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