I think I need to say thank you. I need to say thank you to the people who disagree with what I write and let me know about it. Generally, when I write something controversial, I don’t find myself in an echo chamber; I find myself with intelligent people presenting a different perspective that might be absolutely opposed to mine.
For some people, it is really easy to get mad about this stunning revelation that not everyone agrees with them. Some people take it personally and actually are willing to end friendships over ideological disagreements.
I tend to see it in just the other way. If I know that whenever I present a controversial idea there is going to be some resistance to it, it makes me work all that much harder to solidify my argument. It makes me work all that much harder to make sure that I do not make unjustified claims. If I know that any possible claim I make is fair game, I am going to try my best to put forward a thoughtful and coherent position.
Through this process, what I write naturally becomes better. If I know that I can’t get away with sloppy argumentation, I am certainly going to create a better product. It is similar to the idea of taking AP classes while you are in high school. They are designed to be more rigorous than general education classes, and by virtue of taking a more challenging class, a higher standard is expected. An essay that might be perfectly fine in a general education class might not be acceptable in an AP class simply because the level of difficulty is higher.
That’s the way I view disagreement. You are forcing me to raise my game as best I can, and I hope that I am doing the same for you. I hope that when I make a point, it makes you similarly think about your own position and present it in the best way possible.
This entire website is dedicated to the public square and the importance of presenting a Christian worldview in that public square. It wouldn’t be a public square though if other people were not participating as well.
Ideally, I would obviously prefer if my argumentation was able to convince everyone to embrace my position. Naturally, that is part of presenting ideas in the public square. I wouldn’t necessarily want to be like Jeremiah and present the Truth for 40 years only to have no one listen. You naturally do not present ideas that you do not think would be valuable for other people to hear, consider and accept.
However, I know that is idealism. I know that even if I make the best possible case for anything, there will be people who disagree. That is the nature of the public square. My responsibility is to do my best to help spread that which is right, but I cannot force people to agree with me.
Therefore, I will continue doing my best to articulate my beliefs as best I can, and I will continue thanking people for disagreeing with me. You keep me intellectually honest, and you keep me striving to learn more. In my mind, that is incredibly valuable.