Leaving the Church Alone, Part 2

Dear believer,

Thanks for trying my little experiment.  I appreciate your willingness to try and step into our shoes.  I think it is important that we learn to have empathy for each other.  Sometimes, I forget what it was like to believe and to hear someone discredit my religious beliefs.  It is good to be reminded, so that I can empathize with your position.  I’d like to suggest another experiment.

Let’s get together and discuss a doctrine of the church.  You can even pick the doctrine.  It can be eternal families, homosexuality, grace, faith, repentance, temples, whatever.  Do you have one? Ok, now here’s the twist.  As we discuss it, you will take the anti stance, and I will take the pro stance.  In other words, you will try to discredit the validity of that doctrine, and I will try to defend it.  It is important that you do your best in this exercise.  it won’t do any good if you don’t.  I promise to do my best to defend the doctrine.

Here are a few ground rules for our discussion

  1. Logical fallacies will not be accepted.  We can use https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ as a baseline.
  2. No personal attacks.  We need to remain respectful of each other.  If one feels personally attacked, s/he will immediately tell the other so the other can correct them self.
  3. No strawman arguments.  This will probably be the biggest temptation for us.  We’ll be defending the opposite position than we personally hold, so presenting a weak argument will make it easier for the other to present a convincing case.  It is important that we do our best to accurately represent the position we are defending.
  4. There will be no “winner”. The discussion is more important than who can debate better.

I know 2 and 3 are really just subsets of 1, but they’re too important to not separate out.  I want this to be a productive discussion.  I don’t want one or the other getting mad or insulted.

There is one last part to this experiment.  The next time you are in Sunday School, Priesthood, or Relief Society, and the lesson involves the same doctrine we discussed, I’d like you to raise your hand and defend the same position you did during our discussion.  If you are not comfortable doing it at church, then do it during the next extended family home evening you attend, or when talking with someone you consider to have a strong testimony.  As you are doing this, I want you to watch the faces of those around you.  What are their reactions?  How do they respond to you?  What do they say?

Wait a couple of weeks, then you can tell people how you really feel about that doctrine.  Take note of any communication you receive from others during those two weeks.  We can get together afterward and discuss it.

Again, it doesn’t matter which of us is right.  I’m more concerned about your experience during this experiment.

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