Monday, January 14, 2013

The "Dangers" of Being Open to Other Beliefs

What's better than a great question you can mentally wrestle with for hours?

The questions which come from attempting to answer the first one.

Andrew Hackman, of Hackman's Musings (jeez, if I continue mentioning this guy any more in my posts I may come across as a stalker), shared on Facebook a gem of a question, along with this comic, I'd like to pass on to you like the flu. I hope I infect you.
"What if you expected yourself to be as open to another faith as you desire others to be open to yours?" 
This question is geared more towards people who believe they already have the truth and want to share their truth with you. Of course they'd rather not have you share back, evangelism can't work if you're BOTH open-minded. Dialoguing with another person is a great way to get infected with foreign ideas and concepts.

But what really are the dangers of exposing yourself to other beliefs? If you have confidence your faith will not waiver by a handful of words what harm will come by simply listening to others? If anything it can be a good test of your faith. If a thought provoking conversation with an unbeliever causes your spiritual knees to wobble then wouldn't you want to discover why? Not everyone is born to the faith they follow, at one point in their life they may have made a decision to follow their current beliefs, they were once open to then foreign beliefs and ideas. Why stop there? Why stop being curious?

A believer's easy answer would be "I have the truth now so everything else is irrelevant", but that answer doesn't cut it for me. I believe in the insatiable curiosity of humankind and our desire to connect with one another. To crush or hinder that spirit saddens me and, in my opinion, feels like you willingly accept to entrap yourself in a cage in hopes of receiving a false sense of hope and security in a chaotic universe. The universe is fluid, it keeps changing, evolving, and growing, so what makes us think we don't change as well? As an Agnostic/SBNR (ugh, I despise labels) I try to expose myself to a wide variety of beliefs (which there ain't too much here in the South) because I find religion and spirituality are beautiful expressions of our humanity. The language of religion, stories, and rituals gives us a way to connect with one another, so exposing myself to other beliefs helps me to connect to more of my global neighbors.

Being open minded to other beliefs doesn't mean you HAVE to agree with others, it means being attentive and actually listen to what others are sharing. Wrestle with it, find the commonality and the differences between you and the foreign beliefs. Most importantly, again in my opinion, find out the why behind what they believe is important to them. When you discover that your global neighbor shares in similar hopes, dreams, and fears you will find that we are all cut from the same cloth, or if you prefer, molded from the same clay.


Don said...

Nice post Sam! I'm right there with you my friend.

Grundy said...

I've been trying to do a post exchange with a Christian apologetic writer for a month now. I want to make a pitch for atheism on their blog and they can make a pitch for Christianity on mine. So far no takers, 11 out of 11 have turned me down. I guess they aren't confident enough in their own message.

Eruesso said...

I made a pitch online to closet atheist living in my area to speak on being a closet atheist living in the South. And then I realized 99% of the people I know are Christian (and if any of them had a spark of doubt they kept it well hidden). Sorry to hear you haven't had any takers, sounds intriguing. Did they at least reply with a reason why?

Andrew said...

Thanks bud!

That question is really the distillation of the thoughts that caused me to leave the faith. So... it is a dangerous question... cause asking it caused me to leave... so there is that. :)

Sabio Lantz said...

Wow, I just wrote something pretty related to this. Christians who expect us faith-free folks to keep searching. Check it out if you wish.

I think bouncing this back at folks is a great strategy. Good post.

But another strategy, as my post says, is to admit that you are OK with not being open-minded -- that is, pragmatism depends on a certain sort of closed-mindedness. And I think everyone gets that.

We don't have to quibble about the meaning of words and how we should use them. The point being, these strategies can help someone see behind their own arguments.

Thanx for your post.

Anonymous said...

"The insatiable curiosity of humankind." That's a nice way of phrasing of a concept that is indeed too often overlooked in matters of religion.

I like the insatiable curiosity of the Halal Monk for example. He's a Christian on a journey through Islam... If you'd like, check him out on

Ahab said...

I've always been stunned by the closed-mindedness of fundamentalist Christians, even has they urge others to be "open-minded" about Christianity. I think on some level, they realize how fragile their faith truly is and struggle to shield it from any new perspectives or information that might undermine it.

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