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Old 12-11-2004, 10:15 PM   #1
vharishankar
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Thumbs down Why is intelligent debate/discussion on religion/politics impossible?


You see everybody: I think politics and religion are quite interesting subjects to debate upon. But there seems to be a feeling that such subjects are very controversial and so on and debates can get very ugly quickly.

My contention is this:

Why cannot religion and politics be discussed (generally, not just at LQ) without having flame wars and trolling? I think most of the members here are quite mature enough to discuss serious topics without indulging in mudslinging. I think that without getting into specifics of any particular religion, I think the philosophical questions can be discussed and debated without too much emotions raised.

If somebody does flame repeatedly, then they can be ignored or kicked off the thread. Though I think serious subjects tend to get good and well thought-out responses from LQ members particularly. So why not religion and politics?

So what is your theory on this? Why do politics/religion etc. attract flame wars? What is your experience on boards which have general discussion allowing politics and religion? What is the level of maturity shown by members in discussing such volatile subjects?

And yes. My question is addressed both at experienced forum members and moderators.
 
Old 12-11-2004, 10:29 PM   #2
Mega Man X
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Because there's no right or wrong answer to either subject. You pick the side you like the most. Since there's no right or wrong side of either religion or politics, we get stuck in an infinity, boring loop...

In short, I think it's pretty much useless to discuss it. Besides, a few peoples fighting in a forum (and even being the General, Politics and Religions are way off-topic to LQ.org) do no change anything...
 
Old 12-11-2004, 10:34 PM   #3
vharishankar
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I know there is no *right* or *wrong* answers. Yet these subjects can be intelligently debated. There are a lot of people in the world who do it politely and nicely.

You get to learn a lot of things and learn to respect others' points of views. You can improve your language skills by discussing difficult concepts and philosophies and learning to express a point of view coherently. You learn interesting things about how people approach such matters in different parts of the world.

It also provides a learning opportunity for people of different cultures to learn about other religions and ways of life in the rest of the world.

So discussing religion and politics intelligently should actually be a beneficial thing. Sadly such topics only degenerate into flame wars and nobody learns anything new....

Just human nature, I guess...
 
Old 12-11-2004, 10:37 PM   #4
Mega Man X
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Good point and I agree Sad, in real life it ends up in flame war
 
Old 12-11-2004, 11:00 PM   #5
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There is a difference between "debate" and "education". Education is where you ask someone (or something, like a book) for knowledge on a subject. Debate was designed with the express purpose to cause opposition and resistance to the opposing point of view.

Regardless of how "adult" a person thinks they are, when someone starts to rattle their core values, if they're not **very** secure in them, they tend to react in a defensive (often hostile) way. You were pretty much correct when you sited "human nature"

Having said that, religion and politics are two of my favorite topics of discussion (note: not debate -- I've never had a debate on these topics that didn't turn out ugly). I find that it's generally better to *not* bring these things up in a public forum. A lot of people don't like having their gods (be it a literal deity or a politician) questioned, and even fewer like the hard thinking that often comes along with debate
 
Old 12-11-2004, 11:15 PM   #6
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the reason why these things turn into flame wars is that after having an intelligent 17 page debate, do you really want to admit defeat?

and i think it was mark twain(???) that said debating religion is like arguing over who has a better imaginary friend, or something like that.

religion and politics are different in debates. in politics, bush is right there, you can see everything he does and you can insult him all you want and then someone else can defend him. in religion, its like two people on a deserted island that havent had any contact with the outside world debating whether bush, a blonde president with a lot of power, exists. how are you supposed to discuss that? there is no evidence either way and its just beliefs.
 
Old 12-11-2004, 11:16 PM   #7
nuka_t
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oh, and the whole human nature thing is perfectly embodied in this quote from cheney during a debate with a democratic senator:

"go fuck yourself"
 
Old 12-12-2004, 12:04 AM   #8
vharishankar
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Some excellent responses so far!

I agree with sigsegv:

When somebody questions your core values, you feel very disturbed. This is true whether the person is very close to you or a total stranger. Core values are developed in child-hood and strengthened through as you age.

I believe that by the time a person gets into the teen years, a human being has finished building his core values and then starts seeing the world through those values. Therefore anything that disturbs their core values tend to be met with fire and opposition.

Another interesting thing about online forums: you don't see the people behind the words. Discussions tend to be cold and dry. A lot of statements that, in real physical meetings would be met with laughter (because of the aid of vision and hearing) would be misunderstood and misinterpreted.

I've seen plenty of misunderstandings on very simple matters in a lot of online forums. I guess that a more involved subject like religion will just make it that much more difficult to convey your meaning into words that correctly express your thoughts. I don't think 99% of people want to deliberately hurt others' feelings. However, certain words and phrases which they might consider as justified in their arguments may actually end up hurting a lot of people who's understanding of that particular word throws up entirely different meanings in the same context.
 
Old 12-12-2004, 12:40 AM   #9
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i think that a lot of these problems can be solved with a sarcasm smiley.
 
Old 12-12-2004, 01:11 AM   #10
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I think I've only ever had one political debate in which the debate didnt turn to personal insults. We had opposing views and politely discussed them.
With religion, surely someone must be right, its just that few are willing to admit they might be wrong.
I think, human nature being what it is, an unwillingness to consider a position as faulty means that most debates will quickly end up a flame war - online or not.
One of the most interesting concepts in electronics is "negative feedback " where a signal is fed back into the input of an amplifier in order to self correct and present a cleaner output signal.
Pity human beings arent equiped with such a mechanism although Carl G Jung did believe that was the function of our dreams...
Theres some interesting books for your forum Hari ! He did a very interesting book on UFO's too, although Psycology was his thing.

live long and prosper
floppy
 
Old 12-12-2004, 02:28 AM   #11
nuka_t
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lets say christians are correct, does that mean that 66% of humans are going to rot in hell?

it dosent make sense.

when your afterlife is in danger, you do everything you can to make sure you are the on that goes to heaven, and not that damn infidel.

i just hope i get a nice long sleep when im dead, and ill be perfectly content with that.
 
Old 12-12-2004, 03:47 AM   #12
vharishankar
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Quote:
Originally posted by nuka_t
lets say christians are correct, does that mean that 66% of humans are going to rot in hell?

it dosent make sense.

when your afterlife is in danger, you do everything you can to make sure you are the on that goes to heaven, and not that damn infidel.

i just hope i get a nice long sleep when im dead, and ill be perfectly content with that.
You've given me a perfect example of the kind of arguments that ruin discussion and debates on religion and politics.
 
Old 12-12-2004, 04:05 AM   #13
samael26
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Hi,

When one looks at your signature, my friend, it's quite weird your choosing to launch into such a discussion...

I like your way of seeing things and your tolerance, though BTW, your site is very interesting, too !

Cheers !
 
Old 12-12-2004, 04:05 AM   #14
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The reason politics and religion are so hard to discuss is, since there isn't a right or wrong answer, everyone thinks they're right.

Here's a personal expirience I once had that ended with a broke hand.

I was helping a non-profit group, called trailmix, (they help fix hiking trails and campsites) one day and I got into a "heated discussion" with a member of the paid staff. This guy wasn't just some flunky, he was a crew chief in charge of a crew of 15. I knew the guy that ran TrailMix and you don't get to be anything by kissing butt. The crew chief was one of his best workers and most stable minded person.

So we get into a debate about whether ANWR should be opened to oil exploration. We went back and forth, and I could see that, even though i was able to keep my cool, he couldn't. So we go on and finally he goes to punch me. He maybe strong but has very bad aim. He went to do a right hook, missed and slammed his hand into a cliff face. Broke his hand and he was put on supension (for the duration of the broken hand) and put on probation.

The point is even the most mature person has strong opinions about what they believe in and don't want someone to tell them they're wrong
 
Old 12-12-2004, 04:08 AM   #15
vharishankar
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Quote:
Originally posted by samael26
Hi,

When one looks at your signature, my friend, it's quite weird your choosing to launch into such a discussion...

I like your way of seeing things and your tolerance, though BTW, your site is very interesting, too !

Cheers !
Precisely. Wise people keep silent when others scream around them. What I wanted to know was whether one can indeed debate on religion and politics *without* screaming.
 
  


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