When Do You Give Up?

IgiveupkittyIn a recent forum discussion, on a totally different topic, someone started talking about why he loved living in Texas so much.  One of his reasons, and I quote:  “Texas provides an alternative to evolution in it’s schools that you can’t get anywhere else.”  I sat there and stared at that for a minute and then ignored pretty much anything more this individual said because clearly, they have a tenuous grasp on reality.  It just wasn’t worth my time to argue with him, or to even acknowledge that he had said anything, because his position simply does not match up with the real world.

I’ve found myself just giving up in situations like that more and more often lately, people say things that are unbelievably dumb and betray an inability to grasp reality.  Maybe I’m just getting older, I know that I would have leapt right in and disagreed just a few short years ago, but now, there’s a point at which I realize I’m fighting a losing battle so why bother to continue?  That point is coming earlier and earlier as the years wear on.  I suppose it’s because my purpose in engaging people isn’t just to have a discussion, it’s to make a difference and where it’s clear I cannot make a difference, I typically don’t bother.

Maybe that’s because I’ve fought the same fights so many times, I can do it in my sleep.  I know that nothing will ever come of it, it really doesn’t matter what I say, what evidence I present, how well I phrase my arguments, the other side isn’t even listening.  These discussions largely aren’t between two curious parties, both after the truth, it’s between one side with the facts, evidence and reason to back up their claims and the other with a fanatical obsession with their beliefs and no interest in listening to anything that doesn’t fit into their agenda.  Discussions with the reasonable religious seem to be a thing of the past.

So maybe it is time to just give up having these talks, they never go anywhere and they always end in frustration.  After all, in light of my last post, it doesn’t seem like this will be a problem for all that much longer anyhow.  So where do you give up?  When do you realize that it’s just a waste of time?  Is that time getting shorter for you like it is for me?  I’d like to know.

4 thoughts on “When Do You Give Up?

  1. I've always figured it this way… You're right, you'll never convince the Texan. But there are almost certainly at least several lurkers also reading that may very well be having doubts. I've tried to write and respond rationally and reasonably as if I were writing directly to them rather than to the Texan himself.

    1. While I agree with you to a certain extent, usually in the most extreme examples, like this one, the only onlookers are the people who already think the guy is an idiot and are laughing at him and the fanatics who agree with the other guy and aren't going to be swayed by anything you say. Sure, it might work that way in a more moderate debate, but not with the extremists, any more than you'd be convincing liberal Christians by debating the Phelps family. Liberal Christians have no horse in that race, they already agree that the Phelps family are idiots, the only people likely to be watching are atheists and fundamentalist Christians.

      If your goal is really to reach moderate Christians, then you're better off debating moderate Christians, but I've found that those make for deeply unsatisfying debates because most of them have no real strong attraction to what they say they believe and even less desire to see that you believe it too. Most debates with liberal theists end when neither side cares enough to go on, the theist is going to believe what they believe for whatever reasons they believe it and couldn't care less if they can prove it to the non-theist. That's not all that good for convincing the religious of the absurdities of their religion either.

  2. I do think there is something to be said for being able to give up and just walk away from interactions like this. I don't know about you, but I suspect the frequent frustration isn't terribly healthy for me. Sometimes I have to tell myself that it just isn't worth it and remember that not everybody is ready to accept reality.

    My recent post My Path to Skepticism

    1. The problem is, I don't think most people are ready to accept reality and that goes for the religious and the irreligious alike. I get so sick and tired of people who are only interested in their own personal agendas, they turn a blind eye to evidence and critical thinking, they ignore anyone who points out flaws in their arguments and are quick to insult the opposing party instead of actually think about what's been said.

      Sometimes I think the whole human race is a wash.

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