I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the problem between Evangelicals and liberals (for want of a better description, though “liberal” is a poor description). Generally speaking, it seems to me that Evangelicals believe they have found the true faith, while liberals, who may or may not be believers, are not as convinced that their personal beliefs are necessarily the absolute truth in the same way Evangelicals are. These are fundamental differences for many are both personal and global. They are differences that can divide families, and have destroyed friendships and marriages. They are a constant source of discussions on the internet, are threatening the unity of the Anglican church worldwide, and underlie some of the worst political conflicts in the world.
And yet almost everybody runs up against this terrible problem that we can barely talk to each other with respect and kindness if we stray on to this topic of religion. I began to understand for the first time how it is that sometimes opposing groups spend years “talking about talks,” in an attempt just to reach sufficient common ground even to begin to talk directly.
I am personally committed to never dismissing another person’s views until I can understand it well enough express their view in terms that they themselves acknowledge are an accurate and fair description of their true feelings. I do not pretend this is always easy. On the topics around science and religion, I have spent years trying to understand views that sometimes have seemed bigoted, ignorant, rigid, illogical, or uninformed. At this point I can claim to have been only partially successful.
But in the process, I have often learned to respect an opposing view even when I continue to disagree with it. And so I am going to begin a short series of posts in which I try to look objectively at both sides of some of the most contentious issues that divide the human community in the world today.
The next post will begin the series with a look at the question of the existence of a God.