Sometimes the faithful really make it difficult for me to believe that they're not either stupid or willfully ignorant. Still, every so often I get humbled a bit and learn to not be so full of myself when I meet a thoughtful person who believes in a supreme being. Today was a good example of that.
I wrote a while ago about an online debate I got into. You can find that post here. The gist of it is that the person I was debating credited her healing from a debilitating illness to Jesus. Obviously, I disagreed with this and found the notion of it to be a bit offensive even. Well, today I got a chance to meet up with her, and while I will continue to be vague regarding any specific details, I just want to write a few thoughts about that.
First of all, I over-simplified things when I stated that her reasoning was simply that since it can't be explained, therefore Jesus is the explanation. After talking to her, I still feel that's a factor in her argument, but it really doesn't give a very fair picture of her point of view. I won't go into it, but much of it had to do with the entirety of what she experienced. There's a lot to her story, and there were many things involved that she can't just brush off as being a coincidence. (Even now, I realize that I'm still selling it short. Hopefully my point's coming through though.)
Anyway, it was a really good conversation. I actually did a decent job of listening and hearing her out, and I didn't do anything obnoxious like roll my eyes or sigh really loud. (I wasn't fighting the urge to, but I'm known to do that sometimes.) After that, I tried a different sort of a strategy than I normally do. I figured that it would be a bad move to start nit-picking away at the story - mainly because there's still so much that I don't know, as I wasn't there, so I could easily have found myself barking up the wrong tree on that score. Instead, I just gave my own personal story. I have all sorts of reasons for why I don't believe. Most of them I consider to be intellectually-based arguments, but I even have some emotionally-based ones. I shared a bit of both.
So, was my mind changed? No. At least, not yet. I find that most of the things that have led me to change my mind over major issues took some time to finally sink in. Still, all of my original objections haven't gone away. What I got out of it was a deeper appreciation for the nature of faith and the reasons why people have it. Because in all honesty, if my experience was the same as hers, I'm not sure that I wouldn't be a believer too. (And vice-versa might very well be true too, I suspect.)
It's easy to turn people into caricatures, but it takes effort to get to know them as people.