A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

How To Disagree

August 26, 2020 Randy Knie, Kyle Whitaker Season 1 Episode 4
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
How To Disagree
Chapters
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
How To Disagree
Aug 26, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Randy Knie, Kyle Whitaker

In this episode Randy and Kyle discuss disagreement, a current topic if there ever was one. Kyle did his PhD dissertation on the epistemology of disagreement, and this conversation explores what it is, some common pitfalls, how to do it better, and what it looks like for Christians in particular.

The beer featured in this episode is King Sue by Toppling Goliath Brewing Company.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode Randy and Kyle discuss disagreement, a current topic if there ever was one. Kyle did his PhD dissertation on the epistemology of disagreement, and this conversation explores what it is, some common pitfalls, how to do it better, and what it looks like for Christians in particular.

The beer featured in this episode is King Sue by Toppling Goliath Brewing Company.

[Music]

00:14

i'm kyle

00:15

and i'm randy and this is a pastor and a

00:17

philosopher

00:18

walk into a bar

00:22

oh super friendly nice

00:23

[Music]

00:28

we're so glad you joined us for this

00:30

latest installment

00:31

of a pastor and philosopher walking to a

00:33

bar today it's gonna feel like we are

00:36

really walking into a bar together

00:37

because we're gonna do what you do with

00:39

your friends

00:40

at a bar maybe even family at a bar

00:43

disagreeing

00:44

we're going to talk about disagreeing

00:46

and that happens really well

00:48

over a couple of pints and maybe maybe

00:51

one too many and it gets a little sloppy

00:52

but

00:53

disagreement is something that is very

00:56

common in this world but what's very

00:58

uncommon is disagreeing well and that's

01:01

something that our resident philosopher

01:03

knows a thing or two about kyle can you

01:05

tell us

01:06

your passion about this sure

01:09

i actually wrote a dissertation about

01:11

this so i recently

01:12

completed my doctorate in epistemology

01:15

which is the branch of philosophy that

01:17

deals with

01:17

knowledge and there is a little in-house

01:20

conversation debate

01:22

among epistemologists that's only about

01:24

15 years old or so

01:25

about disagreement believe it or not you

01:27

would think that philosophers would have

01:29

been talking about this for thousands of

01:30

years but it's actually

01:32

a really recent topic so i've been

01:34

thinking about disagreement

01:35

whether it's possible to have rational

01:37

disagreements

01:39

for a little over two years probably

01:43

and it's unusually it's one of the few

01:46

areas where

01:47

the sort of high level abstract

01:50

philosophical research that i do

01:51

actually has some pretty relevant

01:53

practical implications

01:55

researching disagreement for two years

01:58

just take that in dear listener let's

02:01

just pray for kyle's soul

02:03

okay so this sounds really interesting

02:05

uh but you're supposed to have walked

02:06

into a bar and my glass

02:08

is still empty so we need to get to that

02:09

segment

02:11

fair point kyle what are we drinking

02:13

today today we are drinking

02:15

one of my favorite ipas now an ipa

02:19

india pale ale there's all kinds of

02:22

different forms of ipas

02:23

this one would fall on the hazy side or

02:27

you might call it a new england ipa but

02:28

it's actually made in iowa

02:30

by a brewery called toppling goliath

02:33

that just made me like it even more

02:34

iowa decorah

02:37

iowa there's nothing else there there's

02:40

two breweries

02:41

and a little town and that's and yes i

02:43

have driven all the way there just for

02:45

toppling goliath beer in fact i've

02:47

camped out overnight in the winter

02:51

yes so this beer is called king sioux

02:54

they have a very well known ipa called

02:56

sudo su that sort of put them on the map

02:58

this is kind of a bigger version of that

03:02

so this is a double

03:04

ipa which means a little stronger

03:06

usually a little higher

03:07

abv this one's 7.8 percent 50

03:10

ibus which are bitterness units which is

03:12

actually pretty low so for ipas

03:15

you can go anywhere from 40 to 120 to

03:19

well beyond that there was a there's a

03:21

brewery called mckellar that in 2007

03:23

they made a beer with 2007 ibus i cannot

03:27

imagine

03:28

drinking something like measuring

03:31

uh chemistry that i don't understand

03:34

that sounds like

03:34

that sounds like a bunch of dried up

03:36

puckered up hipsters to me i cannot

03:38

imagine drinking

03:39

but this will actually be pretty light

03:40

bitterness which is one of the reasons

03:42

so there's no fruit in this one we don't

03:43

have to roll this candy

03:45

fruit this is this is citra hops only

03:48

um and it should surprise you it has

03:50

surprised me the

03:51

previous times i've had this beer but

03:53

it's been a while it should surprise you

03:55

how fruity it tastes without

03:56

doing anything i like that yeah

04:01

so king sioux has to be a reference to

04:03

sue the

04:04

tyrannosaurus rex that's in the chicago

04:06

field museum right it's just like the

04:07

same time

04:09

i never put that together there is a big

04:11

tyrannosaurus rex on the can

04:12

so i bet you're right about that

04:16

all right it is pretty light in color

04:19

hazy golden

04:21

yeah wow just super super fruity take a

04:24

whiff of that

04:26

it's like smelling flowers yeah

04:30

flowers with some banana and grapefruit

04:34

to them

04:35

yep oh man once you smell that

04:37

grapefruit you can't unsmell it

04:39

i'll bet if you were to find yourself

04:42

diving into

04:43

a big pool of king sioux and you had

04:46

goggles on

04:47

you wouldn't be able to see that the

04:48

hand in front of your face holy moly is

04:50

that hazy

04:51

it's a nice cloudy beer does that have

04:53

to do with it being a double

04:54

ipa i don't know what the double party

04:56

no it has to do with the way they hop it

04:58

now i'm not

04:59

a brewer or an expert on this by any

05:01

means um but the process is that you

05:03

would put a west coast ipa through to

05:05

make it clear they just don't do in this

05:07

and they hop it towards the end with dry

05:09

hops and

05:10

somehow that makes it uh hazy i don't

05:14

know all the specifics of that

05:16

brewers out there listening are probably

05:18

cringing at them

05:19

i've got to tell you this is freaking

05:22

ridiculous it's delicious

05:24

it's really good and the best thing

05:26

about this beer is that you can get it

05:28

at any decent liquor store it's very

05:32

widely

05:32

it like three or years ago it wasn't but

05:34

now i got this

05:36

at woodman's just i've never tasted an

05:38

ipa like this that's

05:40

incredible it's got actually the look of

05:43

it

05:43

mirrors the the flavor and mouth feel

05:46

because it's got a creamy essence to it

05:48

almost like a mouthfeel and like a

05:50

flavor

05:50

with no lactose so there's a very common

05:52

trend in hazy ipas to add lactose which

05:54

is just milk sugar

05:56

to give it that kind of creaminess this

05:57

doesn't have that that's incredible it's

05:59

just

06:00

yeah just that's like brewery genius

06:03

that's incredible that you can do that

06:05

to a beer oh my goodness i'm in love

06:08

i was trying to pick out what there was

06:10

another flavor there that

06:11

was like in the fruit family i think

06:14

pear is

06:15

how i would label it like it's there's a

06:17

the notes that they give

06:18

in the description or mango orange and

06:20

pineapple yeah

06:22

yeah oh the pineapple for sure now that

06:24

you say that

06:26

lovely yeah oh man all right well good

06:29

round

06:29

what's the brewery toppling goliath

06:32

toppling goliath

06:34

king sioux if you are a fan at all of

06:37

ipas grab one of these and hold on to

06:40

your pants

06:41

yeah they also make some security chairs

06:44

pretty stellar

06:45

barrel age stouts which maybe we'll get

06:47

into in a later episode

06:49

i hope it works for me

06:52

you stout heads i don't get you but this

06:54

is delicious

06:55

thank you kyle thanks for buying cheers

06:58

cheers

07:01

so as we mentioned today we're talking

07:02

about how to disagree and how to do it

07:04

well

07:06

that is particularly interesting to me

07:08

because we find ourselves in this moment

07:11

and i would say really particularly

07:12

within the last five years even

07:14

well into the obama presidency our

07:16

nation just feels like we forgot

07:19

how to disagree well our nation is so

07:21

polarized our nation is

07:23

so separated and

07:26

disunified and we identify ourselves by

07:29

what we're not

07:30

by and large and we don't know how to

07:32

have relationships with people who think

07:34

differently than us

07:35

particularly politically but also

07:37

religiously

07:38

also ethnic and racially also

07:42

you could just go down the line

07:43

socioeconomically generationally

07:46

we just don't know how to engage with

07:48

one another when there's differences and

07:50

when there's disagreement even not just

07:51

differences but disagreement

07:54

and i think it's one of the one of the

07:55

things you know we talk about how our

07:57

world is going to hell in a handbasket

07:58

first of all i don't believe that

08:00

i think new creation is taking root more

08:02

and more all the time

08:03

but when i think about one of the things

08:06

that i could if i could fix

08:07

one or two things about our culture

08:10

right now

08:11

it would be how to fix the polarization

08:14

and the way that we just fill

08:17

the airwaves and fill the air around us

08:20

with hatred judgmentalism cynicism

08:24

and anger towards one another so

08:27

i think this is a extremely pertinent

08:29

extremely timely thing to talk about

08:31

that i hope

08:32

lots and lots of people listen to not

08:34

just so we can get popular

08:35

but that's so we can actually start

08:38

listening to one another so we can

08:40

actually start respectfully engaging

08:42

with one another so we can actually

08:44

start walking in the way of jesus

08:45

that many of us listening probably seem

08:48

to say that we esteem so highly and that

08:51

we love so much

08:53

so with that being said kyle can you

08:56

just tell us why you got into this topic

08:58

why you got into this

08:59

whole idea well some of what you just

09:02

described

09:03

is some of why i got into the topic

09:05

noticing the

09:06

seemingly sharp increase in hostility

09:10

and contempt between people that i loved

09:13

and respected and even learned

09:15

christianity from

09:16

you know some of whom would disown me

09:18

because of views that i take that they

09:21

view with hostility so that was part of

09:24

why i got into it was wanting to figure

09:26

out where do i stand on this is it

09:27

possible to actually have

09:29

rational conversations with these people

09:33

who i admire and i respect and i really

09:35

really want to say

09:36

that they have maintained their

09:39

integrity and i really want to say

09:41

that they can remain reasonable even

09:43

while having an active disagreement with

09:45

me i want to say that that's possible

09:47

but i don't understand how it could be

09:48

and so that's how i got into

09:51

studying this topic specifically and

09:53

also frankly i went to graduate school

09:56

and graduate school is just really

09:58

unique

09:59

in some ways destructive mentally and

10:03

spiritually destructive experience

10:05

and you're just constantly challenged

10:07

constantly forced

10:09

to prove yourself but the great thing

10:11

about it

10:12

is that you're surrounded by people who

10:14

are a

10:16

way better informed than you they're all

10:18

experts in their fields

10:20

often much smarter than you i've met

10:24

people in graduate school that make me

10:25

feel like i'm just

10:26

an imposter sometimes and also

10:30

they tend to by and large treat you with

10:33

respect they

10:34

they want you to develop

10:37

your ability to defend the views that

10:40

you hold

10:41

and they help you to do that by

10:42

critiquing you and it's

10:44

it's direct often sometimes it feels

10:46

attacking but more often than not

10:48

they're good people

10:49

who want to develop your rational

10:51

capacity uh and that's

10:53

that forced me being just existing in

10:54

that environment forced me to reckon

10:56

with the fact that there are people

10:57

who are as informed as i am or better

11:01

as smart as i am or smarter and disagree

11:04

with me

11:05

and i want to say we're all rational so

11:07

how can i explain that that that's what

11:09

really triggered

11:11

this topic so when we talk about

11:13

agreeing and disagreeing

11:15

it feels like we are being taught how to

11:19

disagree with one another by social

11:21

media and our interactions on social

11:22

media

11:23

and also we're in election season and so

11:27

i

11:28

spent a lot of time watching the debates

11:30

because i didn't didn't know who i

11:31

wanted to vote for and so we watched and

11:33

i watched with my daughter even my 12

11:35

now 13 year old daughter and what i saw

11:39

was shameful to me our politicians are

11:42

reducing

11:43

debating into shouting over one another

11:47

and not stop talking so that the people

11:50

can hear and i'm going to force the

11:51

interviewers to

11:53

to to honor my time and my space because

11:56

i just

11:57

bully my way through it and we're just

11:59

talking back and forth we're not

12:00

listening to another we're not actually

12:01

having a real conversation that reminds

12:03

me of social media even

12:05

the the way we on twitter and facebook

12:08

just soapbox something so much

12:11

and then react against that on the other

12:14

side and either write them off

12:15

on friend unfollow right that's easy or

12:18

we just slap a bunch of generalizations

12:21

on their comments

12:22

and think that that's disagreeing so

12:25

maybe kyle could you could you tell us

12:27

what's your idea

12:28

even what's a philosophical idea of what

12:32

it means to disagree and have a

12:33

disagreement

12:35

yeah good yeah to understand uh what's

12:38

going wrong in those kinds of

12:39

interactions we need to sort of back up

12:41

a little bit and first

12:42

realize what it even means to have a

12:44

disagreement in the first place

12:45

and then we can discuss in more detail

12:47

how to have a good one

12:49

so philosophically speaking a

12:50

disagreement is

12:52

simply this it is one person takes

12:55

a particular proposition to have a

12:58

certain truth value

12:59

that another person takes that

13:01

proposition to have a different

13:02

truth value now to understand what that

13:04

means you have to know what a

13:04

proposition is

13:06

so a proposition is kind of philosophy

13:08

speak for

13:10

something that can be true or false or

13:12

you might just say

13:13

an idea thank you for thank you for not

13:15

making me ask

13:16

what a proposition is by the way

13:17

appreciate it i mean it's it's a fraught

13:19

question

13:20

even within philosophy there are whole

13:22

debates about what propositions are

13:23

but if you and i are going to have a

13:25

disagreement there has to be some

13:26

particular

13:28

identifiable idea something that can be

13:31

true or false that you take a position

13:35

on

13:35

and that i take a contradictory position

13:38

on

13:38

you have to think it is the case that

13:40

that proposition is true

13:41

and i have to think it is the case that

13:43

that proposition is false or

13:45

perhaps unknowable something like that

13:47

but if there isn't

13:48

such an identifiable proposition you and

13:51

i are not

13:52

having a disagreement and often what

13:54

happens in the

13:55

sort of political and social media

13:57

context that you describe

13:59

is people think they're having

14:00

disagreements and they get really

14:02

passionate about these disagreements and

14:04

the ideas that are being batted around

14:06

but they're not actually having

14:07

disagreements because

14:09

if you were to ask them to they would be

14:12

unable

14:12

to identify the specific proposition or

14:15

set of propositions

14:16

that is actually in conflict between

14:18

them and their

14:20

peers so to even get to the stage of

14:23

having

14:24

a disagreement you have to first

14:25

identify what it is specifically

14:27

that you and i are disagreeing about and

14:30

often this this just doesn't happen let

14:32

me give you an example

14:33

that i use with my students so i teach

14:36

on a jesuit catholic campus

14:39

and often at this campus at least once a

14:42

semester

14:44

there will be picketers who come onto

14:46

the campus and they stand around the

14:48

quad

14:48

and they hold signs about abortion and

14:51

often

14:52

these signs depict really graphic images

14:54

of just stuff you don't want to look at

14:56

and they'll also

14:57

include phrases like human life

15:00

is sacred or human life is

15:04

intrinsically valuable something like

15:06

that and sometimes

15:07

you get counter protesters you get

15:10

people who come to campus and stand on

15:11

the other side

15:12

of the sidewalk or on the other side of

15:13

the street and they hold their own signs

15:15

and their signs say things like it is my

15:18

choice what to do

15:19

with my body bodily autonomy

15:23

is a right something like that and so

15:26

let's say you have these groups of

15:27

people

15:28

holding their signs and maybe they're

15:29

even shouting these phrases at each

15:31

other

15:32

you don't yet have a disagreement

15:35

because

15:35

it is very possible that everybody in

15:37

that space

15:38

agrees with everything that's being said

15:41

who is gonna what reasonable person is

15:43

gonna deny

15:44

that what happens to your body is up to

15:45

you what reasonable person is gonna deny

15:48

that human life is intrinsically

15:49

valuable because they have they think

15:51

they're disagreeing they're very

15:52

passionate about the disagreement

15:53

they're having but they haven't

15:54

identified the proposition

15:56

so this hasn't even gotten interesting

15:57

yet from the perspective of

15:59

philosophical disagreement first you

16:01

have to locate well specifically what is

16:03

it

16:03

that we are in conflict about and

16:06

sometimes you can have merely apparent

16:07

disagreements

16:08

and you waste lots and lots of energy on

16:10

those and it's deeply unhealthy

16:12

and that's most of what i see in

16:14

political debates

16:15

i gave up watching political debates

16:17

years ago i think the last one i watched

16:19

was from beginning to end

16:22

was the sarah palin one

16:26

and i just said no i can't do this

16:29

anymore

16:30

yeah there's no debating happening here

16:32

because there's no reason giving

16:34

there's no proposition that's identified

16:36

as being intentioned and then different

16:37

reasons to take different positions on

16:40

none of that it was cliche throwing

16:43

and posturing and what can i say to get

16:47

the audience to

16:48

laugh and be on my side that's that's

16:51

not disagreement

16:54

so as most of us live on social media

16:56

kyle and we

16:57

you know surf our phones or our devices

17:00

on

17:01

the news and little sound bites and

17:04

hear about what trump said or what nancy

17:06

pelosi said or

17:08

what joe biden said whatever that might

17:10

be

17:11

we get all sorts of bad examples

17:15

on how to disagree in a poor fashion but

17:19

we get numb to it because we see it so

17:21

often and it's just become

17:23

normal we think this is just just the

17:25

way you disagree so

17:26

can you point out some actual bad ways

17:29

to disagree common mistakes that are

17:31

made some

17:32

examples of what is hurting our common

17:35

dialogue

17:36

yeah good so in my experience

17:40

the main mistakes that are made in

17:43

disagreeing with others

17:45

come down to three things the main sort

17:47

of ways that you can go wrong

17:49

in disagreeing first you can be dogmatic

17:52

about your view and what that means is

17:55

you need your view

17:56

to be true so there's something that you

17:59

need to be certain about

18:01

and you're psychologically and

18:02

emotionally invested

18:04

in the truth of that belief such that

18:07

questioning it

18:08

costs too much for you to even go there

18:11

that's so much of religious

18:13

disagreements it's not even funny right

18:15

there

18:15

not just religious political relational

18:19

even sometimes academic i've witnessed

18:21

this in the academy as well

18:22

you get so invested in your particular

18:25

perspective

18:26

that when counter evidence or counter

18:29

perspectives are presented to you you

18:30

you do one of two things you shut down

18:34

and flee or you react with hostility

18:37

and this is the result of not being able

18:39

to hold your beliefs with an open hand

18:42

not being able to consider that there

18:44

might have been some information that

18:45

you missed

18:46

and you might actually be mistaken about

18:48

this that is viewed as dangerous

18:50

by the dogmatist and that leads to all

18:53

sorts of hostile and contemptuous

18:54

reactions to others who

18:56

disagree with you also leads to

18:59

exclusionary

19:00

communities where open inquiry and

19:03

disagreement is not welcome in this

19:04

space

19:05

because we have our values we're certain

19:07

about our values

19:08

we need to be certain about our values

19:10

because of the importance that they hold

19:11

in

19:12

our communities and so we we just simply

19:14

don't allow

19:15

contrary voices if they arise we kick

19:18

them out

19:19

we silence them that's dogmatism

19:22

the opposite extreme is called

19:24

relativism

19:25

so this is a another way of going wrong

19:28

in disagreement

19:29

in fact it's a way of giving up on

19:30

disagreement entirely

19:32

the relativist in this context is

19:35

someone who thinks that everybody

19:37

can be right it's it's sort of the uh

19:40

can't we all just get along

19:41

approach to living in society with other

19:44

people the relativist thinks that

19:46

being disagreed with they actually agree

19:49

with the dogmatist about this

19:50

interestingly

19:51

being disagreed with is an act of

19:52

hostility and because

19:54

hostility is uncomfortable and we don't

19:56

like it the best way to

19:58

solve that is to admit that everyone has

20:01

their perspective

20:02

and everyone's perspective is equally

20:04

valuable and it can be

20:06

you know equally affirmed and everybody

20:08

can be right and let's just all

20:10

get along which of course removes the

20:11

need to actually have the disagreement

20:13

to present the reasons for and against

20:15

uh positions now that's interesting give

20:17

up on that

20:18

what's interesting to me is there's this

20:20

new catch phrase or this new

20:22

statement that people make that sounds a

20:24

lot like what you're talking about

20:26

and i'd be interested to get your take

20:28

on it i don't know if you even know what

20:29

i'm about to say but it's

20:31

this idea that everyone has their own

20:32

truth right

20:34

that well that's your truth that's that

20:36

person's truth

20:37

what do you think about that yeah that's

20:39

been around a long time all right

20:40

it's new to me yeah i mean it's nonsense

20:44

from a philosophical perspective it's

20:45

it's literal nonsense

20:47

which means it has no meaning it's it's

20:50

like saying

20:51

no you know the number seven is green

20:55

it expresses exactly as much semantic

20:57

content as that nonsense sentence that i

20:59

just said

21:00

if you understand what truth means from

21:02

a philosophical perspective

21:04

it's just impossible that everyone has

21:06

their own

21:07

and that those all disagree uh if there

21:10

is such a thing as truth

21:11

it is one thing this is some one of the

21:13

very few things that many philosophers

21:15

can agree about they don't all agree

21:17

about what truth is

21:18

they don't all agree that there is such

21:19

a thing but they all agree that almost

21:21

all of them anyway agree that if there

21:22

is such a thing

21:24

contradictory positions cannot both

21:26

attain it

21:27

this is basic logic okay so that

21:29

catchphrase is just kind of silly

21:32

now to be fair to these people what what

21:34

they probably

21:35

mean by that they probably haven't had

21:37

critical thinking or logic courses

21:40

although they all should plug for

21:41

teaching logic in high school

21:43

what they probably mean is not that

21:46

everyone can have their own position and

21:48

their own truth and be right

21:49

they probably mean something like this

21:51

they're probably making a moral claim

21:53

you should respect the opinions of

21:55

others

21:56

you should respect the pizza you should

21:58

be tolerant

21:59

you should not be disrespectful or

22:01

judgmental that's probably what they

22:03

mean

22:04

and we can definitely find something to

22:05

affirm in that

22:07

but taking that to the extreme that the

22:09

relativist takes it to which is to say

22:11

that

22:12

either there is no truth or there are

22:14

multiple versions of the truth and that

22:15

contradictions don't matter

22:17

well that's just cognitive suicide like

22:21

it

22:21

cognitive suicide we need a sound effect

22:27

so that's two of three kyle

22:30

the third which is related to both is

22:32

judgmentalism

22:34

we we categorize people before

22:37

hearing their reasons before hearing

22:40

their perspectives

22:41

i see that you you know on social media

22:43

or whatever i see that you believe

22:45

x about issue y and

22:48

i immediately lump you into oh you're

22:50

one of those

22:51

and now i'm not open to have you know a

22:54

free exchange of ideas or reasons with

22:56

you anymore because i've predetermined

22:59

what my opinion about you and your view

23:01

is that's

23:02

judgmentalism and it absolutely shuts

23:04

down conversation

23:06

it's often a moral evaluation of another

23:09

person

23:10

you are i i'm now suspicious of your

23:12

motives

23:13

i'm suspicious of your capacity to

23:15

reason

23:16

objectively uh and so i'm just not gonna

23:19

engage

23:20

even if you make a brilliant argument

23:22

i'm not gonna engage with it because

23:23

i've pre-judged you

23:25

this absolutely destroys the possibility

23:28

of any kind of productive disagreement

23:30

this is like ninja level social

23:32

commentary right here

23:34

i mean you just you just like explained

23:38

all of what i see on social media in a

23:40

little nutshell there so

23:42

that's the that's the crappy way to go

23:44

that's that's the pitfalls that we find

23:46

when

23:47

when engaging with one another in

23:48

disagreement what's

23:50

what's the ideal yeah

23:54

well philosophy to the rescue here

23:57

the ideal i think is best expressed

24:01

in ancient athens it's probably

24:03

expressed in many other ways

24:04

in many different parts of the world as

24:06

well but in the beginnings of greek

24:08

philosophy

24:09

we get this idea in socrates and plato

24:12

that disagreement is the best thing that

24:15

can happen to you

24:16

that it's something desirable that it's

24:19

something it's actually the highest form

24:21

of life

24:22

seeking a critical context in which your

24:25

ideas are

24:26

challenged is the best thing you can do

24:29

it's the best kind of human life you can

24:31

have it's the life of contemplation

24:32

and that right there is why so many

24:34

college freshmen say i want nothing to

24:36

do with philosophy philosophy

24:38

check right now actually you know

24:39

believe it or not my students are

24:41

quite receptive to this idea they they

24:43

find it interesting maybe because

24:45

they're

24:46

fed up with the kinds of pseudo

24:48

disagreements they see from their elders

24:50

i don't know

24:51

but they're actually pretty into this

24:52

idea the idea that you can

24:54

actually embrace challenge and that your

24:57

your faith

24:58

and not just your faith but i mean any

24:59

of your beliefs can actually

25:01

withstand scrutiny that it can be

25:03

something you can actually put a lot of

25:04

weight on

25:05

is often quite attractive to many of my

25:09

intro philosophy students is very

25:11

attractive to me when i went to college

25:13

and had a lot of my beliefs shaken

25:15

so in socrates you see this this

25:18

really open really honest embrace of

25:21

critique

25:23

socrates says something along the lines

25:24

of be my friend

25:27

and because you're my friend refute me

25:30

show me where i'm wrong because i want

25:32

to better myself and i'll do the same

25:33

for you this is the dialogue format that

25:36

that you get in platonic philosophy and

25:39

then

25:40

later on uh in the more modern

25:42

philosophical tradition you have a

25:44

british philosopher named jon stewart

25:45

mill and he's he he says he can sort of

25:48

extends this thought

25:49

and says if i'm going to be sure of any

25:51

of my beliefs at all if any of my

25:53

beliefs are going to

25:54

meet the level of justification where i

25:57

can be

25:58

confident about them and ensure that i'm

26:00

holding them in the right way

26:01

if that's going to be possible at all i

26:04

have to

26:05

seek out actively disagreement i have to

26:08

put myself in a social situation where

26:10

i'm

26:11

regularly critiqued and not by just

26:14

lay people i'm regularly critiqued by

26:16

the best representatives

26:18

of contrary views people who sincerely

26:21

passionately hold views that i find

26:24

false or maybe even reprehensible i have

26:27

to seek those people out

26:29

and invite their critique about my own

26:31

views or my own views aren't justified

26:34

this is mills view and somewhere in here

26:37

i think

26:38

is the solution or the the antidote

26:41

to the kinds of problems i described a

26:43

moment ago

26:44

you have to you have to learn to see

26:45

disagreement as a healthy thing as a

26:47

good thing

26:48

as something that is not necessarily

26:51

hostile

26:52

so there was a i think it was barna or

26:55

one of

26:55

maybe it was pew one of those big

26:58

polling

26:59

organizations a couple years ago

27:02

did a poll and they found that

27:04

millennials

27:05

tend to view disagreement someone

27:08

expressing disagreement

27:10

as hostile more so than previous

27:13

generations even

27:14

did and this is dangerous

27:17

we have to somehow figure out a way to

27:19

teach our youth

27:20

that to model for them really not just

27:22

teach it but model it

27:24

the disagreement can be healthy and

27:26

constructive

27:27

and friendly that it can actually be a

27:30

kind thing to do

27:32

for a friend i mean that sounds good

27:36

but is it because i've never i so rarely

27:40

see

27:40

disagreement modeled well that i can say

27:43

disagreement

27:44

is a kind thing to a friend or how much

27:47

can you

27:47

how much is it humanly possible for a

27:49

person to

27:50

detach their emotions to a certain to

27:53

such an extent to where you can receive

27:55

that kind of

27:56

critique critique and criticism or um

27:59

disagreement

28:00

and still feel grounded as a person and

28:02

not attacked

28:04

or belittled or you know you're yeah

28:07

good

28:07

i'm not sold on that that yeah the kind

28:10

disagreeing with the person is the

28:11

kindest thing you can do

28:12

so a couple things one you'll notice

28:16

i did not say anything about detaching

28:18

from one's emotions

28:19

so part of learning to disagree well and

28:21

this takes practice trial and error

28:24

you have to learn to control your

28:25

emotions but the best arguments

28:28

are arguments that are passionate

28:32

that are emotional uh they just shepherd

28:35

those emotions well

28:36

so there's there is i'll grant you this

28:38

there is an old tradition

28:40

in philosophy uh it goes all the way

28:43

back to the greeks

28:44

very pr prominent in the modern period

28:46

of viewing emotions as something

28:48

dangerous

28:49

something that is inherently irrational

28:52

and that

28:53

uh to to have the best kind of human

28:54

life you need to learn to suppress those

28:56

so that you can be purely rational that

28:58

was certainly plato's view

29:00

but since then there have been some

29:03

really productive movements within

29:04

philosophy most prominently by

29:06

feminist philosophers and other minority

29:09

philosophers

29:10

who have pointed out the danger of that

29:12

uh and

29:13

given us a corrective it's you don't

29:16

have to actually

29:17

demarcate your reason from your emotions

29:20

and then split yourself

29:21

like that because that's not how humans

29:23

actually work we experience these things

29:25

as

29:26

one thing i i am being a human means i

29:29

am rational it also means i'm emotional

29:31

i feel and think simultaneously and

29:33

these are one experience

29:35

uh so i do not advocate trying to

29:38

you know privilege one over the other

29:40

what i do advocate is trying to do both

29:42

responsibly

29:43

uh and you you can learn to do this

29:45

there are virtues of the mind there are

29:47

virtues of the emotion and you can

29:48

practice these virtues and become

29:50

good at being passionate being emotional

29:54

but in a controlled way sometimes anger

29:57

is the most rational response

30:00

to the position that someone else has

30:03

just taken

30:04

and it is possible not easy but it's

30:06

possible to express that anger

30:08

while also respecting the other person

30:12

uh you can be angry at them so i'm going

30:14

to borrow a distinction here

30:15

that i that i heard from someone else

30:17

scouting arthur brooks

30:18

uh he draws this distinction between

30:20

being angry

30:22

and being contemptuous to hold someone

30:25

in contempt

30:26

is to view them as worthless not worthy

30:29

of your respect

30:31

but you can be angry at them and still

30:32

value their perspective

30:34

still still value them as a human being

30:37

if you're a christian value them as

30:39

someone who bears the image of god

30:41

and express your anger as you would

30:42

express it to someone who you value

30:45

anger is not is not incompatible with

30:50

respect it's not incompatible with

30:51

kindness contempt is

30:54

viewing someone is worthless that's what

30:56

we have to train ourselves to avoid

30:59

friends before we continue we want to

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31:39

so this sounds this sounds all great

31:42

kyle and

31:43

i like the distinctions i particularly

31:45

like the

31:46

bad ways of disagreeing in the three

31:49

realms

31:50

of faulty ways of engaging and

31:53

disagreeing but

31:54

how does it look between you and your

31:57

wife

31:58

right i i sat at a cafe table with you

32:02

and emily

32:03

and did pre-marital counseling with you

32:04

guys and pretended that i was the expert

32:07

at it

32:07

and i officiated your wedding now kyle

32:10

the husband who

32:11

you know letters behind his name doesn't

32:12

mean a whole lot a whole lot and

32:14

when you walk through that door what

32:16

does disagreeing well look like on an

32:18

intimate personal level yeah

32:22

it's much much harder

32:25

so this is not in my dissertation so i

32:28

don't have any

32:28

particular expertise about uh intimate

32:32

uh relationship you know dynamics or

32:34

anything like that but what i can say is

32:35

that the stakes

32:37

in intimate relationships are much much

32:39

higher

32:40

than they are in workplace disagreements

32:43

or

32:44

academic disagreements or the sort of

32:45

disagreements you might have on social

32:47

media

32:47

with friends or strangers it's very very

32:50

important

32:51

and this is important across the board

32:52

but even more so in intimate context

32:55

very important to first understand

32:58

why someone holds the position that they

33:00

hold before trying to have the argument

33:03

the argument still has to be had in in

33:05

my experience

33:07

brushing it under the rug is not going

33:08

to help anyone but understanding the

33:11

psychological work

33:13

that someone's view is doing for them

33:15

why they hold the view

33:17

why it's important to them why they

33:19

place as much weight on it as they do

33:21

that is crucial it's a necessary step to

33:24

having successful

33:25

disagreements that's in other words

33:26

emphasis especially true

33:29

empathy is an aspect of it but this is

33:31

something that can be achieved even by

33:33

people who have a difficulty with

33:35

empathy

33:36

um so for example i think sociopaths

33:39

could still have successful

33:40

disagreements

33:41

if they adopt certain kind of

33:43

methodological stances

33:46

there's hope for dexter indeed

33:50

so yeah so just give you a little

33:52

example

33:53

not about my wife uh about someone else

33:56

so

33:57

i was in a home church a little small

33:59

group of christians

34:01

who met together once a week in our

34:03

homes

34:04

and there was a another person in this

34:06

home church who was very sweet

34:08

very kind just really genuinely good

34:11

person

34:12

uh but they believed something that i

34:14

did not believe and this came up in one

34:16

of our

34:17

one of our meetings something about

34:19

evolution i think it was

34:21

and sort of unthinkingly when this came

34:24

up i just kind of

34:26

steamrolled this person just you know

34:28

said all the reasons that i thought

34:30

this particular view was dumb why this

34:33

other view was obviously better

34:35

i didn't really think much of it and

34:37

then a couple weeks later

34:39

i find out that this seriously shook

34:42

this person's faith

34:44

they kind of had a faith structure so

34:46

that everything was kind of precariously

34:48

placed leaning on everything else

34:50

each little component of it needed to be

34:52

there you might call this like a house

34:54

of cards kind of structure of faith

34:57

but there were some really good

34:59

psychological reasons having to do with

35:01

this person's past

35:02

that they held this view and it was a

35:05

view that i didn't place any weight on

35:06

at all i was years removed from thinking

35:08

this was even an important view

35:10

but because i didn't take the time to do

35:12

the kind of investigative work of really

35:14

getting to know that person prior to

35:16

having the disagreement

35:17

i could have done some serious damage

35:19

fortunately it worked out this person

35:21

was forgiving

35:22

i was able to apologize and explain a

35:26

little more in depth my perspective and

35:27

it was all okay

35:28

but it could have been much worse and it

35:30

often is much worse

35:32

so you have to first prior to critiquing

35:34

of you

35:36

find out why it's there and connected to

35:38

that make sure you understand it

35:40

make sure you really get the full

35:42

picture of the reasons this person has

35:45

one great tool by the way one great test

35:47

if you're not sure how to do that

35:49

it's very simple repeat the person's

35:51

view back to them

35:52

and say is that your view and they will

35:56

say yes or no

35:57

and if it's not you need to listen more

35:59

that's good

36:00

that actually can be used in marriage as

36:02

well technically

36:05

now as we think of ourselves hopefully

36:08

we think of ourselves as christ's

36:10

followers and

36:13

jesus seemed to have an awful lot to say

36:15

about

36:16

what it means to be his follower and

36:18

there wasn't a whole lot about being

36:19

right

36:20

or even truth right i mean

36:24

when he said when he talked about truth

36:25

he pointed to himself

36:27

as a truth a person is the truth but

36:29

what he did talk

36:30

an awful lot is how people around you

36:34

are going to notice that you're my

36:35

followers

36:36

is by the way you love one another and

36:38

he talked

36:39

even a lot about unity within

36:43

disagreement because unity actually

36:45

means that we're together even if we

36:46

don't

36:47

agree with one another so as a

36:50

philosopher who also happens to be a

36:51

christian

36:52

and a christ follower kyle is one

36:56

nagging

36:56

is one kind of competing with the other

36:58

this value of agape love

37:00

that prefers the other unconditionally

37:04

but also is seeking the truth are those

37:07

in competition with one another

37:09

how does that work yeah

37:12

this is a hard question i i'd like to

37:14

say they're never in competition

37:15

i've had a running disagreement with a

37:18

good friend of mine

37:19

another philosopher about this specific

37:21

question

37:22

i think sometimes they can be intention

37:25

the truth

37:26

and love but i need to make a

37:28

distinction here between two

37:29

senses of that tension so we can talk

37:32

about there being attention in a

37:33

metaphysical sense

37:35

which means the way the world

37:37

fundamentally is

37:38

uh like inherent in it there's some kind

37:41

of tension

37:42

and in that sense i don't think that

37:43

there is a tension between truth and

37:45

love because

37:46

as a christian i believe that the truth

37:49

and love

37:50

are metaphysically the same thing now

37:52

that's very complicated and we could

37:53

have a longer conversation about that

37:56

but that is not the sense of tension

37:57

that i mean another sense of tension

38:00

is there's a kind of epistemic or

38:02

epistemological

38:04

tension which means with respect to what

38:06

we can know

38:08

about the world there might in fact be

38:10

attention or

38:11

or what we can establish maybe or

38:13

convince others of about the world

38:15

in that sense there might actually be a

38:17

tension between truth

38:19

as a value and love as a value

38:22

sometimes in practice those things do

38:24

come into conflict

38:26

philosophy in the greek tradition at

38:29

least is all about

38:30

the truth i mean it's all about wisdom

38:32

the word literally means the love of

38:33

wisdom

38:34

and that means finding out one what the

38:36

world is like and two how do i live in

38:38

it

38:38

what should i do what am i what should i

38:40

do we want to know what reality is

38:43

uh truth is the whole thing and

38:47

love when it comes up which is not that

38:49

often is

38:50

secondary or it's talked about in a kind

38:52

of romantic way or an erotic way or

38:54

something like that

38:55

the christian emphasis on agape love

38:58

which is this kind of self-sacrificial

39:01

other oriented extended even to enemies

39:05

that kind of love the kind of love that

39:07

god has for us

39:08

the kind of love that's exhibited by

39:10

jesus on the cross

39:12

that doesn't really appear in philosophy

39:15

very much

39:15

unless it is philosophy done by and

39:17

motivated by christians

39:19

and i thought for a long time i even

39:20

wrote a paper about this about what it

39:22

means to be a christian philosopher and

39:24

it's

39:25

something that kind of keeps me up at

39:26

night i'm still a little bit torn on it

39:28

but i have to say at the end of the day

39:30

if the two are in conflict i have to

39:32

privilege love

39:34

i have to value the person in front of

39:36

me

39:37

over coming to agreement about the truth

39:41

or or even over the truth being honored

39:44

and that sounds really bad but in

39:46

practice fortunately it's usually not

39:47

that bad

39:48

uh i think i think there's a there's a

39:50

hypothetical space in which

39:52

those that tension could be really

39:53

pronounced but in practice

39:55

thank god most of the time these things

39:57

go together and in fact most of the time

39:59

when i

40:00

approach someone in love and i value

40:02

them

40:03

more than agreeing more than being right

40:07

it actually ends up helping the truth to

40:10

be

40:10

discovered or at least helping us make

40:12

progress towards it together

40:14

because it kind of undercuts the

40:16

hostility it undercuts the

40:18

contemptuousness that is the real

40:20

roadblock

40:21

to coming to the truth if i can gain the

40:23

trust

40:24

of the other person by demonstrating

40:26

that i love them

40:27

then the truth becomes much more likely

40:30

and that is a very good thing otherwise

40:32

it would be even more difficult for me

40:33

to reconcile

40:34

the philosophical part of me in the

40:36

christian part of me yep absolutely

40:39

so i asked you what are bad ways to

40:41

disagree and what are

40:42

what's behind those bad ways what does

40:45

it look like to disagree well

40:49

yeah unfortunately i've had lots of

40:51

great models of this my whole life

40:53

i don't know i've just been really lucky

40:54

to have good spiritual advisors yourself

40:56

included who

40:57

uh model for me sort of humble way to

41:00

approach people

41:01

uh even while disagreeing with them and

41:03

so i've been lucky and fortunate to

41:06

to see a lot of people doing it well and

41:08

then

41:09

through studying it i've also come

41:10

across several sort of general

41:13

methods or general approaches that you

41:15

can take

41:16

to doing it well across the board that

41:19

don't always come naturally

41:20

to everyone so part of it is as i said

41:23

before becoming comfortable

41:24

being challenged reaching a place of

41:27

personal

41:28

maturity where someone challenging your

41:30

belief

41:31

you don't take that as devaluing you as

41:34

a person

41:34

you take it as actually an honoring

41:36

thing because they care about you and

41:38

your view enough to

41:39

engage with it but the most important

41:42

thing

41:44

is to develop a kind of intellectual

41:46

humility

41:47

to to recognize that you are finite

41:51

you are limited the even if you're an

41:53

expert the amount that you can know

41:55

about any issue

41:56

is very very small the the little niche

41:59

part of the world that you have insight

42:02

into

42:03

is minuscule and you're going to

42:06

encounter people who know more than you

42:08

you're going to encounter people who

42:09

have thought about something longer than

42:10

you have

42:11

and you have to approach your own

42:13

beliefs and the beliefs of others

42:15

with some humility with the ability to

42:18

admit that

42:19

maybe i don't know this i can be

42:22

confident about it confident enough to

42:23

act on it

42:24

but i'm not certain and

42:28

maybe in some circumstances it's not

42:30

even appropriate for me to say that i

42:31

know

42:32

that this is true and that's okay so

42:35

so developing some intellectual humility

42:38

is really

42:38

the key to having successful

42:40

disagreements because if you don't have

42:42

that if you're certain that you're right

42:43

then you're never going to engage with

42:45

someone else because you won't value

42:47

their view and this entails that you

42:49

have to be able to admit when you don't

42:50

know something you have to be able to

42:52

say

42:53

i'm ignorant this was actually the

42:55

beginning of philosophy

42:57

in the western tradition socrates said

43:00

look wisdom is simply

43:03

admitting that you don't know it's the

43:06

opposite of wisdom

43:08

is pretense pretending that you know

43:11

what you don't know all legitimate

43:14

inquiry

43:14

science itself doesn't get off the

43:17

ground until you can admit that you

43:18

don't know something until you can be

43:20

genuinely curious about the way the

43:21

world is

43:22

and admit that you don't know the way

43:26

the world is so that you can then

43:28

investigate it openly

43:29

that's the key to the whole thing if you

43:30

can't admit that you're wrong

43:33

there's really no chance for successful

43:35

disagreement

43:37

now that right there those three words i

43:40

don't know strike me as remarkably rare

43:44

in the world we live in today on a

43:46

number of levels right

43:48

but i don't know that sounds like just a

43:51

forgotten tool

43:53

to me yeah yeah and some

43:56

in some context it's not even allowed i

43:59

mean

44:00

imagine you work in a corporate context

44:02

and you were in a meeting

44:03

and your boss asks you a question and

44:06

you don't know the answer and you're

44:08

tempted to say

44:09

the responsible thing which is that you

44:11

know i don't have enough evidence about

44:12

that right now

44:14

maybe i can look into it and get back to

44:16

you but right now

44:17

i don't know often that's just not a

44:20

welcome response

44:21

that's not an okay thing to say it's the

44:23

most responsible thing to say

44:25

but it's not an okay thing to say and

44:27

you could run into serious trouble about

44:28

that

44:29

this is a deeply unhealthy way to

44:30

proceed and it's pervaded our culture

44:32

yeah yeah as a pastor

44:38

i i have no idea what you're talking

44:39

about it's dangerous to say i don't know

44:42

that must be particularly difficult for

44:44

you um

44:45

i mean because people put a lot of stock

44:47

in what you say you

44:48

in some ways represent god to them uh so

44:51

admitting ignorance

44:52

about god i would imagine would be

44:55

particularly fraught for you

44:57

yeah i think probably because of what's

44:59

been modeled you know for me for other

45:01

spiritual leaders which is

45:02

we're not talking about faith we're

45:04

talking about certainty

45:06

faith has been taken out of the equation

45:09

and we have to pretend that we're

45:10

certain about something and so that's

45:11

just become a culture

45:13

within our faith tradition honestly

45:17

particularly within evangelicalism but i

45:19

think probably within

45:20

many religious traditions and it's just

45:23

expected and

45:24

yeah that's a lot of pressure i mean

45:26

i've spent years of my young

45:28

ministry years practicing actually

45:31

answering

45:32

certain questions and and then kicking

45:35

myself when i didn't word it right or

45:37

say it right or

45:38

or appear that i that i have it all

45:40

figured out or whatever

45:42

that stuff that's the stuff that kept me

45:44

up at night and it just got to a point

45:45

where

45:46

i saw a lot of beauty and humility and

45:48

things being unlocked when i would say

45:51

i'm not sure or yeah i haven't landed

45:53

there yet or i don't know

45:55

that's a like those three words are very

45:58

discipling words is the way i see it now

46:01

um that you can have a faith leader who

46:04

has put a lot of time in

46:05

in in efforts in research into

46:08

what he's talking about or she's talking

46:10

about and to still come to a question

46:12

and say i don't know makes a lot of

46:14

space

46:16

for for humility but it challenges some

46:19

people too some people will walk away

46:21

because they have a pastor who said i

46:22

don't know about something that's really

46:24

important to them that's dangerous

46:25

in some sense absolutely that's so so so

46:28

important

46:28

as i'm listening to you both talk about

46:30

this in the context of disagreeing well

46:33

if i'm disagreeing with somebody who's

46:35

able to say

46:36

i don't know even if i know that they

46:39

can say i don't know about something

46:40

that gives me such a better

46:44

platform of respect and conversation

46:47

yeah that i appreciate that and and so

46:51

in the conflict then i would much rather

46:54

talk with the person who can say they

46:55

don't know

46:57

even if they actually are going to have

46:59

have an opinion or something that i

47:01

might disagree with in the midst of not

47:03

knowing

47:04

that's that's refreshing it changes the

47:07

whole like energy dynamic of the

47:08

conversation

47:10

uh my wife and i read a book by rob bell

47:12

and his wife called

47:13

the zim zoom of love there was this uh

47:16

concept he's good at titles

47:18

i know there's a concept that he

47:20

borrowed of like the energy that exists

47:22

between people and you can kind of tell

47:23

when that energy is off

47:25

and just something as simple as

47:26

admitting your ignorance saying i'm

47:28

really not sure

47:29

about this i'll you know share with you

47:31

my view but but i'm not

47:32

certain that can just totally change the

47:34

dynamics

47:35

and allows people to be more honest and

47:37

more open it makes it easier to

47:39

forgive each other and to love each

47:41

other well in that context it's super

47:42

important

47:43

randy you were saying about that you

47:46

felt this responsibility to have

47:48

the answer ready and then sort of kicked

47:51

yourself when you didn't

47:52

i think you and i both have had some not

47:55

so great experiences with

47:57

evangelical apologetics and maybe

47:59

eventually we'll

48:00

have a separate episode on that i've

48:02

intended for years to write a book on

48:04

all the problems with apologetics

48:06

culture and the main one and i was

48:08

personally

48:09

harmed by this the main one is it's like

48:12

hostile

48:13

to humility i mean it trains we very

48:16

specifically train people

48:18

to have a ready answer whether or not we

48:20

fully understood the view

48:22

that we're answering we're supposed to

48:24

have a ready answer for what people say

48:26

so that we can

48:27

demonstrate the rational superiority of

48:30

our view

48:31

that this is not compatible with

48:33

intellectual humility yeah i mean i

48:35

would say

48:36

the idea of certainty or always being

48:39

right or having a handle

48:41

and a firm grasp on who god is and that

48:44

being a

48:44

static reality that i've got it and i've

48:47

got god

48:48

that in many ways could be our modern

48:51

tower of babel

48:52

you know that we we think we've ascended

48:55

to this place

48:56

of understanding god and i i wonder if

48:58

what god's gonna do to

49:00

confuse us to create a little bit more

49:02

humility and

49:03

and wonder as well yeah

49:06

it's interesting that you mentioned

49:07

wonder i don't know if you know this but

49:10

another famous quote of socrates is that

49:12

philosophy begins in wonder

49:14

it's literally looking at the world and

49:17

being genuinely curious

49:19

at how it all works how it all fits

49:21

together this is the birth of science

49:23

this is the birth of ethics this is the

49:24

birth of

49:25

metaphysics in some ways it's the birth

49:27

of uh critical religion

49:29

we we just wonder what the world is like

49:32

it's

49:32

sort of this innate human curiosity that

49:35

every kid

49:36

has and you have to suppress it out of

49:38

them

49:39

or it'll stay there

49:43

that's the beginning of philosophy

49:44

that's that's what the whole thing's

49:45

about

49:46

and i mean i feel like you can spot a

49:48

person who

49:50

is acquainted with wonder

49:53

from a mile away right i mean because

49:55

those are the kind of people who just

49:56

can't stop asking questions

49:58

about you and your world those are the

49:59

people who are just genuinely excited

50:02

about who you are

50:03

what's your what you're doing what

50:05

you're excited about

50:06

that kind of person is just irresistible

50:08

to be around

50:10

rather than that douchey person who

50:12

loves talking about themselves and loves

50:14

talking about their ideas and their

50:16

opinions and

50:16

he can't can't is always carrying their

50:19

soapbox around now i'm

50:21

describing myself in many ways but that

50:24

wonder that socrate you're referencing

50:26

from socrates and that wonder that i

50:28

think is

50:28

missing from a lot of our modern

50:31

religious

50:32

world i just it's if right now

50:35

it's like a drug to me like i just can't

50:37

get enough of it i

50:38

i can't talk about wonder enough because

50:41

it's

50:42

there's such a vacuum of it in the

50:44

religious world that i live in

50:46

and when you're motivated by that by

50:48

wonder by genuine

50:49

curiosity there's no disappointing

50:53

answer

50:53

i mean there's no there's no place the

50:55

investigation can go that won't be

50:57

thrilling

50:58

yes because you don't have a

51:00

predetermined agenda that you're trying

51:02

to fill out the details of you just want

51:03

to know

51:04

that's good there's something very i

51:06

feel like divine about that something

51:08

maybe even part of the imago days we we

51:11

want to understand and that's a good

51:12

thing

51:13

that's good yep so speaking of religion

51:17

god spirituality you know we were

51:19

talking earlier about political

51:20

disagreements and how that's kind of

51:21

filling the error

51:22

in our culture when you talk about

51:24

disagreeing about god

51:26

right i've i've i've had some of my most

51:30

painful disagreements have been over

51:33

views of god or ways that i live or

51:37

don't live based

51:38

because of certain people's expectations

51:41

and

51:41

all that it just takes on a different

51:43

layer a different dimension a different

51:45

weight to it

51:46

can you talk to us about how to disagree

51:48

about god well

51:50

yeah good uh well so first there are

51:52

some general tips that work

51:54

for all disagreements and therefore they

51:56

also work for disagreements about

51:58

religion and about god

51:59

uh we already discussed being you gotta

52:01

be humble you gotta approach the issue

52:03

with

52:03

humility you got to be able to admit

52:05

when you're wrong you got to be

52:07

willing to listen try to understand the

52:09

other perspective first

52:11

again repeat it back to the other person

52:12

to make sure that you've understood it

52:14

approach someone as though you can learn

52:16

from them rather than just having

52:18

things to teach them explicitly affirm

52:21

the other person

52:22

has to be explicit and it's not good

52:23

enough that you believe that the other

52:24

person is valuable you have to tell them

52:27

that they're valuable this even works in

52:28

social media disagreements i found

52:30

i just say the words you are more

52:32

important to me

52:33

than this disagreement and that again

52:36

changes the dynamic of the whole thing

52:38

but you're right disagreeing about god

52:41

is special

52:41

because it's the stakes involved are so

52:44

much higher

52:45

for religious people their beliefs about

52:47

god are the core of who they are

52:49

they're the most important things

52:52

usually

52:53

and for that reason many religious

52:54

people are simply unwilling to engage

52:56

they're dogmatic about their religious

52:57

beliefs

52:58

in fact the word dogma sometimes just

53:00

means religious belief

53:02

and so they're simply unwilling to

53:03

engage because of the stakes if

53:05

if it turns out i'm wrong about this

53:08

there goes the world

53:09

there goes everything right everything

53:11

that's important to me

53:13

and this is dangerous it gives you a

53:14

really shallow faith a faith that can't

53:16

withstand scrutiny of faith that

53:18

probably can't withstand

53:19

the the things that life is going to

53:21

throw at you just because you're human

53:24

so in my view the best way

53:27

to have a disagreement about god

53:30

is to focus a little bit less on

53:34

the object of the disagreement

53:37

the specific thing you're disagreeing

53:38

about and a little bit more on how

53:41

you're doing the disagreement

53:42

or the method of the disagreement so if

53:45

you're a christian

53:46

we're christians most of our listeners

53:48

are probably christians

53:49

disagreeing about god is not just

53:51

disagreeing about

53:53

the christian god as an idea it is

53:56

learning to disagree in a christian way

53:59

how can we

54:00

how can we make our method of

54:01

disagreement christian how can we

54:03

disagree like jesus would

54:05

disagree or like the holy spirit would

54:08

have us

54:08

disagree and when we frame it in that

54:10

way the

54:11

the question takes on a different um i

54:14

don't know a different tinge it

54:16

becomes a little bit easier to discuss

54:19

what that might look like because

54:21

we know hopefully what's distinctive to

54:23

christianity i mean we know what

54:25

christianity is about it's it's about

54:27

things like agape love

54:29

and grace graciousness and mercy

54:33

and being incarnational you know giving

54:36

giving up our power

54:38

uh for the sake of the goodness of

54:40

another person

54:41

and so when i when i approach someone

54:43

i'm disagreeing with

54:45

with all those values in mind i'm

54:48

honoring them as

54:49

an image bearer of the divine as

54:51

something of unsurpassable worth as

54:52

something

54:53

that i have a duty of agape love towards

54:58

changes the whole dynamic of the

55:00

disagreement so i'm a little less

55:02

interested in

55:03

how to disagree about god than i am in

55:05

how to disagree like god

55:07

like like the person that jesus would

55:10

would have me do

55:12

and now practically what does that mean

55:13

concretely it might mean

55:15

giving up on winning it might mean

55:19

being willing to let this disagreement

55:20

just continue for a while

55:22

it might mean helping the other person

55:24

make their point

55:26

they might be having difficulty

55:27

expressing it they might be getting

55:28

heated or frustrated

55:30

care for them in that moment help them

55:33

to

55:33

to flesh out their own view before

55:35

trying to correct it

55:36

it might mean letting them have the last

55:38

word all that stuff

55:40

yep so i'm sure there's some listeners

55:43

who are maybe in the midst

55:44

of a major disagreement that's causing

55:47

disruption

55:48

or we've been in this before and you get

55:50

to that point where you're

55:53

you feel certain that you're right

55:56

and almost like it's injustice to let

55:58

this

55:59

go wrong and to let this settle because

56:02

you're wrong

56:04

yeah what do you do then a couple things

56:08

it rarely is actually injustice

56:11

i know it feels that way very often but

56:14

that is very rarely the case and when it

56:16

is the case it's usually pretty obvious

56:18

but more importantly even than that is

56:21

you're not

56:22

certain you're just not going to have a

56:24

successful disagreement until you

56:26

realize that certainty

56:27

is a cancer certainty is not attainable

56:31

by humans about anything about god about

56:34

science about politics

56:36

even about perceptual beliefs like their

56:39

certainty is simply

56:40

not attainable you have to come to terms

56:43

with that

56:44

and be okay with beliefs that are

56:47

fallible beliefs that are maybe a bit

56:50

more probabilistic

56:51

it's not to say you can't be confident

56:52

it's not to say you can't act on

56:54

beliefs with some surety but you're

56:57

never certain

56:58

certainty is the enemy of faith so

57:01

certainty

57:02

is the enemy of faith i agree with that

57:04

but here's

57:06

in my world i've got some people that i

57:08

really

57:09

i'll even go into a an engagement with a

57:12

certain person

57:14

or certain kind or certain few people

57:16

and think about what i'm

57:17

willing or not willing to share because

57:19

i don't want to

57:21

stir something up right and most of

57:24

mostly those people are pretty

57:26

fundamentalists

57:27

christians who have this view of the

57:29

bible but the bible in particular seems

57:31

to be a tipping point for

57:33

for disagreements and for ways that we

57:36

disagree

57:37

where they have this view that if

57:39

there's a contradiction in the bible or

57:41

if

57:41

if there's a human element to the bible

57:44

that wasn't maybe 100

57:45

inspired right it's far be it for me to

57:48

say that

57:49

that the whole thing then falls apart

57:51

and so i know that as

57:53

as i'm talking to this person that i can

57:55

bring

57:56

all the data and all the reason and all

57:58

the

57:59

all the logic that i can but they will

58:02

never be able to say

58:03

yes you might be right or man i got to

58:05

think about that or wow that's that's

58:07

really interesting

58:08

because if they say that the faith that

58:10

they've built

58:12

completely falls apart like a house of

58:14

cards

58:15

how do you actually engage with a person

58:16

like that is it possible to

58:18

yeah i think it is possible usually now

58:22

i'm enough of a realist to say there are

58:24

probably situations where

58:26

people are just unwilling to let go of

58:28

their dogmatism maybe there's good

58:29

psychological reasons for that

58:31

and probably engagement after a certain

58:33

point with some people

58:34

is probably not possible and as a human

58:37

with limited

58:38

time and limited energy and limited

58:42

ability to engage with everybody

58:44

sometimes you have to make a sort of

58:45

cost-benefit decision

58:46

and decide who's who's best worth your

58:48

time but what i found to be most

58:50

successful

58:51

with dealing with people like this

58:53

extreme dogmatists

58:55

is to just bracket the issue we disagree

58:57

about all together for a while

58:59

and just be really really nice

59:02

so i had a i had a friend in college who

59:05

i used to have a blog and it was a blog

59:07

about

59:08

faith and religion and god and stuff and

59:11

he would regularly comment just really

59:15

hostile things

59:16

on this blog call me names call me a

59:19

fascist thing

59:20

all these things and sometimes you do

59:22

some public too

59:24

and i just decided that the best way to

59:28

approach this is to try to get to know

59:30

him

59:30

and so the next time he called me a name

59:33

i invited him to lunch

59:34

and he accepted and he probably thought

59:37

we were going to hash it out

59:38

and so we got to the cafeteria and we

59:40

got our food and he sat down and he

59:41

started to launch into things and i said

59:44

let's just i don't really want to do

59:46

that right now let's uh let's just get

59:47

to know each other

59:48

a little better if that's okay and we

59:51

had a series of meals together

59:53

like this and eventually uh he would he

59:56

would go around campus saying man those

59:58

christians they're all so stupid i hate

60:00

them they're so full of themselves they

60:01

have no idea what they're talking about

60:03

except that one guy that one guy he's

60:06

okay but the rest

60:08

uh so i was able to gain his trust and

60:10

then eventually we had some fairly

60:11

productive conversations

60:13

about god and about faith which would

60:15

never have happened if he

60:16

viewed me as someone uh suspicious

60:18

someone that he couldn't trust

60:20

sometimes that works i think it's the

60:22

best chance any of us have

60:25

it's not full it probably won't always

60:27

work

60:28

again because of how much importance we

60:31

put on these particular kinds of

60:33

beliefs but again if you can't get past

60:36

the need for certainty you're simply not

60:39

going to have a healthy faith

60:41

yep yep it's good so randy i'm curious

60:44

about something from your own experience

60:46

with disagreement you are a pastor of a

60:49

moderately sized church the the church

60:52

is

60:52

elder led which means there's a team of

60:54

people that you're sort of

60:56

at the same level i guess

60:57

authoritatively speaking is that not a

60:59

team of old people but yes

61:03

yeah good um so like the decision-making

61:06

power is distributed

61:07

among this group of people and i would

61:09

assume there's often disagreement

61:10

between i know all of you so i i know

61:12

there's disagreement often

61:14

between you about some probably pretty

61:16

important stuff what's been your

61:17

experience with

61:18

navigating disagreement in the context

61:20

of that kind of

61:21

church structure it's a great question i

61:24

mean i think

61:25

for me it's all about what kind of

61:27

culture you set are you setting a

61:29

culture

61:30

in which the loudest voice in the room

61:33

usually gets their way or a culture in

61:36

which

61:36

you're you're always suspect of one

61:38

another or are you

61:40

establishing a culture an underlying

61:43

foundation

61:44

of love for one another that's

61:46

prioritized over and above this thing

61:48

that we're doing or even this

61:49

disagreement that we're having

61:51

right and so what we've established a

61:53

culture

61:54

that prioritizes loving one another that

61:56

prioritizes a relationship

61:58

with one another in such a way that we

62:00

rarely and i

62:01

i really mean this that sounds it sounds

62:03

i'm sure this sounds weird to people

62:04

particularly people who have been on

62:06

church leadership teams or elder teams

62:08

we rarely vote on anything ever

62:11

i think i think i could count on one

62:13

hand the time we act

62:14

times we've actually voted on something

62:17

within the last

62:18

five to six years i'm not exaggerating

62:20

and that's mostly because

62:22

we disagree with one another and

62:26

honor one another within that and we'll

62:28

walk we'll air that out until we get to

62:31

a point where we can say

62:32

okay i think that's best or even some of

62:35

us can get to a point and say

62:37

i still disagree but i see your point

62:40

and i'm gonna prefer the group or prefer

62:42

you and and just

62:44

so we rarely ever get to a point where

62:46

we have a vote which i think speaks to

62:48

that culture that we've established and

62:51

you've got to be willing to be wrong

62:52

you've got to be willing to

62:53

to trust one another and something that

62:55

really has helped actually in the way

62:57

that i've engaged with our leaders

62:59

is the enneagram i know that you're

63:02

you know you you're a little bit cynical

63:04

about a couple of things kyle and

63:05

one of those would be the enneagram but

63:08

we did

63:09

last year last june we did an enneagram

63:12

assessment and then

63:13

a spiritual director came in and did an

63:16

enneagram workshop with us where he went

63:18

through all the numbers and we got to

63:19

hear

63:20

after we did our assessments who's what

63:22

number and then the spiritual director

63:24

talked about the strong suits and the

63:26

weaknesses of those numbers

63:28

and it got me to understand the people

63:30

that i'm leading with so much more

63:31

whereas

63:33

for a long time whenever we'd be ready

63:35

to make a decision i'm ready to go i'm

63:36

ready to

63:37

i'm the guy who's wanting to go and just

63:39

like forget about what people think

63:41

because this is just the best way let's

63:42

go let's move we move too slow as a

63:44

church

63:45

but then there's this other guy in the

63:46

room who's constantly saying

63:49

well what are people going to think

63:50

about this what's the congregation going

63:52

to

63:53

how's the congregation respond and i

63:55

always saw that as weakness

63:56

in him i usually saw that as why are you

63:59

so afraid of people right

64:01

and so in my heart i would judge him and

64:03

i would you know

64:05

condescend and come down to you know

64:07

okay let's answer him if he needs to

64:09

have this but once we did the enneagram

64:11

i learned that he's a nine on the

64:12

enneagram which means that europe

64:14

you want to maintain peace as much as

64:16

humanly possible you're a peaceful

64:18

person you love peace you love making

64:20

peace you're a peacemaker

64:22

and that's beautiful in many ways in it

64:25

all of a sudden

64:25

it just helped me realize i actually

64:28

don't care at all about what people

64:30

think i don't care about maintaining the

64:32

peace i'm an

64:32

eight i i challenge things and i don't

64:34

care about it as a matter of fact i

64:36

thrive when i challenge things

64:37

so it actually would help me to listen

64:40

to this other person

64:41

who cares about maintaining the peace

64:43

because i might actually destroy

64:45

relationships along the way if i don't

64:46

listen so that's just a little example

64:48

of

64:48

knowing one another preferring one

64:50

another actually helps us disagree in a

64:52

way that we know that

64:54

nobody's gonna not come back next week

64:56

nobody's gonna

64:58

take their their toys and go home

64:59

nobody's gonna be

65:01

so broken over this that we're gonna

65:04

break a relationship because we care

65:05

about one another more than we care

65:06

about this thing that we're leading and

65:08

that's something that we've established

65:09

from the very beginning is

65:11

this is an important value to us into

65:13

our culture

65:14

you and i in our relationship is more

65:16

important than this organization that

65:17

we're leading

65:19

and it sounds crazy it sounds like

65:21

antithetical to good leadership

65:23

but we've actually that's the i think

65:25

that's the way you create a culture in

65:27

which disagreeing becomes safe then

65:30

yeah yeah yep it's so good preferring

65:33

others isn't there something in the

65:34

bible about that

65:35

uh consider maybe more maybe somewhere i

65:38

feel like that's in there somewhere i

65:39

don't know

65:40

yeah that's that's good stuff and and

65:42

actually

65:43

to the people that think that sounds

65:45

kind of weak

65:46

making that commitment to prefer each

65:48

other above the disagreement we're

65:50

having

65:51

actually in my experience does not make

65:54

the disagreement less effective

65:56

in fact it tends to make it more

65:57

effective because it encourages

65:59

it makes the person feel trusted and

66:01

valued and

66:03

makes you more motivated to reach a kind

66:05

of resolution

66:06

or to get things done at least that's

66:08

been my experience

66:10

so it's not to prefer someone else's not

66:13

to give up on

66:14

solving the problem it actually makes

66:16

solving the problem more likely

66:19

that's good here's why i think this is

66:23

so important

66:24

particularly for us jesus followers but

66:26

for for also

66:27

the atheists who are are listening or

66:30

people of different faiths

66:31

who we're so glad to have you journeying

66:33

along with us i mean really you make us

66:35

better

66:35

and in in brilliant ways but

66:38

here's why for me this is so important

66:40

because we have jesus

66:41

who's praying for the church he's

66:43

praying for the for us for those who are

66:45

going to come after

66:46

the disciples and he asks the father for

66:49

one thing

66:50

he asked the father for for this one

66:52

thing for the church that

66:53

if i could have anything for the church

66:56

this is in the

66:57

jesus high priestly prayer in the book

66:59

of john if i could have anything for the

67:01

church

67:02

father would you bless them with this

67:04

beautiful gift that's called

67:05

unity not truth

67:09

not being right not good dogma

67:12

and good theology right not

67:15

not knowing the theology and the

67:17

doctrine of the trinity perfectly

67:19

inside and out not the right

67:21

denomination

67:22

but unity how many of us would actually

67:25

say if we could

67:26

ask for one thing out of the church and

67:29

see one thing

67:30

in the church happen that's the highest

67:32

priority how many of us would say unity

67:34

would be number one and see here's the

67:36

thing we see unity as being

67:38

all of us are agreeing are agreeing

67:40

together this is why we see churches

67:41

that are

67:42

98 white or 97 percent black or latino

67:46

this is why we see churches that are

67:48

just calvinist or armenian or open

67:50

theology this is why we see churches who

67:52

are

67:53

who believe in one way about baptism and

67:55

not another way it's because we think

67:57

unity means agreeing with one another

68:00

and that's why we're just

68:01

completely incapable many of us many in

68:04

in many ways

68:05

of sitting in the same room in a per

68:08

with a person

68:09

who fundamentally disagrees with us

68:11

about something that's important to us

68:13

but choosing the way of love in that

68:15

moment choosing

68:16

to see them as a person not an idea not

68:19

as a disagreement not as a soap box

68:22

but just as this beautiful person who's

68:23

created in the image of god

68:25

what would the church look like if we

68:28

could have that what would

68:29

our society and culture look like if we

68:31

could value unity

68:32

above being right unity above proving my

68:35

point

68:36

unity above looking good right

68:40

so much as we began this episode so much

68:43

of our world

68:45

is right there could be could be just

68:47

made so much more beautiful

68:49

elevated and just so much more enjoyable

68:52

if we could actually figure out what

68:53

unity in my neighbors looks like

68:55

unity in my home unity in my family not

68:58

agreement

68:59

not being right but actually choosing

69:01

one another and choosing to be

69:02

with one another choosing solidarity

69:06

over disruption and exclusion choosing

69:09

inclusion in the midst of disagreements

69:12

this

69:12

is an important conversation so thank

69:14

you kyle for leading us in it

69:17

you passed you got your phd

69:19

congratulations doctor

69:21

well done thanks randy you too

69:26

i don't know how to respond

69:30

thanks for listening we hope you enjoyed

69:32

this conversation you can find us on

69:33

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69:34

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69:36

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69:38

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69:40

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69:41

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69:42

till next time this has been a pastor

69:44

and a philosopher

69:45

walk into a barn

69:49

[Music]