I was recently engaged in an online debate about God (never a good idea, you might say).  One of the things that struck me was how we all claim to be rational, but our reasoning always exists within limits.  We only know so much.  And what we don’t know, we make up for with preference and prejudice.  The most rational starting point is to acknowledge how little we actually know for sure, and to be honest about our prejudices.

Which brings humility.  When you are so very sure about something it’s an easy next step to start denigrating the one who disagrees.  And as soon as you denigrate the person, you have stepped outside of the debate – which was meant to be about the issues not the person.

But more importantly you have stepped outside of truth.  Because truth is not just about facts but about character.

It seems to me that more debates are ruined by lack of respect than they are by poor information.  Good character is always the most valuable asset in human interaction.  Somewhere in the Bible it says that when the Archangel Michael fought the Devil himself he dared not say a slanderous word against him.  Even the greatest most heinous enemy does not merit degrading your own character by how you speak with him.  Fight for goodness and truth with all your might, but always love, and always respect.

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