How much should you go along to get along, or should you at all?

There seems to be a common criticism from what seems to be everyone about everyone else with whom they disagree.  ‘They are too much this, or are too inflexible about that’.  Christians are too archaic regarding women in leadership roles within the church and too close-minded about homosexual sexual relationships.  Atheists are too fluid in defining their beliefs, and too hesitant to discuss what they do believe about the existence of God.  Democrats are too fixated on raising taxes to cover the raises in spending, and too intent in spending on what political opponents consider wasteful.  Republicans are often too stubborn and appear unwilling to compromise.  But here’s the rub: as much as we all would like it if others were more willing to compromise their convictions, we ourselves seem to expect more from them than we are willing to give.

We quickly come to loggerheads when we are asked to compromise what we consider sacred ideological ground.  After all, why should I have compromise my convictions, why not you?  So if we all know that we are unwilling to give up ground in certain areas, why are we so quick to fault others for guarding their own convictions?  How can we consider another’s stubbornness a liability, but not our own?

The first step is to identify the filter with which we subject all ideological discussions.  These filters are essential to our worldview, but also hinder the sympathy required to conduct a fruitful discussion.

Regularly what it is we are asked to compromise is central to our worldview, so how do we compromise that which is essential to out convictions? Should we be more willing to compromise for the sake of getting along, and how do we determine who it is that should cede, and to what degree?


  1. Good points, John.

    It’s difficult to have an objective discussion about a subjective subject. I find most religious followers so wrapped up in their convictions that they cannot budge off their beliefs and are seldom inclined to consider anything that may conflict with it. It is this hard line approach that makes many discussions fruitless.

    As you posted last year, even getting someone to admit that their beliefs may be wrong is difficult enough.

    I’m curious – what made you think of writing this piece?

  2. Were those “atheists” you were dealing with asserting that no god exists or merely not believing the god you believe in exists?

    If it’s the former, then by all means ask them to defend their conviction.
    If it’s the latter, why would you consider the position of them not accepting your claim that a god exists a conviction? What are you asking them to compromise on?

    • The compromise I would like to see is for them to drop the obfuscation. All the lacking belief, the have no God belief… yadda yadda. Atheism entails the beliefs no Deities exist. We’ve been over this before, you and I.

  3. Yes, yes we have John, and it remains such a shame that you must rely on trying to attack someone else’s position you think they’re asserting instead of merely defending yours. It appears that you have a problem with that.

    Instead of instantly labeling a non-believer as an “atheist”, which automatically triggers a position of the “no god” assertion to you, it may move things along if you simply view the non-believer’s position as one who doesn’t think your assertion is valid.

    How about this –

    The reason I am a non-believer as far as the biblical god is concerned is outlined in the video I referred to in Terrance’s post. The video summarizes the stories in the old testament as written in the bible. Do you think the History Channel represented these bible stories accurately? Harsh language aside, I think the criticisms of the stories themselves are valid and should be considered when evaluating a belief of the god of the bible.

    • I support my positions when I offer positions. Atheists, on the other hand, by and large, use rhetorical obfuscation to avoid having to defend their own positions, you among them.

    • I haven’t seen the video, and the history channel, in my opinion, is good for world affairs, histories, political address, military actions– but when religion is their topic, they’re horrible so I rarely watch the history channel.

  4. I’m sorry if my stand of not believing in the bs you believe in causes you confusion.
    Let me spell it out for you.

    Read the stories in the old testament or look at the adaptations made for television. Last week they were on the History Channel and tonight they are on Lifetime network. I don’t care about the production value or the acting – let’s focus on the stories.

    Noah endures God’s wrath; Abraham reaches the Promised Land but still must prove his faith in God; Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, and his faith in God is rewarded when the Red Sea parts to allow the Israelites to escape Pharaoh’s chariots; Moses delivers his final message from God–the Ten Commandments.

    My position is that anyone really believes any of this bs to be true should have their head examined.

    I guess why I engage in discussions with folks like you is to try to understand why you believe it, but you feel like you never have to explain anything.

    So… do you really believe in the story of Noah, the ark and the flood?

    If your god spoke to you like he did to Abraham and commanded you to kill your daughter, would you?

  5. The reason I am a non-believer as far as the biblical god is concerned is outlined in the video I referred to in Terrance’s post. The video summarizes the stories in the old testament as written in the bible.

    This is like saying you don’t believe in your elementary school principle Mr. Sneeders because he was “mean…”

    You seriously reject the Biblical God because you don’t like some of the things He did? Such a rejection is grounded in lunacy, not logic.

    If you reject the Biblical God because you think the stories are far-fetched, then I’d ask why you think that…

  6. No, I don’t reject the biblical god because he acted like a douche, but it does question his character even if I accepted the claim that he existed.

    If you have to ask me why I think the stories are far-fetched, then it’s quite easy to see that you didn’t look at the video I asked to look at. My answer is said by Rusty.

    Terrance, I will ask you the same questions I posed for John:

    Do you really believe in the story of Noah, the ark and the flood?

    If your god spoke to you like he did to Abraham and commanded you to kill your child, would you?

    • Z

      I believe Noah and the flood are historical.

      When is God telling me this? Right now? Then no, I wouldn’t believe it was God because there isn’t any reason to believe it was God and not my own delusions. But Abraham was in a unique position in history. God was communicating to him and attempting to show him that there is a real God, and it isnt one of the idoled gods in the community. God was beginning Judaism and needed to get his attention. This question presumes there is no historical context for anything.

  7. Well, John – it is a lose / lose question to ask you.

    If you say yes, then you’re delusional. If you say no, then you lack faith that god is actually speaking to you. Your rationalization that god would have no reason to do that is just a cop out. It makes absolutely no sense, even to Abraham in his time, to be asked to kill his son. I’m sure both of us could think of better ways for an all knowing and powerful deity to convince Abraham (or any of us for that matter) that he’s real.

    “… needed to get his attention.”

    So, the basis of this story is that god commanded Abraham to kill his child in order to know the real god?
    How exactly would killing your own child prove anything more than acting on the voices in your head?

    As far as the Noah story is concerned, this is such a ludicrous fairy tale I could sit here all day poking holes in this nonsense, just asking common sense questions. You don’t even need science to disprove the Noah’s Ark myth, just a brain. It’s just a shame that in order to accept the premise that the bible is infallible, one must not ask too many questions. Just in case you’re feeling inquisitive as to the impossibility of the story actually being true, visit

    I’ve heard a lot of moaning as to what is being taught in schools today on this website, and it’s no wonder that much of the subject matter is simply rejected because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. That comes full circle back to the topic of your post, John. Religious beliefs don’t allow for compromise of their convictions.

    • Z

      Maybe you could explain why God would ask me that. There was a significant purpose in God asking Abraham to do what he did, there is no reason for him to ask me.

  8. …and you couldn’t see Abraham saying something like “Gee, god, tell me again how killing my son proves that you are the real god?”

    You don’t get to question it. You just need to do it.
    Asking god to explain why just shows your lack of faith.

  9. z,

    IF you’re going to play Bible games, you should at least study the Bible, find a good teacher for the parts you clearly don’t understand and then come back to play. God’s order to Abe to kill his son was not to prove to Abe that He was the real God. When you can find the real reason in Scripture, come back and tell us.

    You also seem to think you have made some atheist point by asking questions about stories like the Flood that cannot be answered. Speculation is another fun game but provides no finish upon which a serious individual should base a worldview. This is particularly true when the atheist cannot take it when the tables are turned. When this occurs, instead of saying “God did it” (which the average Christian apologist never does), the atheist will spout his version, “science hasn’t come up with the answer yet”. The holes in the atheist worldview have no impact on the atheist’s belief. The faithful already understand human limitation, particularly in understanding the ways of God.

    To answer your “gotcha” question, if God told me to kill my kid, I’d do it. What you have to figure out is whether or not God actually spoke to me. It is typical for one who poses this question to then ask (and the last time I was so asked, it was by a progressive christian), “how do you know it was God?”, as if God couldn’t make it plain to me that it was Him. If there was any doubt in my mind, I would assume I wasn’t being spoken to by God. If it was truly God, how could there be any doubt?

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