In discussion last night with a longtime, dear friend, I was making a point of argument about Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.
To underscore my argument, I went to the bookshelf to get my Bible. Yes, even atheists own Bibles. Mine is the New King James translation (chosen mainly for its beautiful language).
And I found, upon reading the text, that I had misremembered. It had been a while, a long while, since I had read it, and I was wrong. In fact, I made a special point of stating, “I misremembered. I was wrong,” to my friend. And the discussion moved on to other points.
I consider that an act of intellectual honesty. That’s what honest argument looks like. That’s what I value about science; the ability to admit mistakes openly and move on. In fact, science advances as much by mistakes and failed experiments and hypotheses as it does by its successes.
If I can admit when I’m wrong, is it expecting too much to hear the same from the other side once in a while?
To me, the inability of religion or faith to ever admit a mistake, the fact that no amount of evidence will sway a believer’s feelings about God, is sad commentary. Frustrating.
In fact, most often theists will use one of science’s greatest strengths (comfort with uncertainty and ability to admit mistakes) as a point of attack, as a weakness – while still never admitting any mistakes on their own part.
I will likely remain frustrated on the topic of God or religion unless and until I receive the same level of intellectual honesty that I try to bring to the discussion.
The closest response I’ve received in the past is some equivalent to “well, we’ll never agree, so maybe we’re both right!” or a statement that they themselves don’t know, but they’ll get back to me after checking with others who “know better”. Or, most often, a quick change of subject to something else.
I’ll keep trying. I know I will, for as long as I live. It’s just me. But I’m done for now. Feel free to comment but I’m off this topic for a while.