Do NOT argue with Fundamentalists – and Here's Why

By Dr. Keith Witt
November 26, 2013
Fundamentalism is believing something so deeply that new facts can’t sway your opinion. We all have fundamentalist beliefs. For instance, I believe that love heals. You could show me fifteen studies demonstrating love has no positive impact, and I’d still believe love heals. Unfortunately, most fundamentalist beliefs are not non-violent “love heals” convictions. Fundamentalist’s “Us who share the sacred beliefs vs. them who threaten the sacred beliefs” positions have unconscious, self-righteous violence in them–the most dangerous kind of violence because the perpetrator feels justified, as if attacking the nonbeliever serves God’s will. Galileo believed the Earth revolved around the sun and saw it happening every day–once you understand the planets and the sun it’s ridiculously obvious. The Inquisition’s priests had fundamentalist faith that the Sun circled the Earth, and threw Galileo in jail when he showed them his facts. He recanted to get out of jail, but said as he was leaving, “It moves,” looking down at the Earth he knew circled the sun. Fundamentalists counter facts with violent emotion, scorn, or even–as in Galileo’s case–physical violence. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to argue with fundamentalists. Facts won’t matter, and the more effective your argument, the more violent the response, self-righteously driven by a conviction that you are not just wrong, you are despicable and immoral. On the other hand, since our nervous systems tend to respond to violence with violence, fundamentalists will evoke amplified anger and distorted violent beliefs and impulses in us. Just because someone doesn’t trust science, or believe in global warming or evolution, doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent, caring, or successful in other areas. We all deserve respect and love, and most of us have solid ideas and skills. We all are blessed with the superpowers of self-awareness and human consciousness. Over the next week, try noticing when you or others reject facts that threaten sacred beliefs. If you see it in yourself, open up to alternatives, validated by science, that seem more beautiful, good, and true. If you notice it in someone else, change the subject–don’t argue with fundamentalists. Click HERE to view the Therapist in the Wild VIDEO that deals with this subject a bit further.

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