COLUMN: Keep discussions civil, mature
Listening to discussions after two lectures on intelligent design last Friday convinced me that our campus has a deficiency in willingness to consider to both sides of controversial issues.
Almost invariably, this deficiency affects people in every camp of thought surrounding a heated topic.
In Friday’s Daily, Jon Malone wrote a column entitled ‘Open minds necessary in Darwin discussions.’ I agree. Closed minds result in the malice, name-calling, prejudice and persecution that plague some campus discussions.
But what stigma is preventing many from being open-minded? I think the answer is one of maturity and human nature.
People turn to hostile argumentation rather than reasonable argumentation because they lack the maturity to distinguish the better path. We fail to attain this maturity because our nature is drenched with rebellion.
My experiences after the intelligent design lectures revealed to me that immaturity in academia includes being unwilling and irresponsible to the point that listeners do not hear what somebody is saying.
The talks were centered on the fact that unguided, purposeless evolution is scientifically controversial. (Many proponents of Darwinian thought claim that the controversy is purely social. Although the resistance is largely social, there are hundreds of accredited scientists who dissent from this view.)
Many people in the audience thought the speakers were trying to debunk Darwinism.
Listening to the lectures more intently, however, revealed that speakers Casey Luskin and John West were not even trying to debunk Darwinism.
They were instead illustrating that the subject of evolution is controversial and merits an even-handed approach.
Being fair and responsible are important qualities in an audience member. But these qualities are also essential in everyday life.
Being hateful to others because of a clash of worldviews will not get anybody far in the workforce or in relationships, so why allow the realm of education to be any different?
No matter where someone stands on this year’s controversial subjects, it’s important to remember that those on opposing sides are people, too.
It is the dehumanization of others and the deification of self that renders conversations shouting matches.
Too often we try to talk only to win an argument — I know I’m guilty of this — instead of contributing to others.
Real maturity — recognizing the difference between good and evil, taking initiative, serving, loving, being consistent, teaching and managing correctly, and being fair — will guide conversations in the right direction.
Lacking maturity leads to the aforementioned ignorance and havoc.
For students to take a mature outlook to class, the upcoming debate between William Dembski and Michael Ruse or Richard Dawkins’ March 6 talk, they must be changed from the inside out.
Maturity exists on the individual level, and attaining it requires an intimate solution.
As a Christian, I believe the ultimate reprogramming is done in a personal relationship with God through Christ.
I do not think people who disagree with this are raving warmongers — there are many kind people who oppose my belief.
I also believe nobody is perfect, and that we cannot escape from a corrupt, darkened existence without divine intervention.
Disputes over controversial topics like my prior paragraph, religion, Darwinism, and more are sure to come.
Hopefully, though, we can approach them with the maturity to counter the malice that so often accompanies those discussions.
-Trevor Clark is a University College freshman.