and Respectful Attitudes
Students in my high school learned valuable lessons about understanding and attitudes from one of our favorite teachers, who sometimes held debates in his civics class. On Monday he convinced us that “his side of the issue” was correct, but on Tuesday he made the other side look just as good. After awhile we learned that, in order to get accurate understanding, we should get the best information and arguments that all sides of an issue can claim as support. After we did this, so we understood more accurately and thoroughly, we usually recognized that even when we have valid reasons to prefer one position, people on other sides of an issue may also have good reasons, both intellectual and ethical, for believing as they do, so we learned respectful attitudes.
But respect does not require agreement. You can respect someone and their views, yet criticize their views, which you have evaluated based on evidence, logic, and values. The intention of our teacher, and the conclusion of his students, was not a postmodern relativism. The goal was a rational exploration and evaluation of ideas in a search for truth, for true principles (corresponding to reality) that are a useful foundation for thoughts-and-actions because, when combined with good values, they lead to wise-and-effective strategies, policies, and decisions.
In this website, we want
to encourage accurate understanding and respectful attitudes by avoiding “Monday
without Tuesday” indoctrination, by accurately and respectfully describing
the main views on each topic. Of course, individual web-pages and the overall website will not be perceived by everyone as being NEUTRAL, due to both
perception (because many people
a treatment that is biased in favor of their own views, and they consider
a treatment to be “neutral” only if it is biased in this way)
and reality (because it is impossible to say anything substantial in a way
neutral). But we
will try to be FAIR by treating different perspectives with respect, and
by providing an opportunity for representatives of each
their own views and criticize other views.
Even though there won't be total agreement about everything by everyone, we can make the process of agreeing (about many things) and disagreeing (about a few things) more enjoyable and productive. We want to use productive communication — in an effort to achieve understanding and mutual respect — in our search for truth.
A search for truth? Yes. This is not a postmodern website. We are dedicated to the rationality of logic and faith, and the compatibility of logic and faith.
AN APPENDIX, regarding opportunities for understanding-and-respect in one part of the website:
An interesting educational application, which illustrates principles that also apply in other areas where a “multiple perspectives” approach can be useful for improving understanding and respect, is the hotly debated area of Questions about Origins where you'll find "intellectual drama in the conflict of ideas." A page about Understanding and Respect in our Search for Truth about Origins contains the ideas above, and more, including this excerpt:
... Consistent with our Christian
beliefs, we want to encourage a more consistent use of productive communication — in an effort
to improve understanding and mutual respect — as an essential part of
our individual and collective searches for truth, in what we write and say, during all of our personal interactions.
This page, written by Craig Rusbult, is
Whole-Person Science Education