Lessons from a Conversation on Morality

Last week I posted a video. It was a conversation between Michael Shermer, an atheist, and Sean McDowell, a Christian, on whether or not it was possible to have objective morality apart from God.

I want to point out some things I learned from the way Sean McDowell handled the interaction.

1. Have fun.

You could tell that Sean was having fun in this conversation. Not only him, but Michael Shermer as well. They kept it lighthearted. And they laughed.

There are definitely times when it's not good to laugh; when the conversation should be more sober. But as a general rule, conversations like these get way too serious. We need to be able to enjoy these discussions. Otherwise, no one will want to have them. And if no one wants to have them, we'll never move forward in our beliefs.

2. Stick to the main point.

There were a couple times in the conversation when Shermer attempted to bring in a rabbit trail topic. One time being the issue of same sex marriage. Sean refused to do it. Some might say that he was answering like a politician. But really, he knew that this discussion would be pointless.

When in a conversation about an important topic, it's easy to get off track. There are normally many side issues that pop up that are fun and important to discuss. But if the entire conversation is spent jumping from topic to topic, no progress will be made. Sean recognized this and was able to move the conversation forward because of it.

3. Don't interrupt.

A big temptation, especially for me, is to constantly interrupt. When someone makes a decently long point, there are many sub points involved. And I really like to point out when I think those sub points are wrong. I normally feel like I know where they are going, and by pointing out the error in the sub point, I'll save us time.

The problem is that I don't always know. And it's rude. I hate it when people do that to me, so why do I do it to them?

Sean did a great job of letting Michael Shermer make his whole point, then respond when he knew he was finished. And if Shermer's point was getting too long, he would ask for permission to jump in.

By doing this, he was able to make the conversation much more productive.

Question to think about and discuss:

What did you learn? Go back and watch the video if you haven't already, and then let me know what you learned in the comments section below.

They Spoke in Such a Way

A Conversation on Morality Apart from God