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People Can Change

There are two ways I can go with this blog. First, religious believers often tell me that they know that nothing they say will convert me to their religion of choice and that they know that I have already made up my mind. Second, it bothers me when people take something I said years ago and seem to think that I still hold those views without considering the possibility that my views have changed as I have learned new stuff.

I think I have already addressed the first point in other blog posts, but it is the second point which I think is important and relevant. People can change. Most atheists are living proof. How many atheists in our community started out as religious? How many were once even fundamentalists? How many were fundamentalists who at one point in their life asserted that they would never lose their faith in God?

I believe in the power to change people’s minds with new information and evidence. As a result, I try not to judge people too harshly because I am hopeful they can change. This goes for Bill Maher on the issue of vaccinations, Sam Harris on the issue of profiling and it goes for Edwina Rogers on issues of politics. This belief in the power of people to change (based on evidence and observation) motivates every conversation I have with the religious.

It also applies to me. I can change my opinion on an issue too and have done so in the past. It would be arrogant and naïve to assume that all my present opinions and beliefs are the right ones and that they will never change. If you think I am wrong about something, present evidence and new information and try to change my opinion.

Change isn’t easy, but it does happen. As Humanist, I believe in people. Sometimes I think our greater community of reason has lost sight of that. We get so wrapped up in “take downs” that we lose sight of our empathy and compassion. We get so wrapped up with winning an argument, that we lose sight of our real goal of expanded knowledge. We focus so much on trying to change other people’s opinions that we forget to open ourselves up to the possibility that our opinions and beliefs can change too.

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