How to deal with someone who wants to debate everything


#1

I’ll first say I’m not a debater. I hate debating and am not good at it. A close relative of mine always wants to go into debate about everything. I feel like my personal beliefs are being attacked and I don’t like it. He says he does this because he wants to know what I believe and if I don’t have a good argument then my beliefs are strong enough or aren’t worth anything basically. I don’t like this attitude. He doesn’t believe in religion of any kind and considers himself super smart. He can be one of the most generous or thoughtful people I know at times but other times I want to smack him…I know this bad. I don’t know to deal with his super ego. :confused::eek::shrug:


#2

The best thing I can offer is that you use clarity to see where you disagree, then leave it at that.This is NOT my original idea, it's the idea of a talk show host I deeply admire.

What I would do is say, (And I'm just using abortion as an example) "Look, you think it's just a blob of tissue. I think it's a human life, we are clear where we disagree. Great, now let's talk about fishing, baseball, video games, something other than politics. If you cannot agree to this, perhaps it best if we remain cordial, but cease to discuss things."

Actually, since we all know that baseball is WAY more important than abortion, religion, and politics, it might be best to avoid talking about that too. :thumbsup:


#3

I suppose you can either engage with him or not.

I recognise your feelings, but would suggest that his questions may be the Holy Spirit prompting you to find out more about your faith and maybe give this guy a reason to think about being Catholic?

One thing is for sure, there are good answers for all his queries, you just have to find out what they are, and this is a good place to get answers. Don’t be afraid of saying to him that you don’t know, but you can find out an answer for him!


#4

Add to FightingFat, bring his questions here. We'll help you.


#5

We sure will! :thumbsup:


#6

Tell him that if he's just testing you personally, and your own ability/desire to defend your deeply held beliefs, then it makes you very uncomfortable and is not enjoyable or valuable to you. And from now on, you'd like to talk about something else. After all, he wouldn't debate someone about how much they love their mother or children.

And then say that if he is truly interested in learning more about the faith, or about Catholic teachings on hot-button issues, then you are happy to give him some really great resources.
I LOVE to debate, and there are people I won't engage with, because they don't listen. There are people out there who (wonderful as they may be) love to hear themselves talk, and who believe that the last or loudest word is equivalent to the most convincing argument. And it ain't! God Bless you & your relative!!


#7

**Jesus taught us;

"And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (MK 16:15). **

While argument, or more preferably charitable & civil debate, are challenging, i believe the Holy Spirit may be at work here.

i drifted away from the Catholic Faith for many years precisely because i didn't know what i believed & why i believed it.

**After much pain & suffering, i finally opened my heart to Jesus!

Initially, i attempted to disprove Catholic beliefs because it was so much easier to be a cafeteria catholic or better yet a non-denominational protestant & pick & choose only the easy teachings & be my own "pope!'

In the process of trying to disprove the teachings i disliked, i read Sacred Scripture daily, spent many hours in prayer, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) twice from cover to cover, it is a surprisingly clear & understandable resource! (search CCC here; scborromeo.org/ccc.htm, & found many great resources like CA & listened to wonderful apologists like Fr. Corapi, Dr. Scott Hahn, Steve Ray, Fr. Barron & many more!**

A few tips for dealing with atheist intellectuals. Avoid using Catholic teaching to defend Catholic teaching!

i try to use natural or moral arguments. The clearest example to me starts with the argument for God. We live in an perfectly ordered universe with infinite variety.

The atheist's "religion of random choice" is far less possible (i would argue it is impossible!), than belief in a Perfect, Loving & Infinitely Merciful God who created everything!

Don't expect someone with a huge ego to publicly agree with your arguments. Just plant the seeds & let the Holy Spirit work in them!

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

mark


#8

[quote="Sierrah, post:1, topic:198697"]
I'll first say I'm not a debater. I hate debating and am not good at it. A close relative of mine always wants to go into debate about everything. I feel like my personal beliefs are being attacked and I don't like it. He says he does this because he wants to know what I believe and if I don't have a good argument then my beliefs are strong enough or aren't worth anything basically. I don't like this attitude. He doesn't believe in religion of any kind and considers himself super smart. He can be one of the most generous or thoughtful people I know at times but other times I want to smack him....I know this bad. I don't know to deal with his super ego. :confused::eek::shrug:

[/quote]

Dear Sierrah,

Cordial greetings to you.

There is nothing wrong with having a vigorous exchange of views provided there is nothing of an uncharitble and malicious nature involved. It is possible to have a lively debate and at the same time to avoid rancour, well at least among mature and rational persons.

Unfortunately, some people, and this relative of yours seems a case in point, appear to relish winning an argument, overwhelming their opponents and 'exposing and exploding' any supposedly fallacious arguments. These folk have deep insecurities and have a constant need to demonstrate their debating skills and prove just how quick-witted they are. Moreover, they usually have an eristic cast of mind or a mind that is characterized by disputation. When they engage in debate their primary concern is always winning an argument rather than seeking to arrive at the truth. As they feed upon peoples fears there is always something intimidating and unpleasant about their manner and they are always out to humiliate the other person.

If at all possible I would refuse to become ensnared and drawn into a discussion with your relative. Ensure that you are pleasant and courteous when you do see him, but do not get involved in his silly childish games. If he is really 'super-smart' like he says he is, then suggest that he read a book on Catholic Apologetics if he he is really keen to understand why you believe as you do.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait


#9

“We are never going to agree about religion, and you are welcome to think that my beliefs are unreasonable. However, now let’s get back to dinner/movie we were going to watch because I don’t find having to justify myself to you fun.”


#10

[quote="Sierrah, post:1, topic:198697"]
I'll first say I'm not a debater. I hate debating and am not good at it. A close relative of mine always wants to go into debate about everything. I feel like my personal beliefs are being attacked and I don't like it. He says he does this because he wants to know what I believe and if I don't have a good argument then my beliefs are strong enough or aren't worth anything basically. I don't like this attitude. He doesn't believe in religion of any kind and considers himself super smart. He can be one of the most generous or thoughtful people I know at times but other times I want to smack him....I know this bad. I don't know to deal with his super ego. :confused::eek::shrug:

[/quote]

Sounds like he's an evangelical athiest, he probably isn't going to leave you alone I'm sad to say. He wants you out of the Church, and he's going to continue no matter what. So I guess on that note, the best thing to do is as St. Peter suggests, be prepared to offer a defence of the hope that lives in you. That is to say, even if you don't want to debate per-se, at least be prepared to offer them some good reasoning as to why you believe, and leave it at that.

Now I would also like to exhort you to bring his arguments here as others have done. There are a lot of smart people here (whom I have learned so much from), I'm sure someone can give you a helping hand.


#11

I have an atheist friend who is like that. Every single thing has the potential to become a topic for heated debate. And you never see it coming - she just innocently starts asking questions that lead in a certain direction. :rolleyes:

What I’ve learned from this is that it is necessary to know your stuff. Be strong in your arguments and don’t be afraid to defend your position. Another thing that is important is that you can challenge your relative about his beliefs. Maybe he doesn’t have a very elaborate philosophy behind his atheism and you might find out that it is not especially difficult to turn the tables and ask that he defends himself. That will certainly make him think about it from a different perspective.

Don’t get all emotional and offended by his attitude. Seriously, so many people simply bluff and are in no way confident as they’d like to think. Say a prayer before speaking to him, that will help you keep your cool and engage in a discussion in a fruitful way.
:thumbsup:


#12

You could debate him on his theory that if your beliefs aren’t worth anything if you don’t debate them effectively. :smiley: Truth (or lack of truth) does not depend on any particular person’s ability to debate it or explain it effectively. If truth depended on a person’s ability to explain it, many historical and scientific facts could cease to be true as poor students write essays and answer questions on their finals. :wink:

By the way, some people find debates an enjoyable way to exchabge ideas. It’s not so much that they’re trying to just be argumentative. If he’s interested in debating you, he may simple be interested in learning more about what you believe and why.


#13

:thumbsup: Yep, that’s me. but I enjoy asking questions and debating those who state they are Catholic but publicly oppose some key catholic teachings and Traditions. i guess I just don’t understand them especially when the do attend mass weekly and are loud and proud Catholics.

On a side note, it was Evangelicals who challenged me which lead me to study the faith more intensely. I thank God for them and some of their “Catholics aren’t saved” attitudes for where I am today in my faith journey.


#14

He wants to debate everything? Not necessarily religion. Now that I think about it it's a family trait we have other relatives that do the same but just because they like to be annoying and for no other reason. I'm not a debater and don't like doing it...the way he does it makes me feel attacked in a way. He has a know it all complex and it's impossible to overcome any point with him anyway. He's been brain washed by the liberal culture into accepting everything that is considered politically correct as completely right. :eek:


#15

I would just say, “Who made you to be my judge? I can believe whatever I want to, just because I want to. I don’t need your permission or approval. It’s absolutely none of your business. On the other hand, if you are interested in learning about my beliefs because you want to share them or to understand them, my church is running a class this Fall that you might be interested in taking. They can explain these things way better than I can.”


#16

Haven’t read the other responses yet, but I don’t care to debate much either. I used to.

I usually let people have their little spotlight, let them talk and talk, then politely move on in the conversation. I wonder if often they just like to hear themselves talk, or if they fascinate themselves, or if they’re otherwise trying to start something. I am confident enough in my own beliefs that I tend to get amused by the people who want to debate everything.


#17

I'll first say I'm not a debater. I hate debating and am not good at it. A close relative of mine always wants to go into debate about everything. I feel like my personal beliefs are being attacked and I don't like it. He says he does this because he wants to know what I believe and if I don't have a good argument then my beliefs are strong enough or aren't worth anything basically. I don't like this attitude. He doesn't believe in religion of any kind and considers himself super smart. He can be one of the most generous or thoughtful people I know at times but other times I want to smack him....I know this bad. I don't know to deal with his super ego

Simply don't engage him. Just tell him straight up that you will not debate him, period. If he refuses to comply, then ignore him when he tries to debate you. It's that simple.

St. Francis once said, "preach always, if necessary use words." Let your life be your example to him.

That being said, I would encourage you to learn to reason with your relative - at least a little. We are called to be ready to offer a reason for the hope that is in us. 1 Peter 3. You might not be good at debating, but you can tell him what the faith is - and then direct him to someone who will debate him.

I'll step up to the plate, in fact. I'm a lawyer by trade, and I'm very good at debating, and I like to defend the Faith. If he insists on debating someone, have him set up an account here on the forums and have him send me a private message. I'll debate him till he's blue in the face. Maybe that will distract him from bothering you. :D


#18

I am sorry you have to deal with this guy. Depending on the person’s status as a relative, (are they my uncle, grandfather, or are they my cousin or nephew) leads me to different results. If they are an older relative I would politely listen and then move on or tell them I believe “Blank” and here is where you can find information on what I believe. If it is someone younger I would tell them (in matters of religion) that I completely follow the Catholic church and it is his job to inform himself not mine and he can read about it in the Catechism.


#19

[quote="Sierrah, post:14, topic:198697"]
He wants to debate everything? Not necessarily religion. Now that I think about it it's a family trait we have other relatives that do the same but just because they like to be annoying and for no other reason. I'm not a debater and don't like doing it...the way he does it makes me feel attacked in a way. He has a know it all complex and it's impossible to overcome any point with him anyway. He's been brain washed by the liberal culture into accepting everything that is considered politically correct as completely right. :eek:

[/quote]

You just have to tell him clearly that you don't find debating enjoyable, and would prefer to focus on whatever other activities you and he do as friends.


#20

[quote="Sierrah, post:1, topic:198697"]
I'll first say I'm not a debater. I hate debating and am not good at it. A close relative of mine always wants to go into debate about everything. I feel like my personal beliefs are being attacked and I don't like it. He says he does this because he wants to know what I believe and if I don't have a good argument then my beliefs are strong enough or aren't worth anything basically. I don't like this attitude. He doesn't believe in religion of any kind and considers himself super smart. He can be one of the most generous or thoughtful people I know at times but other times I want to smack him....I know this bad. I don't know to deal with his super ego. :confused::eek::shrug:

[/quote]

Refer him to CAF. There are many here that love a great debate. It could keep him occupied for years. And he will be too tired to debate you anymore. :)


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