I was chatting with a friend recently who interrupted out conversation to clarify a significant point. He wasn’t trying to convert me, he just wanted to talk. He also wanted to clarify that he wasn’t interested in being converted, and so he hoped that I wasn’t out to convert him. I assured him that my intention was to explore the ideas so that I could learn the truth for myself and I trusted him to make his own decisions on the matter. I am sincere on that; I was not just going along with him. Unlike a lot of Christians I feel we are called to do our best to represent Christ but we are not called to change people’s hearts and minds; that’s God’s job. I describe this in more detail (including the Biblical rationale) in Arguing with Friends.
But upon further reflection I realized something; I do want him to try as hard as he can to convert me. Seriously, I want people to make every reasonable effort they can to change my mind. Why would I open myself up like that?
The simple reason is this; I want to know what is true. I don’t want to believe something that is false. So if a person were to convert me they would have done two things. First they would have shown me something that is hopelessly wrong or incomplete about my present worldview. Second, they would have shown me what it is about their worldview that is closer to truth, more complete, more robust or in any number of other ways superior to mine.
I’ll be honest; if there is a worldview out there that is closer to truth than my own I want to know. I will abandon my present beliefs and accept another set of beliefs if another set of beliefs is true and mine are not. I sincerely desire truth above all else so if somebody can show me that another set of beliefs has a better total handle on truth than my own then I’m interested in hearing about that. The only way that I will know that, though, is if somebody works really hard to convince me of their views. That’s why I want them to try, and try hard.
I want anybody I dialogue with to try to find every hole, every falsity, every broken piece of my current worldview that they can and point it out to me. I want them to try to tear it to shreds. I want them to try to blow it to pieces. If they succeed then there was something wrong with my worldview, plain and simple. Conversely, I want them to make the best possible presentation they can of their own views. I want to see the best arguments, the most solid evidence and the most persuasive case they can possibly make in favour of their own views. I want them to do all of this with more vigor and intensity than a commission-based used car salesman who’s next sale will keep him from bankruptcy.
So if you are a Muslim I want you to try to convert me.
If you are an Atheist I want you to try to convert me.
If you are into New Age I want you to try to convert me.
If you are Buddhist I want you to try to convert me.
I will do my best to respect your wishes in our conversation (i.e. if you don’t want to be converted) but I want to make it clear where I stand on this issue; on the side of truth above all else. I don’t care for what’s trendy and I’m not bound by tradition, just give me what’s true.