The folks at Reasonable Doubts, in a recent episode of their podcast, noted that debates about religion are often affected by the very different forms of communication that skeptics and believers are accustomed to.

Scientists (as an example of skeptics) communicate with their colleagues through academic papers and conference presentations. As I can personally testify, the latter are rather dry affairs, with the focus placed squarely on the evidence gathered in support of the claims being made. Speakers generally shy away from supremely confident, categorical statements.

Believers, however, mostly communicate their ideas through the pulpit on Sunday mornings and, less formally, through meetings like Bible studies. Again, my experience allows me to testify that the focus in these forums is not evidence, but rather an appeal to the emotions and the imagination. Good preachers are like Hollywood movies: they must elicit a tear or two, preferably followed by a sense of triumph and joy.

The consequence of this methodological dichotomy in communication serves to reinforce the main differences between believers and non-believers: the former rely on faith and personal revelation, while the latter rely on evidence.


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