This is a very interesting essay. There is a discussion going on right now between several atheists regarding how they should engage theists. As one might imagine, I agree with Mr. Chituc. Two quotes:
“This is all to say that it’s too easy to find a study to support any conclusion you want and any behavioral prescription you want.”
“Here’s what we know works for changing closely held beliefs, at least a little bit: self-affirmation. People’s beliefs don’t just abstractly track what they think is true–they’re functional. Beliefs are integral to who we are and what we stand for, and our identities often depend on them. If our identity and values are threatened, especially by someone loud and rude, we’re not going to reassess our values and identity and say ‘I’m going to join his team.’ We’re going to write that person off as an asshole and get more entrenched in our views, which is exactly what happens… If we’re secure in our identities, if we’re not threatened, if we’re feeling great and competent—only then are we going to be open to potentially threatening information.”
Question to any atheists/agnostics: Are you a Peter Mosley or a Vlad Chituc? Okay, that was a rhetorical question. Putting that aside, of the two, who do you most agree with, in general, and why?