Matt and I were talking today and he brought up a really good point. When debating with someone over a skeptical issue, ask them, “What would it take for you to change your mind?” As a skeptic, anything I believe, or disbelieve, I try my best to make sure is supported by observable and reproducible evidence. Which means that what I believe in is subject to change.
For example, I think the existence of alien lifeforms is possible (which doesn’t mean I believe in aliens), but the idea that they have had any interactions with our planet is highly improbable and there is no real evidence for it. But if aliens came to Earth and started destroying our planet, much like the movie Independence Day, I would probably change my stance on ‘real evidence’ of alien interaction, as it would be ridiculous not to (I do consider aliens blowing up our cities pretty significant evidence).
So I think this is a good question to ask people who have supernatural beliefs for mainly two reasons. First, it gets them to actually critically think about their belief instead of just defending it. Second, if they can’t think of anything that would change their mind, it shows that they are unable to change their beliefs no matter how much evidence proves otherwise, which shows that they are close-minded. Third (I changed it to three reasons), they cannot call you close-minded without sounding irrational, since you showed you can change your mind, and hypocritical because they refuse to change their mind.
So the next time you’re debating supernatural beliefs with someone, don’t forget to ask, “What would it take to change your mind?” Post comments of what they say if you can. I’m curious to see the results.