Airtight arguments kill us

He was a PhD student in philosophy and he was invited to share about why he is an atheist in the Sunday school class, I'll call him Casey. Casey is one of those "smartest guy in the room" sort of people. He came with one of the philosophy proofs on a large whiteboard. It was clear by his posture that he was not critical of religion, but confident in what he understood to be true. At the end of the logic proof he opened the floor for questions.

A few hands went up and he addressed them with a speed that I can only assume came from the fact he answered these questions before or that he had superpowers. At the end of the session it was clear, Casey no one would be able to convince him to move from his views. 



I have met many Caseys in my life. Some are atheist and others are theists. Regardless of their positions, they all seem to share one characteristic. As far as they are concerned the arguments are. They are right and everyone else is wrong. Even if you have an objection, they already have a response and an answer. They are clear that what is most important are the facts and their sources of authority (philosophy, the Bible, the Constitution, FOXNews, Jon Stewart, biology, physics, etc.) are more authoritative than others. 

I have also learned that it is difficult to be friends with someone who is airtight. I have learned that when I am airtight with my views, position or arguments, it really turns people off. Others do not feel heard, valued, appreciated or even accepted as having anything to contribute. When I am airtight I have fewer connections with people.

Perhaps the element overlooked when we strive to have airtight arguments is being airtight can suffocate us.