It’s not hard to see how our culture has been changing when it comes to our ability to disagree and debate civilly, and I can’t help but wonder how much of this is a result of habits developed in the anonymity of social media over the last decade—habits that could not be contained, habits that have grown to the point where they’re now spilling out into real life.
This quote by Gregory Ganssle expresses the problem:
It is striking how rarely we reflect on how our choices, habits, and patterns influence the kind of person we become. Our culture suffers from what I call moral atomism. Moral atomism is the assumption that each choice we make is largely independent of all our other choices. We think that our ability to decide is fresh and unhindered at each fork in the road we face. Like the ancient atomists who thought that the basic particles that make up reality were independent and interacted only by bumping into each other, we tend to think that each choice we make is isolated from every other choice. The truth of the matter is that each of our choices makes us either more or less able to make the right choices in the future. We train ourselves in our abilities to recognize and do what we think we ought to do.
This is a good warning to all of us in apologetics. Every decision you make as you’re interacting with others—whether online or face-to-face—is changing you. Every word you speak to another person is shaping you. We need to consider this truth with the gravity it deserves, and as Christians, we need to resist this trend with everything we have. No, we need to resist it with more than what we have, because we need God’s help with this.