NO ONE ever won an argument on Facebook. Online debate is dehumanising - it's not natural communication: your brain tells you you're not arguing with a person, so the aim is not to put forward a reasonable argument, but destroy the person you're 'debating' with. A question leads to an angry response, and before long, you've got a flame war on your hands. Everyone's fuming, and no one has changed their opinion on anything, they’re just more convinced that you're an idiot.

There's a documented psychological effect called "confirmation bias." This is where, faced with an argument you disagree with - even if it's presented reasonably - you'll end up believing, even more strongly, what you did before. As ever, we live in a time of heated political and social debate. The new problem is that modern media has changed the way this debate is done: the internet, 24 hour rolling news channels, oversimplified attention grabbing headlines and sidebar click bait stories, as well as the echo box effect of social media algorithms (content is filtered, limited to what the website thinks we want to see). No one really wants to debate, they just want to tell you why they're right.

People of faith are not immune to this. To allow reasonable, respectful discussion, we need to go out of our way to listen to what people are trying to say, and really think about their reasons for believing what they do. Like the Bible says, "Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak." (James 1:19)

Ole Kristian Hunt, Elder, Grace Baptist Church, Ulverston