it didn't sound like he was open to any sort of reasonable discussion
Well, you're right about that. A "reasonable discussion" isn't possible here. Can you have a "reasonable discussion" with a creationist? Neither can I. All you can do is show them the facts. It's up to them to accept reality, just as it's up to you.
Just look at the parent here:
designing complex systems for reliability and maintainability is not
Ah, but it is! (Hell, if it's actually complex, it's not maintainable.) See, most "complex systems" are only complex because of how their designed (poorly). Yes, some things are actually complex but that's generally completely unrelated to programming (see my earlier post).
Personally, I blame the OOP craze for the dramatic increase in unnecessary complexity. We've got two generations, now, of programmers who know nothing about modularity, but believe (inexplicably) that OOP gives them modularity for free.
This shouldn't be controversial. The only explanation I have for the need to believe that programming is difficult is fear.