Tag Archives: logic

Rational/Emotional Logic

A friend “wrote an entry”:http://fadingdust.wordpress.com/2007/02/01/its-all-in-your-head yesterday that got me thinking – the natural state of so-called ‘rational thinkers’ is, at best, skepticism and, at worst, out-right cynicism and condescension. The rational thinker realizes that there is always something more to learn, something more to know. He realizes that never in his life will he be able to get his mind around everything there is to know and experience; he realizes that any conclusion he comes to is going to be prone to error. Every fact and tidbit is subject to revision as more data is received, processed, and catalogued. Doubt and uncertainty become, to some extent, a way of life because everything the rationalist knows is subject to change, given the right sort of revelations (usually involving new things coming from the scientific community).

So it’s ironic, then, that the more knowledge one possesses, the less rational that person can become. Human beings are, by their very natures, emotional creatures. Everything we do and think involves an emotional factor, an _irrational_ reaction that rationality by itself often cannot predict or counter. Because everything the rationalist knows can be called into question, can be subject to revision, there is an inherent emotional stressor (called doubt) present that often goes unidentified, one that, if left unchecked, can actually undermine the very process of rational thought.

The rationalist attempts to logically work his way through a problem area, using critical thinking as his primary tool. He works from a set of “presuppositions”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/01/26/presuppositionalism-science-and-faith/ based on those bits of knowledge he already possesses and has been able to fit together, leaving any of them open to revision in the event he finds that the new information he has just gleaned sheds some new light on any of those beliefs. He neglects, however, to account for the seemingly random emotional factor, disregarding it as unimportant exactly _because_ it is not ‘rational.’ So, when he is faced with a confrontational factor during this rational process, he is frequently unable to deal with it and locks down his rational system, ultimately by walling himself behind those things he already believes and sees as ‘safe’ and solid because those are the things he has already worked through and believes to be true. As a result any information that was presented in a confrontational manner is disregarded as illogical and irrational – whether or not it actually is – because it evoked an adverse, stressful emotional response. This decision is typically reinforced when it is philosophical in nature, when it is something that rational science cannot itself examine directly.

The presupposed way of thinking is, therefore, reinforced – it’s safe and does not make the rational thinker _feel_ stressed or upset. It is ordered, structured, logical and is thus deemed to be the better conclusion of the two.

Sometimes, then, rational thinking can, in fact, be an emotional reaction and therefore be the more irrational of the two. True rational thought should recognize the presence of emotion and not only prevent it from ruling the thought process but should take it into account and even integrate it.

Presuppositionalism, Science, and Faith

I know I’m probably going to take a beating for writing this, but here goes, anyway.

I suppose you could say that I’m a “pressuppositionalist”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presuppositionalist – I tend to follow an apologetic approach that believes it is impossible to find “meaning in anything where man himself is at the center of the pursuit for truth and understanding”:http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa210.htm. I carry with me a “certain set of core beliefs and assumptions”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2005/04/16/saturday-april-16-2005-at-0812-pm/ that guide and govern, not only those things that I do, but also the way I fit together all knowledge into a cohesive whole.

It’s interesting – when the evolutionist looks around him and witnesses nature, “he sees millions of years of natural selection at work”:http://highlyallochthonous.blogspot.com/2006/10/mountain-musings-2-whats-god-got-to-do.html; when I look around me, I can’t but believe that _something_ had to have put all this in place. This belief is based purely in logic and observation – I just find it impossible to think that chaos at the beginning of time could have somehow found its way into some sense of organization that just naturally progressed over billions and billions of years to what we have now. That, to me, requires a much greater leap of faith than believing in an intelligent creator. From everything I’ve seen and witnessed and studied, the natural state of the universe at large tends toward entropy. Everything that currently exists is moving steadily toward a state of decay and decline, not the other way around. This has ever been the way of things. So I find it much easier to believe that everything started in a state of perfect order that somehow began a downward spiral toward chaos.

Both of these viewpoints are based on a set of presuppositions. For the evolutionist, there is no God, no creator, no intelligent designer, merely a “long process of natural selection”:http://skatje.com/?p=103, with new species adapting to their environments until we have the diversity that we see today. And natural selection makes some amount of sense, since it _is_ directly observable in the world around us – the strongest of the herd survive while the slowest, sickest, and least able to adapt die off, thus strengthening the species as a whole. I just have trouble believing that natural selection could ever have, ultimately, brought humanity into existence from a single-celled bacterium – and I have yet to see compelling evidence that states such. For the creationist (or the IDist), there must have been something intelligent and powerful to have set all this in place, that there is no way for something like this universe in which we live to have come about by chance or some evolutionary process.

Consider this – what if the all that scientific data that has been collected on the origins of the universe and the evolutions of the species can’t be trusted? Secular scientists place a lot of faith in rationality. They place man at the very center of rationality itself by presupposing that systematic, scientific study will eventually unlock all the secrets of the universe – or at least that’s the goal and hope – and this methodology _does_ and has worked in a great many areas of study and research. But what if scientific study as it relates to these two macroscopic issues has been placed in the wrong context? What if, by placing man at the center, by assuming that if we only ask the right questions and study things in as unbiased a manner as possible, what if in doing science in this manner, we are getting it wrong? What if this basic assumption in secular science has led to a great many misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the data we have?

I believe that faith and science _can_, indeed, “complement each other”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/01/05/christians-and-scientific-discussion/. When “framed in the context of an intelligent designer”:http://www.answersingenesis.org/, the scientific data that seems to lend itself so strongly for evolution yields a very different picture. And contrary to popular belief, scientists who believe in intelligent design _are_ still scientists who work within the constraints of their field. The data I’ve seen on sites like Answers in Genesis is the same data I’ve seen shown on secular science sites, with the same explanations of what it means. The difference is that Christian scientists provide alternative solutions for why some of that data might be misleading. It is unfortunate, in a way, that many of these explanations can never be verified, as they are the result of “unreproducible events”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2007/01/05/christians-and-scientific-discussion/#comment-8899. Similarly, neither can secular scientists prove their claims about the origins of the universe for the exact same reason. Despite objections from the secular community, Christian scientists _are_ able to provide a complete, unified response for their conclusions based on their presuppositions. And theirs is a response that makes _much_ more logical, rational sense to me than the origins answers that secular science sometimes provides.

And this is where faith bonds with science. We believe, based on a record given in the Bible, that the Earth looked a certain way during its beginning. Framing scientific data into this context provides an explanation why, for instance, “carbon dating may not be as accurate”:http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/carbon_dating.asp as is generally assumed by the secular scientific community. Because none of these events that various groups believe in – Creation, Big Bang, Great Flood, evolution – can actually be reproduced and examined first-hand, certain things must, by necessity, be taken with a certain measure of faith. This does not stop scientific study itself, nor should it. Mankind is, by his very nature, curious and so there is a great deal of worth to be derived from such pursuits. But the scientific community, no matter what camp, should bear in mind that personal presuppositions are going to greatly influence the way the collected data is interpreted.

So does secular rationality actually fail when faced with its own presuppositions? We can only wait and see, but I would posit that, yes, it does. Mankind is a “limited”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/09/05/finite-to-infinite-2/, “finite”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/2006/04/05/finite-to-infinite/ creature, and as such our abilities to know and understand will always be subject to that limitation. If science, by itself, reveals anything to us with regard to the origins of everything that is, it will be that we can never know everything and that some ‘secrets’, like how the universe began or where mankind came from, will never be answered by science alone.

But don’t mind me – those’re just my presuppositions talking.

Illogic

According to modern scientists, our universe began with a gigantic explosion, forcing a “traumatic growth spurt before it was a billionth of a billionth of a second old.” ((“Best ever map of the early universe revealed”:http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn8862&feedId=online-news_rss20)) Somewhere in there, a whole lot of matter and debris was scattered, forming our young universe, which is still, even now, rapidly expanding in an outward direction.

So, was there some kind of great big ball of dirt that contained all the elements within itself that now make up the whole of our universe, including those elements that support life on Earth? Were there already tiny microbes there that would one day evolve into the human race, microbes that were in some sort of stasis until some catalyst (the Big Bang) pushed things into a much more manageable, and therefore much less restricted, space to form planets in just the right place around newly formed stars, allowing them to be put into action to start growing and evolving? (Or did some primordial oozish chemicals combine to somehow become the first single-celled organisms?) I guess I wonder a little bit how scientists can form theories like these, when the statistical odds against such an event ever happening are enormous (to the point of being impossible). The other problem with this theory is that it still doesn’t explain where everything comes from (the origins question) because in order for matter to have somehow formed out of an explosion, it had to have already existed in the first place. ((I’ve been told that the Big Bang and evolutionary theories are completely separate entities, that conclusions made in one do not necessarily affect conclusions made in the other. The only problem with a statement like this, however, is that the very same scientists who tout evolutionary theory tout the Big Bang as the thing that got the collective evolutionary ball rolling. It seems to me that this necessarily links the two theories inseparably together.)) Exploding gases sure don’t produce matter out of thin air (no pun intended).

Or maybe the goal isn’t to solve the problem of the origins of all matter in the universe. Maybe the goal is simply to solve the question of where Man, and his environment, came from. If that’s the case, then this is a whole different horse-and-pony show because then the questions, and the subsequent sought-after answers, are very different. Still, I can’t see a genuinely curious scientist not being curious about the question of where _everything_ came from. ((I know that “probes have been sent out”:http://www.newscientistspace.com/article.ns?id=dn8848&feedId=online-news_rss20 with hopes of answering some of these questions, with not much success so far.)) Maybe Mr. Scientist doesn’t really have a hope of answering those questions because he knows science isn’t likely to produce solutions to problems that are billions of years old. Maybe he is simply trying to find out as much as he can before he dies. Maybe he is simply trying to find meaning for his life by figuring out what his infinite reference point is. ((The philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said that no finite point has any meaning without an infinite reference point.))

Meh, don’t mind me. Just a bit of philosophical rambling that was screaming for attention. (As always, feedback is greatly appreciated.)

Erroneous Assumptions

I’ve enjoyed reading “The Banana Republican”:http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com. Every single one of his entries is short yet extremely intellectually stimulating. Naturally, most of the thoughts expressed there are based on certain assumptions and presuppositions, and as a result, some of the logical steps look a little ‘leapish’, but it is enough to get the ol’ mental juices flowing. ((The only thing I wish he would do is allow commenting on his site. I love being able to leave feedback.))

Here’s one from today:

bq. Negative Bible critics wrongly assume that the unexplained is unexplainable, forget the Bible’s human characteristics, assume the Bible is guilty of error unless proven innocent, confuse interpretations with revelation, assume a partial report is a false report, fail to understand the context, presume that the Bible approves of everything it records, neglect to note literary devices, assume divergent accounts are false, forget that only the original text is inerrant, assume round numbers are false, confuse general statements with universal statements, and forget that later revelation supersedes earlier revelation. “#”:http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com/2006/02/negative-bible-critics-wrongly-assume.html

Several excellent points raised here, very adequately and succinctly stated:

bq. Negative Bible critics wrongly assume that the unexplained is unexplainable…

Try, for instance, the Trinity. How is it possible to have one Being that is actually three separate Beings and still have them be perfectly united as one. How can they maintain their separateness if they are the same? Or, the God-manhood of Jesus. How do you have an individual that is at the same time 100% God and 100% man. It doesn’t logically compute, yet the Bible states that it is, in fact, truth. It is not explained, but that does not necessarily mean it is unexplainable.

bq. …forget the Bible’s human characteristics…

Except where it is convenient to do so. Critics of the Bible are quick to point out the supposed contradictions in the Bible and claim that it is demonstrative of an inconsistent God. Or they want to point out that the Bible was written by men and therefore it is impossible for it to be truthful or accurate.

bq. …assume the Bible is guilty of error unless proven innocent…

Easy assumption to make, since every other book in existence has errors of some kind. ((Or tends to develop errors over time.)) But yes, they are quick to accuse and never allow the chance for supporters of the Bible to demonstrate how it is in no way guilty of error.

bq. …confuse interpretations with revelation…

Bingo. This is a biggie. Every single English translation has some error contained within it. That’s the nature of translation and why Biblical scholars place such heavy emphasis on the original manuscripts.

bq. …assume a partial report is a false report…

How true. Many places in the Bible only a partial record of events is given. Critics claim that this means the stories much be false, which is a logical fallacy. ‘A’ does not necessarily beget ‘B’, or ‘A partial record does not necessarily mean that the event did not occur.’

bq. …fail to understand the context…

Context is, in fact, often ignored. It’s actually a problem even within Christian circles. It’s easy to quote something as support for your arguments, only to find that, upon close examination of the original context, the passage does not actually say what you are trying to get it to say. Context is of tantamount importance.

bq. …presume that the Bible approves of everything it records…

How often have I heard someone accuse God of being unjust or unrighteous because of something they read in the Bible? ((Especially if someone else did it.)) Just because God allowed someone in the Bible to get away with an unjust crime does not mean that He endorsed it. The Bible is pretty clear, in fact, that in the end, justice will be leveled to all men and crimes will be punished once and for all.

bq. …neglect to note literary devices…

Another biggie. Literacy devices populate the Bible just as much as any other literary work. ((More, in some places.))

bq. …assume divergent accounts are false…

Psychology has shown that three people can see the same event and report that event in three different ways. Does that mean that any or all of the accounts are false? Not necessarily, since different perspectives provide unique lessons.

bq. …forget that only the original text is inerrant…

This being the original Hebrew for the Old Testament and the original Greek for the New. Even Christians forget that sometimes, and find themselve embroiled in bitter battles over which English translation ((KJV, anyone?)) is inspired. ((Answer: none.))

bq. …assume round numbers are false…

Ah, yes. Don’t we see this even in our news media? Numbers are often rounded up or down for the sake of ease of reporting? In such cases, the numbers are not what is important; it is the events that actually took place that are. The same goes for the Bible. In the cases where the numbers are important, they are precise. In the cases where they aren’t, they’re rounded.

bq. …confuse general statements with universal statements…

General statements are subject to some debate. If A happens, then B generally happens as a result. With universal statements there is no room for debate. If A happens, then B will always, absolutely happen. A little bit of study and discernment helps elucidate which statements in the Bible are general ((e.g. Proverbs)) and which are universal. ((e.g. the Gospel))

bq. …and forget that later revelation supersedes earlier revelation.

Absolutely. That’s the beauty of “understanding the Bible in its entire context”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=218. You get to see the progression of God’s relationship with mankind throughout time. Part of that progression is seeing how Christ’s work on the cross gave us new revelation that allows us greater access and deeper fellowship with the Father.

Great, thought-provoking thoughts, Will.

Open Up!

I ran alone tonight, first time since starting this new exercise regime. As it turns out, that was for the best because I opened up. Or at least I opened up to the possibility of opening up.

As part of shutting down to God and to Christian life, I shut down my heart. I have long been a proponent of the fact that the heart makes a great servant but a terrible master, and I have advised many over the years to not let their heart and emotions make decisions for them. I have always believed (and still do) that the mind and logic should reign over the heart and emotions, all the while consulting the emotions, since they do play a critical role in making
wise decisions. Unfortunately, in shutting down my heart to God, and ultimately to myself, my wife, and everyone else, I also shut down a major part of myself and became less than the man I should be. During my run tonight, I began to pray with a great deal of honesty, something I have not done in quite some time, and I realized that one of the first things I have needed to do is allow my heart to be opened again and to make contact with that painful emotional center of my being. Life has been dully colored for me these past couple of years, and I expect that it will now take on a vibrance I have all but forgotten.

This heart-opening involves a six-fold process, the results of which I hope to see with some satisfaction in the coming days and weeks:

1. I had to open my heart up to God.

A man cannot live life fully or experience God completely without an open heart. Any relationship has a significant emotional element. No less with God. To hear His voice, to know His will, to experience Him deeply requires a mental knowledge of Him, yes, but it also requires a heart knowledge and an emotional connection, much the same way it does with a flesh-and-blood human being. So, I had to open up my heart to God again.

2. I had to open my heart up to myself.

In order to be honest and open with other people, I have to first be honest and open with myself. This requires me to open up to myself, to allow myself to experience those emotions that come with daily living, however pleasurable or painful they may be. It is true that there is a place where a person needs to follow their heart (though again I emphasize a rational pre-eminence over that).

3. I had to open my heart up to my wife.

My next obligation is to my wife, and so I have to open up my heart to her. We walked and talked for quite a while in a local state park yesterday, and it was both painful and refreshing for me. I was forced to admit to a number of things to myself and to her, and while little was resolved in my heart and mind then, it served as the catalyst for what has happened this evening. It is the start of what I hope will be a fresh and new and vibrant relationship with the
woman I married.

4. I had to open my heart up to my family.

I admit it — I have not been all that considerate of my family, both biological and legal, lately. I have been neglectful and impatient and intolerant and a host of other despicable things. Yet, part of opening up my heart to God requires that I open up to my family and extend compassion and mercy and grace as Christ would.

5. I had to open my heart up to my friends.

There was a time when I was sought out by a number of individuals to provide guidance and advice and wisdom. That has not happened in a long time, and I suspect, or rather I know
that is due to the fact that I closed up shop in my heart. I shut down emotionally and spiritually, exercising foolishness and folly rather than wisdom and understanding. My friends stopped coming to me, and I have been regretful of that. In opening up to God and allowing Him to wash over me, I pray for His wisdom to pour into me and flow into others. I want to be a blessing to others again, rather than a burden.

6. I had to open my heart up to the world.

Part of living the Christian life involves serving others, and serving others can only be done right when the heart is fully engaged and involved. There is great pain in service, but there is also great joy. You cannot have one without the other. It’s scary and hard, but it is also vastly rewarding and rich.

This is going to be hard, and I know I will still mess up. God hasn’t granted me perfection – yet. But I hope to stay the path and be the sort of man God really wants me to be. I have failed
many people over the past couple of years (not least of which is my wife), and I have failed God, moreover. Yet, I hope that God will still use me, and that He will continue to teach me, and through me, others. I share these things with you so you might learn and be reminded and renewed and refreshed and encouraged.

Mark 12:30
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Close-Mindedness, Open-Mindedness, and Meta-Systemic Thinking

Seen on a bumper sticker on the way home this evening:

bq. “The mind is like a parachute-It only works when it is open.”

I find it interesting that the general assumption is that a person is either open-minded or close-minded. It’s like you have to pick which one you want to be, and it had better not be close-minded (according to the edicts of the culture-at-large). For those who consider themselves open-minded, it’s the only way to view to the world. Open-mindedness is a breath of fresh air, allowing all men to be at peace with another because they can now accept one another without prejudice because all beliefs, all values, and all worldviews are equally correct, because there is no such thing as being right (or at least not 100% right) about anything, because it is the height of arrogance to ever propose to your fellow man that his beliefs might be in error or flawed in the slightest. The only blight upon this system are those they consider to be close-minded (a condition considered almost on a level with pedophilia, it seems), those who believe that their way is the only way, those who feel that they have no need for further analysis of their beliefs and worldviews.

Strangely enough, neither position recognizes, let alone acknowledges, the inconsistencies of their own stances. The ‘open-minded’ individual is tolerant of everything but the close-minded individual, making the open-minded individual close-minded in his very open-mindedness. The ‘close-minded’ individual is so self-assured of his correctness, of his ‘rightness’, that he is completely unwilling to acknowledge the idea that he may be mistaken in his logic or in his
conclusions and is thus unable to admit that the open-minded individual with whom he has been conversing may have a valid point. Both extremes are so confident and comfortable in their self-chosen philosophical stances that they rotely discard the entirety of the other’s arguments out of hand because it is seen as deriving from a philosophy which is completely counter to their own. Sadly, as a result, many great trues and compromises are lost to this practice, and
many great and wise men are reduced to foolishness and idiocy.

What both the open-minded individual and the close-minded individual seem to not understand is that their philosophical approaches are not simply an either/or choice but rather are two ends of a continuum. The continuum looks something like this:

Close-minded ————————– Open-minded

Every man, woman, and child alive fits somewhere along this line, and few populate the furthest extremes. Few people (if any) are so open-minded that they are willing to embrace any and every philosophy arbitrarily. And few (if any) are so close-minded that they reject every single philosophy that is not their own. Instead, everyone is open-minded about some things and close-minded about others.

I would propose that a specific mid-point be assigned to the above continuum.

Close-minded ————- Meta-System ————- Open-minded

This is my conceptualization of meta-systemic thinking. The prefix meta in this case means “beyond; transcending; more comprehensive; at a higher state of development.” When applied to thinking systems, meta opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It combines the best of close-minded and open-minded thinking while discarding the worst of both. Meta-systemic thinking would be known, in more familiar terms, as critical thinking, but in calling it meta-systemic thinking, certain implications and techniques are found that the definition of ‘critical thinking’ has lost (or never had).

Meta-systemic thinking approaches every philosophy and every worldview with a fresh eye, critiquing, anyalzing, breaking down, identifying assumptions, naming presuppositions, ferreting out flaws, and praising strengths. Meta-systemic thinking collates all that which is worth keeping and discards all that which is not. Meta-systemic thinking is continually reshaping the individual, being just open-minded enough to accept the possibility that a personal conclusion
or bit of logic may be flawed and in being willing to correct that flaw, even in accepting a bit of truth from a philosophy traditionally viewed as being wholly incorrect. It is also just close-minded enough to be willing to settle down to a firm stance once the individual believes that all available information has been gathered and processed and the chaff discarded. It is something of a tight-rope to walk, constantly struggling to balance on the edge of correctness while admitting the flaw of human error. Meta-systemic thinking acknowledges the existence of absolute truth and that that truth can be known by men. Meta-systemic thinking is an ongoing process, lifelong and continual, but overall it is a healthier and more robust approach to critical thought.

What I find so amazing is how few individuals are unwilling or unable to engage in meta-systemic thought, allowing instead personal hubris to interfere. Many a productive discussion has been derailed by the refusal to critically listen and think about the opposing argument and adjust accordingly. If only more people were willing to use their minds, rather than their feelings, to engage the world, we might find ourselves in a better place.

Drive

Everyone has certain values, beliefs, and goals that drive them. They serve as the presuppositions and the assumptions behind every thought, behavior, and action. And when these value systems are not clarified, they can hinder communication because people think they are on the same page when really they are not. Like everyone else, I have values and beliefs that drive me, that serve as my foundation for behavior. I could probably list many values that drive me, but here are my top three:

1. I believe in absolute truth and that that truth can be known. The main reason behind this belief is purely logical. A universe without absolutes would quickly (possibly instantly) spiral into chaos and disorder. There are absolutes in science, in the basic workings of the universe, that keep everything working smoothly. There are some who would say that there are no absolutes, that all truth is relative, and I would quickly point them to proven absolutes. They might then suggest that there is no social truth, that what is truth is different to each individual. But I would also suggest that this breaks from the very nature of the universe and of life itself. It is not hard to look into human behavior and see absolutes defining that behavior every day.

2. I believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere-present God, loving, compassionate, yet just in all His ways, slow to anger, quick to forgive, a God who is there and who not silent, active, yet often subtle in His ways. This may, in fact, be the most basic of all my values, the foundation of all my foundations. There must have been an intelligent design to the universe, an establisher of the absolute truth I see all around me, a Being so much bigger than I am who can do all that I cannot. The only Being who even remotely fits the facts as I observe is the God
of the Bible. Everything I do is done with the knowledge that He sees me and cares about me and that I have to do little more than speak in order to communicate with Him.

3. I believe in integrity, that a man’s word is his bond. This is a natural step from the last and encompasses a great many other values. This includes keeping promises, fulfilling obligations
and responsibilites to the best of my ability, maintaining confidentialities (even when not explicity asked), and behaving with utmost respect and courtesy toward all other individuals.
Integrity is a big deal to me and drives me in a way that few other values can do. I would expect integrity directed toward me, and so I would direct no less than absolute integrity toward others.

We all have values to guide our lives and behavior. I’d be interested to hear some of yours. And if you haven’t thought about it, maybe it’s time you did.

Devil’s Advocate

I have this ‘annoying’ little habit of always playing devil’s advocate…. well, maybe not always, but I do it quite often. Whenever someone takes one position in a conversation, I will frequently argue for the other side (fair representation, anyone?). Why do I do this, you ask? Good question, and I’m glad you asked that one. It’s not to be irksome, believe me, at least not intentionally (I suppose there could be some Freudian logic to it, somewhere, buried down deep, but I suspect not). Mostly, I think I do it in order to make sure that all aspects of the topicslashissue gets covered. Pull out the salient details. Avoid the groupthink effect and the like. Remove the blinders from ones eyes and open up the conversation to more possibilities. (And no, this is NOT necessarily being open-minded. Just covering all the bases. Because open minds tend to stay open (BAD!), and eventually I settle down on one position and stay there. Definitely ‘close-minded’ and ‘narrow.’ But also Biblical, I believe, at least to an extent. But that’s a topic for another post on another day.) I just like to make sure that everyone has thought of as many of the possibilities and explanations as possible. Experience empathy. Avoid judgmentalism.

And as a Christian, I believe it is my responsibility to encourage others to think more globally, and hence, more Christly. More compassionately, with love and grace. So consider this: consider that you may actually be wrong on a stance long enough to consider the issue more thoroughly. Challenge the status quo, and don’t take your position on an issue for granted, just because you have thought this way your whole life and so has your family.

You Can’t Force Unity

Man’s search for a unified body of knowledge has led to a “forcing” of that unity because he has not been able to attain it in any rational sort of way, and he has forced this unity to encompass all of life and all of knowledge. Man has been reduced to a machine, with no freedom, just a function of the elements. And yet we know that free will exists, for Man operates against what would seem logical and against what would seem to be the appropriate response to a specific stimulus. And the modern modern scientist would simply nod and smile and insist that this is still not freedom, that there must be an element of which we are unaware which causes the response, for Man is a machine, determined by Fate or the environment or whatever else to behave in a certain way.

Thought based upon a chapter by Francis Schaeffer in Escape from Reason.