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Monday, June 15, 2009

Are you just hearing and reading yourself?

A recent op-ed piece in the New York Times (free log-in required) confirmed something I was pretty sure of already: ". . . there’s pretty good evidence that we generally don’t truly want good information — but rather information that confirms our prejudices."

I don't expect many, if any, atheists to read this blog. I have occasionally had comments from self-professed atheists, most of which were pretty nasty. Conversely, I don't read any blogs that advocate atheism, at least not as the main emphasis. I'm pretty sure that I frequently read items written by atheists, but they aren't all about atheism.

I get e-mail, and read Facebook posts, by people who don't agree with me politically. Usually I ignore such twaddle (although I still love these individuals) but occasionally I try to convince someone of the error of their ways. It doesn't work.

How about you? Do you expose yourself to viewpoints you don't agree with? I should, so that I can be prepared to give an answer to non-believers. As 1 Peter 3:15 puts it: 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect (ESV)

Note that this doesn't command us to defend our political positions, or the peculiarities of our own particular theology, but to give a reason for our hope, which is Christ.

Thanks for reading.


Henry Neufeld said...

While I probably still read more material from people who are within range of my own views, I make a positive effort to read views that disagree. For me this involves reading specifically atheist blogs, and both very liberal and very conservative Christian blogs, all of which are outside my normal thinking.

I work in a similar way in what I read in print, for example, ranging from Bock to Crossan on the historical Jesus and so forth.

Even so, it's always hard to convince advocates of a position with which I continue to disagree that I've given them an adequate hearing!

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Henry.

You are a good example, and probably your reading makes your own writing better.

elbogz said...

Good post Martin, and great question. One of the best essay’s I’ve read on the subject was entitled Morton’s Demons

I find myself in the same trap. I want the sermon preached by the guy that tells it “my way”. I want the news that trashes their side and roots for my side. I want to debate the creationist but can’t tolerate standing on their turf reading what they write. We want what’s comfortable. We really don’t want conflict even though we toss our comments out in the blog ether.

To an extreme some would preach not to expose one’s self to other ways of thinking. Think of the bible the way “we” say it should be. Read the books “we” say, because if you don’t you’ll fill your head with Satan. I think society, be it academia, or religious bible studies, or office water cooler politics, we side with people that say what we already believe, and don’t challenge us to do or think something new.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, elbogz.

I'm afraid that's me, pretty much.