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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Intellectual Honesty

Contrary to popular belief, the opposite of arrogance is not doormat. It is confidence.
Confidence and arrogance are not related at all.
Confidence welcomes people; arrogance repels them.
Confidence fosters a safe place for others to share their thoughts.
Arrogance cannot see past its own perceived wisdom to acknowledge the value of listening.
Confidence is centered on others. Arrogance is centered on self.

Recently, it has been suggested to me that being so sure of my faith makes me arrogant.
Would I contradict people who do not believe like me? 
Dare I suggest that someone else could be "wrong?" 
Does saying so make me intolerant?
As a generation, we need to take a step back and recognize the inconsistencies in our approach to ultimate questions. It is time that we admit to the faith inherent in our differing worldviews.
While here is evidence to be fought over, the bottom line is that we will all interpret the evidence based on what we have put our faith in.

To my atheistic friends, you did not observe the big bang. You have never seen macro-evolution. You accept it on faith. Whatever evidence you have for your view is interpreted based on your faith in science, because of your limited point of view as a mere human bound by time and space.
Please admit it.

To my Christian friends. We did not witness the crucifixion first hand. We were not there when God planned redemption. And while I believe there is a lot of evidence for the historicity and validity of Scripture, I ultimately recognize that I accept the Bible on faith.

What I'm trying to say is that it is time to stop mislabeling confidence as arrogance.
Let's take intellectual responsibility for our views and be confident about them.

I do not think my atheistic friends are arrogant for believing differently from me. I think they are wrong, yes. Just as deeply as they believe me to be wrong. But I don't think they are arrogant. They have come to their views through experience and faith, however misplaced I believe it to be. I respect them for their willingness to explain their side and the logic that helped them reach their conclusions. Our discussions are calm, cordial, respectful. I value their friendship and the unique beauty they bring to my life. Without conceding the Truth I cling to, I appreciate their perspectives and want them to know that my love for them is not dependent on what they believe but rooted in God's love for me, because I was welcomed before I knew Christ also. He died for me when I was lost in my sins, so I don't think I'm intellectually or morally better than anybody else.

But let me clarify.
The laws of logic cannot be contradicted.
Two contradictory things cannot both be true.
You cannot be a good moral person and encourage genocide.
You cannot be an atheist and affirm the existence of God.

It is not insulting to my atheistic friends when I listen to them and respectfully disagree. I would insult them if I said, "Wow, yeah, It seems like you've found a lot of meaning from your atheism. I don't believe that. But that's true for you."
To say something like that accuses them of an arbitrary flippancy through which they did not reach their views. The same is true for the Christian, who quite often hears that his or her beliefs are "good for you, but not for me."
I respect the friends who tell me when they think I'm wrong.

Neutrality is neither possible nor desirable. Stand for something. Don't tell me that my message is wonderful and then turn around and say that the opposing view is just as true. Please don't insult my intelligence by claiming that logic bends for you or that we simply agree to different versions of the same story. Admit that you disagree with me. Present your evidence.
Realize that the questions matter, because they drive our actions.
Don't reduce issues of life and death to the realm of cute preferences.
Attempting to do so reveals that as a whole we are intellectually dishonest with ourselves and guilty of an arrogance that which claims to listen to all sides while secretly undermining them through pretended acceptance of them all.

There is a call in my generation to sit on the fence and take no side. Using the excuse of "waiting for more evidence," we intend to spend our lives claiming nothing, appreciating all truth, and affirming none. Some believe tolerance is spinelessness. It is the opposite. I cannot tolerate something I agree with. I can tolerate only that with which I disagree (including the friends who claim neutrality.)

So to my friends who have no faith in the Bible but faith in Darwin, I accept you, and I will tolerate you and love you and coexist with you in the most literal ways.
But just so you know, I think you're wrong.
And it is because I'm confident enough about what I believe that I can welcome you into my home, drink tea with you, read your books, enjoy your company, take your classes, grapple with your questions, and appreciate your confidence.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! This is very timely for our family and very well written.