Thursday, December 6, 2007

What Do You Know?

If you have ever heard a non-believer prattle on and on about their denial of God, one thing quickly becomes painfully apparent: They have no clue what they are talking about.

It is not at all odd for people to not so much know what they know but rather to think what they know. Indeed, the entire American political system is based upon playing off this weakness of the human psyche. We all have pre-conceived notions and we attach very strong emotions to certain power words to the extent that these biases color our belief systems. So, for instance, if you ask a Democrat why they belong to that party they will likely say something along the lines of "Because the Republicans don't care at all for the poor, and I do," or if you ask a Republican the same thing they may say "Because the Democrats just throw money at problems without trying to solve the real issues." This habit extends to most aspects of human endeavor (ever try to get a logical reason why someone hates a particular football team?!!) but the political example shows it the best.

This habit shows three very important aspects about what people know and what they think they know. First of all, people are inclined to accepting what others have told them about something when they already have a certain leaning (such as being Democrat if they are naturally liberal), or by stitching together certain aspects to create one overall whole. However, no one takes the time to logically examine the details to see if there is any truth to the allegations. Do you think a Democrat has really ever thought deeply about Republicans hating the poor, or a Republican thinking about Democrats purposely wasting money? Regardless of what the tiny bit political truth may be in these statements, they have been exaggerated and inflated to the point that they, themselves, become reasons for what they believe, rather than explaining a belief system itself.

This also suggests the second aspect, which would be that people typically know what they think they know because it stands against something rather than standing for something. Most people of the either party I know belong to that party because it stands against the other rather than representing something they fully and deeply believe in.

The final aspect this suggests is the tendency for people to take what they think they know to the extreme, to exaggerate truths, to defend their point. If all Republicans truly do hate the poor, then isn't it the moral, the just, the good person who would want to be a Democrat? Wouldn't it suggest that only the evil would want to be Republicans? Using extremes to bolster one's arguments is certainly not new, but rather a very typical human excuse for ignorance.

So what does all this have to do with what I'm talking about? This isn't a political blog, so what's my point. My point is that when engaging non-believers in discussion I have come to realize that they are far more often like the Democrat or Republican who only thinks they know what they know rather than knows what they know. And, this habit is far more important when it screws up people's beliefs about the Almighty then when it merely interfers with one's political thoughts.

People will defend their non-belief by saying the Bible says this or the Bible says that, when it simply does not. They will say Christianity stands for this, when the Bible and the early church history prove otherwise. They will say the Christians did this or did that, all of which are historical truths, but which relate in no way to what Christ himself taught, and so are therefore invalid arguments. More often than not, their arguments are based on what they think they know about the Medieval Catholic church rather than what the Bible says. In essence, they think they know a lot, when in fact they know nothing at all.

I'm always amazed by the arrogance of this. Would they feel comfortable commenting on the plot development and literary techniques used in War and Peace if they had never read it? I don't think they would, yet they feel comfortable in taking jabs at a Bible they have never read. Would they feel justified in pointing out the mistakes inherent in quantum physics when they are in no way qualified to do so? Would they feel comfortable jumping to the conclusion that all black people are criminals and publicly call them all "dangerous gang-bangers" because a few do match that description, but feel free deriding all believers as mindless and calling us all "religious zealots"? I think not.

Allow me to point a few things about myself out. I have taken the time to read the Bible, so I know what it does say rather than what I think it says. If I'm not sure, I know where to look rather than making it up on my own. I have also taken the time to become knowledgeable regarding the Koran, as well as the working of numerous other religions. When I speak about these other belief systems, I know what I'm talking about. I am educated and have taken the time to become at least acquainted with scientific thought and belief, and so I also know what I'm talking about when I discuss that belief system's -- and yes, it is a belief system -- failings.

Perhaps more importantly, I was not raised in the church, nor was I raised as a believer. I was, in fact, raised by an atheist and an agnostic in a thoroughly scientifically-minded household. The beliefs I now hold I hold because I challenged my beliefs and took the time to find the truth. I don't hold these beliefs because I was indoctrinated, nor do I hold them without having ever thought about them. I believe them after having tried to find fault in them, and failed.

So I know what I'm talking about.

Let me ask you now: What do you know? Do you really have a clue about what you are speaking? Have you ever taken the time to read the Bible so you can comment on it intelligently? Or are you just another mindless robot thinking what the society has told you to think? If this is the case, I can gladly show you the error of your thoughts. And if you do read it, are you reading it with an open heart and an open mind, or have you already formed an opinion and are trying to find fault? If this is the case, I can again gladly show you the error of your thoughts.

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