Section 1: Trust

I am a Christian. BOOM. Let’s just get that out of the way. Phew.

Before you immediately dismiss me, please give me a paragraph or two to put the necessity of that statement into context for the purposes of this collective perspective.

Many pieces of literature about any given topic use the classically taught method of English classes (maybe all writing classes, but I only have experience in English ones) where, in order to capture your audience, you begin your paper with a deep, metaphorical or expressive, and imagery laden introduction grasping into their very being to rip out their unbridled attention. That’s beautiful for a novel. Incredible for an adventure through a created world full of mystery and exploration. But I believe incredibly deceptive, in my estimation, from an individual intending to discuss matters of the mind, heart, and the pursuit of truth.

There is an important, and I would argue even critical, component to writing this type of literature: trust. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. And there are so many writers who basically just assume it’s granted right off the rip. But in order for my words to have weight, I must make a plight for your trust. In light of your inability to experience my life for yourself, in order to evaluate whether my words or my beliefs carry into my actions, I can only make this plea through the use of my thoughts, imbued with my heart, to generate words that make you feel like the person that wrote them truly considered you, as the reader, before blabbering them onto a page. If I enter into this attempt knowing that the people who might benefit from this most may dismiss me if I disingenuously, and even deceptively, try to grab their attention before I reveal my deep, dark secret, then it’s paramount that I get it out of the way at the beginning. I would argue, that’s a demonstration of character, and is the best attempt at gaining trust I could make from this position.

You now know, with direct confirmation, that the perspectives that I will unfold are from a person with that alignment within their view of life. There is gravity in that. Not only am I stating something that could immediately undermine everything I’m trying to accomplish for the sake of honesty, but I am also implicitly stating that, “in my acknowledgement of this ‘bias’ (although I don’t believe that word is fair to attribute to my position on this topic) I am simultaneously committing to you, as the reader, that I will do my very best in every way to maintain a neutral and honest approach, in your honor, to not lead you astray or into my ‘bias’ without asking for your consent.”

Now, we have declaration and confirmation of a known “roadblock” within this realm of thought, and a promise of consent to be obtained throughout before “forcing” you into the latter chapters. I will implore you not to read; to abandon ship; to contact me for a rebuttal because I didn’t represent myself or the contents morally or intellectually honestly. That’s a promise. Trust is built on honesty and demonstrations of fulfillment of promises. When I say I will do something, do I follow through? I challenge you to hold me to that, but also give me credit for it when I do. That’s as fair an approach as someone who can’t stand in front of you can make while having the privilege of speaking to you from afar.

So, here are some honest truths to carry you into the next section:

  • This “book” is not, at the end, going to assert that Christianity is true or right.
  • This “book” is not going to attempt to persuade you to become a Christian.
  • This “book” is only written in an attempt to speak about fundamental biases that make us incapable of discovering, and even exploring, the truth about anything.
  • If that takes you to other places, that’s wonderful. That is my hope, but not my intent.
  • I focus on religion, philosophy, and small matters of science in my examples because those are the avenues I am the most well educated. It would be dishonest to use artificial or tangential metaphors on subjects where I might make faulty comparisons or equivocations.

Do you feel that I have presented a reasonable case to you demonstrating that at least one more section is worth hearing? Did I represent a person who will be delicate, reasonable, honest, but request trust and respect in return for, and in reverence of, the topics and discussions at hand? If so, please move to section 2. If not, I beg you to re-read this introduction, discuss it with people you do trust, look introspectively within yourself with honesty and fairness, and if you hit this block after that still not wanting to move forward, take me up on my promises.

SECTION 2: Pre-dispositional Bias

The “meat” of this will come after this little snippet, but for the sake of completeness, it’s probably important that I discuss the section’s title. You might think the words look redundant, but I think there are two intrinsically different pieces here. A bias is a prejudice, which can be built and taken into interactions, but can also manifest itself after the discovery of the bias happens. You may interact with a group of football players, be treated incredibly poorly, and develop a bias. That may then become a pre-dispositional bias, but the bias comes before the “predisposition”. I think the obvious issue arises in the recognition that not all football players are the same, and therefore, entering into interactions with new ones and automatically associating prejudices to those that have yet to deserve the attribution of those character assignments is inaccurate and unjust to that set of individuals. I think we can all see why this is bad, in general, even if we also see why this is a justifiable reaction to have for the person who was mistreated.

So, now, “the meat”.

Let’s say for a moment that you went up to a friend and asked, “What’s your favorite book to read?” If they said, “The Bible. You should check it out!” What would your reaction be?

Please read this sentence twice or as many times as it takes: These next questions are things to literally ask yourself.

Did you roll your eyes? Maybe even actually, physically roll your eyes at even the thought of “The Bible” being suggested? Did you have a feeling of disgust, irritation, annoyance, anger, dismissal, boredom, tedious pestering, or a burning feeling in the pit of your stomach? Replace “The Bible” with anything, really, and if your immediate reaction is disgust or dismissal, I would argue that’s a manifestation of “pre-dispositional bias”. It does not mean that the bias is unjustified, irrational, or even untrue. It simply means, there is something inside of yourself, granted “truth” through experience, personal exploration, or community influence, that has caused you to not even consider the possibility that a particular viewpoint is even worthy of consideration. That’s dangerous. Not everything has equal merit, but if you can’t look yourself in the mirror and honestly say that you’ve explored a given topic to the most reasonable extent (“reasonable” and not “fullest”; notice that because it’s important), then shutting yourself off to a possibility completely is a possible and likely hindrance to your life.

There is a concept in Judeo-Christian philosophy, and doubtlessly present in many other personal and religious beliefs, of a “hardened heart”. While this phrase is complicated, containing depths beyond simply what we’re discussing here, I believe that one major component to this condition, so to speak, is the manifestation of pre-dispositional biases. I believe very heavily that this is almost exclusively driven by our pride. We feel justified in the bias, intellectually, emotionally, or morally, and are unwilling to challenge it again for a myriad of reasons. That being said, humor me for one second and simply pretend there is an ounce of truth in The Bible. If you have a “hardened heart”, or pre-dispositional bias, in regards to it, you will miss any value that could be present for no other reason than that the content is associated. This approach to most anything is dangerous because you have, by simple virtue of the words being associated with whatever you find invalid, placed them into the realm of irrationality as an inherent characteristic of the concept. Dismissed before it’s even heard. When this behavior becomes reinforced by communities, we now have peer pressure, or “peer support”, to continue within this disposition, and what’s worse, to codify it. To grant it “common sense” status despite the fact that the vast majority of us haven’t invested even the remotest amount of significant time or effort into exploring or investigating its merits.

And don’t think this only applies, or that I believe is only represented, in the direction of non-Christians towards The Bible. Far, far from it. Anyone that knows a single ounce about human history knows that the “Christian” community’s pre-dispositional bias towards science was so astounding that they persecuted individuals for their findings. This is a human condition. It’s not a religious condition, not an non-religious condition, nor a scientific condition. We all have to struggle with this, and we all have the things we’re predisposed to dismissing. Worst of all, we all have our communities that reinforce those predispositions into oblivion until we can’t see up or down nor left or right when the topic is brought up. Only our unmitigated, and profoundly personally detrimental biases.

In the opening statement where I “unveiled” the truth about my perspective, did you feel a twinge of irritation? An ounce of immediate dismissal? A nagging feeling of “I know where this is going?” coupled with an inclination to power down your state of reception because of that simple statement alone? A hint of anger or burning within your chest or stomach? If you did, I used to be right there with you. These sensations used to drown me when my mother would bombard me (so it felt at the time) with passages from The Bible for any and all things that I would encounter in my life. I would be filled with rage and irritation, and beg her to stop reducing every, single thing in my life to some referential scripture. In exquisite fashion of equivalent exchange, I kept on missing all the truth and guidance that were in the words that I could have had, almost for free, if I only had looked and listened with an open mind and heart.

  • If you felt any or all of those sensations, I challenge you to look within yourself and ask yourself why you feel that way. Don’t move on until you feel you have a coherent answer to that question. It’s important to understand the truth about why you feel that way, or you won’t even be able to recognize the solution, assuming you even require one, if it were to be presented to you. I would also recommend discussing it with individuals you know you can trust. If you feel like the simple thought of bringing this up to those you do trust would be too embarrassing, too divisive, or causes you anxiety even thinking about discussing it with them, I would urge you to consider the fact that you likely have a community of individuals around you that perpetuate your pre-dispositional biases. You’re likely living in an echo chamber, and it’s possible that one of them is just waiting for someone else to show that there are others searching for truth as well. Or maybe just doubting the truth they currently “accept”. Even if you completely disagree with everything I believe and stand for, the people around you should always encourage you along paths of exploration that don’t jeopardize your health, wellness, or life (being alive, not “lifestyle”).
  • If you didn’t feel those things, but also aren’t convinced there is any merit in hearing more of what I have to say, alas, we either depart or I implore you to re-read with an open mind and heart. As well as refer to the statements above about discussing with those around you.
  • If you didn’t feel any of these things, but also feel reading on is worthwhile, please move on to the next section.

SECTION 3: Kinds of Truth

To begin, I would argue we know that there are “truths”. I don’t really understand why this topic is so divisive and causes so much conflict within discussions. Either we believe science shows the truth about certain things, or we don’t. We can acknowledge and trust that philosophy stumbled onto some forms of truth, or we can wander in the dark purging everything we’ve gained from it. I find it incredible that we can so regularly discuss things like global warming with such fervor and passion as an undeniable truth, but then in the same community discussions even consider, “Maybe truth doesn’t exist or is unknowable.” I think it’s plainly clear that things are knowable within the world. If things are knowable, no matter the level of profoundness to the knowledge, it demonstrates that there is a positive affirmation there that states, “This thing is whatever it is, and is not anything that doesn’t meet those conditions.” This will get metaphysical, to a degree, but it’s important to begin to consider what is truly knowable.

Growing up in the world of the internet, I find it incredible and mind blowing to see the adoption of the scientific process and the findings that are yielded from it en masse. There is a testament to the wide-spread adoption of the “truth” that is revealed through those mediums that can’t be ignored. However, and I know this will be contentious and take some expounding, I believe that the scientific process simply illuminates a “kind” of truth, not the truth of anything in particular. It’s an important approach to investigate a concept with an “objective” detachment, but what does that approach discover? That’s a more complicated answer. What are we uncovering about the concept we’re exploring if we never re-apply our consciousness to it? If we explore the human mind, brain, and consciousness, never to return to reconcile the fact that our consciousness created all the concepts that even give us the ability to approach trying to peer back into the void of itself, what did we learn? We are required to replace the objectivity with the reality that our subjectivity is inherent even in the detachment approach.

It seems that in the landscape of the world we are currently living in, scientific demonstration has become the de facto definition of “truth”. I do not, and would not, argue that there is no truth in what that approach discovers, but simply that there is almost certainly more truth to discover by recognizing the limitations of our words, perceptions, lenses, and even the senses we have at our disposal and not limiting our minds to only what can be shown through that lens. It is a lens that serves and is served by practicality in a “production” style sense. We are individuals that impose our subjectivity and perception upon the world, as is incredibly laid out in Ian McGilchrist’s “The Master and His Emissary”, which discussed the hemispheres of the brain and their impact upon the tangible world. But we need to ask ourselves: Is this the only kind of truth?

I think it’s important to explore this topic just a bit together to be able to reach an agreeable state of acceptance surrounding it. Empirical and rational truths led to and were unraveled when the Hubble Telescope began to reveal incredible images of our universe. No claim was made by the images. No direct statement was implied by the revealing of the images that were taken, but I would argue it is undeniable that the images forced us to stand in the wake of profound “truths” about our universe. We were faced with the gravity, enormity, beauty, and reality of incredible new revelations about the World we live in. It didn’t make value judgments. It didn’t tell us what or how to think, but it definitely forced us to come to terms with some very real, and large, truths about where we stand. By simply existing in the world, there are truths that manifest themselves without ever considering, requiring, or even being subject to the scientific method. Does that mean those truths are inherently not true? Do they require rigorous scientific scrutiny in order to be true, or are they true regardless of testing; regardless of evaluation; regardless of our input on whether they’re valid or not?

In my opinion, another magnificent demonstration of truths that exist outside of scientific validation or requirement are the truths that can be shown through mediums like film. With images, music, body language, scene staging, emotional manifestations, etc, we can impart and receive “truths” that are not beholden to simply scientific rigidity. We are overtly aware that there is some deep and profound meaning that doesn’t require rigorous testing to know that it’s there. 100 people could watch the same film, in the same theater, at the same time, and come out with a centrally agreed upon main “point”, so to speak, but with their own exclusive and individual recognitions of validity throughout the rest of the film. Are those particular revelations fundamentally untrue because the scientific method can’t measure them? Are they invalid? Or are they just as true, but of a different kind, as anything that can be demonstrated through scientific rigor? We are biological creatures existing within a physical reality, capable of recognizing anomalies, patterns of truth about the world, and communicating them through poetry, film, art, dance, language, and yes, of course, even science.

If we can’t, don’t, or won’t grant these other expressive, exploratory, and, in my opinion, revelatory avenues access to the equal status of “truth”, what then do we do with all the lessons, directions, and progressions that have been made that aren’t within the realms of science? Do we dismiss them? Resubmit them to the rigors of science? Or is it acceptable to recognize their intrinsic worth, and to pay homage to the reality that there are things that are true about ourselves and the world regardless of whether or not we write a paper or have a republic consensus granting them our stamp of approval?

Do you feel that I created an acceptable case for various types of truth? Can there be actual “truth” in poetry, art, music, film, etc? If not, consider within yourself why not? Why do things suddenly, in this day and age, require human validation through a method that is predicated upon detachment and objective approach? Is the fact that religious communities throughout the centuries persecuted massively intelligent and beneficial members of the sciences justification enough to equivocate all the truth and methods, that aren’t beholden to those scientific and expressly rational processes, invalid or lesser status? Does their opposition to truth claims from those individuals invalidate anything else they may “know” because they approached certain things with cold and hardened hearts? If you disagree with the direction this has taken, please re-read to see if the dots connect, and if they don’t, I bid thee farewell!

I have wrestled with this concept for years and years, and have ended up at the place I am in now: I can watch a movie and know that I am experiencing something that is seeing into the spaces unknown that can only be explored with an incredible, profound grounding in subjectivity and with reverence for our necessity to remain within that state in order to see the deepest realms of what can be and is true. It is only through attachment that a less obvious, deeper truth can be revealed. We’ve always known this was true, but we’ve only recently (in terms of human history) discovered this new way to discover this certain kind of scientific truth. I think putting practical production in the business, economic, and industrial realms on a pedestal is impatient and detrimental to our ability to perceive, pursue, and discuss what is or can be true.

Some might argue that science flourished despite religion. Some might argue that science flourished because of religion. I would ask, Does it matter which is true? Are they mutually exclusive? Or can both, more than obviously, be true?

SECTION 4: Does Truth Matter?

This particular section is the one that gives me the most pause. We’re starting to get into some really gritty concepts now. If you made it through the last part, I’ll be surprised. If you make it through this, I’ll honestly be astounded. It will be contentious. It won’t be easy. It will be my honest approach to the subject matter, but I already know I’ll likely lose a good portion here. I encourage you to read the preceding sections again if you find yourself disenchanted with the content within these next paragraphs. I won’t lie that a good amount of this, if not all of it, depends on consenting to the preceding sections. That being said, I give my word I will try to approach this cautiously and with intellectual honesty.

I think it’s important that we ask ourselves this section’s question before we dive into this. It has quite a few potential levels which I will do my best to highlight, but you may think of some I haven’t come up with. Let’s try to start small and work our way to bigger things. Starting small: if “truth” in general exists, even small things like 2+2=4, we share DNA structures with surprising creatures to a high level of commonality, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west (indicating our rotation; unless you don’t believe that), don’t those things show us something about the universe that requires that we change our perspective at least slightly with regards to how we feel about and operate within it? If something can be knowable, it, at a minimum, shows that all manner of things could be knowable.

This seems to be where it may get a little tricky: is there only one way in which things can be known? Is universal repetition a truly necessary condition for valid truth? Can abstraction truly be performed in enough iterations to yield an undeniably true result? If all inputs into a thought experiment yield different outputs, what about the conclusion, or the experiment for that matter, is incorrect? These are where I truly believe the majority of the discrepancies exist. How do we differentiate between a bias and a reasonable perspective or conclusion to take into an evaluation, and what do you do in the face of fundamental disagreements when seemingly all the same evidence is accepted by multiple conclusion-holding individuals? Is it possible both are right even though the beliefs are seemingly mutually exclusive? Are the methods that determined some of the empirical evidence accepted by all parties a requirement for the discovery of the correct conclusion to all problems? How do you determine which one, if any, is correct?

I’ve been personally wrestling with this question significantly lately: When standing on the mountaintop, looking into the abyss that is our origin story, why does saying, “Must be (a) God,” require faith but the position, “More evidence will come later,” does not? You’ll likely not exist when that evidence shows up. It’s almost certain that you won’t live to see anything more profound than you’ve already seen. We’re all staring into the same void. We’re all standing in the face of unknowing. Aren’t we all just gazing into the abyss with faith that how we are currently operating is a good representation of the truth? I just haven’t been able to reconcile this question. Every discussion I have with a theist, agnostic, deist, or an atheist seems to end with both or all of us agreeing upon almost every single empirical reality, agreeing with the discoveries made, but then getting hung up on semantic re-branding of the implications of that moment on the mountaintop. We all seem to just be pairs of eyes begging the darkness to show us the light. So why do we act like any of us are on different levels or are more reasonable than the others?

To transition into bigger truths, I think it’s fair to assume that the reality that smaller ones exist is a fair indicator that larger ones almost certainly do. While the problem of proof is definitely magnified, maybe to an absurdity, I don’t think that changes the likelihood that an objective reality exists regardless of whether or not we ever uncover the tools that enable us or our progeny to ever truly wrap their heads around such lofty questions. The increase in difficulty of finding the correct solution does not invalidate the likelihood that an answer exists. Will there ever be enough evidence available to our future generations to be able to do anything but speculate upon the mountaintop? If every time we find a small truth, we realize how many questions and unknowns that small unveiling yields, how then can we assume we’ll ever know enough to solve the true riddles of the world? I’m not saying this to be pessimistic or dismissive, but I truly don’t see how the profound scientific revelations that we are encountering are doing anything to diminish the ultimate count of things we need to know in order to know. They seem to simply reveal how potentially infinite the amount likely is.

I’m comfortable with a Christian saying, “God seems to explain this best. I can’t and don’t think it’ll ever be provable, but it’s what I believe.” I’m also equally comfortable with an atheist saying, “I don’t believe (a) God explains this best.” Those are both “reasonable” perspectives from my point of view. I can completely identify with both sides of the fence even if I believe, at the end of the day, that a single God exists from a specific religious perspective. What I am not comfortable with, however, is the utterly disingenuous and pretentious attempt to state that staring into the void saying, “Evidence will come,” is somehow more intellectually honest or reasonable than all other perspectives.

This really loops us back into the entire premise of section 2: How do we differentiate between pre-dispositional bias influencing our perspective which makes us see the outcome we want from what is actually knowable or true? I feel that section 2 addresses this impasse. I recently listened to a clinical psychologist describe a process of hierarchical evaluation where he says something to the effect of, “If scientific evidence are your baseline, foundational pillar on which you build your understanding (when standing on the mountaintop and forced to choose between belief and “the facts”), you will take the evidence, and reconsider your perceptions/interpretations of your beliefs, or your beliefs themselves, to match the science. If, however, your beliefs are your foundation, you will change the science to fit your beliefs.” All I can possibly tell you is that, when push comes to shove, Christianity adopts scientific revelation (if not immediately, in time; which I think is reasonable), and reconsiders and alters its perceptions/interpretations of its beliefs. Christianity as a whole can’t reconsider “its beliefs” or it simply wouldn’t exist anymore, but the above statement would apply to the “Christian” collective of individuals as a general whole.

The actions of individuals in the past have no bearing on the reality of the present, outside of learning from our mistakes and giving blame and credit where it’s due. Christian concession that evolution is true has no bearing on it being true if it is true. Scientific concession that God exists has no bearing on God existing if He exists, although it would certainly help people decide. We falsely equivocate all sorts of nonsensical, loosely correlated, anecdotal things to some objective view, on any side of the fence of a particular belief, because of our predispositions, and we pollute our ability to navigate any given topic of magnitude because of all the baggage we drag into it.

This all brings us to an important moment, if we have conceded the sections before and including this one: does “truth” matter?

The amount of energy, discovery, passion, exploration, and drive that is pumped into purely the act of digging into what can be and is knowable shows that, undoubtedly, it matters; at least at a personal level. We are manifestations of the never ending search for meaning, knowledge, and adventure that almost makes the question comical to even consider from my perspective. But, of course, the context assigned to the word “matter” matters.

Although there are “small” truths that make claims about things that are knowable, those claims don’t necessarily pose statements that imply immense gravity. “That car is yellow” doesn’t really demand any real introspection. It doesn’t ask anything of you. There’s no requirement to be explored. There’s no real implications there, I think most would agree. It’s simply a statement that is or isn’t true. It not being yellow even though you see yellow would certainly be an interesting conundrum for you personally, but even that implication is really just local, although it could have massive implications for your capacity to experience large swaths of the world in a way that would align you with “the majority”. Some may view that as a disadvantage, but it’s only a disadvantage assuming that being like everyone else is somehow empirically “better” than the perspective that it enables you to have that causes you to bring something completely different to the table than most anyone else could. You, literally, see the world from a different light. But I digress, even though I think that’s a critical piece of credit to show how something simple can completely alter huge levels of perception.

There are, however, truth claims that also claim to inherently matter at an ultimate level. They hold consequences. They may have utterly no merit whatsoever, but they definitely, possibly ‘matter’. Not only do I think a predisposition of negativity and dislike towards these types of claims is completely merited, but I think it’s also unsurprisingly obvious why that would be a disposition to begin with. They intrinsically demand something of you. They demand respect, reverence, and an actual commitment of consideration and attention from you. That type of assertion can be very off-putting, intrusive, and condemning. The sensation is akin to the reaction I used to have towards my mother when she would just be crushing me under the “rules of her house” which was, “I didn’t ask to be born.” It truly hurts to even consider that there might be something we have to contend with. That we aren’t “our own masters”, so to speak. Those are all “reasonable” reactions to these types of claims, but we have these reactions towards them because they face us with the reality that we either: ignore them or challenge them.

Wherever you land on that last sentence is up to you. I’ve tried explaining this to so many people it would make my head spin to even try to remember them all. You’ve probably heard something like, “There’s a test. You gonna show up without an answer?” from every person you’ve ever known coming from the theological side of the aisle. I’m not here to tell you anything other than, “I get it.” My ability to understand it doesn’t change the fact that there are truth claims that have weight. That’s the only thing I’m talking about here. You can ignore them or challenge them. There’s really no other options. If when this paragraph hit you, you felt any or all of the sensations of “pre-dispositional bias” flare up within you, not only do I get it and can relate, but I truly empathize with you. “I didn’t ask to be born.”

Here’s a doozy: If we agree truth can matter, and some truths could really matter, does truth really matter to us, as individuals, enough to wrestle with big truth claims?

With that, we’ve reached another impasse. I promised you it would be difficult. I promised you it would not feel good. I promised you a lot would depart at this juncture, assuming you even made it to this sentence. But I also promised I would do my absolute best to treat the topic with respect, honesty, and reverence because I feel we live in a world that would rather not talk about big truth claims. When we hit a point of “ignore rather than face” as an intellectual and idealistic pinnacle, I believe that’s a sign of being truly lost. If you agree with where I landed, regardless of the biases appearing or not, feel free to move on. If you find yourself in a place of thinking I’m a complete buffoon, misrepresenting reality, misunderstanding or misrepresenting something fundamental, I implore you to re-read, discuss with friends you trust, and do not ignore the echo chamber and pangs of your potential personal and community pre-dispositional biases. Otherwise, we say goodbye.

Section 5: The Wrap Up

I think there is some deep and profound truth to be found in the attempt of “meeting someone at their level”, so I hope that in some way what I am about to say shows that I have deeply and extensively both discussed with others and put effort dwelling on this concept and statement(s) at an individual level.

There appear to me to be two dominant voices in the world today:

  • Those that look at the fossil evidence, the grandiosity of the universe, the complexity of the human anatomy and mind, the existence of not only life but life that can consider itself deeply, and the astonishing beauty of the universe, and think, “Wow! The Designer behind this must truly be incredible. Look at the commonality in design of all the creatures that exist. Look at the complexity and diversity of life. Look at how deeply and reflectively life can consider itself. Look at how intricate and beautifully everything seems to be stitched together.” They stand on the precipice of the void, and they say, “How beautiful is it that we have been given the chance to be here? We’re literally walking, talking, creations in the universe with the ability to revel in and discover the majesty of God.”
  • Then there are those who look at the fossil evidence, the grandiosity of the universe, the complexity of human anatomy and the mind, the existence of not only life but life that can consider itself deeply, and the astonishing beauty of the universe, and think, “Wow! Look at how much diversity developed from such basic commonalities. Look at the complexity and diversity of life. Look at how deeply and reflectively life can consider itself. Look at how intricate and beautifully everything seems to be stitched together.” They stand on the precipice of the void, and they say, “How beautiful is it that the universe created within itself something capable of experiencing itself?! We’re literally walking, talking, creations of the universe with the ability to revel in and discover its majesty.”

If you can’t see how people on both sides of that spectrum are compelled by those statements, I think you should take some time for true introspection, regardless of your belief system; Christian or “Atheist” (to improperly, but truly not intending harm, categorize a group with “loose” commonalities in their total sum). I imagine agnostics, and those of similar positions, likely struggle for a myriad of reasons potentially stemming from the compelling properties of both arguments which is why I don’t discuss that “conclusion” as extensively.

There are so many people completely engulfed by their own worldview that they can’t even consider how someone can even think the other way. It must be idiocy, desperation to be enslaved, purely avoidance of ultimate responsibility, etc. As I’ve highlighted above, clearly I feel there is a mixed bag of truly powerful logical, emotional, and experiential elements that inform one’s end-all conclusion, but let’s at least meet each other in the middle in that both sides have profound poetic beauty that may compel them to lean the direction that they do. There is mutual respect conjured within that culminating point. There is honor, dignity, purpose, and freedom in respecting one another’s points of view regardless of where they land, at least at a fundamental level. The erosion of respect and the codification of misrepresentative statements of opposing viewpoints leads to bigotry, hatred, ignorance, and all sorts of superiority complexes, on both sides.

The layout of this piece is designed to show how things should be emulated in this intellectual space. Be open, be honest, be forthright, be courageous, but do not be afraid to speak a potentially controversial opinion. That’s not to say that we should spout off everything we have or could ever think, but that if you truly believe you have been thoughtful, considerate, and honest in your attempts to rationalize and internally represent an opposing position truthfully but come to a different conclusion, you should not be afraid to speak it. You should be far more frightened of your own capacity to speak with utter, abysmal ignorance than you should ever be afraid of being shouted down. If we all conducted ourselves with more self-control, patience, and willing internal criticism, conversations wouldn’t devolve. You don’t need an echo chamber to be civil, civility can only exist in the face of difference and controversy. Otherwise, how can you describe yourself as civil? What is civil about treating people who identically represent your internal state with the same respect and reverence as you do yourself?

Courage requires conflict. Civility requires disagreement and differences. Diversity requires diversity. Of mind, of body, of health, of status, of culture, of perspective. I hate that such a cliche style statement feels relevant, but I honestly think it’s a pathetic reality of the world we live in right now that someone could even think to write or read that statement and even consider that it needs to be said and heard by individuals en masse. I don’t want my voice to be the loudest, and I don’t want another to be silenced. But I think as individuals, we need to be significantly more accountable to ourselves for our own words, actions, and perspectives, and most importantly, to second guess the masses, if for nothing else, to build up an ability to recognize truth in our lives.

Put into practice, and with great effort, the art of testing your biases. Spend time within yourself to recognize the flaring of your spirit or mind, and bodily reactions when you are faced with something uncomfortable, or that you disagree with, in order to rectify your bias versus the truth. That’s a critical measure to practice earnestly within yourself to be sure you’re discovering what is real and what is fake, incomplete, or blatantly untrue. Always wrestle within yourself to test and reconcile what kinds of truth you’re encountering (if you end up believing there are different ‘kinds’). Regularly and constantly ask yourself if a particular truth requires or demands anything of you; test, deeply, if it matters. Discuss these pieces of discussion or divergent discoveries with people you trust, and always test that group. If you feel silenced, afraid, or discouraged from talking to those people in your life that you trust and/or love, I would highly recommend you take that very, very seriously. Nothing is more detrimental to discovering truth than not having tests of your beliefs, and what’s worse, standing in a place of feeling or knowing something you believe is wrong but being afraid of challenging it.

I hope you feel respected, well represented, and if all succeeds, mildly more enlightened than you were when you showed up. These intense thought processes have benefited me greatly in my personal, professional, and intellectual life.

Do you feel I represented someone you would feel compelled to share the thoughts of? Did I do my promises justice? Do I deserve the credit that I requested at the beginning? If so, please share it as much as you feel is necessary. If you do not, please, do not share this with anyone. Sharing, highlighting, and referencing beliefs that you don’t believe in perpetuates them. It draws attention to their cause. You have more friends than you realize that are teetering on the side of “opposition”. And if you don’t realize that’s true, it perhaps is a decent reflection of their, or your, representation of character, and lack of openness of dialogue between individuals within groups, that presuppose the existence of trust, that this entire thing is about. By sharing this, you empower my thoughts. Even if you’re doing it to shame them, it will perpetuate them. Operate in wisdom and discernment.

To bring this all full circle and state a cliche my mom used to say that no one in the world seems to care about or take seriously that has been revealed to be true in my life: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Represent yourselves, and your mothers, well when you speak.

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