What are you missing?

Mano Paul asks “Whatcha lookin’ at?” to his fellow Christians. Supposedly, the correct answer should be “Jesus, the converted, and ourselves.” Conspicuously missing is an entire universe of scientific, philosophical, and even religious scholarship.

Human cognition is dangerously susceptible to a failure mode called confirmation bias. Not only are we prone to prefer evidence that supports what we already believe, but we tend to ignore or discount evidence that contradicts our beliefs. Usually this happens without our even being aware of it! Notice how Mano’s list contains nothing but sources of confirming evidence. If you never honestly examine conflicting viewpoints, how will you ever know if you’re wrong?

There is a powerful operating tool to help find and eliminate bias and wrong belief called “making beliefs pay rent“. Pick any belief of yours that you think is true. What would the world look like if that belief is true? What does it look like if the belief is false? How would you construct a test to find out one way or the other? If you actually care whether the things you believe are true, then you should want to discard any belief that could never be meaningfully tested.

Points to ponder

When you look UP and OUT at Jesus, how do you know that what you’re seeing is actually true, and not just agreeing with what you already believed before?

When you look upon your fields of the converted, why do you not pay more careful attention to the seeds that didn’t grow? If you truly believe that non-Christians will burn, surely you should care if you’re not getting through to them. If you can acknowledge that the message isn’t effective, only then can you be ready to try a different approach. If you understand why others aren’t convinced, maybe then you might realize why you shouldn’t be convinced, either.

Self-reflection is extremely important, but there is a lot more to it than simply checking to make sure we’re still on Jesus’ “nice” list and not the “naughty” list. Virtue should be its own reward. Are we actually behaving virtuously? How would we know if we are not? Are we making a positive impact on the world? Do others see us the same way we see ourselves? Proper self-reflection requires a mirror; not the mirror of our own minds that shows us only what we want to see, but the mirror of others that shows us how we really are.

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