“He was a good man in the worst sense of the word.” We all know the guy Mark Twain is talking about. We run into him every now and then. Folk singer David Wilcox wrote a song about him that you can listen to by clicking here. When people become self-righteous, they develop blind spots and biases. They bring criticism on themselves, especially when they appear in public, demanding that we all see it their way. Their knuckles turn white holding onto their perspective without any consideration of others. Still, this described stereotype has come to justify the way faith-based views are generally pressed to the margins these days. It is in vogue to dismiss faith as something merely private, parochial, and unexamined. Ironically, it takes only a label to deflect it without actually dealing with ideas that are “faith-based.”
But open-mindedness can also be a kind of faith or even dogma. Being inclusive or tolerant is so assumed that few people stop to question what all they might be including. Yikes. Inclusiveness will keep you out of trouble in the media though, and at first blush it seems very gracious. Every competing idea wins a prize. It reminds me of the line from Gilbert and Sullivan’s old musical, The HMS Pinafore, “If everybody’s somebody, then no one’s anybody!”
Usually when people disagree with each other, they center upon some issue or situation. Seldom do they take time to ask why one person sees it red and another person sees it blue. Like the sign on the desk that says, “be reasonable…do it my way,” we all have biases–even the most scientific among us. It is difficult to see our own. They create a kind of window through which we look out at the world. But it is possible not only to look through our windows but also to see the window itself–the smudge from a careless painter or the build up of grime from splattered rain and dirt. To see the window itself is to consider what some heady German called our “Weltanschauung.”
Most people look at things through one of the following three windows: The naturalist considers only material things to be real, reducing everything to what we can sense or measure. The agnostic is decidedly unsure whether anything real lies beyond what we can measure, but sure that if there is something, it has no connection to the natural world. Someone with a transcendent worldview believes that there is more to what meets the eye than what meets the eye.
For all of us, assumptions are in play at some level. They influence the way that we look at everything. We cannot claim that faith-based views alone are biased. Everyone believes something–even if it is to believe that it is best not to believe. The question is, faith or not, do you see your window or do you only see through it?
What do you think?