Adjusting Your Perspective (When You’re Wrong, Pt. 2)

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man and woman talking in a coffee shop

My previous post centered on how to recognize when you’re wrong about something and the process to follow in those situations. I discussed the pitfalls of confirmation bias, and listed several tips on how to combat its persistent presence in your life. If you haven’t read the post or would like a refresher, feel free to check it out.

Handling the Realization You Were Wrong

After you realize that you were wrong about something–whether that process takes minutes, weeks, months, or years–you have a situation that you must deal with. You most likely spoke about this error before, or acted in a manner that was in accordance with it. And there were witnesses.

Immediately, that makes this situation a matter of personal pride.

We all have a problem with pride. Rather, pride tends to insert itself into all aspects of our lives, causing problems or worsening them. Recognizing when we’re wrong is practically a classic situation for pride to rear its ugly head.

Thankfully, since we’ve already made it to the point where we’re willing to accept the fact that we were wrong about something, we’re on the right path. As we continue down this road of dealing with a change in our perspective, let’s strive to keep humility at the forefront of all our responses, thoughts, and actions.

Considering the Implications

Now that we’ve recognized our error and are ready to correct it, we need to consider the implications such a change will have on everything that comes next. For anything more substantial than a realization that cows don’t actually produce chocolate milk, your new revelation is likely to have an affect on one or more areas of your life.

For example, if you discover that a news story accusing a public figure you supported were in fact true, there are implications for how you view that person, how you talk about them to others, how you view the news outlets that published the story in question (and perhaps news outlets that published counter-pieces)… and so on! And this is just over one public figure. Larger, deeper realizations can cause a cascade of implications for your relationships with your family, church, beliefs about God, and understanding of the world.

For this stage, it’s important to take the time you need to process and work through the variety of issues that will come up as you consider the facts you have encountered. Do not skip this step, lest you find yourself in a sea of contradictions, sooner or later. Do some research. Talk to others from a variety of viewpoints–remember that humility! Ask good questions and seek out the answers you need. Just don’t stay mired in “considerations” forever. You need to integrate what you’ve learned into your revitalized, broadened perspective.

Adjusting Your Perspective

Once you’ve spent the time needed to consider the implications and seek answers to questions that arise, a crucial step is to integrate all that you’ve learned into your worldview. How does what you’ve learned interact with other ideas, beliefs, thoughts, motivations, and actions in your life? None of our beliefs or understandings exist in isolation, so when any part changes, it’s important for us to intentionally fit it into the web of connected aspects of our lives.

This will likely not be accomplished in a moment. Changing your thought patterns and the way you view things is challenging because so much of what we think is ingrained within us.

In regards to this, Romans 12:2 says:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (ESV).

As you actively renew your mind, it will transform you, which will carry out into your actions.

Next Steps

Of all the steps to handling situations when you were wrong, this one is perhaps the “squishiest.” It tends to be the most intangible, and the hardest phase in which to make recognizable progress. However, I urge you, when you are wrong, take the time to walk through the implications this should have on other areas of your life. Don’t settle for slapping a bandaid on an issue that could have deep roots. Aim for a transformation in all the applicable areas, so you can walk forward, confidently, in the path of the truth.

The final phase we’ll look at next month is how to talk about this journey you’ve been through with someone else–from “small” situations like owning up to a factual error, to huge worldview shifts. In the meantime, let us know in the comments or on our social media: What are some ways you deal with the implications ideas have? What advice would you give to someone who just realized they were wrong about something?

Who Are You Preaching To?

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I came across a question recently that we don’t ask nearly often enough: What is the core theme of the gospel?  It occured to me that there are, to some extent, multiple correct answers to this. We could say redemption. We could say God’s relationship with humankind.  We could say “what’s wrong with the world and God’s solution.” And then it occurred to me that these are all basically the same thing, said in different ways.

All Christians have the same story, but we express it in different ways, emphasizing different aspects of it.  This flexibility in ways to tell the story is identified by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22, when he says “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.”  We see this in the book of Acts – Jesus is presented as the ultimate fulfillment of the Jewish Messianic prophecies in chapter 2, and the culmination of special knowledge and wisdom to the Gentiles on Mars Hill in chapter 17.  

Now here comes the question – what case are you giving when speaking with your atheist co-worker?  Are you quoting Bible verses, and citing Genesis 1-2 as an argument against evolution? On the other hand, are you using evidences from archaeology with your Mormon classmate?  The presentation of the gospel should be adjusted depending on who we are speaking to. That’s not duplicitous; it’s good communication.

What is their foundation?

When considering the audience we are speaking to, we must consider where they are, not where we were before we became Christians.  This is vitally important. Someone who holds to an Eastern religion may not share our premise that the world is full of evil because to them, evil is an illusion.  The Muslim need not be convinced of God’s existence, but believes the Bible has been changed so much that it is unreliable. Too often Christians have simply started with Scripture.  That’s great if someone shares your trust in it, but most nonbelievers are not there yet. This is something even the apostles recognized – Paul doesn’t lead with Scripture in the sermon on Mars Hill.

What is their spiritual need?

The former point is one that apologists have been saying for a long time.  But even once we recognize what the foundations of their worldview are, that may not be the primary obstacle in their path.  It could be that there’s a particular immoral lifestyle they prefer. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, they could be so deep into sin that they don’t believe there’s any saving them.  In some of these cases, unfortunately, religious people have treated these sins as many degrees worse than their own (such as with drug addiction and fornication, for example), when scripture supports no such distinction.  We may not always know this need, but we must be sensitive to it. One who struggles with chronic depression does not need a “hellfire and brimstone” sermon. She/He needs to know that God forgives as well as punishes.

What is your relationship with them?

The difficulty in knowing someone’s spiritual need is another reason why it’s important to ask many questions before we attempt to speak into their life.  To the same people that Paul wrote “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor. 4:21), Paul also said “out of great distress and anguish of heart I wrote to you through many tears” (2 Cor. 2:4).  Lots of us want to wield the rod without actually shedding the tears.

To put it rather simply, consider the good of the person you are speaking to, not just whether you know you are right.  We want to point people to Jesus, not show off our debating skills.

Ep. 145: What’s the Best Way to Learn Apologetics?

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On this episode:

Nate explains what Paul meant when he said “I have become all things to all people” (:29)
Nate welcomes Gene & Logan (12:03)
Worldview Analysis: Alyssa Milano’s Sex Strike (14:45)
What’s the Best Way to Learn Apologetics? (23:20)

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To download this episode, right-click here.

“Day by Day” by Citizens is used with permission. Check out their website: wearecitizens.net

What If We Discovered Jesus’ Bones?

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aerial view of Jerusalem

I posted a poll question on A Clear Lens’ Twitter that asked how our followers would respond if this happened:

“Archaeologists found an authenticated ossuary box from the 1st century full of bones and a note that read, ‘These are the bones of Jesus of Nazareth, crucified by Pontius Pilate. We lied about Jesus rising from the dead. – Peter, James, John, and Paul.’”

And these were the poll results:

  • Still Believe – 58%
  • Leave Christianity – 32%
  • Change Religions – 7%
  • Reinterpret Parts of NT – 3%

The basic question behind the poll is this: What would I do if it could be proven that Jesus did not physically rise from the dead? Would I continue to believe in Jesus? Would I adopt a completely new interpretation of Jesus’ resurrection? Would I change my religion to something else? Or would I abandon Christianity and religion altogether?

Let’s take a look at each of these possible responses.

Still Believe/Reinterpret Parts of the New Testament

I put these two options together because I would have to reinterpret parts of the New Testament to continue believing in Jesus. I think this would limit me to one theological option:

I would have to be convinced the New Testament teaches that Jesus rose spiritually.

In other words, his corpse remained in the tomb but His Spirit appeared to the disciples and ascended into God’s presence. However, there are major hurdles to cross before I could be convinced of this interpretation. First, the Gospels all record that the tomb was empty. Second, Jesus’ appearances in the Gospels seem to be physical in nature (i.e. eating fish, talking, and so on).

I think these hurdles alone would leave the New Testament in ruins, thus making it even harder for me to continue believing in Jesus.

Change Religions

As it stands now, the only other religion that I would entertain is Judaism. I would have to reinterpret Messianic prophecies that applied to Jesus among other things such as the Trinity. I might also have to give up inerrancy based on these things. I think the evidence for God and the reliability of the Old Testament texts would still appeal to me.

Leave Christianity

Most people who voted this option on the poll probably did so because of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19:

“…if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

But notice something about what Paul said here. He does not say that he would stop believing in God altogether if Christ was not raised. Instead, Paul would continue to believe in Yahweh and would repent for misrepresenting God to others.

This is why I think it’s probable that Paul would return to his roots of Judaism if Jesus’ body was discovered while Paul was alive. This is another reason why I think I would at least consider converting to Judaism if Christ did not rise physically.

Closing Thoughts

I am actually surprised that such a high number of people would still believe in Christianity if we found Jesus’ bones. I don’t think I could follow Jesus anymore because he would have ended up like any other religious leader in the world: dead and buried.

This question is an interesting thought experiment because it makes you think how you would respond if your worldview was significantly challenged. It also makes you consider why you actually believe in Jesus, which is something that all apologists need to wrestle with so that they can engage the world around them.

One more thing:

“Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV).

Ep. 144: Why There’s Good Reason to Trust the Bible

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On this episode:

Nate explains how to ask leading questions to make a point (:29)
Nate welcomes Gene & Logan and they have a SPOILER FREE discussion about “Avengers: Endgame” (18:33)
Why There’s Good Reason to Trust the Bible (29:11)

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To download this episode, right-click here.

“Day by Day” by Citizens is used with permission. Check out their website: wearecitizens.net

Ep. 143: “The Temptation of Christ” with Douglas Vail and Reed Lackey

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On this episode:
Nate and the team spend the entire episode with the director and writer of the brand new Christian film “The Temptation of Christ” (:29)

We hope you enjoy this episode! Sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material only for subscribers at (www.clearlens.org)!Twitter: @AClearLens
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Email: hello@clearlens.org

To download this episode, right-click here.

“Day by Day” by Citizens is used with permission. Check out their website: wearecitizens.net

Biblical Archaeology with Professor Ted Wright

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I’ve always been in love with ancient history. In fact, it was through researching history that I came to realize that the Gospels were in fact, eyewitness accounts. So it was my pleasure to catch up with Epic Archaeology‘s Professor Ted Wright to discuss why he decided to specialize in biblical archaeology, what Christian apologists should know, and what historical finds are waiting on the horizon.

What initially sparked your interest in the field of anthropology and archaeology? What was it that drew you to the discipline of biblical archaeology?

Great question! My interest in archaeology and anthropology probably originated when I was younger. I was very involved in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts growing up, and our scout leaders often took us to historical sites and Civil War battlefields. I had a very active imagination as a kid, and I would often wonder what it must have been like to have been in these places at that time. My childlike wonder and fascination with the past are still with me today. I became interested in pursuing a career in Biblical archaeology several years ago when I was in the Air Force. I decided that when I was discharged from the military, I would pursue a degree in ancient history. I was speaking to my pastor about this one evening, and he gave me a stack of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) magazines. He recommended that I consider studying archaeology as it relates specifically to the Bible. I knew within a few minutes of browsing through the magazines and skimming the articles that, that was exactly what I wanted to do. What made you decide to create Epic Archaeology?

What made you decide to create Epic Archaeology?

I decided to create Epic Archaeology for two reasons: (1) As a Student I had questions about the Bible’s historicity: Although I grew up as a Christian believer, honest questions about the Bible arose when I became an undergraduate archaeology student. Several of my professors taught a highly skeptical view of the Bible, and as a Christian, I didn’t know how to answer their skeptical charges. This led me to do my own research, and I came across books by Christian apologist, Josh McDowell. I scoured the bibliographies in his books and found other works by archaeologists such as William F. Albright, Nelson Glueck, Sir William Ramsay, and others. Several years ago I had the idea to have a very accessible online resource for students and others who may have some of the same questions about the Bible’s historicity and trustworthiness.

(2) To teach Biblical (or Near Eastern) archaeology in an accurate, attractive, relevant and engaging way. I have always loved the ancient Greek myths, especially the stories found in the Iliad & Odyssey by Homer — known by Classical scholars as “epic poetry.” In my view, the Bible is a book that is truly Epic in every sense of the word! It is an Epic Story that is also true! Within its pages lies the story of God’s love and epic plan to redeem fallen humanity through a family and the nation of Israel, in the person of Jesus Christ. Physical evidence (artifacts) of God’s epic story can be found throughout the Near East, and Epic Archaeology is dedicated to bringing those things to light and making them widely known.

How does the study of archaeology help, modern-day apologists?

In my view, archaeology is a very powerful ally for the modern day Christian apologist. By itself, however, archaeology cannot prove Christianity or the Bible – but, it can give us a very high degree of certainty that the Biblical record is an accurate account of what actually happened. The cornerstone truth of Christian faith is the resurrection of Christ, so in Christianity faith and history are intimately connected (see 1 Cor. 15). Archaeology is the study of the physical and material remains of past human cultures. As a record of the past, the Bible can and, has stood up to intense scrutiny and skepticism by those who question its reliability. No other book in the ancient world or religious text can even come close to the Bible in matters of historical integrity, manuscript, and archaeological evidence. Moreover, many artifacts which support the Bible have been discovered by accident by those not necessarily wishing to “prove the Bible.” One of the most recent examples was the discovery of Pontius Pilate’s signet ring in Herodium in Israel (note: it was excavated in 1969 and deciphered in 2018). What are some of the more common objections to the Bible being a historically reliable document?

What are some of the more common objections to the Bible being a historically reliable document?

Objections to the historical reliability of the Bible really depends on who you are talking to. Internet atheists and skeptics usually don’t have a clue when it comes to academic historiography. Bible scholars (Greek & Hebrew scholars) have their objections, and archaeologists have theirs. Sometimes their objections are not the same. Also, historical objections in the New Testament are not the same as those in the Old Testament. Objections to New Testament reliability usually center around issues of textual criticism. But there are some common themes, which incidentally don’t come from archaeology at all – they come from the philosophical assumptions and commitments of the scholar or skeptic – in the interpretation of the data. For example, a more radical view of biblical history comes from the Copenhagen School (also known as Biblical minimalism) [A related, but not identical group are Jesus mythcists]. Their ideas about the knowability of history are based primarily on the philosophical works of Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan (two postmodern philosophers). Essentially, they think that objective history is impossible because of their radically skeptical view of human language. Biblical minimalists hold that actually knowing what happened in the Bible is impossible. But again, this viewpoint doesn’t come from the data of archaeology — it comes from their own theories, which incidentally undermines and undercuts their own books (which were written a couple of decades ago). If all of the human languages can’t be trusted – then neither can we nor should we trust any of their words or books.

A second area of challenge when it comes to the reliability of the Bible has to do with something called Biblical chronology (in the words of one scholar, “What did the Biblical writers know, and when did they know it?”). Chronology has to do with aligning events recorded in the Bible with the actual historical and archaeological record. I have written about this very important issue on our website Epic Archaeology in an article titled “The Backbone of History.” Currently, in Old Testament scholarship, a big area of debate (even among believing scholars and archaeologists) is the timing and the date of the Exodus and Conquest. This event figures largely in Old Testament history as well as Israel’s own national history and identity. There are two proposed dates for the Biblical Exodus – the early date (1446 B.C.) and the late date (approx. 1536 B.C.). The debate is primarily over the interpretation of the archaeological and historical data as it relates to the Exodus.

Are there any discoveries that support the veracity of the Bible that people don’t really know about?

Yes! Just a few years ago I learned about the recent decipherment of some inscriptions found in the Sinai Peninsula which mention the phrase, “Hebrews of Bethel, the beloved.” In a recent publication titled, The World’s First Alphabet: Hebrew as the Language of the ProtoConsonantal Script, Egyptologist and Biblical scholar, Douglas Petrovich announced that he had translated inscriptions from the Egyptian Sinai from the ancient turquoise mine of Serâbît el Khadîm, and another site called Wadi el-Hôl. Other inscriptions include three people mentioned in the OT, including Asenath, the wife of Joseph (Gn 41:45), and Ahisamach, the father of one of the craftsmen who would build the Tabernacle (Ex 35:34). And perhaps one of the most surprising names he discovered in the inscriptions is the name of Moses himself! The implications of these inscriptions for Old Testament history, as well as the Exodus, are tremendous indeed!

Historically speaking, is there a fact about the Bible that you wish more Christians knew?

Well, there are many things I wish Christians knew about the Bible, but having once been a pastor and then a professor at a Bible College for several years I have found that many Christians today are not very knowledgable about the Bible at all – especially when it comes to the Old Testament. Many do not know the OT very well, yet the pages of the New Testament are filled with references to the Old Testament. I came across a very interesting article several years ago in the Guardian (UK) by two scholars who created this amazing graphic showing how many references from the Old Testament are found in the New Testament. The total number of OT cross references is 62,779! I wish Christians would study and read the Old Testament more! It is in the Old Testament that we find Christ in some amazing and surprising ways!

If you could choose three finds, that you feel are the most compelling evidence for the historicity of the Bible, what would they be?

That’s a difficult question to answer, primarily because archaeology is an inductive science and is based on cumulative evidence from multiple areas of study. But if I had to give three archaeological discoveries that are the most compelling and incontrovertible (as much as archaeology can be!), it would be the evidence for the siege of Jerusalem in the late 8th/early 7th century B.C. during the reign of Hezekiah by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. We have multiple attestations of the event archaeological and historical record (both from the Bible and Assyrian inscriptions). Hezekiah made preparations for the invasion by broadening the walls of Jerusalem – sections of his broad wall have been excavated in Jerusalem and it dates to the late 8th, early 7th century B.C.. Because the Assyrians were masters at siege warfare, Hezekiah also made preparations for a long siege by digging a tunnel to the Spring of Gihon

[see 2 Kings 20:20 & 2 Chron 32]

. Hezekiah’s tunnel was first discovered and explored in 1625 by Franciscus Quaresmius, and later in 1838 by the American geographer and explorer, Edward Robinson. Robinson also discovered a paleo-Hebrew inscription in the tunnel (the Siloam tunnel inscription) presumably created by the stone cutters. The siege of Jerusalem, as well as Lachish, is also attested in the Assyrian records on the Taylor Prism (located in the British Museum), and on the Oriental Institute Prism (University of Chicago). Just recently, Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar discovered both the names of Hezekiah and Isaiah on two small clay seals (bullae) located just 3 ft apart in Jerusalem in the Ophel excavations, conducted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Have there been any archaeological finds that contradict the Bible or, appear to contradict the Bible at first glace?

Yes. Perhaps one of the best examples is the interpretation City IV at the ancient Biblical site of Jericho (famous in the book of Joshua). From 1930-1936 Jericho was excavated by British archaeologist, John Garstang and the Oriental Institute (U. of Chicago). In his excavations, Garstang discovered a stratum at Jericho he labeled City IV. In this level, he identified a fortified city (with double walls – an inner and outer wall) that had been destroyed and burned, just as it is described in the Bible. He dated the destruction of Jericho (City IV) to around 1400 B.C.. This date actually comports with the internal biblical chronology of the Conquest by Joshua. Garstang’s analysis and interpretation of Jericho, of course, included his correct identification and dating of pottery found there.

Around twenty years later, archaeologist, Dame Kathleen Kenyon returned to Jericho to utilize updated methods of stratigraphic analysis based on methods developed by British archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler. Kenyon’s analysis of the same stratum (City IV) was much different than Garstang’s. In fact, Kenyon re-dated the destruction of City IV to circa 1550 B.C. and attributed the destruction to either the Hyksos or the Egyptians. In essence, this re-dating of City IV in Jericho erased the Israelite conquest from the archaeological record and also from reality.

However, not everyone was in agreement with Kenyon’s analysis of Jericho and re-dating of City IV. Most recently, archaeologist, Dr. Bryant G. Wood has challenged Kenyon’s redating of City IV. At the center of the debate is pottery and the interpretation (or the correct interpretation) of the ceramics (ceramic typology) discovered at the site.

Upon first glance, it appeared that Kenyon’s discoveries undermined the historicity of the Bible, but there is now strong evidence (from the pottery itself!) that she was incorrect. I happen to agree with Dr. Bryant Wood and John Garstang – Jericho was destroyed and burned exactly as the Bible says it was.

Looking forward, are there any areas of research or, archaeological digs happening now, that Christians should keep an eye out for?

Yes. My friends and colleagues at ABR (Associates for Biblical Research) have just started excavating at the ancient site of Shiloh also called Khirbet Seilun. It is the location of the first semi-permanent tabernacle in Israel from their wandering in the wilderness before the Temple was built in Jerusalem. According to the Joshua 18:1 (Israel Bible), “And the whole congregation of Bnei Yisrael assembled themselves together at Shiloh, and set up the tent of meeting there, and the land was subdued before them.” It was also the first capital of Israel and the location of the tribal allotment under Joshua. Excavations have only just begun, but already some pretty cool stuff has come out of the ground. The current dig director at Shiloh, Dr. Scott Stripling is a friend of mine, and he is in the process of publishing a new article on a ceramic pomegranate the team has excavated at the site. The pomegranate is an artistic motif found at other sites in Israel which are associated with the presence of priestly activities and duties of ancient Israel. The team has also discovered a huge layer of animal bones which are consistent with the Biblical sacrificial system as it is recorded in the Old Testament. One of the most exciting things about archaeology is that we never know what we are going to find! Stay tuned.

Recognizing When You’re Wrong

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red wrong way road sign

Admitting when you’re wrong is never easy, whether it is a simple case of a mistake about the facts or an entire perspective shift. However, it is a crucial part of honest communication for the believer and truth-seeker. Here’s the first step in handling the process in a careful and mature way: recognizing when you’re wrong. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 later, on the other steps in the process of admitting you were wrong.

Confirmation Bias: The Barrier to Recognizing When You’re Wrong

The first step in any case is actually recognizing that you were wrong about something. Although this may seem simple, in reality this can be an extremely challenging first step.

As fallible humans, we are prone to confirmation bias, which essentially means we tend to see and interpret information as supporting our own beliefs or views. In even simpler terms, confirmation bias means we see what we want to see. This seems to be even more prevalent in today’s world of curated social media feeds where we get to choose most of the input we receive based on who we follow.

What does this mean for recognizing you were wrong? It means that you’re less likely to realize it, because you tend to (even subconsciously) interpret things you read and hear as either being in your favor or being completely baseless and false. Unless you actively work against it, confirmation bias can prevent you from truly considering the evidences and arguments someone from an opposing side presents to you.

How to Combat Confirmation Bias

Although confirmation bias is pesky and can often be subconscious, the cause isn’t hopeless. With a little extra effort, you can combat confirmation bias.

  • When you listen to someone, listen actively. Focus on what they’re saying and ask follow-up questions as necessary, rather than crafting your clever rebuttal as they speak. Try to learn something from every conversation.
  • Make a habit of reading or listening to other viewpoints on a regular basis. Go ahead, follow some people from the other side on social media. Or try reading the news from a couple different sites with a variety of perspectives. Maybe even stop hiding from that coworker or classmate who’s super passionate about a cause you’re uncomfortable with. When you pay a bit more attention to these voices, you will learn more about what these individuals actually believe. You might be surprised to find it’s different than you thought. Stereotype-busting, here you come!
  • When you read information that seems like a slam dunk for your view, ask yourself why this is. Where did the author get their facts from? Did they tell the whole story? What might be the response from someone who wouldn’t be so thrilled with this article? Put on your critical thinking cap with anything you read, not just things from the other side.
  • Do a brief fact-check before you share or reshare. You know many stories circulate like wildfire on social media–Facebook especially. How many clickbait, sensational titles do you see on a given day? Before you share or reshare posts like this, at least do a quick Google search. If something will take too long to research, you’re better off not sharing it at all! Avoid becoming part of the problem.

When You Realize You Were Wrong

What about that moment when you beat confirmation bias, here a good case, and realize you were actually wrong? What does that moment look like?

Sometimes, it’s not a moment at all. You may come to this realization slowly, as you receive and process more information. It may take you hours, days, weeks, or months to come to a conclusion about all you’ve learned. And that’s okay.

But other times, the moment does come quickly and sharply. A humorous real example from my own conversations recently revolved around the process of making crinkle-cut French fries. I was telling one of my younger family members that “they mash up the potatoes and then mold them in the shape of those things, they don’t just cut them like that.” Meanwhile, another adult heard me and laughed. “Now, who told you that?” he said. “They have special blades to make the crinkle cuts. They don’t need to mash all the potatoes up first.” I said, “For all of them, though? They look like tater tots to me…” He searched for a picture and showed me the blade, sure enough. I was embarrassed as the realization that I was wrong hit me suddenly, in view of the rest of the table.

What do you do when you realize you were wrong, whether it was a simple, silly thing like crinkle-cut fries or something major in the political/social realm? Next it’s time to consider the implications and readjust your perspective. Then it will be time to admit you were wrong. We’ll cover the next step in the process next month. In the meantime, feel free to comment, message us, or tag us on social media to let us know how you beat confirmation bias and recognize when you’re wrong!

Ep. 142: Finding Quiet with Dr. J.P. Moreland

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On this episode:
Nate spends the entire episode with Dr. J.P. Moreland (:29)

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“Day by Day” by Citizens is used with permission. Check out their website: wearecitizens.net

Where was God During Easter in Sri Lanka?

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inside of cathedral with stained glass windows

A coordinated series of bombings ripped through churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, killing at least 290 people and injuring hundreds more,” read a recent CNN article.

To say Easter is significant for Christians is an understatement. Easter is the crux of all of Christianity: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless” (1 Cor. 15:17).

The words of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Kate, are fitting indeed: “Senseless acts like these in places that people would expect to be at their safest are truly horrifying.

EVIL

It is this sentiment, “people would expect to be at their safest,” that gives credence to the plight of atheism: if God is all good, then He should stop evil; if God is all powerful, then He can stop evil; the presence of evil (like the Sri Lanka bombings), therefore, seems to mean God is either not all good or not all powerful (if He exists at all).

This quandary was recently highlighted in a NYT opinion piece by Peter Atterton and identifies a problem for the Sri Lanka bombings. Where was God during Easter?

If God is all good He would have prevented 200 innocent casualties. If God is all powerful He could have stopped the dozen-plus suicide bombers. So where was God?

While tragic, the Sri Lanka bombings are not unique. Catastrophic losses have riddled the planet for millennia. Whether through human means (Sri Lanka, World Trade Centers, Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Holocaust, The Crusades, Three Kingdoms, Conquests of Timur, e.g.) or natural disasters (Hurricane Harvey, South Asia Flood, Haitian Earthquakes, Pompeii, e.g.), mass casualty events are heart-wrenching. But where was God during all of these?

BIBLICAL REFLECTION

The Bible is not short of instances of this question. Consider Habakkuk (1:2-3): “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me.”

Or the words of David in Psalm 13, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”

Job, a man “blameless and upright; he feared God and shinned evil,” wrote “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me” (Job 1).

Through these pleas we find solace in God. Each of these predecessors of faith experienced God through their trials. Some, like Habakkuk, far more devastating than Sri Lanka. Job, at the end of his story, relents (spoken to the Lord): “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted…I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42).

David, too, finished his cries with hope, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13). And Habakkuk, who sits watching God’s chosen people succumb to the Chaldeans, finds praise through the destruction. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” (Hab 3:17-19).

WHERE WAS GOD

Where was God during Easter in Sri Lanka? Was He not good enough to want to save them? Was He not powerful enough that He could save them?

Neither.

Jesus’ half-brother James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). God’s might and His glory is evidenced more clearly after the storm than in the absence of evil.

Where was God during Easter in Sri Lanka? He was in the same place He’s always been. His faithful love does not change.

To ask if God is not good because He did not stop tragedy, or assume He is not all powerful because the bombers weren’t stopped, is to undermine God. The process of challenging God’s motives, actions or otherwise is to lower God and raise up the self; it is to take the seat of the all-knowing.

CONCLUSION

The Bible is clear on this. God will use hardship for our benefit; He will be faithful and trustworthy to love His creation. But, He offers no promise of safety, health, wealth or prosperity this side of heaven. His concern is, and always will be, our eternal salvation. Comparatively, these brief moments of terror and even the years of anger, hurt and loss, are fleeting moments in time. Only through the perspective of a timeless future can we begin to understand the goodness and power of God.

The question, therefore, is not “Where was God during the bombings on Easter?” But “Am I willing to see the world through His eyes, or will I hold only to my own understanding?”

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