A bias is the same as having a particular view of the world. Everyone has a bias. The atheist’s religious bias is that there is no God. A Christian’s religious bias is that there is a God and he created all things. People possess varying amounts of religious biases, political biases, racial biases, class biases, and so on.
I remember when a person in my church emailed a message that was negative of the Democratic President. Since I had a Republican bias, it was easy to accept any such negative message. My built-in Republican bias has a simple sniff test: “Republicans are good; Democrats are evil.” Nevertheless, I checked the email against snopes.com and found the accusation a hoax. I did a Reply All and emailed the link back to inform everyone else.
Later, I received another email from the same person, again against the President, and checked it with snopes.com. Again it was a hoax and I sent the link back to all. It struck me at that point that some people were not aware of their bias and were passing on bad information because their bias short-circuited their thinking to automatically accept or reject information based on their bias.
The truth is, Republicans and Democrats make mistakes; they both have people blinded by their biases and can readily pass on false or misleading information; they both appear in newspaper scandals.
I know I have a religious bias, but I am no longer blinded by my bias. I know that religious people and atheists have biases for their positions and will readily let through false information without checking the facts for themselves. Our biases act like convenient filters: if the information passes the sniff test, let it through as true; if not, it’s false. Our biases, if we are blind to them, bypass our critical reasoning, and when that happens, the information gets tainted and our perception of the world gets thrown off a bit more.
There are Christians blinded to their bias and as a result will believe everything they hear from the television preachers simply because they speak on T.V. I don’t believe everything I hear on religious programming, so I am not biased in that direction.
I’ve received emails from atheists passing on “tough” questions for Christians. Now how shall we take such questions? For any answer given necessarily assumes that God is real, and so no answer can satisfy an atheist who, if he is blinded by his bias, will immediately reject an answer; the reply would fail his bias’s sniff test.
So the only reason an atheist would ask tough questions of a Christian is to show that the Christian faith is unreasonable. Such questions help support or reinforce their bias. They are not expecting a reasonable answer back from us.
What do you think?
a. If you are an atheist and ask a tough question of a Christian, are you already set to reject the answer? Why or why not?
b. If you are an atheist, do you readily believe everything you hear that mocks religion? Why or why not?
c. Whether you are a Christian or an atheist, do you believe that people of your bias could be wrong, and they could be passing on information that they have not checked for actual accuracy?
d. Since people across the board are biased to one extent or another and results in deception everywhere, is sin at the root of the problem?
e. One way to detect your own bias is to turn your argument against yourself or your own bias. If you have a reasonable answer, can you not give the other side the benefit of the doubt, that they may have a reasonable answer, too? For instance, an atheist asks a Christian, “If God is so good and powerful, why doesn’t he stop all suffering?” A Christian may respond, “Well, you have lots of money and power, but I don’t see you going around helping anybody. But it could be that you have your money in a trust and hired people are managing it, distributing it to charities I don’t know about. In the same way, God has given His Holy Spirit to His servants to distribute his love and mercy to many who are suffering. After all, the Bible says that we are Christ’s body on earth, and he works through us.”
f. Could people put at the far right or far left politically be blinded to their biases, while the moderates are less blinded? Why or why not?
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