One of the things I have yet to understand is how someone can become so invested in a belief that evidence to the contrary is ignored. This is particularly troubling in religion but also troubling in the world of political beliefs. I had an interesting experience on Facebook with a political liberal. I won’t go into all of the fallacies that the person believed but I will deal with the final belief in the discussion and his response. What is particularly interesting to me in this account is that his belief is very young. In fact it is probably less than two years old, but it was a part of his culture, the people he talked with and the material he read, so much so that he assumed that if anyone did not believe it they were ignorant. Here are the relevant sections of the conversation so you can get an idea of what I am talking about, as when dealing with political liberals the subject turned to Fox news and then to Sarah Palin.
P: “Are you insinuating that Sarah Palin has ANYTHING to offer the political world? I mean she can see
from her house. By golly oh gee EH?” Russia
Me: "I mean she can see
from her house" That is funny you think a line from Saturday Night Live is really what Palin said. OK it is not funny just sad.” Russia
P: “Dude are you really this insane or just dont pay attention? She actually SAID THIS and it became a SNL skit. LOL wow. Educate yourself. Do some research or at least read some alternative news sources”
P: “It was in an interview that she said this.”
Me: “P, if only your facts could support you. From Entertainment Weekly: "...and where one deft comment can puncture a national campaign (Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin — including the phrase ''I can see Russia from my house,'' which Palin never uttered — redefined the 2008 vice presidential candidate). Can we go to there?"
“You have been politically inaccurate in most all of your comments from the very beginning when you claimed I was wrong on Reconciliation of budgets. What makes me wonder is what you are reading that makes you so sure you are right when you are constantly factually wrong.”
Me: “oops forgot the link to the EW article so you can read it for yourself, the article after all is on Tina Fey.” http://www.ew.com/ew/artic
P: Everything snl did in the skits about her came from Sarah palins mouth. That was the beauty of it is the comedic value was so high they used her words word for word.
Ok so maybe she didnt say that she could see it from her house. I have alot of respect for women and especially women who are in powerful positions but this woman didnt even have a grasp of what was going on in her own state! There are very smart men and women and very stupid men and women and she is one of the dumbest women on earth.
P: “I am innacurate because I disagree with your position. Just be honest about it.”
P: “oh I forgot to mention that entertainment weekly is hardly a credible political source Ron”
What is interesting to see in this conversation is the certainty that P was right, then when he finally did a little research and found that Sarah Palin had not said the quote he was sure was word for word he could not understand how he could be viewed as inaccurate. It could not possibly be that he was wrong and demonstrably wrong it was that I simply disagreed and that if I was honest I could admit the fault was mine. Even after he found the youtube section of the interview of Sarah Palin he still felt the need to criticize the source I used to correct him. If you actually Google the question the first hit directs you to Yahoo Answers Did Sarah Palin really say "I can see Russia from my house" ?
Yahoo Answers provides us with the segment of the interview which sparked Tina Fey’s comedy:
"GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?
PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see
from land here in Russia , from an island in Alaska . Alaska
GIBSON: What insight does that give you into what they're doing in
PALIN: Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially
. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it's in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along. " Russia
Now think how simple this incorrect understanding of current events is. Based upon recently acquired ideas but they fit the template of the believer…how much more difficult is it to get people to think about religious ideas, things held to for tens or hundreds of years. When a fact can be shown to be wrong the believer in a particular idea will remain wedded to the idea because it is a part of their template of understanding.
That is what we in the Adventist church have to deal with when we deal with Traditional/historic Adventists and that is what many of my fellow Progressive Adventists have to deal with Adventists and other Christians when we ask them to rethink their Atonement theory. So that they don’t have God pouring out His wrath upon Christ who is God as a method for Christ to pay a penalty to God so that God can forgive people. That is probably a 300 year old tradition that came out of a tradition that is 800 years old known as the Satisfaction theory.
The answer I think we most often use is baby steps but how well do baby steps work with those who refuse to question their own beliefs? Somehow we have to teach people how to think critically to actually follow Thomas Jefferson’s advice: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” A critical thinker is not only critical of other beliefs but willing to think critically about their own beliefs. If your church or school is not teaching you to think critically they are not really doing their job.