Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Bias

As I thought about a topic for this the first of what I hope to be a regular weekly note, I ran through all sorts of interesting and challenging topics but I struggled to settle on any one thing in particular. Should I choose a political topic? Theological? Social? Current event driven? Where to start… I thought about the reader – they have probably found this note some time after it is posted, and perhaps and perhaps they have read other posts that I have made since writing this piece and are wondering who I am. So – I am writing an introduction – providing you a context in which to understand my worldview – my perspective – my bias - and how it shapes what I write.

I shamelessly stole the title (and frankly a portion of the content for the post) from a similar self introduction given by my father in one of his books on worldview. I chose to use the title it because I think it is important to recognize that we all carry biases. We are programmed (in American culture) to assume that “bias” is a bad thing. As a result we tend to carry the notion that people should work to be “unbiased.” There is no such thing. Whether we like it or not we all carry biases – sets of ideas that form the “lens through which we see the world.” My intent here is to expose to you a couple of my more dominant biases as they will significantly shape what you will read from me in the future.

The second of these biases (yes - we will come to “first” in a minute) is a commitment to the idea that there is objective truth. I am a militant defender of the concept of “true truth.” Not relative truth, not the kinds of “truth” established in the courtroom or college classroom, not “your personal truth” but absolutes, objective truths, foundational notions about the reality of things that we can both observe and pursue through reasoned thought. At this point in the description I am less concerned with the nature of any particular truth than I am with the idea that we must militantly and honestly pursue “true truth.” I have come to the conclusion that the single greatest problem facing the American people in the 21st century is the question of the existence of any absolute truth.

There are many substantial issues that I hope to write about in the future; issues of great social importance that I would love to give top tier placement in this forum, but not one of them is as foundational, and therefore important, as the question of the existence of true truth. Our understanding of truth is the cornerstone on which all other intellectual arguments are built, and the lack of this foundation in today’s American culture has resulted in a nearly complete stalemate in any substantial debate on most important issues. People argue for a short period of time and then simply “agree to disagree” because their arguments are based in “different truths.” So, please understand that much of what I will write will include discussions of the assumed “truth” that undergirds each issue.

The first of these biases (see – I told you we would come to this) - I am a Christian. I place this after my “second” bias in this text because I want to explain it in the context of my preoccupation with truth, but in reality my relationship with God is the single greatest shaper of my bias and I couldn’t bring myself to give that relationship second billing. My bias is intentionally shaped by the ideas found in the Bible. This is not a “blind faith,” I do not believe what I read simply because I am told to believe it. I grapple with the ideas that I find in the Bible, I compare them to the reality that I see in the world, I look at the results of the ideas when implemented, and I find God’s word to be ultimately consistent with reality.

Many Christians withdraw from the intellectual; we are told that our “faith is personal” and that we should take our religious convictions “on faith.” I do not hold to this position. I advocate an active intellectual criticism of God’s word, not for the purpose of being argumentative, but for the strengthening of our understanding and growth of our faith. The intellectual and critical approach to scripture is part of an honest pursuit of truth. I have come to understand that there is nothing to fear in approaching the scripture this way. You see – true truth exists independent of our belief or understanding. God’s word will certainly withstand our criticism - and through that criticism we will and grow in our ability to defend our faith.

So – as you read what is to come in these pages, know that it is written by a Christian man who is passionate about the pursuit of truth and the exploration of every issue in the framework of the realities so perfectly described for us in the God’s word. I look forward to the dialogue to come.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Good stuff Nathan. Here are a couple links that people might find interesting:

Community of Memory

The Supremacy of Christ and Truth in a Postmodern World :: Voddie Baucham