Monday, January 27, 2014

What Is Required to Change a Mind?

Have you heard about the big debate coming up?  It’s happening here in my geographical backyard, but caught my attention for many reasons.  In this post commenting on this debate event about creation and evolution Bart Gingerich says:

People are not coming into the event with the mindset of “I will keep my mind open and may very well change it after hearing these arguments.”

Apart from this particular debate, this brings up interesting questions about our worldviews (that whole collection of ‘big ideas’ that we use to understand ourselves and the world around us) and particular items of data we run into as we live (claims people make to us, things we experience, and the like).

It is unlikely that a single debate will change many minds on large questions like these.  Worldviews don’t, and probably shouldn’t, change quickly or too easily.  If they did, we would be intellectually anchorless, so to speak.  For example, if you are a Christian, your favorite pet dies, and someone tells you “If God really existed He wouldn’t let your Fido die” – should you just give up your Christianity based on that?

All the ‘big ideas’ of the Christian faith actually inform Christians how to think about new things we encounter.  And for many people in our culture, “evolution” is not just a part of biology.  It is a worldview that helps inform many people how to think about EVERYTHING.  It is their justification for how they approach all of life.  Who would really expect that to change based on one debate?

This is not to say that worldviews can never justifiably change based on new things we learn.  But we typically need to learn a lot, over a rather long period of time, to change our minds about the big bundle of views that interpret the world around us.  There is a kind of reasonable inertia to any person’s worldview (examined or not) that should not surprise anyone.

No comments: