Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You're So Open Minded...

Every once in a while I see a zinger that makes me literally roll on the floor.  While reading a particular news story, I hit the floor when I read the following:

"You're so open minded, your brain leaked out."

Here's why I laughed:

When I arrived at college, I began hearing the exhortation, "Be open minded.  Think about everything you've ever been taught.  Question everything.*"

Suddenly, the worst thing a person could be was closed minded.  If you were a Biblical Fundamentalist, you were considered anti-intellectual and non-thinking.  If you held certain views about the appropriate place for sex, you were considered Puritanical, impractical, and goody-two-shoes.  If you believed it was O.K. to appropriate wealth, you were considered greedy and uncaring toward the poor, etc., etc.

The quite covert and sometimes overt message was, "Do not hold any firm beliefs.  Do not believe you have anything resembling the absolute Truth.  Keep your mind open, and you will be free."

Not so fast.

You see, I follow Jesus, and He is the one who famously said, "The truth will make you free."  However, it wasn't just that little snippet.  Let me give you the entirety of Jesus' words as He is teaching the Pharisees in the Gospel of John:

 31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’  John 8:31-32

You see, freedom isn't tied to keeping a purely open mind.  In fact, there is no such thing as an open mind.  It is an impossibility to question anything and everything.  There are some truths which are self-evident i.e. if you take one penny and put it next to another penny, you have two pennies.  And there are some truths which are facts which are beyond question, i.e. a water molecule is composed of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.  You simply cannot keep an open mind about such things.  If you indeed say that your mind is open to such things, then your brain has indeed leaked out.  Either that, or you never really had one in the first place.

The next question is, "What about truth that isn't self-evident or cannot be measured scientifically?"

That is a much different question, a question which is worthy of examination.  Yet, again, I believe that there is no such thing as a completely open mind in regards to such types of truth because all of us approach such questions with basic assumptions.

For if you say, "Such truth is relative," then your basic assumption is that the statement "truth is relative" is the truth.  That's a bit of a pickle, is it not.

If you say, "Absolute Truth exists, and I know it," well, then you assume the Absolute Truth can be known and that you have the intellect and capacity to know it and understand it.

If you say, "Absolute Truth exists, but I'm not sure anyone can know it fully," then you assume the Truth is seen but dimly.

And if any of these three types of people get together to argue, nothing will ever be accomplished because none will generally question the very assumptions they bring to the table.

If you would approach yours truly and try to get him to have an open mind, you would be wasting your time.  There are more than a few things that I refuse to compromise on, give up, or question.  These things stem from my assumptions which are based in faith--not reason.  In order to get me to have such an open mind, you would have to get me to convert to different assumptions.  How good of an evangelist are you?
*That little caveat was oftentimes used by professors and others who wanted you to change your particular beliefs; however, said professors and others usually meant, "Question everything you've ever been taught, but don't question what I'm teaching you now."

1 comment:

Pandeter said...

Your view of truth is slightly off. See, it was always true that the world was round, but it wasn't known at the time. There is absolute truth, but not everyone at all times knows all truths.

Having an open mind means searching for truth in those things in which we don't have any yet. If there is disagreement on a particular concept for instance, searching for the truth in that concept is also having an open mind.

If Edison didn't have an open mind, we wouldn't have the lightbulb.