Monday, December 13, 2010

Opposing Views can be Good for Clear Thinking

It may be a cold, blustery day here in Central Florida, but as someone who's still trying to recover from summer, I'm thankful and enjoying the fresh air. So far as I'm concerned, it's a great way to launch this new week.

What's most on my mind today is actually residual from last week's "God Loves Elizabeth Edwards" post. I'm always startled by both the quantity and the quality of reaction I tend to get when I write about subjects that are in the news. It makes me wish I still had my weekly "commentary" column in the Tampa Tribune.

The post garnered a huge number of hits. Additionally, a lot of people read the piece as a "note" on facebook. The most interesting discussion has evolved in response to my friend Marvin's dismissive "nonsense" comment (Marvin is what I would term an "evangelical atheist") in response to my declaration that "God loves Elizabeth Edwards".

In one exchange - Marvin and I don't argue, we simply ask each other hard questions; we tend to respect one another's attempts at answers - my friend wrote the following:
  • As expected, you don't side with the extreme religious nutcakes. I'm glad. One comment: the world is not becoming anti-christian. It is becoming more pro-reason, at least, I hope so, for the sake of every living thing on earth. You use reason in your arguments, but it is to promote an unreasonable position, which is religion. Religion is based on assumptions and imagination.
So I responded with this:
  • I wish the world was evolving toward reason. But I'm not seeing much of that! But if you read me carefully you'll see I don't promote religion so much as an openness to living beyond the confines of such constructs . You and I are closer than you/we realise - you simply draw your line where you can see it more easily! (tough to write while walking dog. Cold night) . Peace.
I've said this before: I'm always grateful to people like Marvin for provoking my thought processes. It's good for me to look at ideas and issues from other perspectives. It sharpens my thinking.

I couldn't help but notice how Marvin failed to read my original post for content, but - rather - reacted against his preconception, independent of my writing (this seems to be typical of people with oppositional viewpoints). He accused me of promoting religion! In the parent post, the one everyone was supposedly talking about, I had carefully laid out the problem with confusing God with religion. I am clearly promoting Jesus, not religion.

I made it very clear that too many "Christians" create a structure they can live with and then manufacture a god to preside over it. This god looks and thinks just like they do!

I've been thinking about my comment that Marvin and I are closer than he realizes. We're both against empty thinking; we both have a hard time with people who try to impose their views on others; we are like-minded when it comes to saying we value free-thinking.

But his definition of free-thinking is not all that free. It's like he's a prisoner to reason - or at least to the extent of his understanding. He likes to draw his line where he can see it and easily understand it. I like to draw mine beyond my view.

When I draw my line beyond my view, is it faith? Is it religion? Does it promote intellectual growth? Does it promote thinking beyond the limits of reason? What is it???

Think about that for a while. Maybe we can come back to the discussion tomorrow.

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