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Friday, April 10, 2015

Tweaking or Overhauling Our Beliefs?

Gavin Rumney has posted a brilliant bit of commentary over at Otagosh entitled "On babies, screw-drivers and deck chairs" (http://otagosh.blogspot.com/2015/04/on-babies-screw-drivers-and-deck-chairs.html). He asks the question: "What do you do when long-held beliefs suddenly start to crumble under the impact of fresh information?" Mr. Rumney then proceeds to characterize three strategies that folks have employed to deal with challenges to their belief system: 1) Denial and digging in , 2) Making adjustments and 3) Throwing the baby out with the bath water.

I think that anyone whose belief system has faced a significant challenge can relate to the points made in this post. Growth is painful and usually involves a great deal of hard work and study. Most of us can also relate to the fact that Option 1 folks tend to forestall the consideration or adoption of their views by other folks (petulance isn't very attractive). Moreover, I can understand someone listening to a Ted Cruz or a Ken Ham and wanting to chuck the entire belief system!

However, I do believe that characterizing the folks who choose Option 2 (where Mr. Rumney and this blogger place themselves) as finessing or making a few adjustments with a screw driver does a disservice to what these folks have actually done with their belief system. From my perspective, Options 1 and 3 require a lot less work and thought than Option 2.

Google defines tweaking as the process whereby one makes "fine adjustments" to something. Likewise, this same source defines overhauling as a process whereby one takes something apart "in order to examine it and repair it if necessary." I cannot speak for Mr. Rumney, but overhauling seems like a much better fit for the process that I went through relative to my own beliefs. A defensive posture or one that totally rejects something as being worthless seems a bit reflexive and effortless to me.

When I compare what I believed as a member of the Worldwide Church of God to what I believe today, I am struck by just how much my views have evolved and changed since then. I am also reminded of the intensive soul-searching that went into those changes. Yes, I guess I can sympathize with the folks who have chosen the other two options; but I don't think that most of the people in those circumstances have truly confronted the question of why they believe/d what they believe/d. What do you think?

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