Are you a Forward or Backward Thinker?


Have you ever stopped and wondered why you think the way you do on a particular issue?

In my line of work I come across lots of people who have strong opinions.  Many of them are passionate about their opinions.  Sometimes the opinions people are most passionate about are the one’s they have changed their mind on. For instance if you grew up in a republican or democrat household and change sides as an adult.  Maybe you went to church and learned about God, but when you were introduced to a college science class things changed.  Beliefs were challenged and you didn’t have a good answer to whoever was challenging your beliefs so slowly (or suddenly) you changed your opinion and grew passionate about proving people who held your former position as wrong.

Sometimes we are backed into believing something simply because we are confronted with an ideal that conflicts what we were taught growing up.  We don’t know how to answer the conflicting ideal and end up embracing it.  We didn’t search for a solution, we just embraced a competing truth claim that stood in opposition to ours because we could not defend our inherited claim.

Sometimes we move forward into a new position.  This takes place when we evaluate competing truth claims and examine the arguments that someone brings against our ideals and we scrutinize their competing claims with the same scrutiny they have shown ours.

For instance: Imagine growing up hearing and believing that all smurfs are blue.  You have never seen a smurf, but you know that they are blue.  Then someone shows you a purple smurf.  Your view of smurfs is forever changed.  However, you don’t examine the purple smurf (or asking questions like, How did the smurf become purple or are there smurfs of other colors as well?).  Instead, you reject the assumption that “all smurfs are blue” as a complete lie, you demonize the people who told you smurfs were blue, and you join a group that promotes the awareness of the purple smurf.  You have reacted to the assumed falsehood of “all smurfs are blue” and embraced a competing claim “all smurfs are purple.”  You have in effect backed into your position.  You didn’t go looking to see why you would have been told about blue smurfs, how this smurf became purple, or seek to know if there was a broader category.

Moving forward into your thinking requires examining competing truth claims and evaluating the validity of both claims. You may be actually viewing a blue smurf through rose-colored glasses. (The smurf is blue, but the red tint of your glasses causes the smurf to appear purple.)  Maybe when smurfs are sick they turn purple.  Maybe there are purple smurfs, but there are also blue smurfs.  This is searching for the truth.  This is moving forward into a position.

Now what about your thoughts on God?  Are you reacting to competing claims or are you intentionally looking for truth?

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