Attitudes Towards Evidence: Introspection
Every journey has unique features, and if we look out for these attention grabbersthe fascination they produce will hold up the interest the whole way. So watch for them—I think there will be enough to keep us from snoozing!
But first, we need to prepare ourselves with two crucial preliminary exercises:
2. Proper Atmosphere
Why do we need to examine ourselves? Because, unconsciously, we bring along a cartload of notions and ideas that can impede or divert us. Built up over the years, they cannot be rooted out easily, even when the stakes are high. How many peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis have broken down because of hatred and suspicion, handed down from previous generations, which they had unwittingly harbored? Centuries after declaring, "All men are equal:' people still cannot shake off their ingrained sense of superiority. We are prone to go by preset values that we are unwilling to change.
We need to be careful about one particular attitude—pride in claiming to be open-minded. We like to be known as reasonable, balanced individuals. But we are seldom fair and unbiased. And here's where introspection is vital. We all have, blended in us, the mind of a believer, a skeptic, and an inquirer and can flit from one to the other so smoothly that we ourselves don't notice the change. The problem surfaces when we go straight to the believing or skeptical mode without going through the process of inquiry (all too common on the religious front). Then, when we are closely questioned or taunted regarding the basis of our beliefs, it comes as a shock that we cannot defend what we had taken for granted all along. We become confused and begin to question our own positions. This leads to greater confusion, because the answers are not easily forthcoming. This vicious cycle can get so frustrating that some feel great relief in turning their backs on anything that has to do with religion. I can sympathize with that. If you are in such a state, let me assure you that you are not alone.
Some shelve their frustrations, pretending everything is OK. Others silently wonder from whence the right answers are going to come or if they will ever come! But take heart, all is not lost. To those who question and grope, our SEARCH will make the most sense and be the most rewarding.
I had mentioned three attitudes inherent in us. Let us try to describe them. Here are seven sets of statements to consider:
© 2014 by Subodh K. Pandit, MD
Skeptic—decides against a claim prior to thorough investigation
Believer—decides to accept a claim prior to thorough investigation
Inquirer—withholds a verdict till investigation is done
Skeptic—prefers those questions which introduce doubt
Believer—prefers those questions which establish as fact
Inquirer—asks questions mainly to gather information
Skeptic—focuses on the questions, to the exclusion of the evidence
Believer—focuses on the evidence, to the exclusion of the questions
Inquirer—focuses on the weight of evidence
Skeptic—disbelieves in the face of reasonable evidence
Believer—believes in the face of big questions
Inquirer—accepts reasonable evidence, even if some questions remain
Skeptic—won't believe unless there is infallible proof
Believer—doesn't need any rational explanation for belief
Inquirer—willing to be swayed but only by evidence
Skeptic—unwilling to make counter-proposal—it might be disproved, too
Believer—unwilling to make a counter-proposal—no need for it
Inquirer—willing to evaluate both proposal and counter-proposal
Skeptic—height of intellectual attainment is to ask, not expecting an
Believer—height of faith is to remain unshakable, no matter what
Inquirer—seeking a position of height not yet attained
During our sojourn, let us choose the attitude of an inquirer—one who withholds a verdict till the investigation is done. The believing and skeptical attitudes are so subtle that it will take frequent reminders to remain an inquirer throughout. But our first job is to make the choice.
In the meantime you can reach Jon at 423.505.3195 and by fax at 423.847.4059 for further questions. To assure you a place in the Search Group of your choice, fill out the Group Search Application now due to limited space in each group. We are looking forward to hearing from you. You can also contact us at our e-mail address: Info@EvidenceForBelief.org.