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by Tom Gilson
Bias To the Max
Jason Long survey’s persuasion theory in chapter 3 of John Loftus’s The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. Similar critiques apply to what I wrote about the rest of the book’s part one. But there’s one thing in particular that bears analysis. It’s the idea that you can’t trust a biased opinion. Sounds reasonable enough, right? Long puts it this way:
Scholars who begin with no emotional investment in Christianity probably present the most unbiased conclusions about it simply because they are more open during their studies to accept evidence that contradicts their tentative conclusions. …
The focus we need to place on apologetic defenses of the Bible is the likelihood of the offered explanations and how an unbiased, dispassionate individual would rule on these explanations.
Well, I’m all in favor of reducing or eliminating bias. But that includes biased rules of decision-making. Too few people realize what a whopper of a biased rule this one is. Bias? It’s bias to the max!
Here’s why. Follow me closely, please. I know I’m presenting a counterintuitive argument. It might not make sense on your first read-through. Read it again if you need to.
Objectivity’s Natural End
There are many scholars who have decided to follow Christ following an open-minded investigation. At that point, they have all lost objectivity; or at least, they’ve lost objectivity if they have any sense in them! They’ve encountered a person they believe to be the answer to their deepest questions, the one source of all love, the one who has called them to love and to trust, the one who promises an eternity of life with him. Why shouldn’t they become emotionally invested? How strange it would be if they didn’t!
Some scholars, in contrast, have studied these things and have remained detached…
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