The Value of Developing a Detective’s Perspective

by J Warner Wallace

I’ve been a detective for over 20 years, and there are times when I wish my career was more of a secret. When people find out you conduct investigations for a living, they assume you have extraordinary powers of observation and deduction. Sometimes that can be a liability. I can’t tell you how many times, after searching for some item in the kitchen cupboard, I’ve asked for some help only to hear someone in my family respond, “You’re the detective, figure it out for yourself!” Everyone assumes detectives can figure anything out. No need to tell Jim how to get there, he’ll figure it out, he’s a detective! No need to help Jim solve that problem, he’ll solve it, he’s a detective! See my dilemma?

Why do people assume that detectives can figure things out when other people can’t? Is it that we possess techniques and skills that others don’t? That might be part of it, but I think it might be a little simpler. Detectives certainly aren’t smarter than everyone else, (this was clear to me once

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again last weekend as I had lunch with William Lane Craig in the green room at the Apologetics Canada Conference); I know lots of people who are much smarter I am! I think the difference is simply a matter of practice. I’ve had the great blessing of solving mysteries every day for a living; puzzling and un-puzzling evidence on a daily basis, trying to understand what really happened. Detectives dig and poke and question and probe over and over again until we’re finally satisfied that we’ve arrived at the most reasonable inference from the evidence. After a few years, you start to develop a detective’s perspective toward almost every aspect of your life. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. By the time I was 35 years old and beginning to examine the claims of the gospels, I was deeply entrenched in a “detective state of mind” and my cynical investigative attitude was valuable as I investigated Christianity…


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