Sunday, March 17, 2013

Thinking about thinking

After returning from the TED conference, I spent a week at Sandals with my beautiful wife. We had a wonderful time enjoying tennis, SCUBA diving, volleyball, and generally relaxing. That juxtaposition of thought-provoking talks and time to relax caused me to spend time a good amount of time thinking. 

Unfortunately, thinking is not what it used to be. 

In 21st Century America, thinking has developed a bad reputation. We seem instead to rely a lot more on feeling than thinking. Even facts are considered subservient to our feelings or opinions. The book True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society does a good job of describing that phenomenon. Stephen Colbert's concept of truthiness--truth is something that feels right, regardless of facts--has prevailed. We no longer know what is an opinion and what is a fact. 

Another aspect of the decline in thinking is that in discussing topics, controversial or not, we value quick responses over slow ones. The quick sound bite trumps the thoughtful, nuanced response. In contrast, in the New Testament, James exhorts Christians to be “quick to hear, slow to speak.” Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.” I remember when someone who responded slowly was thought to have considered more carefully his response. Now, choosing your words carefully often is considered a sign of indecision. In communications, tweeting is winning over emailing, let alone letter writing. We prefer speedy responses more than ones that are the result of measured thinking. 

I think it is further evidence of the decline in the perceived value thinking that we look down on people who change their minds. In politics, it is often referred to derisively as flip-flopping. I’ve heard Christians say that being open minded is something to be avoided. As best I can tell, thinking and learning involve changing your mind. What is the point in thinking if at the end of it you are unchanged? 

In the face of all this, thinking is what I do—whether on a beach in Jamaica, riding my bicycle in Wake County, or taking a shower.  My goal with this blog is to make my thinking more systematic, rigorous, and Biblical. 

There are a number of controversial areas that I have been thinking about of late such as guns, inerrancy, homosexuality, and Hell. I want not just to think about topics like these, but to think Biblically about them. I also realize that I have much to learn and may well be wrong in my current thinking. 

I have been somewhat reticent to discuss these topics, let alone blog about them. These topics are pretty much guaranteed to tick off half the people out there. Worse, my thinking on them is such that I may well tick off everyone! 

My goal in writing about such topics is not to convince anyone else, though I’m fine with that! My primary goal is to organize my thinking by writing about them. Secondarily I want to expose my thinking to others so they can help me see the flaws in it. I am going to try one or two of these topics over the coming weeks.

I figure that once I have done that, I’ll probably have to stick to safe things like the latest gadgets (DIY drones look like fun) and keep my opinions on more controversial topics to myself! Of course, I’ll need to rename to blog to something like Grown up geek or Tech toys for tech boys

1 comment:

  1. I don't care if I agree with your thoughts on those topics or violently disagree with them; I look forward to reading what you have to say. Go get 'em!