Search for a confirmation of what you already believe and, most likely, you’ll find it. Look for the reasons to keep doing what you’re doing and they will appear. Seek all the ways that your opponents are wrong and you’ll easily locate them.
Or, go after contradictions to what you already believe and you’ll find people who disagree with you. Suss out all the reasons why you should stop your actions and you’ll find them. Hunt for all the ways that your opponents are right and you’ll see a new perspective.
Searching for answers to questions ceased being about locating the correct facts about the time that Google indexed all the knowledge in the known universe (this may be a slight exaggeration). As the sage and philosopher, Homer Simpson said, “Pshhh, facts schmacts. You can prove anything that’s even remotely true with facts.”
Instead of looking for facts, figures and proof-texts that answer our questions, searching gives us the chance to weigh thoughts and opinions. We dig in to disparate viewpoints to see which one holds the most validity. This is a dangerous place, though, when the black-and-white world is cast off, the colors can be blinding.
It’s tempting to remain in a binary world. The answers are either ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ right or wrong, good or bad. Instead, searching leads us to an analog world with a range of answers that merge together. The binary system provides a framework for the immature. For children it’s appropriate that they should see the world in stark terms. Their young minds haven’t developed to the point of isolating subtle differences. Children are taught to not lie – binary. Adults use tact avoid giving offense – analog.
The same principle applies to matters of faith. Those new to the faith need firm boundaries within which they can explore and learn. However, maturity brings a multitude of shades and variations that need to be addressed.
· The bible is the word of God.
· The preacher teaches us about God.
· Creation is good.
· The church is God’s people on earth.
· Good people go to heaven; bad people go to hell.
· The bible was inspired by God, written by humans and copied by other humans.
· Each preacher’s words should be compared to God’s word and examined for truth.
· God created humans with the ability to do evil, creation was cursed and the world is suffering from disease, destruction and pain. God hasn’t fixed it yet.
· Churches can be good or bad, church members can represent God or demonstrate hypocrisy. God hasn’t fixed it yet.
· God redeems those who choose him and shapes them into heaven-citizens; he respects the wishes of those who don’t choose him and allows them to be apart from him for eternity.
Note: I’m not trying to start an argument about specific doctrines, these are just examples to illustrate the point.