On Being Objective

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A subjective ramble
In my travels around the blogosphere this morning, I ran into a comment by "bob" about objective thinking. He states that "it is absolutely imperative that today’s children be exposed to as many different ideas as possible so they can again- learn how to be objective members of society," among other things.

"bob" is not alone in this thinking.

And, honestly, who of us would say, "Oh, please, may my children be subjective in their thinking so as to avoid all objective thought!"?

I see that hand.

Ignoring the person waving their hand in the third row, none of us want our thoughts to be purely subjective. We want to be based in reality, in truth, in how things really are. But can we get to pure objective thought merely by bombarding ourselves with every idea that is out there? Is mere exposure going to get us anywhere?


I once talked with a guy who said he was very interested in religion now that he had taken a religious studies course at his college.

"Oh?" I asked. "What'd you like about it?"

"It was amazing to see how all religions are exactly the same," he replied. "Every religion teaches basically the same thing and there aren't any real differences between them. Isn't that incredible?"

Incredible may have been exactly the word to use. I tried to get more out of him, but he had been exposed to an "objective" position from a professor who had been exposed to the sun too long, or had spent so much time exposed to all the religious ideas in the world he could only look at them at a primitive surface level.

Just like we must not cling to the Bible as the only source of information in the world, we must not throw ourselves into the universe and scream: Teach me!

I don't think we can ever be free from our prejudices/presuppositions. But if we admit our bias to ourselves and then consider the other side, I think we have the highest chance of arriving at an understanding of reality.

Which brings me back to two quotes my dad shared with me back in the day:

The problem with an open mind is that all your brains fall out.

The purpose of an open mind is to close it again on something solid.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

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  1. Danielle

    Love those quotes! I hate the fact that a person is considered "close-minded" simply because he has SOME beliefs and convictions.

  2. Mrs. C

    Doggone it, I was waving really hard!

    Um, I used to be a reporter on a daily and can assure you that "objective" is whatever the publisher wants it to be that week.

  3. mareserinitatis

    Food for thought: In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis said that, at their core, all religions are the same. He said they had a core set of beliefs, which he called the tao, that was the basis for each religions moral codes. He was arguing that the differences were what made Christianity better...but he still put it out there.

    Thus, I don't know if your friend's professor had too much sun if he was repeating something that is pretty similar to what one of the greatest Christian philosophers said.

  4. Wendy

    Great rambling today. Love it!

  5. Monica@DailyDwelling

    This is so true. Your dad sounds like a very wise man.

  6. Ann

    Absolutely love the quotes!

    Great post, too! A very solid and sound presentation of the dangers and strengths of going either way. Balance is so very important, as is a solid grounding in Scripture. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Luke

    Danielle, I agree. It is frustrating.

    Mrs. C, I see your hand too <smile>. And that is a very good insight. Thanks for sharing from your experience <smile>.

    Cherish, oooh, good point. <sting> It's been a long time since I read Mere Christianity, and I don't recall what Lewis said about the tao.

    However, I think my point is still completely valid (and Lewis would back me up): All religions are not the same when you start looking at their claims and positions--something that should be done in a world religions class. So while it may be true that the "tao" is the same, they are radically different.

    Wendy, glad you liked it <smile>.

    Monica, he is. <smile>

    Ann, balance all the way. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

    As always, you-all make my posts so much better and more interesting. Thanks for sharing!


  8. Meg_L

    You might enjoy the note at the beginning of Race For God by Brian Herbert - it's about a conversation he had with his father.

    And I don't think I'm looking at religions superficially when I say that I agree with "that guy," most religions are very much the same.

  9. Kim & Dave

    Ooooh-great quotes-I might have to "borrow" them someday!

  10. Butter

    Those are great quotes. Your dad is very wise.

  11. Luke

    Meg, I'll have to check that out. I couldn't find it in the Look Inside bit on Amazon, so I'll have to find it elsewhere. Hmm... now that I've got two people who disagree with me, I feel the need to explore this issue further. Thanks for pushing me. <smile>

    Kim, feel free to "borrow" away <smile>.

    Butter, yes he is. <smile>


  12. Rebecca LuElla Miller

    Your illustration proves the point that there is no "open to everything." The religious studies teacher had simply altered the actual positions of religions to make them say the thing the teacher believed--that religions are all the same. If he was actually open to anything, he would have had no need to cover over the exclusive claims of Christianity.

    If we really want our kids to be objective thinkers, we need to teach them how to think objectively, not feed them untruths in an effort to equalize everything for them. That's us thinking (badly) for them, and results in nothing more than them parroting whatever the adults deem to be important, albeit that important thing is "objective thinking," which the kids have not actually been engaged in.


  13. Luke

    Bekcy, it's really hard to know when we are teaching objective thinking and when we're just pushing our agenda. That's a tough one. And you're absolutely right: We need to make sure we're not just getting them to parrot our ideas.