Monday, July 13, 2009

Promised details and underlying assumptions

As mentioned previously, I was raised Southern Baptist. This was mostly due to my paternal grandparents' influence. I didn't have a lot of stability early on, but what little I did have came mostly from my grandparents and other extended family. They also went to church regularly, which my parents did not, and I created a connection in my mind between stability and church attendance. I also considered my grandparents to be the nicest people in the world, which I think is how most little kids feel about their grandparents. So it wasn't a huge stretch to think more church attendance would make me a nicer person.

Kids learn very quickly what behaviors get them positive feedback. For some, it's athletic ability; others have artistic talent or even just a certain natural charm. My shortcut to positive feedback involved a gift for memorization (I think I'd have preferred athletic ability, but such is life). Obviously, this came in handy during church and Sunday school, where I memorized Bible passages like a fiend.

In fact, this ability led to the only time I've ever been really useful in an athletic event. At church camp one summer, we had this relay race that involved the kinds of things you typically find in a summer camp relay. However, this race came with an important Biblical twist: the next-to-last person would tag the last person, who would sit down in a chair, recite the books of the Bible by memory, and then run about 50 yards to complete the race. I've never been a fast runner, but I could say all 66 books of the Bible in 21 seconds. This enabled me to get enough of a head start to where my slow running didn't matter, and our team claimed victory!

So that's enough about my background for now. I promised to list some of the assumptions underlying my search:
  • Claims of divine revelation are unreliable at best.
  • Reason is an effective tool for finding truth.
  • Delusion is dangerous.
I'm not saying reason is the only tool or even that it's always the best tool, but I've found it useful, and when I see something that runs contrary to reason, it raises a red flag. The third assumption is mostly based on experience.

It's probably a bit early to ask, but I'll do it anyway: is there any particular topic you'd like me to address? Submit your ideas and any other feedback in the comments.

No comments:

Post a Comment