Rule #6 Continued

The worst person you can believe is yourself. You lie to yourself. Often. You look in the mirror and thing "I'm out of shape" even when you are in perfectly acceptable shape. You say you're going to commit to a 40 day blog, but then get lazy and don't finish it. You say you're going to eat healthy today but then scarf down a plate of cheesy nachos. All of these are examples I've seen first hand on a daily basis with myself and my friends. It's not just what you hear that can be a lie, it's what you think, what you see, what you feel. In psychology it's called self-deception. This is a natural lead in to the Rule #7: Never stop learning. Which is all about having mentors, friends, and fresh perspectives. Don't trust yourself, keep wise people around you to hold you accountable to yourself and to facts.

The main reason deceptive advertising and fictional, feel-good stories work is because we want to believe them. We want to believe that a hose that weighs nothing, takes up no space, and is relatively inexpensive can be just as strong or stronger than a normal hose. We want to believe that life can be simply organized by a set of rules with black and white boundaries to morals and theology. Unfortunately life is far too messy for that. It's supposed to be. It supposed to be exciting, adventurous, mysterious. Life is supposed to be new every day. Don't believe everything you hear. Check the facts. If something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Movies and books want us to believe the opposite but reality doesn't work that way. Think critically, think logically.

Some things you thought you could trust that have many clear flaws:

  • Your school text books. History books are filled with unverified non-sense. Science books regularly publish with outdated and disproved theories.
  • Your teachers. Their human too. They make mistakes, lie to themselves, and sometimes want to pass an agenda and shape facts to fit it.
  • Your friends and family. While your friends and family genuinely love you and never intentionally deceive you they themselves may have been deceived. I did a paper in high school on creation vs. evolution. I found an article discussing the conversion of Charles Darwin to Christianity. For years I told people Darwin converted to Christianity. Turns out the paper was crap. Darwin never accepted Christ to historical knowledge and I gave wrong information to hundreds of people including my family and friends.

To balance here is how I look at facts when they come my way.

  1. Is it logical? Does it go against conventional wisdom? Is it actually possible? If it violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics its obviously crap (an engine that gets 500 miles to the gallon or never needs to be refuted for example).
  2. Is it too good to be true? If it's a story about a historical figure it's highly prone to being embellished or simply invented, or miss attributed. Their is a story about a general who won a city by having a column of men march off a cliff. I've heard it attributed to Alexander the great, Shaka of the Zulu's, and napoleon. I still have not found an origin to the story and further research show the story was most likely fiction as Alexander the great had terrible moral with his army, hakes' stories are nearly all exaggerated to fantasy, and the story existed before Napoleon's time. 
  3. Am I going to teach this? I'm ok with the idea of being deceived form time to time. I can't doubt everything or living would be impossible. But I have decided if I'm going to teach something I should verify my facts first.
  4. Am I ok with accepting this? I'm rubbing against Rule #19: State your assumption. But at some point we will have to believe something. I believe in God. I also believe anyone who doesn't is a moron who's never bothered to think cortically in his life. That said it is based on faith. No direct evidence exists to prove God created the earth. No direct evidence exists that he didn't. Christian, Agnostic, or achiest your worldview is based on an assumption of God's existence and his character. A simpler example is the air we breath or the chair we sit in. I can't check every chair I sit in to see if it will hold me. I'm ok with the risk of falling on my but a few times to not have to check a million chairs structural integrity. I'm ok believing the air in my home, city, planet is breathable at any given time. I don't have the equipment, time, money, or patients to doubt that fact. Air has been faithful to be breathable so I accept it always will be unless told otherwise. Chairs have retty much always held me so I will assume they can unless I see a broken leg on it or something.

The lesson of rule #6 is not to doubt everything. But to think critically.


Context: Matthew 619-24 - Discussing what we pursue (treasure in heaven or earh). Then, Jesus compares the eye with priorities. Are our priorities pursuing those things in heaven or on earth. Then, He wraps with (paraphrased), "you can't line up your priorities to pursue both." In the middle of this great, butt-kicking sermon He throws in, "If the light that is in you IS darkness, how great is that darkness!" This isn't a question. It's an exclamation. If we are in darkness but are completely convinced that it IS light (perhaps so much so that we don't even think to question it), how much more blind and lost are we! This can be applied to sin (Jesus' intent) but also advertising, political views, and all sorts of ideals.

Great example: The last time I went spelunking, our guide (per normal) had us turn off all of our lights. He said that if we held our hand up in front of our face we would feel like we could see it. And, seriously, it seemed like I could. He went on to explain that our eyes are so desperately trying to grasp some fragment of reality to hold on to that our minds will fabricate the image of our hand in front of us. It will also use our adapted mental maps to guestimate where in our vision our hand should be (not always correct). People that are so lost in the darkness of sin and evil will go to great lenghts to fabricate their own truth and world views - even to the denial of reality ("I am a woman.") This is why Jesus (and thank you John for running with this theme - John 1....and....the rest of John's gospel) makes the statement that He IS the light.