The final post in this series speaks to the myth that we can remain neutral in our beliefs.
The Myth of Neutrality
Can we really be neutral about our beliefs and not commit? The short answer is “No.” To sit on the fence is still to take a position, namely, “not to take a position.” Neutrality simply does not exist. While some may be more open than others and honestly explore options before committing, few end up suspending beliefs on matters re: God, life after death, purpose, meaning, values and morality. Everyone eventually decides what they believe on these matters. For those who claim they have not thought about these things, they have at least decided it’s not worth thinking about, which tells us a great deal about what they believe and certainly what they value! To claim there is no truth in religious matters is itself a truth claim about religion.
Everyone has a philosophy of life and has exclusive claims to truth. For example, what happens after death (resurrection, reincarnation, annihilation) is a question everyone asks and, while we may wish we’re exempt from drawing a conclusion on this matter, no one is exempt from doing so. Moreover, choosing not to be neutral and instead hold exclusive truth claims does not mean we cannot be open-minded about opposing beliefs. If that were true, I’d never change my mind about anything. An open-minded person …
- Identifies the assumptions and opinions that uphold their beliefs
- Draws conclusions but is willing to subject their assumptions and beliefs to critical inquiry
- Recognizes that if there is a truth about a position, then opposing positions cannot be true (law of non-contradiction)
- ￼Is willing to listen to good arguments from opposing beliefs that may help shape beliefs and get at the truth-value of them
- Is willing to alter or abandon their beliefs if they have little or no reasons to hold them
- Invites others to change your mind knowing that if what you believe is true then it will withstand the closest scrutiny. Conversely, if what you believe is false, then your opponent has done you a favor by pointing you to the truth.
Summary and Conclusion
To sum up, this series has shown that faith and reason are friends and not foes. They work together in support of one another. We’ve looked at the nature of faith, the nature of truth claims, the value of doubt, and the myth of neutrality showing that faith with reason is the optimal formula for belief. Like a composer and conductor, faith and reason work together to create a beautiful symphony that performs on the human heart and inspires conviction, hope, and reasonable certainty.
I’m indebted to Gregory E. Ganssle’s Thinking About God for most of this material.