Thursday, January 31, 2013

The two types of "questioning"

   In the few years I have been paying attention to religion, I have noticed the occasional Christian act like they have seriously questioned their religion. If that were true, they would no longer be Christian. I have also, as I have noted in another post, heard Christians use arguments that are seriously flawed. As I said in the one post that I have thus far written on that topic, "the goal is to find an argument that successfully defends the faith, not one that is logically sound." I do believe that these people who say they questioned their religion really did so, but my suspicion is that they were not out in search of the truth; they were out to resolve contradictions they had with their religion. (In a recent case, for example, I suspect the conflict was between how the Bible says homosexuals should be treated versus how this person personally thinks homosexuals should be treated.) The question(s), then, would deal with how they can resolve this conflict(s). (For the example I provided, the "answer" may very well be what I said in that other post was a dumb argument — that the "law no longer applies.") The first type of questioning, then, is a type of questioning that is in search of answers that appeal to the questioner's emotions...answers that, on the surface, make "sense." (As another example, if one were to question how they can be Christian when it is just another rel

   The second type of questioning is a robust form of questioning in which the questioner searches for the answer that is most likely to be true. This type of questioning should use methodological skepticism to evaluate answers.

   Allow me to provide a brief example of how these different types of questioning could play out in real life. It would seem that there are Christians out there who struggle with Christianity being a religion. My hunch is that they see a bunch of other religions out there that they reject as false and perhaps they realize that there really isn't a good reason for them to not reject Christianity as well. The solution? Christianity is not a religion! It's a personal relationship with Jesus!* If you engage in the first type of questioning, you will likely accept this as an answer. If you engage in the second type of questioning, however, you will come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a personal relationship with Jesus. Even if you did not go so far as to come to the conclusion that Jesus, if there even was such a person, is long dead and gone, you should at least be able to recognize that there are lots of people who make such a claim, yet many (strangely enough!) of them cannot agree on the character of Jesus. You should realize that questions like, "What would Jesus do?" make little sense in the way we frame such a question. It's asked in a way as though we can't just go ask Jesus himself. Well, if there are these millions of people who have a "personal relationship" with Jesus, why can't we? I wonder what type of answer the first type of questioner would except...

* Alternatively, I have seen a similar idea that one is not a Christian, but is rather a follower of Christ. If you use the first type of questioning, such a suggestion would likely be embraced. If you use the second type of questioning, you will come to the conclusion that there isn't an actual difference between the two — it is just a crafty way to reframe one's religious beliefs without actually changing the beliefs themselves.

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