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The myth of intellectual honesty...

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:27 pm    Post subject: The myth of intellectual honesty... Reply with quote

As you probably know, I’ve had a lot of education. I finished my last degree at age 40, having attended six different post-secondary institutions. I qualify, among other things, as an “academic.” One of the values I hear espoused broadly in academia is “intellectual honesty.” Here in the West we place a high value on free inquiry. When it comes to science or history, we’d like to believe that we follow the evidence, wherever it leads. It’s a matter of “integrity.” When it comes to issues of personal belief, we want to be “authentic” - another buzz word for the alignment of what we believe with “the facts.”

I’ve been mentoring a young man who is struggling with doubts about God. Unfortunately, our culture’s ideas of intellectual honesty, integrity and authenticity are getting him into trouble. He’s letting go of what he used to believe because he’s projecting his frustration with the universe onto the character of God. Whatever he thinks or feels seems to take pride of place on the authenticity scale. He needs to “be true to himself” and follow his sensibilities and inclinations. This is a trap we often put ourselves in. I’m recommending instead that he tether himself to truth every day, crafting and following a liturgy of pertinent Scripture, songs, and sayings. I’m asking him to meditate on the opposite of what he thinks he believes. I’m challenging him to reckon with the reality that the world around him is full of stimuli that will more likely blow him off course rather than point him in the right direction.

Here’s what I think we need to be “honest” about: Our minds are filled with short-sighted, self-serving thoughts. We are highly influenced by moods, the inputs of other people, and the ruler of this age. The sociology of knowledge teaches us that we are much more the product of our cultures than of any independent thought process. We need something outside ourselves to regulate our subjective, existential ecosystems. We need to curate the content that keeps us on the path we have chosen in our sanest moments.

What if we defined “integrity” as choosing to listen to the voice of God and reason, especially when it doesn’t feel right? When we reconsider the character of God amid dark seasons of distress, isn’t that the worst time for deciding that we’ve had the wrong idea of God all along?

Some people think that we have “blind faith” when we don’t face the “evidence” of academic science or personal suffering. I’d say we are actually following a very well-tested belief system that occasionally confronts new data and is supple enough to take it into account. Why trade it all in for an agnostic or hostile alternative because of how we feel or what our generation is telling us can’t be true?

If there is a way to tie these thoughts to the holidays, I’d like to suggest this New Year’s resolution: Let’s commit to a personalized liturgy that anchors us in the truths we need to hear most. Paul wrote that we are in a spiritual warfare that requires spiritual armor. How about organizing the verses and phrases that you know you need to hear - and start the New Year by saying them, out loud, to God, every day.
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Joined: 19 Jun 2019
Posts: 11
Location: Sharon

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:32 am    Post subject: The Myth of Intellectual honesty and the benefit of personal Reply with quote

Hi Tim,

Thank you for your blog on the myth of Intellectual honesty. It saddens me to see many the college going generation and the young adults in the west are throwing away age tested truths about God, the Bible and life in general and going with this myth of Intellectual honesty. My second daughter in Colby college struggles to maintain her biblical foundation and faith surrounded by many agnostic, and atheistic college mates including some of her close friends who came from home schooled, Christian homes.

My sincere advice to them is what the Apostle Paul gave to the believers in the church of Galatia. Galatians 1:6-8, "I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ.You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ."
Thank you for addressing this crucial topic. I will forward your blog to two of my daughters who are in college. Blessings.
Francis Balla
Rev. Francis Balla, Pastor
Hope Church Sharon
5 Harold Street, Sharon, MA 02067
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