Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Perception and Truth

In our search for truth it is important to recognize that most of our beliefs that we hold on to as truth are just our interpretation of the data that we have. 

I am not saying that truth doesn’t exist or that it is impossible to discover truth, but I am saying that truth isn’t as objective as we sometimes would like it to be. 

We realize that two people looking at the exact same data can come to two different conclusions. 

Some of that is based on first principles, for example, believing in God is going to shape our interpretation of the data about the origins of the universe.

Some of that is based on our experiences, for example, whether you have a positive or negative experience with church growing up is going to shape your opinion on the importance of being part of church family as you grow older.

This is what Erwin McManus wrote in his book Soul Cravings:

In other words, for something to make sense to us, it cannot remain outside of us. We do not simply study information and then come to a conclusion; we absorb it and come to a personal interpretation of what is real.

I was listening to a lecture in which the speaker referred to studies in neuroscience that describe the process from which the human brain gathers and holds information. He explained that when the human brain absorbs information, that information is one part data and six parts emotion. Now that’s a fascinating thought--that everything we remember is wrapped around everything we experience. When you reflect on this, it makes perfect sense. (Meaning; Entry #12: It’s All in How You Look At It)*

What Erwin talks about here explains why, for most people, their relationships with the fathers affect their view of God. 

It also accounts for people who leave Christianity after a personal tragedy in their lives. Their view of God and the Church affected by their experience.

In the United States there is a significant amount of people who are not buying the version of truth being offered from the corporate press and politicians.

Why are they skeptical?

They are skeptical because they believe they have been lied to, overlooked, and stabbed in the back by these people who now say, "Just trust us." 

When we remember that perception is reality for people, it should not surprise us that there people who do not hold to your version of what is real. Their experience is leading them to a different conclusion.

It really doesn't matter how many experts, studies, and facts we believe back up our point-of-view because another person will put all of that through their filter of experience and emotion. This is why facts are weak persuasion. 

All of us like to believe that we rational and that the beliefs that we hold we arrived at through following the facts. The reality is that the majority of the time we arrive at our beliefs for emotional reasons and we use facts to justify our positions afterwards. This is why these facts seem so obvious to us.

If we want to change someone's mind the best thing to do is not to throw a bunch of facts and figures at them, but to offer a listening ear and show that you understand what they are saying. Without listening and seeking to understand other people there will be an ever growing divide between people who hold different points-of-view.

* Soul Cravings is a book without page numbers. For reference I provided the title of the section and the entry number and title. I believe the McManus discussion on truth is worth the price of the book.

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