Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Search for Intelligent Life Amongst Dissenting Voices

Often times, I am disappointed that people so easily dismiss opposing viewpoints as non-intelligent.

One of my favorite blogs (13.7), has an article that although is well-written, does this:

This particular posting implies that one has to be a liberal to be intelligent. But I have also seen conservatives do the same thing. And in light of the latest political spin on the election, I think this topic is especially relevant.

The mistake often being made is that intelligence should be gauged based upon the logical coherence of the conclusions of an argument to presuppositions.

For instance, conservatives generally hold to the presupposition that man should be held accountable to his actions. The religious conservative will usually hold presuppositions that man is "bent" towards selfishness and greed (the idea of "original sin").

As a result Conservatives logically conclude that man's actions aren't excused because of a poor upbringing and social environment. Therefore Conservatives are more likely to support imprisonment and even the death penalty over rehabilitation.

BTW, I know Christians are usually lumped into the right, however I believe that a true grace walking Christian will be a stronger advocate of rehabilitation. I always say, "I'm as conservative as the Word of God and as liberal as the love of God."

Where it gets difficult is that the philosophical presuppositions that give us political, philosophical and religious worldviews aren't usually empirically verifiable. I think religion does the best job of recognizing this by calling it faith. But is it not also faith to ultimately believe that man's ultimate longing is for freedom (Neo-conservative presuppositions) or that man is primarily a product of his environment (liberalism)? I'd love to see equal recognition that these presuppositions are held in faith in politics and philosophy. Even science has this problem. Just look at its speculations on the multiverse theory or even its dogma on the origins of life. The origins issue is a unique event that occurred once. It can't be ultimately tested in a laboratory and repeated. This is a demand of empiricism.

The bottom line is that I have met intelligent and stupid people on both sides of the philosophical and political spectrums. It is closed-minded dogma to dismiss people as non-intelligent simply because they disagree with my worldview.

If a person has consistent reason connecting their presuppositions with their conclusions, we can at least say that they are intelligent. This doesn't make them right or wrong, only logical. BTW, truth does exclude arguments that are logically inconsistent.

Beyond logical consistency, we get into the biases that often shape the faith that undermines our presuppositions. At that point, we are in the territories of volition, the visceral and the heart. This is why it is said, "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth."

Sometimes we believe in our presuppositions because they make us feel comfortable and secure or are otherwise to our advantage. We must have the courage to believe the truth no matter where it leads and the love of it to pursue it at all costs. Since loving an "it" is ultimately impossible (a misuse of the overused word "love"), does it not make sense that a loving God is ultimately the truth we seek?

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