Why Don't Facts Change our Mind?
Leo Tolstoy explains it simply, "The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him."
Do we believe because of the Facts ?
It's a fact. The more someone proves your beliefs wrong the more you will cling to them. This might be an amusing topic for the world, but it is of critical importance for the Christian to understand. For example, why would a person, in spite of the evidence, reject the Gospel? Or why do so many Christians reject the biblical account of creation? Most of us consider ourselves to be rational human beings. Yet there are intelligent people on both sides of Intelligent Design. There are intelligent people on both sides of politics, global warming. Etc. And once your on one side or the other, it is nearly impossible for you to change sides.
This was bought home to me many years ago when I read the book In The Beginning by Walt Brown PhD. I was fascinated, he had done amazing research. Then I got to his questions and answers. In one of the questions he disagreed with a fundamental doctrine commonly believed by most creationist Christians (I wont mention which one). I wished he had left the question unanswered. How could such a brilliant man make such an amateur mistake? Most people would probably just go on to the next question. I had to keep reading so I could refute his position, I planned to write him a letter. I am used to reading the opinions of people who I am in disagreement with normally I take it with a grain of salt. But as I kept reading Dr. Brown I was actually getting angry, I had to put the book down twice. I believe this is where most people would end the story. But I continued reading and by the time I finished studying his explanation, it was several pages, I had to surrender. Dr Walt Brown was right. How than, was I so positively sure that I knew the facts and still be wrong?
Even after the evidence "for their beliefs has been totally refuted, people fail to make appropriate revisions in those beliefs," the researchers noted. In this case, the failure was "particularly impressive," since two data points would never have been enough information to generalize from.
You can find the whole article at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds. (Downloaded on 8/11/21)
How do we come to believe what we believe?
We believe our teachers
Galatians 4:1-2 ~ Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Through out human history, from our childhood we have had teacher. If they were good teachers they kept our attention span. Often the student would just accept what was being taught because they hadn't developed critical thinking skills. Or, for example, ask any student nurse if they are not to busy studying to critically judge the data put before them. While textbooks always become outdated, most college students accept the current addition as factual with very little question.
Peer pressure controls our beliefs
Matthew 22:14 ~ For many are called, but few are chosen.
But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is "the results of modem investigation". ~ Screwtape letters
A poll was taken recently that showed most democrats believe Joe Biden is honest while at the same time, most republicans believe he is a liar. It is peer pressure not the facts that keep many from accepting the Gospel. And while peer pressure is a powerful force for making people believe what they do, it is also the most foolish.
Luke 9:26 ~ For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
My favorite example is from recent history. Where did the Covid virus come from. In March of 2020 I was saying that it most likely came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology as Wuhan is where Covid-19 originated. At the time the news media ridiculed anyone who believed the "Lab theory". Peer pressure swayed many away from the Lab theory. But now with Donald Trump out of office (and the freedom of information act) there is enough proof we don't look silly anymore.
Don't waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous - that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about. ~ The Screwtape Letters
In many circumstances, social connection is actually more helpful to your daily life than understanding the truth of a particular fact or idea. The Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker put it this way, "People are embraced or condemned according to their beliefs", so one function of the mind may be to hold beliefs that bring the belief-holder the greatest number of allies, protectors, or disciples, rather than beliefs that are most likely to be true."
We believe the professionals
John 7:46-48 ~ The officers answered, Never man spake like this man. Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?
This is why doctors wear white coats with stethoscopes draped around their neck and sit at a desks with diplomas framed on the wall behind him. They want to look professional. The mainstream news media calls in there experts. Then there advice and opinions are much more convincing. More convincing than what? More convincing than a layman who can give a sound answer.
Galatians 2:6 ~ [Paul speaking about some big shots at a church council] But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me.
We believe a narrative that is constantly repeated
By constantly repeating the narrative we are being brainwashed. It is like hypnotism; you are getting sleepy, you are getting sleepy, your getting sleepy. Adolf Hitler, who was effective at convincing the masses, said it best:
All propaganda must be confined to a few bare necessities and then must be expressed in a few stereotyped formulas . . . Only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea upon the memory of a crowd. ~ Adolf Hitler
If you wish the sympathy of the broad masses, you must tell them the crudest and most stupid things. ~ Adolf Hitler
By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell - and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed. ~ Adolf Hitler
The receptivity of the masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. ~ Adolf Hitler
If the lie is large enough, everyone will believe it. ~ Adolf Hitler
If anyone could, Hitler could control the masses. For him it didn't matter how big the lie, as long as it was repeated often enough, he knew people would believe it.
Let me give you an example.. Global Warming.. We here it on the news several times a week. Our teachers repeat it. Professional scientists repeat it. Our politicians repeat it. Peer pressure enforces it. Remember how the media went nuts when Trump questioned man made global warming? If you want to be popular you better burn incense at this altar. The reason most people are convinced are not the facts, but rather that this narrative has been repeated thousands of times.
Facts have little affect on what we believe
Yet, if you believe in global warming, you probably believe it is because of the facts. When in fact, it might be just the opposite. A study published in the New Yorker describes the problem:
Consider what's become known as "confirmation bias," the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them. Of the many forms of faulty thinking that have been identified, confirmation bias is among the best catalogued; it's the subject of entire textbooks' worth of experiments. One of the most famous of these was conducted, again, at Stanford. For this experiment, researchers rounded up a group of students who had opposing opinions about capital punishment. Half the students were in favor of it and thought that it deterred crime; the other half were against it and thought that it had no effect on crime.
The students were asked to respond to two studies. One provided data in support of the deterrence argument, and the other provided data that called it into question. Both studies—you guessed it—were made up, and had been designed to present what were, objectively speaking, equally compelling statistics. The students who had originally supported capital punishment rated the pro-deterrence data highly credible and the anti-deterrence data unconvincing; the students who'd originally opposed capital punishment did the reverse. At the end of the experiment, the students were asked once again about their views. Those who'd started out pro-capital punishment were now even more in favor of it; those who'd opposed it were even more hostile. [emphasis mine]
Dayownloaded on 8/11/2021
We can see from this study and many others just like it that being presented facts is the least likely way to learn something, and in fact, might be counter productive. Why don't we base our beliefs on facts ? Scientists describe it as the backfire effect.
The backfire effect is an aspect of psychology. When an opinion is contradicted by facts, instead of the opinion changing, it gets further strengthened. Due to this effect, whenever you are confronted with information and facts that contradict something you believe, instead of changing your view or forming a new opinion, your original beliefs will often be strengthened.
Donloaded on 8/11/2021
What is the problem?
What we believe affects how we behave. If I believed there was a chest full of treasure buried in my front yard, you would see it in my behavior. My behavior doesn't matter on weather there is actually a chest buried there or not, it only matters what I believe. Those who control our beliefs control us. We should have learned this from Hitler and WW2 and taught it to our children. We are constantly being hammered with propaganda from social media and mainstream news. Can you recognizes this propganda?
The biggest problem... we are unable to hear the real gospel of Jesus.... I often try to teach the Gospel, and no matter how many verses I share, some people are never able to see it. We have all heard the Joke, "I know what I believe, don't confuse me with the facts". This is why it is so important to make a preemptive strike. For example, the next time you hear of two people knocking on a friend's door, don't waste a moment. Open the scriptures to him (or her) and use it to show him how to recognize a cult. Before he joins the cult, it will be easy to expose its errors. After he has joined, for reasons mentioned earlier, it will be easier to convince him to let you pull his wisdom teeth with vise grips than to show him the simple truths of Scripture.
What is the Cure?
Love the truth
2 Thessalonians 2:10b-11 ~ ... because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
When someone tells me something and I am having a hard time hearing it, I have found this trick to be helpful. I just listen to the person (without trying to agree or disagree) just so can repeat what they have said. Later during my prayer time I bring the conversation before the Lord. I repeat what they said and explain my position. Since it is impossible to lie to God, I am able to receive constructive criticism much easier and without getting angry.
1 Samuel 25:17 ~ [A servant speaking to Abigail:] Now therefore know and consider what thou wilt do; for evil is determined against our master, and against all his household: for he is such a son of Belial, that a man cannot speak to
1 Timothy 6:3-4 ~ If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
These passages speak for themselves. In order to discern truth from error we must humble ourselves. Shortly after I was saved I came to an interesting realization. Almost everything I believed before I was saved was wrong. Repeatedly I had to make an about face. This is much easier to do if you can be humble.
Learn the Scientific Method
1 Timothy 6:20 ~ O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:
The scientific method goes something like this.
Formulate a question
It can be any question. But usually it is based on an observation.
A hypothesis is proposed to explain the observation. A hypothesis is an explanation that will be tested by an experiment.
Make a prediction
If you can make accurate predictions based on your hypothesis before the outcome is known, they give much more weight to your hypothesis.
Next experiments are performed to test the hypothesis and see if the predictions come true. Experiments may disprove a scientific hypothesis, but can never entirely prove one.
Analyze the data
Finally analyze the experiment's results. How the experiment was performed? Compare evidence from other scientists. If enough evidence supports the hypothesis it becomes a theory and like a fact you can start relying on it. If the evidence has disproved the hypothesis, a new hypothesis is formed.
The important thing about the scientific method is that it is not just okay to question a theory, it is encouraged. If you are not allowed to question someone's science, it is not a theory, law, fact or science; it is religion. If someone is attacking the messenger rather than disputing the facts, take this as a sign that they have no facts to support their argument.
As you get your college degree, do you take time to question what your being taught. Or is your time filled up with classes, parties, and cramming [it is called cramming for a reason] for finals.
2 Timothy 3:7 ~ Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Have you questioned global warming? Have you visited any of those forbidden websites? Can you prove global warming based on undisputed facts?
Do you question the professionals? CNN and other media sourse have been repeatedly caught lying and manipulating the truth.
Here is an example from The Intercept. You can find countless others if you search for them.
The Scopes Monkey Trial
In the Scopes Monkey Trial a teacher was hired by the ACLU to be the defendant in a trial. He was accused and convicted of teaching evolution.
One of the "facts" presented by the defense was the Nebraska man. A primitive man that lived in Nebraska 50,000 years earlier. This and similar facts made creationists look silly.
The reconstruction of Nebraska Man by the Illustrated London News
If only William Jennings Bryan, the prosecutions attorney, had asked the simple question. "Show me proof for the Nebraska man" If he had asked this and similar questions he would have turned the tide of public opinion. The only evidence for the Nebraska Man was a tooth, which later turned out to be a pig's tooth.
Question your teacher, the professionals, the news media. Question even my studies, I believe they stand up to scrutiny and if not... don't believe them.
Conclusion: he who has ears to hear let him hear
Mark 4:9 ~ And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
I hope you understood the importance of your beliefs before you read this study. I also hope this study helps you to be able to give an account of your beliefs to God on the Day of Judgment.
Written by Jeffrey Barnes