It seems modernism is the answer except for the fact that it isn’t done “right”. Modernity is often linked to science. Good science is driven by four principles. Every time bad science occurs, at least one of these four principles is violated. Every time good science occurs, these four principles are followed.
I call these four principles “Modeletics™” because they are the principles that allow us to model belief systems and are a vast improvement over the current method: apologetics.
Apologetics is a man-made method. You can choose NOT to use apologetics.
All four of the principles are God-given. You CAN NOT choose to stop using them...EVERYONE uses ALL four principles on EVERYONE ELSE without thinking. EVERYONE avoids applying these four principles to themselves. God made it this way so that it would take an expression of your will to choose to follow God instead of your flesh. The opposite of these four God-given principles are the definition of "the flesh". I gave them a man-made name to reinforce the fact that ALL four principles need to be used or the flesh is going to rule.
(There is nothing wrong with applying a man-made name to a God-given concept. "The Trinity" and "The Rapture" are two examples that immediately come to mind. If you don't believe these are God-given principles, then try to stop applying them to EVERYONE else. I also have a video that illustrates all four principles using a sudoku puzzle. If the link doesn't work, copy and paste this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyJbPeLIsr8#GU5U2spHI_4)
These four God-given principles instantly show the flaw in every belief system. Let’s look at the first God-given principle…
All we know for sure is what ISN'T true...
Our brains naturally work from a comparative perspective. We take in information and try to make it agree. However, this leads to errors. For instance, if I wanted to convince you I drive a Corvette (when I really drove a Camry) I’d tell you everything that is similar between those two cars. As I gave you more information it would look more likely to you that I drive a Corvette. The truth is: you wouldn’t know for sure.
However, the very second I told you something different from a Corvette, you would know for sure that I didn’t drive a Corvette. That’s because all we know for sure is what isn’t true. We see this when people present “false dichotomies”. They are trying to say, “There are only two options and I can prove one of them has to be true by showing the other one is not true”.
"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts." (Proverbs 21:2)
Our brains work from a comparative perspective without any intentional effort. It’s in our nature. It is man’s way of thinking to look for similarities and consider them facts. The comfort force within us tries to be correct right now (in the short-term). In reality, all we can be certain of is what ISN’T a fact.
What did Dan Rather say? "If it walks like a duck, and looks like a duck...then it MUST be a duck." Wrong! This is a classic example of comparison belief...and THAT is our press talking!
If we want to pursue growth instead of comfort, we need to actively prove our beliefs (premises) wrong. After all, the only people who are never wrong are the ones who are perfect or haven’t learned anything. I call this perspective “contrastive”.
The key to being contrastive is to be able to admit you could be wrong. Notice, people who are comparative believe what is in their head IS reality. They recognize ONLY one possibility…theirs. These people are unable to consider they could be wrong. Their goal is to make what is in their head right and not change…even if their belief is wrong.
People who are contrastive recognize there are at least TWO possibilities: reality and what is in their head. Recognizing more than one possibility can only be done by people who are able to consider they could be wrong. Their goal is to determine reality…even if they have to change their belief.
My favorite example of this occurred in the mid-80’s. I found an article written by someone who thought soccer needed to make A LOT of changes. The author believed soccer was becoming too focused on defense and being physical…it was losing the artistry and thinking skills it took to score.
I would show the article to people who were HUGE soccer fans. When I handed them the article, I told them that I had cut out the first paragraph (which gave the author’s identity). Then I asked them to read it and tell me what they thought.
EVERY ONE of them disagreed and attacked the author. They told me the author was an idiot and didn’t understand soccer. Then I would tell them the author was Pele. They would INSTANTLY change their opinion of the article and tell me what was right about the article.
Saint Paul wrote in this contrastive fashion. He would list all of the possible options, then prove one option was right by showing every other possible option was incorrect. In the shorter books, he did this within chapters. From 1 Thessalonians 2:3-7:
"For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak;
not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children."
In the longer books, he took the whole book to prove one point. This is what makes his writings so powerful, but so easy to misunderstand. It is the opposite of the way we naturally think. People get way off course interpreting the Bible when they don't get the Big Picture on these books. This is God's way of thinking...not man's way of thinking.
A contemporary example of the difference between comparative and contrastive thinking is the Challenger disaster in 1986. The launch group signed off on the launch. Why did they do this? They looked at the data and said everything matches up to a launch scenario. After the shuttle explosion, they looked at the SAME data and realized it said there would be a disaster. How can the same data show two different scenarios? Isn’t this contradictory?
The first time they looked at the data, they weren’t objective. They were comparing it to a launch scenario. They only looked at the data that agreed with their goal, that is, made them comfortable.
This happens a lot, especially in groups. One person will state a belief. Other people will sort through all their personal information in order to find facts that support the initial statement. They don’t realize the most valuable information they have are the facts that contradict the initial statement. This may even be due to the leader of the group discouraging disagreement in group settings. As more people share comparative facts, the belief begins to look more right.
After the Challenger disaster, they looked at the data to see if it compared to an explosion. It did. However, their original objective wasn’t an explosion, so they hadn’t look at it from that perspective. They weren’t right because they didn’t interpret the data objectively.
Today, the most popular example of contrastive thinking occurs with Sudoku puzzles. Have you seen these number puzzles in the newspapers? Eighty-one squares where you have to put the numbers 1-9 in a fashion that doesn't have reproducing digits in a row, column, or set of nine boxes. These are popular with the sub-30 year olds.
When I give talks on college campuses, I ask: How do you know when you can correctly put a number in a square?
The answer immediately comes back: Only when you know the number CAN'T go anywhere else.
Then I ask: What happens when you get comparative and throw a number in a square that it appears it COULD go into?
Immediately there's laughter and the response: You are going to be wrong.
If the goal is to be right, then you HAVE to be contrastive or you will spend a lot of time and energy propping up a wrong belief. You see this today and the "traditionalists" have an excuse why they can do this:
“A strict Calvinist influenced by his upbringing in the Armenian Presbyterian Church, Rushdoony’s own mentor had been a Dutch theologian named Cornelius Van Til. Van Til borrowed from a turn-of-the-century theologian turned Dutch prime minister named Abraham Kuyper the idea of “presuppositionalism,” which maintains that everybody approaches the world with set assumptions, thus ruling out the possibility of neutrality and a classically liberal state; and that since Christian presuppositions acknowledge themselves as such (unlike liberalism’s, which are deliberately ahistorical), every aspect of governance should be conducted in the light of revealed truths. “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human experience,” declared Kuyper, “over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry ‘Mine!’”
The thought is that since all of us are biased (which we are when we get comparative), then NONE of us can possibly know the truth. But someone has to be right...so they declare the tie-breaker is self-awareness. "We realize we are biased and you don't".
Notice, this group now NEEDS to support the idea "we can NEVER remove the bias". Contrastive thinking removes the bias! If someone would actively try to prove their personal beliefs wrong, they wouldn't be biased!
I have spent the last year writing to blogs and forums that are dominated by Francis Schaefer disciples. THEY HAVE NO RESPONSE TO WHAT I JUST SHARED WITH YOU. They hate this concept. Actually, this is the solution to world peace!
If EVERYONE would actively prove their own beliefs wrong, there would never be another conflict. (You now have the ONLY solution to world peace...what an awesome responsibility.) How does sitting in a park, marching, writing a son, etc. "give peace a chance"? Every person who is comparative is actually holding back world peace. I feel bad for the people who try to convince me emotionally they really want peace and love, yet they won't be contrastive at all.
People who don't want to be contrastive remind me of Faruca in Willie Wonka: "But daddy, I don't want to get more information. I want to make a value judgment nooooowwwwww!"
When we argue, we naturally try to see ourselves as "right" and we naturally actively look for where the other person is "wrong". This is hypocritical and we condemn ourselves.
It would be better for the individual to actively look for where they are wrong (whatever holds up to scrutiny must be right) OR actively look for where the other person is right. Besides, arguing really shows what type of person we are...
My objective is to become more right over time. This means I have to identify where I'm wrong and change that belief. How else could I become MORE right? Every time a person is wrong, it is because they 1)didn't have enough of the right information and/or 2)didn't interpret the information objectively.
Contrastive thinking motivates the individual to get more information and it helps the individual remain objective. Contrastive thinking leads to being more right in the Long Term.
Furthermore, why do people get happy when they win an argument and sad when they are proven wrong? If the person was right before the argument, their being right was the expected outcome. In fact, the individual hasn't grown. Maybe the individual is insecrue or didn't really know they were right. The person who loses should be happy because they have learned something and are now more right...
...or maybe their objective was to stay comfortable.
Rodney King asked, "Why can't we all get along?" Do people who say this REALLY want an answer or do they want to appear "good" through appealing to our emotions? The reason people don't get along is they are comparative. Again, people who say this but remain comparative are hypocrites.
Finally, the Bible says evil was let into this world through comparative thinking. Eve looked at the fruit comparatively: it was good for food, pleasant to the eye, and makes one wise. She didn't look contrastively: God said you will die.
You cannot be evil if you are contrastive.
Jesus is contrastive.
From the article "The Problem with Modernism": A traditionalist considers it a sin to even consider another option as possible and focuses on being comparative with all information. A post modern will avoid admitting that something is “wrong”. A modern is someone who tries to prove their own beliefs wrong knowing that whatever can be proven wrong needs to be changed and whatever can’t be proven wrong must be truth.
For another example of the importance of contrastive thinking, click here.
(This post is two years old. In the summer of 2008, I gave a perspective on this principle as it relates to what physiologically happens in the brain in this post.)
Otherwise, the second principle is here: Next Post