This week we are looking at the behaviors that would most help our thought processes and physical health. We saw the first behavior was Fellowship. In the next two posts, we saw that causality and growth are behaviors necessary to have Fellowship. They are principles that help our thought process, increase our intelligence, and lead to a healthier brain and body. The previous post demonstrated a very powerful principle: non-contradiction.
We saw that the brain's ability to detect patterns and make decisions is based on its ability to detect contradictions. The previous post showed how people are physically able to sear over their conscience and not detect contradictions YET be fully convinced that they have checked for contradictions. Throughout history, this searing over the conscience is the cause of most of the atrocities that have been done by leaders: they are firmly convinced in their brain that what they are doing is right because it doesn't contain a contradiction. Later, the contradiction is apparent to everyone and we wonder why people would follow such a contradictory leader.
The previous post also showed that hypocrisy is closely tied to the searing over of the conscience and is essentially the attempt to live with contradiction: to hold others to a higher standard than you hold yourself to. The Pharisees were contradictory and Jesus not only pointed out their contradictions, He openly called them hypocrites. (Did Jesus see into the trees of their brain and know their conscience was seared over? Is this why Jesus knew the Pharisees wouldn't understand the parables He taught...because He knew their brain was unable to detect contradictions in these areas?)
The individual's response to a contradiction is one of the quickest ways to model a person: to determine what type of person they are. A contradiction proves that at least one of the premises held by the individual is wrong. If the person is focused on growth, they will actively remove the contradiction. If the person is focused on comfort, they will try to justify the contradiction.
Today we are going to look at the most powerful principle. I say "most powerful" because the application is very wide (the entire contents of the Bible) and very deep (it is the basis of doing all of the other principles). This is a long post (including links). Since I won't be posting this weekend, I highly recommend taking all three days to understand this post. Of all the posts I have written, I believe this post has the greatest potential to improve your thought processes, increase your intelligence, and cause your brain and body to become healthier. The responsibility is now yours...
In the previous post, we saw that people prove their brains are damaged AND continue to damage their brains when they can't detect a contradiction. Notice, in the previous post, this inability to detect a contradiction happened for a specific topic. They were able to detect the contradiction in the opponent...they were unable to detect a contradiction in THEIR candidate. The reason they couldn't detect the contradiction is that they couldn't CONSIDER they were wrong!
The ability to CONSIDER you are wrong is called contrastive thinking. Focusing on proving yourself right is called comparative thinking.
When our "unaware" brain looks for patterns, it looks comparatively...it tries to fill in information that agrees with the potential cause. In a healthy brain, comparative thinking is combined with detecting contradictions...to form a feedback loop. The only thoughts the brain OUGHT to let escape this loop are non-contradictory thoughts. The seared consciences in the previous post proved they were damaged when they let a contradictory thought escape the feedback loop and then treated it as truth.
However, notice that non-contradiction BY ITSELF doesn't prove truth. If something is contradictory then we know for sure it is not truth. However, something that is not truth can appear to be non-contradictory if we haven't considered all the facts.
Take some time to really understand that last paragraph because it is the basis of the next statement:
All we know for sure is what ISN'T truth...when we detect a contradiction.
Recently, there was a national salmonella outbreak. In order to determine the cause, a theory had to be proposed. The problem solvers looked at the cases of poisoning to see what they had in common...they looked comparatively. Theories were proposed and once a contradiction was detected they were disregarded. Eventually, one theory seemed to get stronger. In fact, the more information that was received, the more this theory looked right because none of the information contradicted the theory. Eventually, someone made a decision to tell the public the cause: tomatoes.
The authorities essentially stated that "we know for sure the outbreak was caused by tomatoes". They were sure enough to publicly blame tomato growers and create in the public's mind a negative experience associated with tomatoes. They were sure enough to hurt tomato growers financially. The tomatoes were quarantined. However, the outbreaks didn't stop...hence, a contradiction.
How idiotic would it have been for the authorities to continue to tell the public that it had to be the tomatoes in the face of the obvious contradiction? What would you think of people who endangered the physical health of the entire country by holding to a contradiction? What would be the cause of these people sticking to a contradictory explanation? It would be the inability to consider they were wrong. It would be their desperate attempt to appear to be right...to try and convince reality (all of us) to conform to what is in their head.
However, the existence of the contradiction caused them to go back and consider another answer: jalapeno peppers. Why did tomatoes appear more right than the actual right answer?
Here's the important question: What do you think of people who endanger the emotional, mental, and spiritual health of the entire world by holding to a contradiction? Do you know people who hold to contradictory thought processes and beliefs? Do you know people who are unable to consider they are wrong? Wouldn't leaders who attempt to justify contradictory thought processes and beliefs resulting in emotionally, mentally, and spiritually damage to others be guilty of the most atrocious crimes?
One of my biggest frustrations over the past fourteen years has been pastors who "play the pastor card". There are pastors who "prove" they are right by asserting that they are a pastor. How does being a pastor make a person right? Is truth objective? Are pastors exempt from searing their conscience and seeing everything they do as right even when it is wrong?
"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes; But Jehovah weigheth the hearts." (Proverbs 21:2, ASV)
The Bible states that all of us see ourselves as right...even pastors. However, I have had pastors and theologians tell me "Modeling God" correctly defines grace...yet they won't change what they have been preaching and teaching. Why? They said they didn't want people to think they were wrong! They were (and continue to be) wrong...they admitted it. Yet, they are more afraid of people than God.
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; And the end of mirth is heaviness. The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways; And a good man shall be satisfied from himself. The simple believeth every word; But the prudent man looketh well to his going." (Proverbs 14:12-15)
The comparative believe every word, are filled with their own ways, and see things that result in death as "right". We have a choice over whether we are going to use our brain...whether we are going to think according to the flesh or according to these God given principles. This is why the Bible appears to contradict itself when it comes to the value of thinking.
Our way of thinking is flawed...it is according to the flesh. However, the Bible tells us to know and understand...to think. The Bible says to think according to the God given principles: causality, growth, non-contradiction, and contrastively. In a previous post, we saw that people who can't tell the difference and demonize all thinking are causing people to damage their brain and their body.
Now we can look at gossip in a different light...When people give information to others that looks right, but hasn't been confirmed with the people involved, this is gossip.
We saw that every exchange of information literally makes a person smarter or dumber. The information either causes repair (life) or destruction (death) in the brain.
Gossip is damaging to your health. It is damaging if you receive it. It is doubly damaging if you spread it because not only have you damaged your brain, but you know it is wrong to spread false information (hurt other people) and the resulting guilt stresses the body causing it to create toxic chemicals. From Dr. Leaf:
"Your words have to be backed up with honesty and integrity - what in psychological terms is called congruence. What you do and say on the outside must reflect what you think on the inside. A lack of congruence causes stress and affects the way information is processed and memory is built."
(HALF WAY POINT IN THIS POST.)
What we need to do is be able to CONSIDER we are wrong. Fellowship accomplishes this!
Giving someone else the permission to confront you WILL eventually result in them telling you that you are wrong. Our flesh wants to feel right so the first thing the flesh does is try to isolate you from any source that points out you MAY be wrong.
The most successful people surround themselves with people who will disagree with them. However, we all know people who surround themselves with "yes men". Worse than this, there are people who prevent themselves from even HEARING from a person who disagrees...whether it is not reading the papers, not answering phone calls, or not reading e-mails...all of these actions are deliberate attempts to not CONSIDER more information.
What are these people thinking? Do they really believe that what they don't know won't hurt them? Do they believe that information and reality doesn't exist unless they are aware of it? Or is their goal to maintain the appearance that they are right?...all the while, their "unaware" brain knows this isn't true and the process of searing over their conscience begins.
"He that correcteth a scoffer getteth to himself reviling; And he that reproveth a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scoffer, lest he hate thee: Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee." (Proverbs 9:7,8)
We've seen this passage during the causality discussion. Look at it again from this contrastive thinking perspective. Wise people are able to CONSIDER they are wrong. Notice, there is nothing in this passage about the wise person ADMITTING they are wrong.
The number one question related to Fellowship is: Can you CONSIDER you are wrong?
In fact, Fellowship ONLY works if the FIRST thought in each person's brain when they hear conflicting information is "I could be wrong".
Think back to the "Brain Overview" post. If a person can't CONSIDER they are wrong, then when they hear something different than what they believe, they see the information as a "stressor". Your body reacts to a stressor by putting out chemicals that in the short-term alert the brain. In the Long Term, they damage the trees in your brain. This is why close-minded people eventually have to isolate themselves...they can't continue to take the volume of stressors.
However, if a person begins with the thought "I could be wrong", all information is welcomed. Dr. Leaf writes:
"Consciously controlling your thought life means not letting thoughts rampage through your mind, but learning to engage interactively with each one."
"My research consistently shows that if you don't understand incoming information, you build toxic thoughts."
"Never let thoughts just wander through your mind unchecked. If they are toxic, they will eventually make you sick."
Being contrastive allows you to face the information objectively and control it. Not only because you aren't stressed, but also because you've already accepted the worse result: that you could be wrong! Everything short of that is easier to deal with.
If there was one principle that would most quickly result in progress towards a healthier thought life it is contrastive thinking...everything else comes after that. The only way to become more right is to identify where you are wrong and change it. The first step is to be contrastive. Being contrastive literally "renews your brain". It causes the seared conscience to be repaired and the brain to return to its healthy state!
Notice, we are only talking about people being willing to CONSIDER if they are wrong. We are not talking about people ADMITTING they are wrong. I think you may be surprised at how few people can actually CONSIDER they are wrong. Ask them sometime: Can you even CONSIDER that you are wrong?
If a person says they can CONSIDER they are wrong, ask them HOW they could be wrong? This is proof whether they are able to CONSIDER they are wrong. If they can give just one HOW, then they have the ability to ADMIT they are wrong.
Be careful. We are talking about a person admitting they are WRONG. People duck this by stating that "you are right" or by stating "I'm not right". This isn't as healing as having them be able to admit they are wrong.
Again, the occurrences of contrastive thinking run throughout the entire Bible. In fact, most of the questions people have about the Bible are instantly cleared up when contrastive thinking is accounted for. Here are some quick examples:
Bible - The entire Bible documents God's contrastive process to prove to us that His Plan for eternity is right and just. He does this by first proving every other "plan" (7 dispensations) doesn't result in people being "good".
Evil - Evil was introduced into the world because Eve looked comparatively (pleasing to the eye, good for food, able to make one wise) instead of contrastively (you will die) at the forbidden fruit. You can not be evil if you are contrastive.
Pharaoh - Moses asked Pharaoh to consider letting them go into the wilderness. Pharaoh took this as "sin" and began the process that led to God eventually having enough value to free the Israelites. Considering something "wrong" is not a sin. Notice, we all need people to consider they are wrong in order to help them grow. Believing that considering something that is "wrong" is a sin is hypocritical.
Gideon - A member of the "Faith Hall of Fame" asked God for a sign...then asked Him for the exact opposite sign.
Job - God and Satan have a "HAVE, DO, ARE" disagreement. God proves He is right by considering Satan is right. (We will eventually cover the Book of Job because it brings all of these principles together in a powerful and non-contradictory fashion.)
Jesus - He spoke contrastively a number of times (he that is not against us is for us - Mark 9:40) In the Garden, Jesus prayed to the Father twice...in a contrastive fashion. Matthew 26:39 says "if it be possible" and Matthew 26:42 says "if this cannot pass away".
Paul - Paul wrote in a contrastive fashion. In the shorter letters, the contrastive proofs are within a verse. In the longer letters, he takes the entire letter to prove a point by first proving the other options are not true. He's so conscious of it in some letters that he parenthetically reminds the reader that his flawed line of reasoning is not something he actually believes, but is what is required to try and prove (unsuccessfully) the flawed point right. (e.g., Romans 3)
Among the many links that I could list here, I will focus on the two most important links.
World Peace Solution
THE GREAT SIN
"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone who was not a Christian accuse himself of this vice. And at the same time I have very seldom met anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault that makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility." (CS Lewis, "Mere Christianity")
Pride is the sin that caused Lucifer to fall.
"Pride goeth before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18, ASV)
Pride is the belief that you are superior. This is a belief that no one can teach you anything because you are superior to them. Believing that no one can teach you causes you to believe you don't need to change, which eventually results in error because none of us are perfect. Notice that seven verses after this verse about pride, the previously cited verse in Proverbs 14 is repeated.
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 16:25, ASV)
Notice that pride and humility are contrasted when it comes to interacting with God:
"But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." (James 4:6, ASV)
Proverbs consistently says that fear of God (respect for Jehovah) and humility are the causes for the desired effects.
"The reward of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches, and honor, and life." (Proverbs 22:4)
If Pride is the belief that you are superior (Self-Conceit), then what does it mean to be humble?
Some people think they are humble because they recognize God is superior to them. However, this belief still allows the individual to believe they are superior to everyone else.
Some people think humble means to believe you are less than everyone else. Actually, this is known as a poor self image. What is an objective and healthy definition of humble?
Humble is the opposite of pride. What is the opposite of thinking that no one can teach you anything? It is believing that people can teach you...that people can be right and you can be wrong.
The opposite of pride is the ability to consider you are wrong. Humility is considering you are wrong and others are right.
Again, the key phrase is CONSIDER you are wrong. Jesus was humble and was never wrong. If you believe you have to be wrong in order to be humble, then you either believe Jesus wasn't humble or He wasn't the Son of God. Be careful with your definitions!
The best attribute you can have is to be contrastive on yourself...
...everything else is an effect.