Thursday, November 21, 2013

Are You "Open" to Learning About Other Worldviews?


I have two degrees in philosophy (undergraduate and graduate). One thing about a philosophy degree is that you are forced to study alternative worldviews. My experience is that I and my philosophy colleagues love to do this. We became philosophers to learn about other POVs, and to more deeply understand our own.

A Facebook atheist recently challenged me, asking whether I am really "open" to challenges to my faith. This atheist does not understand what it's like to engage in doctoral philosophy seminars where every moment is a challenge to whatever one's most cherished beliefs are. Worldview-challenging is the beating heart of Socratic philosophy. The serious, academic study and interactive discourse about alternative faith systems and epistemic frameworks is one's daily fare. (Sorry... you have to experience this environment to truly understand it, and the openness it requires if you are to succeed.)

On the other hand, Facebook atheists who think they are "open to reason" are epistemically monocular. They belong to the "Bwahaha" tribe that sits around the closed campfire with their atheist choir. They are part of the "dark side of mediated communication," which conducts "relationships at arm’s length, round-the-clock, and simultaneously, and only with those who reinforce one’s worldview." (Howard, Gardner; Katie Davis (2013-10-22). The App Generation (p. 93). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.) This is the world where evaluation happens without understanding.

Of course Facebook theists can be like this, too.

And of course there are academic atheists and theists who dialogue and debate their worldviews, not on Facebook, but face-to-face. These types know that, before the debate, one must understand the worldview of the other. This ramps up the dialogue. Do a philosophy degree, or take a philosophy class at a university and you'll enter into the real discussion, where:

  • Understanding precedes evaluation
  • Understanding happens
  • Understanding is not possible without openness
  • Understanding requires constant exposure to alternative worldviews
  • Understanding requires reading scholarly and informed material from the other side