"An Eskimo fisherman came to town every Saturday afternoon. He always brought his two dogs with him. One was white and the other was black. He had taught them to fight on command. Every Saturday afternoon in the town square the people would gather and these two dogs would fight and the fisherman would take bets. On one Saturday, the black dog would win; another Saturday the white dog would win - but the fisherman always won! His friends began to ask him how he did it. He said, "I starve one and feed the other. The one I feed always wins because he is stronger."I've listened to and read a lot of good, sound, Christian material this year. I've also listened to and read quite a lot of the 'new atheist' material by the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.From "The Holy Spirit: Activating God's Power in Your Life," by Billy Graham (1978)
What I've noticed is that I have a natural, inbuilt tendency to align my beliefs with whatever I am listening to. I try not to, but it happens. If I listen to Christian stuff I get more Christianised, if I listen to the atheist stuff I get more skeptical.
We know this. Preachers have preached on that point many, many times before. But I find myself questioning the whole thing. It seems to be merely a comparison between two equal and opposite ideologies.
But if Christianity is true, it isn't merely an ideology. What about Jesus saying 'I am the truth', what about the Spirit of God? Surely that should bias the comparison, more than slightly? If Christianity is true then reading about the false alternatives should not be enough to cause my faith to falter. But it looks like it might be.
To be a 'good Christian' do we really need to remain ignorant of the alternatives that the world has to offer? If so I'd need to give up being a scientist (and a Bayesian) too, because the scientific method is always to question, always to consider the alternatives. I'm not sure I could force myself to remain ignorant.
From the point of view of someone sitting (skeptically) in the middle, there seems no compelling reason to choose to go either way, only good arguments and compelling reasoning on either side. If I feed one dog (by biasing my reading and listening towards one side) then that dog will win. But there is no obvious reason why I should choose one dog over the other, both appear to have merits, both appear to have faults. I simply have to choose which dog I want to win. What if I pick the wrong one?