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I read something recently from a highly regarded poster on a sister site, which states:

"I should extend the courtesy of allowing people to have evidence which they can't use to convince me, given that I'm asking others to extend the same courtesy towards me."

If I understand this correctly (and please correct me if I haven't), then this is advocating the deliberate ignoring of evidence. The use of the word "evidence" is key here, as this indicates something which is provable. Surely if something is provable, ignoring it is an act of deliberate ignorance?

Can this ever be a good thing?

Now, don't get me wrong.. This is not a trolling attempt (although I suspect you chaps may receive a few of those), I am just curious as to what you think. I appreciate that the first response may be "Why not ask him?" but I've found that when you approach someone one-on-one about their beliefs they unsurprisingly tend to take it personally, which makes it much harder to have a proper discussion.

Regards, Dave

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closed as off-topic by Narnian, Affable Geek, DJClayworth, David Stratton, James T Nov 23 '13 at 17:36

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As I read him, he's saying he has evidence (not that he's ignoring anything), but that it wouldn't convince you. A reason for this might be that it is based on his subjective experience. He can relate it to you, but it will not be as strong or persuasive for you as for him. Am I wrong? –  metal Nov 21 '13 at 16:32
    
But he says that he's happy for people to have evidence that they can't use to convince him? If there is evidence, then it's something provable. That's the difference between "evidence" and "subjecture". They way I read it (which is in itself subjective <g>) then he's choosing to ignore something provable (and therefore factual). If you choose to ignore facts (for whatever reason) is ...foolhardy, especially if you're ignoring facts that disagree with your opinions. Again, I know this sounds like trolling and that faith <> logic but I see no reason why the two cannot co-exist... –  Dave M Nov 21 '13 at 16:41
    
I think the confusion may be that evidence is not in fact proof, ever. Evidence or data requires interpretation, which is the process of situating it within a larger framework. One piece of evidence may point toward one conclusion in your framework and another in someone else's. A second point is that just because you have evidence and an argument doesn't mean it will be persuasive. The evidence+argument may persuade you, given your beliefs, but it may not persuade him, given what else he believes. Data is not the same as persuasion. –  metal Nov 21 '13 at 19:49
    
Aye, it's true that evidence is not the same as proof but if you want to get to the truth of -anything- then (I believe) it's necessary to examine evidence. Deliberately refusing to examine evidence is to refuse to question and/or validate your assumptions. I suppose this is the difference between the scientific method (a journey to truth) and faith (the belief that the Truth has already been revealed). If I have this right, I think it comes down to personal preference as to which you adhere to. Only one of those is palatable to me but (luckily?) my opinion is not yet law. :) –  Dave M Nov 22 '13 at 9:50
    
I guess I'm still not convinced that this person is necessarily advocating "burying his head in the sand" and willfully ignoring evidence. He says you have evidence but that it can't be used to convince him. The question is, why will it not convince him? Is it because he is unwilling to consider it, or is it because he has considered it but he doesn't find it persuasive for some reason? From the quote, it's not apparent to me which of these is the case. (As a side note: most Christians would find your summary of the difference between the scientific method and faith to be a false dichotomy.) –  metal Nov 22 '13 at 16:16

1 Answer 1

This person kind of seems like they just bury their head in the sand when it comes to something they don't want to hear. To illustrate they could claim that the sky is purple. You know that it is blue. You offer that they look outside to see, but they refuse.

These kinds of people are either so convinced they are right that they won't look, or they are so afraid of being wrong they can't. I think a reason for this is that when they realize they are incorrect, they:

  • they A have to take responsibility

  • Then B have to adjust their knowledge base accordingly along with their actions

This is never a good thing. This is especially true when coming to a forum such as this. If you refuse to look at evidence contrary to what you believe, then what are you doing on a forum to exchange biblical views? Matthew 7:12:

“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them. This, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean."

If you are not willing to look at their evidence or beliefs, why should they in return look at yours? What if they are correct? It could indeed mean your life and being stubborn in not looking for knowledge is not an excuse. I look at and research everyone's evidence regardless of my own knowledge. It generally keeps me from making a fool of myself.

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I agree with this. It helps that I'm wrong a fair percentage of the time, which bolsters my humility. :) One question though... what do you do when the evidence appears to contradict your faith? My assumption is that a point will come when you say "My faith is correct, the evidence must be wrong", is that correct? –  Dave M Nov 22 '13 at 10:13
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(Incidentally, I find it annoying that I have to emphasise that I'm not about to start trolling. It's a sad indictment of the people I tend to associate with, I guess.) I'm lucky in this instance, as I am quite able to say "I must be wrong, then" and change my mind. It helps that I'm wrong a fair percentage of the time, which bolsters my humility. –  Dave M Nov 22 '13 at 10:19
    
If the evidence contradicts my faith then I do some research. If I find that my knowledge is incorrect then I adjust my understanding. This is how I've come to the faith I am at now. It answered all my questions and is backed by a substantial amount of research. I don't feel you are trolling, as that is a very good question that pushes one to think critically about what they believe. –  Jeremy Nov 22 '13 at 13:03

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