In this Sermon from Samoa I discuss the issue of credibility, a major issue that underpins truth-seeking. I use examples from my recent engagements with others from around the world and show how simple clean logic, humility and perseverance all combine into the mix that makes something (or someone) credible.
This is important in a Christian sense in that the credibility of the Bible is a core issue – for both PRO and ANTI Christian adherents. I share some funny stories and approach the credibility of the bible from the opposite angle from most Christians.
I think it’s an interesting read. Enjoy!
I’m starting with a story about building credibility, and the big one, a subject always able to stir up a fight: Evolution.
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s Religion. People who tell me what I have to do or say or think or feel to be honest p*ss me right off. I’m an independent thinker, always have been and will probably be buried on the top of some hill miles away from any cemetery or graveyard . . . well . . . just . . . because!
So when they tell me something stupid and then justify it because “the Bible says”, I get suspicious. Usually I get curious and I want to know more. I’ll do the research, understand all sides of the issue then make a judgement call for myself. Sometimes I find a contentious translation of a word or phrase is at the bottom of the troubling issue or perhaps a dubious assumption on context or interpretation, but whatever it is I’m struggling to understand I consider it vital that I get to a point that I understand both sides (or all aspects if it it a complex issue) of an argument. I might not understand EVERY detail but at least get to a good understanding of the big-picture.
This is credibility. If I don’t know what the alternatives are, and how they come to their conclusions, then how on earth can I have any credibility FOR MYSELF. As a rule I’ve found Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and Catholics to all strongly believe their faith but I’ve found it rare to see the humility that accepts that possibly, even just a possibly there may be genuine faith outside of their closed circles. I’ve experienced that many [not all mind you] have not even explored ‘the other side’ and are just exercising blind faith.
Blind faith to me is not credible. Credibility wants to know all the facts and work things out independently of third party influencers – whatever they are – culture, up-bringing, religious indoctrination, any form of deception or whatever!
I’ve got a friend who has his own religion. He tells me all the time how religion is the cause of so much trouble and how he loves to bait and debate Christians, but he is blind to the fact that he has his own religion even though he can’t [yet] admit it. He says that the Creator and the creation are the same thing; that evolution is a proven fact and that I’m a narrow thinker because I’m a Christian, even before he asks me what I believe or think BTW!
In the same breath he tells me at nauseum of how he thinks things came about, how he has special knowledge and how he hates religion himself. His capacity to think logically is rather limited but he’s a good friend nonetheless. You can’t help but like a guy that despite his bovarism, when you can tell him that he’s an idiot to his face and he still comes back for more can you?
I ignored his jibes about religion for years, not really bothered by his chip-on-the-shoulder until he said that debating Christians didn’t give him any pleasure anymore because they all just gave up and went away, so like a fool with more time than sense I stepped up to the mark and offered to engage with him.
My friend, whom I’ll call Rev. Hydroxide for the purposes of anonymity in this post challenged me to pick from a preset list of angles to attack/defend Christianity and invited me to add any others. His list is pictured above.
I chose Evolution. It’s one that we had sparred over in the past and it seemed like a good place to start.
At his invitation, I suggested that LOGIC should be another angle that he should explore. Of course he ignored that! He struggles with straight thinking, preferring the sound of his own voice.
The first thing I do with the subject of evolution is to clarify terminology. Most people don’t realise that there are actually two evolutionary concepts – not one. Their ignorance of this fact shows me that they have not done the research – 99% of people I have met and discussed the matter do not have any credibility because they don’t know this first fact. Unobservable, untestable, unproven Macro-evolution (sometimes called “molecules-to-man” or mockingly “goo-to-you-via-the-zoo” evolution) is the crazy idea (not even technically a theory) that is usually justified by fully observable, testable and well proven Micro-evolution (adaptation of the species, mutations are the ideas that Darwin’s promoters made public). The two are very different in that the first requires the creation of life and the addition of genetic information, the second however involves only change or loss of genetic information NEVER, and I repeat NEVER the addition of any meaningful genetic information.
Rev. Hydroxide of course didn’t know this, and still to this day doesn’t acknowledge the difference. His knowledge of the subject is limited to one source of information; he has no interest in learning about thinking that differs from his own; he has no interest in understanding what may undermine his adherence to his religion that as he repeats ad nauseum “evolution is a fact”.
Now until he engages, demonstrates at least some degree of understanding that I have (from thousands of hours over more than two decades) into his equations, then his credibility in this arena is NIL.
As I have said to him on many occasions, as with the other religious adherents, until you can engage intelligently understanding the issues from BOTH sides, then your words are like a clanging gong in my ears. You will also need to listen to me about what I have learned about the subject matter as well. Now until you can understand what I have found and say, and then counter my understanding with where I have gone off the rails, got some fact wrong or made an error of logic, then I back myself and my credibility over yours.
Good logic and getting a good overview of all aspects of a given subject are core tenets of building credibility.
The Biblical Worldview
A note quickly on building credibility from the biblical worldview before I close.
There are two ways that I see Christians engaging with those who don’t share the same worldview – those who keep their personal faith to themselves and discuss the world as we see it first, and those who use the Bible to push their faith onto others – upfront if you will.
I see Jesus using both methods. I prefer and lean much more towards preaching only to those who want to hear what I have to say, and even then to only do it in context. That’s most probably because I don’t like people telling me what the Bible says!
Unfortunately I see more of the in-your-face Christians tell it how it is in the Bible without truly engaging with people. I think this is a mistake.
I take the view that reality is based on the facts and that the Bible has a very good (in fact the best) grasp of the big picture as it truly is. This worldview underpins my viewpoints on important matters but is not my starting point. I prefer to start where people are at, with facts, with reality as we can see them and visualise them and only then present biblical viewpoints and compare these with the words or concepts in the Bible.
For example, in regards to politics and power, I discuss matters of corruption, nepotism, self-interest, globalisation, the New World Order and so on with people FIRST, then compare that to biblical prophecy only when appropriate. Likewise with evolutionary or creation matters, I look at the world around me, see evidence of intelligent design, a global flood, a world with things not quite right clearly deprecating and see that this matches with scriptural descriptions of an Intelligent Designer, who created perfect, but mankind messed up and so on.
When something, or someone tells me that I’m wrong, I go back to the facts (not directly the bible) and check things out in the visible, natural world THEN compare that with standard mainstream biblical teaching. If they do not match then I dig deeper. In some areas (such as eschatology and Hell), I have reconciled reality to a less popular interpretation of scripture. Being independent from any one denominational influence, I am lucky to be free to do that.
Credibility takes time to build . . . it requires humility, simple clean logic and perseverance. It can never be bought, only earned, but the process and price to pay for it is definitely worth it.
Go be real and build your own credibility by being real in your places of influence.
In my next post in this series on Credibility I share stories of Credibility from the last year of conducting investigations and blogging about my findings. Again I have a few funny stories to tell.
Thanks for stopping by!