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Agreeable Adams

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

A couple weeks ago, I filmed a speaking event for the non-profit I work for. They brought in a professor from another university out of state to talk about the problem of evil. He was a philosopher and works in experimental philosophy. Now I'll be honest, his talk was more on the academic side and in the moment, my brain was barely above water. But, we had a room of full of people and several were very intrigued. They better understood his work on the particular subject he was speaking on.


It was not what I expected. I was mostly confused. It took me editing the video and listening to it more intently the second time around to better understand and maybe more importantly, really appreciate the work he is doing. (If you are at all curious on the talk you can go to this link-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbBgUtSMLmo)


But there was one phrase he said that really stuck with me. One phrase that I think echos truth beyond his line of work and into all of our lives. A phrase that I think is a dangerous pitfall we may all fall into from time to time.


"Confirmation is cheap."


When collecting data and surveys from people, as the speaker is doing with his work, it can be easy to look at the data with a certain frame of lens and make a conclusion without taking off the glasses that may be ironically blinding you to real truth. I think this is apparat all over the place, not just experimental philosophy.


Take sports for example. I am a huge sports fan and like many enthusiasts, we can get upset at a bad call by the refs. Now, sometimes a call against my team I'm rooting for may very well be the right call. I may just not like it. Other times the refs may have made a mistake. They are human after all. But, if they did get the call right and I think they royally screwed up, how easy would it be for me to get confirmation about my opinion on the call? Pretty darn easy.


Think about politics. You lean a certain way and an issue comes up in our society. You may think a certain way about it or want to think a certain way about it, so all you need to do is watch certain talking heads and read the particular articles that align with the path you want to take. Does that make it truthful? Not always. In fact I would argue it is more dangerous than not.


I am guilty of this in my own life. I want to be right. I want to not look like an idiot on subject matters. The truth is, I just don't know about certain things. And as my boss and brother-in-law would say, I need to read more. Basically, at times I want a bunch of agreeable Adams. I want people to align with the call that benefits my team. My views on policy. And my views on theology.


Confirmation is cheap. With all the info at our fingertips, I just need the particular news outlet, the right sports column, the right church. And if I don't like it, by golly I can leave and find what I want. Ooof.


Now I'm being dramatic for a reason. Because the truth is, seeking after our own confirmation destroys a beautiful view on reality. A reality that America's founding fathers longed for. A reality that the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus taught aims for.


Diversity.


An atmosphere where compassion, kindness, selflessness, and love is extended to all without any glasses on. Where you and me cultivate not agreeable Adams or agreeable (your name) but creating pockets of shelter for the poor, the persecuted, the ignored, and abused. Pockets in your city, neighborhood, home, where love abounds to all. Not just people who look or think like you. Diversity is beautiful, but unlike confirmation, it is expensive. It cost us our selfishness.


I know this may seem shocking, but as a young adult white man I'm clueless on a lot of things. Shocking I know. But jokes aside, there are perspectives I don't have that other people of different cultures, different cities, different lifestyles do have. And those can provide valuable pockets of wisdom that I could never see. And what tragedy it would be if I never take off my glasses just to get my confirmation off what I see. Is it really comfort if I choose selfish paths?


At the end of the day, I think being open minded but being rooted in foundational truths of our faith in Jesus is key. We can't be swayed from Jesus as Josh Matthews says, who is our latest short doc interview with Relational. But we must be open.


In our society, we have reached a point where confirmation is cheap. It is not hard to find for any of us. But in the long run, can we really afford it?







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