Thursday, January 10, 2013

Open & Closed-Minded In Brief

Matin Serein, France-trekearth

January 10, 2013 Facebook status update

‘Unique’ eyes: Just at the optometrist to pick up the prescription for ‘The Boss’ and so I tested the eye chart. My left eye, I can see according to the store owner the proper distance, three lines past 20/20, the entire chart. The right eye, three lines down period and that is thanks to a lens replacement after the vitrectomy (replaced approximately 70% of eye, back of the eye jell) getting rid of those nasty evil vitreous floaters which most Medical Doctors tend to minimize in regards to their psychological impact. Even when the eye is filled with them...


As blind as a bat?

As blind as Batman?

A few days ago I also posted on Facebook, once again from Gary


'Dialog With Atheist Geoff Campos On Belief in Miracles: NEW! On Premier Christian Radio'

Within this interesting debate with an educated atheistic listener with a background in academic biological science, the issue was discussed whether or not he really could be open-minded concerning the evidence, if there was any, for the existence of God, as in theism or Christianity.

From The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition 1995, Oxford.

Open-minded is an adjective meaning an openness to new ideas as in unprejudiced. Oxford (1995: 954).

Closed-minded would reasonably be the opposite in meaning.

Aspects of the discussion seemed to be in regard to whether or not the atheistic participant's philosophical materialism and what he viewed as lack of evidence for theism and Christianity made his mind closed to possible evidence.

Although I do not remember the term being mentioned, 'scientism' as a concept seems a reasonable one in context to consider as being held to perhaps even if subconsciously.

Blackburn writes that scientism is a pejorative term for a belief and philosophy that the methods of science and natural science are the only forms of proper philosophy enquiry. Blackburn (1996: 344). He quotes physicist E. Rutherford: 'There is physics and there is stamp-collecting.' Blackburn (1996: 344).

Another closely related term is a form of empiricism known as positivism:

Blackburn traces this to Comte that held that the highest and only form of knowledge is from the sensory phenomena  Blackburn (1996: 294). This is the empirical senses. Comte held to three stages of human belief, the theological, the metaphysical and the positive which he reasoned avoided speculation. Blackburn (1996: 294).

But of course science does contain speculative aspects as well and changes as new inductive evidence arises over time.

Science is evolving truth in a sense.

Blackburn explains that in 19th century positivism became associated with evolutionary theory.

The gentleman claimed that he was open to actual evidence and he may be, but I gather that if he is actually not, at least to a large extent, he is likely heavily influenced by scientism and positivism, among other related concepts. As are others with similar views. Both are very closed-minded philosophies by definition, as can be seen, in regard to Theology, Philosophy of Religion and Metaphysics.


A theist and Christian too can be closed-minded and lack an open mind. During my undergraduate degree at Columbia Bible College I upset an older fundamentalistic student by stating that although I held that I was born again John 3, and saved by grace through faith alone, Ephesians 2, I would not believe in the Biblical God without sufficient reason, in other words, I have faith, but not blind faith. I am not a fideist.

From: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

  'The term itself derives from fides, the Latin word for faith, and can be rendered literally as faith-ism.' 'Fideism” is the name given to that school of thought—to which Tertullian himself is frequently said to have subscribed—which answers that faith is in some sense independent of—if not outright adversarial toward—reason. In contrast to the more rationalistic tradition of natural theology, with its arguments for the existence of God, fideism holds that reason is unnecessary and inappropriate for the exercise and justification of religious belief.'

According to R.K. Johnston, fideism is a term used by Protestant modernists in Paris in the late 19th century. It is often used as a pejorative term to attack various strands of Christianity as forms of irrationalism. Johnston (1999: 415). Fideists, following Kant, who noted that reason cannot prove religious truth are said to base their religious understanding upon religious experience alone. Reason is believed to be incapable of establishing faith's certainty or credibility. Johnston (1999: 415).

Grenz, Guretzki and Nordling note that fideism states religious and theological truth must be accepted without the use of reason. Grenz, Guretzki and Nordling (1999: 51). An extreme form of fideism states that reason misleads one in religious understanding. Grenz, Guretzki and Nordling (1999: 51).

Johnston explains that the concept of fideism has little value as most theologians would not deny the use of reason. The term fideism is useful when it describes an excessive emphasis upon the subjective aspects of Christianity. Johnston (1999: 415).

Within a Reformed, Biblical model through the use of Biblical evidence, theological evidence, philosophy of religion and other, which can include evidence from science, to move the mind/spirit of a person to believe in the Gospel reasonably, I do not see why a Christian cannot not be willing to disbelieve hypothetically if the evidence did not suffice. This is so because the evidence already does exist and God through the work of the Holy Spirit admittedly, used that very evidence in the process of transforming a person, and maintains a person in that evidence.

A willingness to be open-minded allows an objectivity, as in as much as possible objective reality which in standard philosophical usage is the way things actually are in contrast to how they appear to be. A concept associated with Descartes.  Forbes (1996: 677).

I reason this in general a spiritual, intellectual, positive and good thing for a person.

AMESBURY, RICHARD (2012) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford, Stanford University.

BLACKBURN, SIMON (1996) Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

FORBES GRAEME (1996) ‘Reality’, in Robert Audi (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, pp. 677. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

GRENZ, STANLEY J., DAVID GURETZKI and CHERITH FEE NORDLING (1999) Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, Downers Grove, Ill., InterVarsity Press.

JOHNSTON, R.K.(1996) ‘Fideism’, in Walter A. Elwell (ed.), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Grand Rapids, Baker Books


Russell Duffy said...

Terry Pratchett - "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."

Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...


One must always have filters and various sources.

Thank you, Sir Russell.

Russell Duffy said...

I guessed you would like that. Only a joke of course but a good one.

Dr. Russell Norman Murray said...

True points, Sir Russell.

Have a good weekend in England.

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