You are the first skeptic to essentially tell me that his mind is closed to what I have to say, and most of the skeptics have also been very friendly, so I always end up giving them the benefit of the doubt and putting time and effort into answering their questions.Link
My initial reaction was to respond (due to the generally negative connotation), “Hey, I’m not close-minded. I’m as open as the next person,” but I started thinking about it.
Am I really?
In point of fact, I am close-minded about a number of topics. And is that really all bad?
Take an extreme example—the heliocentric theory of our solar system. The idea the planets (including Earth) rotate around the sun. Although I’ve never been in a spaceship, I have seen the evidence, including the paths of other planets, the sun, the moon, the shadows all pointing to a heliocentric theory.
Indeed, you could say I am quite close-minded regarding the topic. Perhaps, even in my persistently stubborn state on this subject, it would be possible to persuade me different. So I may qualify as only 99.99% close-minded. (If that does qualify.)
BUT, in order to change my position, one would need to present some very compelling argument; doing so immediately, forcefully and with strong evidence. Merely asking a question, such as, “If the Earth orbits the sun, how come we see the sun move across the sky?” will never be sufficient.
As I pondered the concept of close-mindedness, I realized we spent our first 18 (or more) years being taught this very topic. We were given homework assignments, quizzes, tests—all designed to close our mind regarding possible alternatives. “2+2=4” Not “5;” not “giraffe.” We close our minds to water’s chemical composition being “H2O.” To “You’re” being a contraction of “you” and “are” and not possession. The list, as you can see, goes on and on.
The list goes on and on. Yes, there are occasions when we learn new information, and realize what we thought was so certain (and perhaps had closed our minds), may not be reality. Newtonian physics comes to mind.
And that is the word I hinged upon—“new.” I looked up the definitions, to see what the common usage would be when utilizing these terms. Google god came up with:
Open-minded: “Receptive to new and different ideas or the opinions of others.”
Close-minded: “Intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others; stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas.”
In both definitions, the word “new” sprang at me. Is it “close-minded” to be unreceptive to old ideas?
At one point does one study a topic enough to say, “Unless someone presents something new here, I have made my decision”?
The reason I ask—I have studied Christianity. I am very familiar with the fundamentalist Christian position. I know the arguments, the argument style, even the authors, books and sites they will point to.
And I am unconvinced. Must I hear it again to be “open-minded”? How many times must I hear a proposed resolution to a contradiction in the Bible before I come to the conclusion it is a compilation of human documents? How many times must I hear the excuses…er…”apologetics” for the differences between the God of Tanakh and the God of the New Testament?
Are we not entitled to reach a point of saying, “Look. I’ve studied this. I am unconvinced. Unless you present something new--some bold evidence or intensely compelling argument at the onset--I have no need to re-capitulate (for the 100th time) why I was unpersuaded before”?
So I guess, if one wants to call me close-minded because Presentation Number 101 (presenting nothing new) fails to convince, just like Presentations Number 1 – 100 failed to do so…well…I am fine with that.