Deliberate Ignorance

I’m ignorant by choice. It’s not because your argument isn’t impressive (though it sometimes isn’t), and it’s not because I’m foolish (though I sometimes am), it’s because I’ve chosen to be.

Several years ago I went through something of a crisis in my faith as a disciple of Jesus. It started when a good friend of mine decided he no longer counted himself a believer. This really rattled me. It’s not as if I’ve never had a friend leave the faith, so I can’t even fully explain why it shook me up so badly, but it did.

The more I questioned the more troubled I became. I think all believers have been there; the questions you ask seem to have no acceptable and logical answer. Fellow believers proudly spout off statements they believe to settle the matter, but they honestly don’t make logical sense. I really struggled for awhile.

But then I had something of an epiphany… I was facing a choice; not a choice of logic or reasoning, but a deeper core choice of what I wanted to ASSUME to be true.

We All Assume

It occurred to me that all of us, regardless of our level of intellect, education, or insight, must make certain assumptions. None of us have everything figured out. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have very little figured out. To compensate for this we look for answers while standing on certain assumptions.

We assume the Earth is round because smart people tell us so, even though we’ve not done the research ourselves. We assume there is a place called Madagascar because smart people made maps of it, but we’ve never been there. We are ok making these assumptions because we have faith in smart people, or at the very least the wisdom of mankind as a collective.

But I realized if my faith in human wisdom, even my very own wisdom, was at odds with my faith in the wisdom of God. That placed me in a really difficult place: could I actually choose to go AGAINST my own reasoning? Is that even possible?

But then, was I so naive to think human reasoning would never hit a brick wall where the answers weren’t there? Don’t all people hit those walls whether they are believers or not? And when we hit those walls, who can claim they’re honestly looking for answers WITHOUT holding certain assumptions? Who out there would be so bold as to say they have no paradigms?

The real choice I was facing was: which paradigm was I ok with?

Can I Really Choose to Deny My Own Reasoning?

This was really hard for me because it deeply wounded my pride. I like to consider myself a pretty intelligent person, and I prefer it when others see me that way. The “academic” thing to do is never approach a problem with presuppositions, but to look for unbiased truth. I had, however, dismissed that this is even truly possible at all. We’re terribly biased creatures, every one of us.

Yet deliberately choosing to hold to a presupposition is frowned upon loudly by the people who’s respect I would want. I mean, doesn’t such a choice make me ignorant? Doesn’t it make me small minded? Narrow minded?

But… if God is real he most certainly is immeasurably smarter than I am. And if my answer to every wall I hit is to lean on my own understanding rather than his, where am I putting my faith? Can I actually be ok with CHOOSING to believe him even when it doesn’t make sense? When the wisdom and intellect of my peers is overwhelming and yet counter to biblical teaching, what will I believe?

Coming to Terms

So I chose to be ignorant. I drew a line in the sand and stepped over it by making a decision to look at the Bible for what it says, and then do my best to proceed on the assumption that it’s true. Not because it makes sense, not because I like it, and most certainly not because it’s popular or even safe, but because I choose to believe it. I know that means I’m approaching my search for truth with a bias, but I’ve chosen to be ok with that bias. I’ve decided I know very little, but one thing I do KNOW: God is good and has given us his word that we may better understand and glorify him.

Since having made that choice, God has transformed my life in ways I would fail to articulate. I have found an attraction to reading the word I never had before, because in it I find LIFE.

Sadly this also has put me at odds with even fellow believers from time to time. Heck, it has put me at odds with MYSELF, but shouldn’t it? I’ve had to change my view on many things I’ve always held to and been taught by people whom I love and respect, but when I find those things don’t line up with biblical teaching I have no choice but to change my mind.

And this means I have to accept certain things: I accept that I’m only a man, and God’s wisdom is infinite. I accept that in a world filled with men who count themselves as wise I will often appear a fool, but I choose his wisdom over theirs. I accept that this will lead me to unpopular decisions, or even sometimes put me in sharp disagreement with people I so badly want to be in agreement with… but with all this I also accept God’s goodness and mercy. I accept his transforming power in my life.

The truth is I accept that I already am ignorant no matter what choice I make, but I believe wisdom comes only from God and therefore CHOOSE to ignore even my own intellect to seek his instead.


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