Throughout my questions, I’ve often encountered the admonishment “you don’t have an open-enough mind to receive god”.
I’ve read similar response here too, and I’d like to explore this a little, and hopefully get a more broad input.
So I’ll put the question to you:
What is an open mind?
My interpretation of an “open mind” is one that is able to consider any concept, independent of any a priori and preconceived notions. These INCLUDE concepts such as “there is no god”, and the inverse “there is a god”, or even “I have no reason to conclude a god exists” (in the context of religion, these are the three possibilities that correspond to theism, anti-theism, and atheism – feel free to correct me on these names for the sake of correctness and communication, but they don’t actually matter for the point of this post, I’m using Anti-theism as a way to distinguish between “no belief in a god” which is atheism, and a belief in “no-god” i.e. anti-theism- one is not a “belief system”, and the other most assuredly is).
An “open mind” might take the form of a newly-cleaned slate. The information is written down THEN processed using whatever tools are relevant and appropriate. A CLOSED mind would be a confused, busy and mangled slate, where there is little room to accept any additional information – it is already pre-occupied with preconceived ideas and notions.
Am I attempting to show that atheism is “open” and theism is “closed”?
A closed-minded person is one who says “you can never make be believe X” – people who maintain this concept are present in all philosophies, theistic, anti-theistic and atheistic (and I’ve received posts from such people here too, I might add).
Quite honestly, I’m not interested in talking to closed-minded people, but those who are fully prepared to analyse any new information with the most “accessible tool”.
Which brings us to the question – if it’s not the “open mindedness” that distinguishes the philosophies, what is it?
I suggest that it’s the TOOL.
My tool is “logic” It works. Is it the “most appropriate”? Well, that’s probably debatable, but it “works”, and the proof is in the pudding – we have achieved incredible things using logic – some of them are the development of the transistor, the LED screen, wireless transmission, satellites… all leading to the availability of sites such as the christian faith site.
But is logic “the best”? Well we Don’t know. What is clear, however, is that it’s the best that we have available.
For theists, the “most appropriate” tool is faith. I can defensibly insist that “faith” and “logic” are two, mutually exclusive tools. They CANNOT co-exist (an example is the famous Isaac newton, who was both a theist and a scientist – NONE of his science work ever concluded that “god exists”, but he ALWAYS assumed a naturalistic explanation in the first instance – bear in mind that newton lived around the same time as the salem witch burnings, a few 100 miles from his house).
Even so, I won’t insist that faith is an invalid tool to use because it CAN (but not always) have a positive effect….. but only on the individual. This is because faith is purely subjective – i.e. it does not arrive at a universal truth and is contingent on the state of mind of the user. Personal faith does not yield usable products (e.g. it is not a replacement for medication, the haber process, or nuclear power), but it CAN (again, not always) make the invoker of the faith, happy. It can also make them sad, or guilty.
So an “open mind” is irrespective of your philosophy – it is dependent on your ability to say things like “I can change my mind, depending on the information available”. This is true for people of faith, and people of logic. People who say things like “you can never change my mind..” are NOT open-minded. They are closed minded (and indeed, they probably lie too, since describing what they think is a high probability, certainly does not translate to a certainty). Faith, or logic, can be both bolstered by open mindedness, , and undermined by closed mindedness.
At least, that’s my opinion. Are there any thoughts? (perhaps more relevantly, from people who might confess to being “closed minded”, since I’ve described this mind-state rather critically).
Many thanks again to you all for your patience and tolerance.