I assume that over the past two weeks, those of you reading and/or listening to these addresses have been willing to engage more than just your emotions on the matters I’ve presented. It’s my belief that engaging the mind is of the utmost importance. Feelings can lie to us and if that’s all we’re going on it will render us unhelpful in any truly productive discussion.
It’s also worth noting that I’ve received many constructive and encouraging responses to both “Race, Riots, and The Gospel” and “Calling Evil Good, and Good Evil.” But in all fairness, I’ve also received some not so favorable responses, which I’m sure you can imagine.
Thinking Strongly vs. Feeling Strongly
In these replies, I noticed a significant difference in approach and I wanted to share this observation with you. In the constructive discussions, the person always dealt with my argument as I had presented it. However, the not so favorable responses uniformly bypassed the content of my arguments, reacting out of emotion alone.
One of my seminary professors recently said that people shouldn’t care much that others “feel strongly” about something if they demonstrate that they haven’t “thought strongly” about it first.
I agree wholeheartedly. I’m not really sure whether it’s an inability, blatant unwillingness, or that some just haven’t been taught to think well, but people today don’t think strongly before dying on the hill of their feelings.
I recently came across a quote from Thomas Sowell where he said, “Emotions neither prove nor disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this. But years of dumbed-down education and emphasis on how people “feel” have left too many people unable to see through this media gimmick.”
As a seeming glutton for punishment, I want to challenge you to a deeper level of engagement. A level where we deal with real arguments and facts. I want us to think strongly. Our minds should lead our emotions so that we are not reacting based on how we feel.
AND, whether you know this or not, I do care deeply about your/people’s feelings. I care enough to keep poking this bear until we get somewhere.I'm not really sure whether it's inability, blatant unwillingness, or not having been taught to think well, but people today don’t think strongly before dying on the hill of their feelings. #objectivefactsmatter Click To Tweet
There are four sections to this post, and they are as follows:
The Anecdotal War – What do we do when our personal story meets objective facts?
Unfalsifiable Claims – What results when we don’t like the facts and choose to believe otherwise?
Being a Sandcastle King – What happens when we build our entire life on a faulty or unproven foundation?
A Kingdom Divided – What happens to identity when true progress gets co-opted?
The Anecdotal War
What do we do when our personal story meets objective facts?
An anecdote is defined as a short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person. Everyone has these stories and most likely we tell them often. These stories are in some sense who we are as individuals, or at least they inform who we are.
And just as important as these stories are in themselves, the telling of these stories is also vital to human nature. Everybody has a story and everybody wants their story to be heard.
But here’s where the tough question comes in; what happens when our personal story meets with objective facts? What I’m ultimately asking is do we have to abandon our story and the facts, or can they co-exist? Especially if both are true.
Please hear me out. In one of the most informative podcasts I’ve heard, well-known Atheist Sam Harris shares some especially pertinent information concerning the current cultural crisis. (WARNING: Harris uses strong language and makes many political statements with which some may disagree. Please don’t let this get in the way of what he’s actually presenting. Link: https://youtu.be/vmgxtcbc4iU?t=2608 – Timestamp: 43:29-1:24:00). I’ve also linked the studies where the numbers I’m about to share are recorded:What happens when our personal story meets objective facts? Do we have to abandon our story and/or the facts, or can they co-exist? #objectivefactsmatter Click To Tweet
The numbers we’re about to see have drastically decreased in the last 25 years. So this is good news. For example, 2019 marked a 30 year low for police shootings in LA.
Here’s where we stand today, by the numbers:
There are between 50 and 60 million police encounters each year. 10 million of those result in an arrest being made. This is down from 14 Million in the 1990s. Of those 10 Million, 1,000 people are killed each year by cops. I know that sounds staggering but by the numbers, if a person is arrested, there is only a 1 in 10,000 chance of dying (that’s a .01% chance).
Now, these numbers will get a far more visceral reaction but please remember they are objective numbers just the same. Black Americans represent only 13% of the U.S. population. And yet Black Americans also commit over 50% of murders and violent crimes. And although the stats do show that Black Americans are 6 times more likely to be murdered than whites, 95% of those murders are committed by the African American community. This is what the pundits call “black on black” crime.
Please stay with me. It is also true that Black Americans encounter more non-lethal violence than whites. There’s actually a 25% greater likelihood that police go “hands-on” with black suspects over white (this means handcuffs, forcing to the ground, and other non-lethal measures of force). But the question that remains is, is this racism? Maybe. But a few other numbers make even this a challenging point to prove. For example, the studies also find that Black and Hispanic cops are more likely to shoot Black and Hispanic suspects than are white cops.
And then this stat which will most likely shock some, Black suspects are 25% less likely to be shot than white suspects. The data actually shows that whites are more likely to be killed by cops once an arrest is attempted. So out of that .01%, I mentioned above according to the numbers White Americans are more likely to be killed by cops than Black Americans.
So where am I going with all of this? Let me start by saying two things: 1. I’ve heard and believe many people who’ve experienced genuine racism in their lives. Racism is unacceptable and evil! So please understand I don’t even entertain the idea that this evil doesn’t exist. 2. I know and have observed the conduct of countless White Americans in my life and to believe that all of them are racist is absurd.
Here’s my point: The numbers we see simply do not support the narrative that has pushed this nation to the brink. Although people’s stories are true and reveal heartbreak (which should be heard and understood), in the face of objective facts we must choose to promote truth alongside our anecdotal story. This is the only way to see the whole picture. Otherwise, we are going to keep waging this anecdotal war where my story trumps your story and sadly we get nowhere.
Truth is, all of our stories can coexist alongside objective truth. One doesn’t have to negate the other. If you’ve been the victim of racism, I believe you, and I hate it. But the facts can also show that not every issue is racially motivated.The numbers we see simply do not support the narrative that has pushed this nation to the brink. #objectivefactsmatter Click To Tweet
What results when we don’t like the facts and choose to believe otherwise?
This issue is intimately connected with the first and I want to front-load this section with the answer as I see it. What do we do? All too often we make a claim that is unfalsifiable.
If something is unfalsifiable it means that it’s incapable of being proved false. Now, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t false. It simply means that we’re incapable of countering the claim. For example, if I said I have an invisible friend, I would be making an unfalsifiable claim. Although this is untrue, the second you say my friend doesn’t exist I simply stand on the claim that he or she is invisible and you just can’t see. This is a logical fallacy.
If you’ve been a victim of racism and begin to believe the narrative that says all white people are racist despite being presented with facts that disprove that narrative, if you reject those facts and claim they aren’t true because you “just know everyone is racist,” then you are presenting an unfalsifiable claim.
The problem is that there is then no path to resolution. The truth will never win the day. Because unlike faith which is marked by substance and evidence (Hebrews 11:1) you are dabbling in mere speculation.
Being a Sandcastle King
What happens when we build our entire life on a faulty or unproven foundation?
In Matthew 7:24-27 Jesus teaches about building on a sure foundation. Please understand that the point Jesus makes is that He alone is that foundation. But for our discussion, I want to use it as a metaphor of sorts.
When I was a kid my dad wrote a song based on this passage titled, Sandcastle King. And in following the scripture my dad’s lyrics taught that the only thing that awaits a sandcastle king is the inevitable grief of watching his house fall down.
I think you get the idea. If you build your entire structure on a faulty narrative, a foundation made of sand, at some point the whole thing will come down.
As I asked in Race, Riots, and The Gospel two weeks ago, and as the objective facts above indicate, and as Sam Harris and countless others have now shown, we still do not know that what we’re dealing with was racially motivated.
The entire house that’s been constructed in these riots, protests, accusations of racism (systemic and otherwise), claims of white privilege, and even getting people fired from their jobs are built on something that this case has yet to prove. I hope you can see that if the response is that this case doesn’t matter we just have a problem that is yet another unfalsifiable claim.
We cannot build our society on a foundation made of sand. If we do it will come crashing down. It may take a thousand years but it will not be able to stand, I assure you.If you build your entire structure on a faulty narrative, a foundation made of sand, at some point the whole thing will come down. #objectivefactsmatter Click To Tweet
A Kingdom Divided
What happens to our identity when true progress gets co-opted?
I pray you’re still with me, especially if you disagree with me. This last point is one of the most important I have to make.
So far we’ve talked about ending the anecdotal war, embracing our own story along with objective facts. Second, we addressed refusing to offer unfalsifiable claims. Otherwise, we are choosing to believe a narrative despite facts. Third, I likened this situation to building on a specific foundation. If we want a future free from fear and hatred we cannot build on a foundation made of sand.
Finally, I want to call all of us to a very important kind of unity.
Since 2015, veterans of the civil rights fight have been forced to onboard some very shady self-professed “comrades.” The Black Lives Matter organization. The civil rights movement, in my opinion, is the single greatest movement for freedom in recent history. Through the tireless work of iconic figures coupled with the blood of countless individuals, the world has begun to see the truth that all men and women of every race, creed, and color are made in the image of God and must be valued as such!
But there’s a danger lurking at our front door. This great movement is in danger of being co-opted by actual evil. Among the many things (which I addressed in Calling Evil Good, and Good Evil) the Black Lives Matter organization is blending a myriad of ungodly agendas (LGBTQ, Abortion, and others) with the objectively good and godly fight of civil rights. Please believe me when I say that if these two kingdoms attempt to co-exist, one and most likely both will fall.
There’s a better unity available!
In Galatians 3:26-28 the Apostle Paul gives us the most ravishing picture of Kingdom unity. He says that in King Jesus all walls of separation have been destroyed; that in God there is no partiality. In King Jesus men and women, slave and free, Jew and Greek are ONE! Anyone who submits to King Jesus rightly belongs. Class systems don’t matter, gender doesn’t limit who’s invited, ethnicity is not a factor because Jesus came in the flesh that none should perish!
But there’s something else that often gets lost, even among Christians. In Galatians, the individual’s identity is never scrubbed in God’s eyes. In the Kingdom of God, there is true unity among diversity. The very same Apostle Paul who said that we are one in King Jesus went on to show the value and the unique calling of each gender, class, and ethnic background in his other letters.
The point is that the way God made us is valuable to Him. In our current crisis, the Black American community doesn’t have to compromise their God-given identity by associating with the BLM organization. Instead, God sees the way He uniquely made each of us and has called us to live in unity with one another. A unity with Him. A Kingdom that will forever stand. Make no mistake the only way this can be truly sustainable is through salvation which comes through Christ alone. And insomuch as the position you are advocating for is Biblical I will stand with you. (If you would like to know why I cannot support the BLM, please see the video titled Calling Evil Good, and Good Evil.)The Black American community doesn't have to compromise their God-given identity by associating with the BLM organization. Click To Tweet
Whether you are a Christian or not, God’s principles are true. A Kingdom divided against itself CANNOT stand. All the kingdoms of this earth fade at some point. America seems on the verge of that. But God’s Kingdom cannot and will not be divided. In his Kingdom all who will repent and believe are welcome.
There is a unity in diversity here. In God’s Kingdom, we have our own stories and yet we seek truth at all costs. In God’s Kingdom, our claims are true and eternal. In the Kingdom of God, life rests on One firm foundation, King Jesus. And finally, in the Kingdom of God, our identity meets with others IN true peace.
In this time it’s easy to wade into the arguments and debates and even as Christians to lose sight of humanity’s only hope for peace and unity. That hope is not in any political movement, it is surely not in ungodly movements it is only in the Kingdom of God movement. This movement reached its climax 2000 years ago on a cross when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified in accordance with the scriptures, 2000 years ago when He was buried and on the third day rose again in accordance with the scriptures. In light of that resurrection, Jesus invites all who are thirsty, all who seek justice, and all who are in need to come and find rest. Our only way out of this mess is King Jesus.In the Kingdom of God, there is unity in diversity. In the Kingdom of God, our identities meet in perfect peace. Click To Tweet