Bias runs deep within our thoughts and impulses. Should this be a new discovery which challenges the very foundations of belief? I argue no, this is not an entirely new concept.
This topic has been a key part of a number of discussions recently and the following are simply some of my thoughts on the subject of bias in my Christian faith. It shouldn’t be seen as authoritative but I hope it may be helpful to others to consider.
Throughout the Bible we have references to concepts such as worldly wisdom and the impulses of our fallen selves. Nothing in creation is left untouched by the fall, all that was good has been wraithed into a shadow of its former perfect glory.
In contrast, we are also presented with the concept of Godly wisdom, presented in his word and through divine revelation. This contrast outlines the concept that we are all biased towards specific views and actions.
Here we can see that the concept of human bias is already present in Christian teaching. However, this contrast of worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom also suggests that there does exist a truth. This truth is understood to not be completely graspable without revelation from God to mankind. Therefore, with mercy, God reveals a glimpse of truth that those he has called may be saved.
Wisdom in glimpses
We can only ever catch glimpses of this truth and because of that we must remain humble. But we also are called to protect this truth as a valuable treasure. Therefore, we strive to understand more of God's wisdom so that we can, out of love, instruct and encourage one another.
God has also given us a foundation upon which to build our understanding: his word, the Bible. Furthermore, we have also been given Christ who anchors our understanding. Christ stands at the centre of our purpose, salvation and wisdom.
We admit wholeheartedly that we are all biased individuals but we have a reference outside of our own experience and that is Christ - crucified, buried and resurrected. It is not that we know the truth of all things and we should not make such lofty claims, but the reason for all creation has been revealed to us. This is the key to our understanding of God’s wisdom.
When love and truth intersect
This is a joyful truth but also uncomfortable as we see ourselves in its light. Here is the most dangerous point where our biases can appear. Our nature to rationalise away why something means what we feel it should is pervasive and can be hard to see.
This is why we must support each other in our understanding. To love means to care, to care means to not stand by as someone harms themselves with deceit. This is a difficult task and will likely be painful.
While we pursue love, we must remember it is from a perfect form, before the fall. Pain enters with the fall, we do not fully understand perfect love, we only experience it in its imperfect form. Even our best love hurts one another, in our fallen world and we feel hurt even when loved.
The challenges inherent in this area of human bias exist in our thoughts and extend to our actions. As people existing in connection with one another this imperfection touches everyone. But as Christ is the key to our understanding so too is Christ’s return our hope. Our hope of a life to come when we can be completely restored in God’s presence. Here we may at last experience life without biases.
Thus ends my rant.
Sam Gillespie is a postgraduate research student at the university of New South Wales.
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