The Irony Of An Open Mind

I think its very interesting how the many atheists and agnostics and pagans, etc. that frequent this forum demand above all other things an open mind. Most of the time, this is directed towards the minority, which in the case of this particular forum is the Christians.

The think that I find most amusing is that while many preach “open minds and freedom of thought without the brainwashing of religion and theological thought,” they themselves hold more rancor for anything a devoted Christian might say than vice versa.

I guess what I am trying to say is: have an open mind. Don’t let your jaded view of religion cloud your judgement, and I (and hopefully other Christians) will keep an open mind about your topics.

Sounds fair enough, eh?

What is it to have an “open mind”? To agree a little bit, somewhat, with the other side’s opinion/argument?

What if the atheist/agnostic found absolutely nothing that he could accept with the theist/christian view?

I’ve looked at this whole ‘open-mindedness’ thing, and as far as I can tell, it means one of two things.

1.) It means something completely senseless like ‘thinking someone might be right even though you think they are wrong’ or ‘not thinking the things you believe are true’. Many folks who don’t think about the words they say that much will encourage people into this kind of mental gymnastics. These are also the people who fall into the mold BurNinG is discribing- they justify calling themselves open-minded, and chastise others for not being open-minded, even as they spew some of the most hateful, dull-witted stuff you’ll ever see here.

2.) It means something completely reasonable like ‘don’t be enraged/arrogant/rude towards people with whom you disagree’ or ‘be willing to change your point of view in light of new evidence’. Anyone who graduated the 8th grade should behave this way anyway, so it’s sad that appeals to open-mindedness need to be made at all.

 In either case, the most common use of 'open-mindedness' is, ironically, a tactic to prove the truth of one's views.  "I'm open-minded and you aren't, therefore I am right/good and you are  wrong/bad." It's just a word people fling about, like 'moral' or 'rational' to make their side sound superior, without actually reflecting on what the words mean. 
  As for me personally, there are views which I can sensibly discuss, and views which I can't.  If there is a view expressed which I can't discuss without flying into a rage or being condescending, I try not to engage the discussion in the first place.

Open mindedness is the ability to question your own concepts, beliefs, and values. Open mindedness is looking for questions, not spewing answers.


An example of closed mindedness: You say, “Don’t let your jaded view of religion cloud your judgement, …” You have already decided that any negative statement I might make about religion is merely my ‘jaded view’.
Judged and damned am I.


Reading a request to not have one’s jaded view of religion cloud one’s judgement (when the majority of readers here do express such a jaded view) as judgemental and damning can only be done by someone very used to the ‘open-mindedness as debate tactic’ approach. Apparently, even a request to be open-minded can be reinterpreted as close-minded by someone that is interested in beating the enemy rather than productively discussing anything.


You have determined that the majority of the readers here express such a jaded view. I’m sure you know exactly what that collective jaded view is, but don’t bother.

Do me and all those other ‘jaded’ readers a favor. Stop acting like you and other ‘christians’ are being picked on. This has to do with the ability to suspend judgement and entertain questions. I could care less what your particular religious tastes might be.


I can agree with that.

I think ‘Open mindedness’ is all too often used as a lame duck approach. (i.e. they are just as “closed minded” as the people they are telling to be more open minded.)

I think what JT was trying to get across though is what being open minded means. he should’ve bolded it like this though:

so the people that you and burning are talking about me and JT wouldn’t even consider open minded. Instead of looking for questions they are spewing answers.

Now I hope that answered your question. :wink:

There's a hidden 'lame-duck' approach in that wording as well, though. I don't pretend to know the thought-process behind this, but many people take the terms 'beliefs' and 'values' to only apply to certain kinds of ideas; ideas about God, or ideas backed by religious dogma. It's easy to forget that one's own hip, sophisicated philosophies are also 'beliefs' and 'values' about which one ought to be open-minded.  This is probably another thing that everyone in this thread understands just fine- but I'm sure you've seen people who claim not to have any 'beliefs', and who frown on people who do. Clearly those people use a strange, non-standard definition of the word. 

The end result of this more subtle ‘lame-duck’ is that people say “How can we get everyone to be more open-minded” when what they mean is “How can we get everyone to think the way I do”.

[contented edited by ILP]

I see open mindedness as a particular ethical attitude that is necessary in free and open societies.

There is a certain amount of open mindedness that comes with a belief in political freedom and a general concern for human dignity. Open mindedness is also a reflective attitude towards how one exercises power over other people. It is a ethical decision to refrain from certain types of judgment.

Actually no, it doesn’t sound fair enough. As an ex-christian, I already know the doctrine, it’s core values, and it’s history. To be honest, I’m fairly certain I know more about it than you do. I left the religion because it is based on myths and previous religions–an obvious fact to anyone who researches the religion and it’s history. I am very open-minded but I’m not so open-minded that I won’t make a judgement on something I that I am almost certain is mostly bullshit. I suggest researching the religion and it’s rise to power with an open mind. If you do so you will come to the same conclusion.

When you advocate any method of thinking that you yourself employ then aren’t you trying to get others to think the same way as you do?

Who is the mann who does not consider his own method of thinking to be the best?

Like if Fred advocates [critical thinking] because he uses [critical thinking] then he is trying to get everyone to think like him.

Open-mindedness is part of the contemporary zeitgeist. Few people can pull against that flow. Nobody could publicly advocate closed-mindedness these days, at least not in those words.


I think you’ve hit on an important point. Not all, but most of the people who post here were either raised in ‘christian’ homes or were exposed to doctrine and dogma as they grew up. Like you, I was raised in it, bathed in it, and really never questioned it until I hit my late teens. In college I took numerous religion classes in the hopes that I could find answers to my flagging ‘faith’. All it did was confirm my intuitive understanding that there was something slightly askew. Ultimately, I ended up a thoroughally non-religious person.
Still, I have a very firm grounding in ‘christianity’ and a carefully considered view of that which is spiritual and what is merely religious claptrap.

I suspect that part of the surprise for those who come here with fuzzy non-rational ‘religious’ viewpoints, is that many of us know the arguments, found the flaws, and have rejected the conclusions.

Been there, done that.


 Well [i]yeah[/i], but consider the audience. Some things you can say, and some things you can't.  As you point out, you can't come out and say that open-mindedness is an illusion or that it is detrimental- you can peruse other threads here and see the results of saying something like that. 

I like nothing more than when a conversation finally gets past all the ‘most open-minded person wins’ posturing and actually gets down to the brass tacks of what people want.


I am with you there. Motivation is the key to everything.


If Christianity was based in knowledge, then yes, you would know more than I, but even God said “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” It’s about faith, my friend.

But then, you already knew that, right? :smiley:

By the way, a note to all. When I posted this thread, I wasn’t trying to seem “holier-than-thou”. I struggle very much with listening to people’s arguments and not writing them off immediately because I disagree. I’m by no means perfect, and I happen to be very biased in my opinons, but I’m working on curing myself of that, for my own benefit, as well as the benefit of anyone I’m talking to.

I’m preaching to myself as well.

And if there’s a dispute on what I mean by “open-mindedness,” then here’s my (completely biased) opinon. Having an open mind is knowing what you believe, but being willing to hear and consider what others believe. You don’t have to feel threatened. It’s actually just a polite thing to do. And I’m sure we all agree that we like to be poilte on this forum.

Yes, you have faith in your fellow man, and faith in the Roman Empire in which the Bible was composed under the watchful eye of.

You need to use HISTORY to understand the religion. You are commiting an obvious logical fallacy by using only using the Bible to search for the truth of the matter. It’s called circular reasoning and unfortunately it is quite common when it comes to religion.


I didn’t sense any holier-than-thou attitude in you original post. Rather, it was a often-heard refrain of, I’m being picked on because I’m a christian.
All too often people with christian beliefs decide that any challenge, any disagreement with their beliefs is automatically a personal attack. It some cases that may be true, but the majority of the people here are discussing ideas. If someone disagrees with an idea that you hold as an article of faith, it does not follow that it is a personal attack or an assault on christianity.

I used your ‘jaded’ comment to show that, you were guilty of the ‘closed mindedness’ you found in others. The moment you assigned the negative term ‘jaded’ to any post I might make as a non-religious person, you effectively dismissed anything I might say. Our precepts color our percepts. Can you see this?

You mentioned that christianity is not about knowledge, it’s about faith. At it’s very base I would agree with you, but all religions purport to have knowledge and therein lies the rub. The ideas inside religious knowledge are subject to critical thinking. If they are not, then silence is the only answer.



You misunderstand my motivation. I’m not trying to understand the religion. I’m trying to be Christ-like. If you have facts, you don’t need faith. “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” and that’s exactly the point I’m trying make. I’m trying to discover God, and in that process, discover myself.


Yes, religion purports to have knowledge. But I am not defending religion. I am defending Jesus. I have my own problems with religion, I’m assuming not to the extreme you do, judging simply from our current viewpoints, but protests nonetheless.

That however is for a different thread.

My point here, is that Jesus is real in my life. Any knowledge I could attain of the world, the universe, life, love, people, etc. is moot, because emulating Christ is infinitely more important. THAT is what Christianity (as Jesus saw it) is all about.

You see, I’m not trying to convert you here, that’s not my job. Only Jesus can change your heart, it’s up to me to love people.

**Oh, and by the way, you’re right in saying I was being very “defensive whiny Christian” when I said “jaded” earlier. Thanks for pointing it out, I needed it.