The Exchange Of Ideas

What happens when we try to limit voices? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday a friend gave me a Kindle gift of the book Irreversible Damage. I started it pretty much immediately. It’s about the transgender craze and how it is affecting girls. There was a time when Gender Dysphoria was hitting some of the population, though it was a small group and it was consistently boys. Now, all of a sudden girls are claiming that they are really boys and this is happening increasingly due to the influence of social media.

The author pointed out that many conditions such as anorexia and cutting and others tend to affect teenage girls the most. She talked about a school where one girl talked about a number of people who were claiming to be really boys there. When asked how many were lesbians, she paused and said “None.”

What I find fascinating at this point is the fact that the writer of the book said she was told to not speak out about the matters she was writing about. The ACLU is already wanting to ban the book. I thought that this is why many people I think can struggle with accepting a reigning scientific paradigm. If they have the impression that anyone who thinks differently on the matter is to be silenced, then it’s not going to persuade them to hear this is the reigning paradigm.

That doesn’t even mean the paradigm is false. It just means people won’t be as prone to listening. It could be evolution or climate change or COVID or vaccinations. If people think dissent is not allowed, they will get more suspicious.

We saw this also during the campaign in another way. Many of my fellow conservatives wanted to talk about the Hunter Biden laptop. At this point, what you think about it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the silence on the story was driving it all the more and when Facebook and Twitter would censor certain news stories, that only made them more popular. It’s known as the Streisand Effect.

This is also why many are going to other sites like Parler and MeWe in addition to Facebook and Twitter. They want the free exchange of ideas. They don’t like other social media sites punishing them for sharing a story. It’s not that they want a safe place or something like that. They just want to be able to join in the discussion. It’s one reason I’ve opposed Facebook and other sites independently fact-checking news stories.

Why not have more exchange of ideas? If you’re sure your position is correct, then allow the other to speak freely. When it comes to evolution in schools, regular readers of the blog know I don’t have a problem with evolution even though I haven’t signed on the line of being an evolutionary creationist yet.

Some will say “Well if we allow the creation story of the Bible into the classroom (Though I think what they mean by that is different from what the Bible actually teaches as I go with John Walton’s view), then won’t we allow any other creation account to be taught?” My idea is “Why not?”

If anything, this could make students more invested. Suppose someone is in the class who is a Hindu or a Muslim or a Native American or some other belief system. Why not have students make a presentation of their belief on how everything came to be and then present it to the class and be ready to defend it? If someone wants to teach something like young-earth creationism, let them, but they have to be ready to defend it to their peers.

We in the church need to make sure we’re not doing the same thing. There are some activities we don’t want our youth to engage in. Sex before marriage and pornography come to mind. We need more than “Because I said so.” What we need is a whole worldview that explains the way sexuality works and then show why these behaviors fall outside of that so that the young people will understand not just that they don’t do XYZ but why they don’t do XYZ.

As for reading, forbidding books will have the same effect really. State why. This is also so with skeptical books. I recently encountered a Christian on Facebook scared with some material from Bart Ehrman. It was about his latest book Heaven and Hell. I have the book and made him an offer which to this day he hasn’t accepted sadly. Go and get the book, I don’t care if it’s the library or not, and go through it and keep a notepad nearby, Write down any concerns you have chapter by chapter and we’ll go over and discuss each objection and examine it.

This would be a far better way I contend to deal with doubt than what we normally do. We should never shun anyone in the church for asking a question, no matter how odd it might seem to us. Those who ask questions are our great gift. They are the ones who could be taking Christianity the most seriously. When we shun them, we tell them it’s not worth taking seriously and that they shouldn’t ask questions and then they think Christianity is not defensible since it won’t allow for questions.

The church should definitely be a place where you are allowed to question. If we want to condemn the modern world for not allowing questions and dissenting opinions, we in the church should not be the same. A faith that does not have the capacity to stand up in the free marketplace of ideas is not really worth believing in the first place.

We can’t control what outsiders do, but we can what we do. Are we going to be complaining about Facebook and Twitter all the while doing the same thing? If you think you can’t handle questions, well that’s something to work on on your end, and if you’re a pastor not open to questions, then either change that position or give your position to someone who is.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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