Can Your Mind Be Changed?

What does it take to change a mind? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m not much of a music guy, except for music from TV shows, video games, or, of course, Weird Al Yankovic. Most music that is Christian I consider to be self-help pablum that doesn’t really build up. There are a few exceptions, but they’re not worth listening to Christian music constantly.

So when I drive, I listen to talk radio. Just a few days ago I was riding and heard a show with the host who is a believer apparently talking to an atheist who called in. The atheist said that he wasn’t going to change his mind nor was he going to change the believer’s mind. I find such a statement odd. Why is this something people say so easily?

Let’s consider some beliefs that we might be more negotiable on. You could pretty easily change your mind on a favorite TV show or movie if you found something better. On the other hand, there are some beliefs you hold that you would have a hard time changing your mind on and not just controversial ones. I am thoroughly convinced I married my wife on July 24, 2010. This is not controversial. I have scores of witnesses who were there and there isn’t much reason to dispute it, but it would take a tremendous amount of evidence to change my mind.

Now let’s move on to other beliefs. Perhaps we want to talk politics. It would take a lot to convince me my capitalist and conservative views are wrong, but what happens if I say I am unpersuadable? If I do that, haven’t I demonstrated that my position is not evidential? If evidence will not change my mind, then is my mind really convinced by evidence?

Let’s move on to religion. I want to address two extremes here. Consider the Christian first who says he will only be persuaded Christianity isn’t true if he is shown the bones of Jesus. Well, that would certainly do the trick, but is that a reasonable case to make?

Suppose that Christianity isn’t true. If so, then Jesus may be a great man, but He is just that, a man. If so, supposed we found bones. How could we possibly tell that they were the bones of Jesus? This makes the argument an impossible argument to make as the other person cannot produce the evidence because it would be impossible.

The same goes for atheists who say they will change their mind if they see a miracle. That would do it I hope, but what does that mean to me? It means I can present argument after argument and you have already decided they are false if I do not give you a personal experience. (This is also all the while arguing the personal experience of those who claim miracles is invalid, meaning the only personal experience you count as evidence is your own.)

Yet if we are in a debate, how is this fair to me? It tells me you aren’t willing to follow my arguments at all. Maybe they don’t work, but you are telling me argument will not change your mind. What will is a personal experience I cannot provide. I am not God to do such a thing like that and this tells me the dialogue is not genuine. (It would be even worse if you expected me to listen to your arguments as evidence, although I should anyway)

Does this mean you change your mind lightly? No. It does mean you’re open. If you really think the evidence is on your side, you have nothing to fear.

One of the best ways I find to do this is to read books that disagree with you on a regular basis. This is why I often ask atheists in a debate when was the last time they read a book that disagreed with them. It’s sad that I rarely get an answer to this question that indicates that they do this.

Be open to changing your mind. If you’re doing evangelism, you expect the people you are talking to to be willing. You need to be as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters