There was recently an excellent – and complicated – article in the Huffington Post (originally from Better Humans – link to both articles at the end of this one) which discusses the problem with cognitive bias, the way we misperceive reality, and therefore make odd decisions.
Scripture supports this view of most human’s decision making abilities. Lot’s wife looks backward (nostalgia), Sampson ignores warning signs (lust), Saul tries to kill David (power), the Pharisees try to take down Jesus (tradition), Martha chastises Mary (roles), and the disciples want to opt for safety at almost every turn (fear). The scripture is rife with lamenting lack of wisdom (see Is 41:28, Ps 53:2, Rom. 3:11, 1 Cor 3:18, etc).
Recently a dear friend and a respected leader used that worn adage “perception is reality.” No, it is not. Jesus is Lord, the earth is not flat, there is a baseline of truth. As we are coming into a decision making season – elders, stewardship, national election – it is a good time for us to “check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.” We have a tendency to want to reduce things to the least common denominator, or to fervently believe that our brilliant solution is clear when we don’t have all the facts, or to
“fill in the blanks” with what was true 20 years ago.
If we take a little slice from the terrific chart attached to the article (an algorithmic layout designed by John Manoogian - see hardcopy version of this article), there is a significant lapse in decision making that should not exist for Christians. This section is called “Not Enough Meaning.” If we default in our decision making here, we fall prey to the following fallacies:
“Projecting our current mindset onto the past AND future.” How does that compare to Isaiah 43:19?
2. “We think we know what other people are thinking.” 1st Corinthians 2:11 says otherwise.
3. “We simplify probabilities and numbers to make them easier to think about” and miss the possibilities of God – start with Genesis 15:5 on this one!
4. “We imagine people and things we are fond of as better,” in contrast to James 2:8-9.
5. “We fill in characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior histories.” Saul/Paul. Need I say more?
I have ordered the poster size of this chart, and am going to be challenging my own patterns of thinking with it over the next several months. Join me? As we seek to serve with the Heart of Christ at the Heart of Staunton, we can only do it fully if we are of one mind Christ. Let us not be conformed to the standards of this world, but let us be transformed by the renewing of our minds, seeking God’s will alone!
Your sister in Him,