Spammers attack my blog every day, which is quite annoying to say the least. Like most, I have no problem identify spam. While spam can be dangerous to the naive, for most it’s not the biggest concern. However, there are real devious and dangerous ideas that bombarded us daily.
Fake news, false memes, fringe ideas, “hidden knowledge” and conspiracy theories spam our lives. None are superficially life threatening, rather annoying, misleading and may cause some damage. Some ideas drive ungodly Christians division, such as KJV Onlyism, Christmas denouncers and Sabbatarian onlyists (along with many culture differences that divide). This is not to say a KJV preference, refraining from celebrating Christmas and worshiping on Saturday are wrong, but the demand and the division is concerning (nor is it to say culture is wrong either).
Then there are bad ideas, really bad ideas, ideas that people believe and then act on, ideas that are life threatening. Consider the Marxists and “pro-choice” ideologies that have claimed millions upon millions of innocent lives. Consider the confused people who accept postmodernist ideology, promote homosexuality and support same-sex marriage. We can slide down the scale to the threatening ideas of Darwinism, Materialism and Satanism. There are charlatans who gain by the claim God whispers in their ear and charismatic cult leaders who demand suicide. Radical Islam that kills, blows up and destroys. But people continue to be persuaded by all these dangerous ideas.
Maybe it is as much of an art as a science, spam identification is done much the same way as teachers use rubrics. We intentionally or unintentionally use criteria to demarcate spam from messages. When dealing with spam, don’t we look at the sender’s name, the sender’s email address and the sender’s vocabulary? Don’t we look at the message structure, the message content and the message relevance? Yes to all. But how do we deal with society’s bad ideas? What are the steps for discernment, in general? I’m going to suggest a simple plan, the PIG Process.
The Letter “P” in the PIG Process Stands for Passion
Just as the snout on the pig’s face leads the way, so also it the “P” in the PIG process. The “P” is a Passion for truth. Apathy will not do. The driving force for this passion should be at least three planks: our unwavering desire for truth, our unwavering desire to please God with truth, and our unwavering desire to love others by sharing truth and not deceit.
The Letter “I” in the PIG Process Stands for Integrity
The “I” in the PIG process could be compared to a pig’s fat belly, where the weight helps drive the passion of the snout. The “I” represents integrity in the arguments and good reasons, not just emotional rhetoric. Rhetoric should only be used after an articulate case has been formulated. Belief should not drive our understanding of truth, rather truth should drive our beliefs. It’s not our faith that is the essence, it is the object of our faith that we need to be assured of. Nor should our desires for something to be true, our biases and presuppositions, dictate what we believe. So belief does not necessarily equal reality, nor does emotion and rhetoric. Those are just tools to be used after truth is articulated with clarity.
The Letter “G” in the PIG Process Stands for a Grid for Sifting Claims
If the “P” in the PIG Process represents the our proverbial hog’s snout and the “I” represents its belly, the “G” represents its four appendages. The feet give the pig the working part of the process. The “G” represents a Grid for the filtration process that identifies and separates truth from error. I think of this as my mental filter, which I try to run truth claims through. This is made up of four legs, each starting with the letter “C”.
Cognition, knowing truth
One of the best defenses is to know something about truth and reality. This is where we must make sure our understanding of reality is true. If we know things that are true, if we know common deviations from truth, we will be much more likely to identify fallacy when we are presented with error. Read, listen and learn. Find good sources. The best way to show reality for what it is can be found in the Bible and worked out with in the Christian worldview.
Confirmation, intentional search for the solid ground
In the day in age of the biased media, polar politics and inculcating public educational institutions, intentionality in source checking is a must. We need not just sources, but rather authentic sources. This includes the type of source: Internet articles, presentations and books. Who is the author of the source: his or her credentials, expertise, background and reputation. What is the category of sources, is the more reliable primary source or second-hand information from a secondary source? Does the source have obvious biases, errors in general knowledge, intentional disinformation, bombastic claims and assumptions without authentic sources. This leg, maybe more than any of the others, is almost more of an art than a science.
Critical thinking, separating the wheat from the chaff
Many Christians are frightened by critical thinking which is strange and stunning. Biblical passage after biblical passage exhorts the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom, truth and discernment. The use of one’s mind and reason is employed with proper logical skills, and the ability to spot logical errors and fallacies. The essential skill of skepticism is needed when claims are too good to be true or too bad to be true. This is a nice summation of critical thinking, the act of seeking truth from fiction, questioning assumptions and considering ideas at the core.
Conversation, asking the right questions
Conversation, communication and questions are of utmost importance for truth/error identification. Why? Well, others see things that you or I may not. We need to approach knowledgeable individuals who can help us work through the issues. We can learn things from others, sometimes the most from those who are skeptical of the ideas. They not only have thought through the process and the ideas, they have identified the weakness of the ideas. But this also means that we need to ask those who advocate the view too. Maybe the holes are not really holes. Maybe there really are answers to the objections. That is why we need to continually be asking questions, good and right questions.
Each part of the PIG process is important: having passion for truth, using integrity when using logic and arguments, and forming a grid to sift claims. But, if nothing else, focus on the snout, a Passion for truth. This is the arrow-head that leads the shaft, the engine that leads the box cars, it is the needle that pulls the thread through. Start to care, oppose apathy, encourage or rather demand truth and accuracy in both yourself and those around you.
I have a passion to have answers for Christianity as Peter taught us to do. I would love for you to come along with me and not miss a post! In the future, I plan on giving more resources and answers you can share with both believers and unbelievers. Plus, I want to send you a Free Quick Guide why I think science points to God. I would love for you to have this Free Quick Guide and the latest posts straight to your inbox.
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