In the school assemblies I am currently taking, we are examining the importance of ideas, and the greater importance of evaluating ideas, both our own, and those of others.
It is easy to be dogmatic about our own views, and arrogantly assume they are correct or the best, but such an attitude is dangerous, for it leaves us vulnerable to glaring mistakes in our thinking that could lead to damaging consequences.
A Royal Mess
Chess is a great analogy for the battle of ideas, and in a recent game with my brother I had made a strong start. I was thinking carefully about the merits of each move I made, and before long I was in a winning position.
My brother admitted to me that he felt his position close to unsustainable, but his frank and honest assessment turned out to be his strongest weapon. My success went to my head, and I became arrogant and complacent. In so doing, I stopped thinking, made a small, but fatal error of judgement and lost my queen. To my great embarrassment, my brother went on to win the game.
Respect and Value
Learn from my mistake and show respect to the views and ideas of others, for even if we believe they are wrong or misguided, their views are valuable in helping you strengthen and deepen your own ideas so that you can share them succinctly and with confidence.
In so doing, it may be that you show your opponent that your views are more true to reality or have better consequences, and in so doing bring your opponent around to your own way of thinking.
Just One More Thing
I have to thank Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason for my own training and development as a thinker. In his book Tactics and throughout his podcasts, Greg often refers to Lieutenant Columbo of the classic American crime drama who would ask question after question, and just when you thought the questioning was over and you were off the hook, Columbo would say “just one more thing” followed by a most important question.
Koukl suggests we employ the same dogged questioning style in our conversations over ideas, and highlights two key questions for us to keep in our minds when we are faced with opposing views.
- What do you mean?
- How do you know?
We will continue next week, by looking at how a man called Nicodemus used these questions when considering the strange views of Jesus Christ:
Jesus said unto him, “Except a man be born again, he shall not see the Kingdom of God” John 3:3