In baseball or football, achieving a shutout is a sign of excellence; in thought, it is a sign of immaturity. The shutout in thought is a phenomenon peculiar to man and inconsistent with his logical capacities. This shutout is a belligerent refusal to allow evidence to influence one's thinking. All arguments of validity are "shut out" of the individual's think tank, prejudged as unworthy of consideration.
The shutout is often seen in the scientific world. Overcome by the propaganda of evolutionary thought, rising, bright students are inclined to rule out, a priori (at the first), any scientific evidence that points to creationism. Circular reasoning invades the spongy minds and intimidates prospective challengers. "We know creation couldn't happen because we know evolution did," they say. "How do we know evolution happened?" one might question. He is rebutted with a terse "Because we know creation couldn't." Darwinists mount all sorts of evidence, save that which they really needintermediary fossils that display a progression of one life form to another. Creationist scientists also examine evidence and find much conclusive of a young earth and an instantaneous creation. However, "serious scientists" give it no credence. Why? Because "respectable science" allows no room for creation. The evidence is dismissed as anomalous, contradictory, and useless before it is even considered. The result is a convenient clinging to one's pre-conceived ideas, due to achievement of an intellectual shutout.
The same is true regarding the miraculous. "The miracles recorded in the Bible couldn't have happened," we are told, "because miracles don't happen." This is the logical fault of assuming one's conclusion to prove the same. "Jesus could not have been raised from the dead because dead people stay dead." "Jesus could not have walked on water because gravity would not allow it." "The Israelites must have found a shallow place in the Red Sea to cross, because no one could ever cause it to part." These are examples of naturalistic shutouts. Some assume that things always have been the way they are now and that there have been no temporary, supernaturally imposed exceptions. "Since things have always been this way," they argue, "they must have always been this way." Does not that seem quite a leap of, well, faith, to believe that all time unseen by present philosophers witnessed no exceptions to accepted natural law?
The shutout even characterizes religious thought. Idolaters rule out evidence of one Creator God. Followers of self-claimed and unproven prophets summarily disregard historical evidence substantiating Jesus Christ's resurrection and Deity claims. Those affirming belief in Christ shut out sound, scriptural reasoning concerning the fullness of His teachings and His requirement of obedience. How tragic that God's gift of logic is so corrupted by pre-existing bias.
Is it possible that even Christians who appear to be walking in truth employ the shutout? Could it be true that some hold to pet beliefs due more to family tradition than scriptural reasoning? Are there some who even hold true beliefs but cannot defend them, biblically, and have no intention of learning to do so? This is a shutout against which the Bible warns (1 Peter 3:15).
Openness of mind is to be cherished. Yes, some abuse this grand notion. Some accuse those who hold fast to a truth of being "closed-minded" simply because they will not change their minds. Openness of mind, however, is not a vacillating between truth and error, or a tossing with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). This noble phenomenon is simply a willingness to consider evidence. One may be swayed in one direction (and may be completely right!) in a belief. Still, a haughty attitude may corrupt the individual's nobility. "I know I am right and I cannot be wrong" is quite a different statement from "I see much evidence for my conclusion, and am firm in it, but I am always willing to think about it. Be aware, though, that a change of my opinion will require the soundest of reasoning backed by the fullness of scripture."
As thoughtful and committed members of the Lord's church, may we ever stand fast in the truth. May we not waver in tenaciously demanding Bible authority for our manner of life and mode of worship. Also, in balance, may we never be guilty of that of which we accuse others (cf. Rom. 2:1 ff.) by achieving a disreputable "shutout." 327 Suzanne St, Washington, WV 26181.
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