Sloppy Thinking: Exhibit #2

I’ve begun, from time to time, to respond to various ideas that I think are prime examples of sloppy thinking. The following is a quote from Scottish inventor, Sir James Dewar:



The problem with a mind that is always open is that it never reaches any conclusions or establishes any convictions.

The minds that function best are those whose owners have asked crucial questions, gained knowledge and reached understanding. They have insight and wisdom.

With a well established, comprehensive, cohesive belief system, there are then a number of ideas and concepts and propositions that come along to which they are no longer open; and a variety of pronouncements and proposals will be summarily and thoughtfully rejected.

I much prefer the thinking of John Jay Chapman, an American essayist and social commentator:

In making up one’s mind, one closes one’s mind.

Or G. K. Chesterton, English author and critic:

The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.





Filed under Apologetics, Mental health

6 responses to “Sloppy Thinking: Exhibit #2

  1. Cecil Wyche

    This also brings to mind the old saying that it’s possible to be so open minded that one’s brains fall out.

    However I do think you can err on the side of of being too certain about your convictions. The way I tend to deal with the problem is to think of everything in terms of probabilities, with nothing getting a 0% or a 100%. Admittedly there are plenty of things that I would be VERY surprised to find out were false (i.e. the earth revolves around the sun rather than the other way around) and others I would be VERY surprised to find out were true (i.e. that the ancestors of the American Indians were people from the Middle East who came over here on boats, to take a timely topic). But I also know that scientific models of the world have been overturned (relativity, continental drift, etc.) and unusual things have turned out to be true (rocks really did fall from the sky, much to the surprise of the scientists of the late 18th century). Then there are other things that are anybody’s guess (who will win the election this fall) about which I would have no firm opinion whatsoever. I guess what I’m saying is that it seems to me to be better to view things as likely, unlikely, very likely, very unlikely, really likely, really unlikely, etc. rather than seeing them as either absolutely true or absolutely false.

    And I’m 100% certain I’m right here. 🙂

    • Good thoughts, Cecil. However, I’m sure you would agree that there are certain moral imperatives (although some may find them debateable) for which we ought to have closed minds. For example, it is always wrong to hate a person based exclusively on the color of his skin.

  2. Mark Tank

    The Chesterton quote is comprehensively good. The faulty-thinking of today idolizes ‘the journey to truth’ and yet resents those who reach the ‘destination of the truth.’ It is interesting to note that it is was Jesus who opened people’s minds so that the destination point of their journey to truth, led them on a stunningly new journey: “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). It is appealing to know that the new journey I am on is no longer leading to a “?” but rather a “!”

    • Mark – I agree with you 100%. You touched on one idea I’ll address in the future. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” To which I say, “Nonsense.”

      • Mark Tank

        Excellent. Look forward to more of these quotes. Love this stuff! We are glad that in a wishy-washy world, Johnny Price is putting an anchor in the waves, and building a lighthouse on the shore.

  3. Cecil Wyche

    Johnny – I would say that hating people because of the color of their skin just doesn’t make any sense, sort of like loving people for their big toe length. It’s not hating, period, that is the moral imperative. Sadly this seems not to be obvious in most parts of the world.

    Mark – What about a Mormon whose journey to truth leads them to the firm conclusion that the Book of Mormon is the last word on Christ’s teachings? Wouldn’t you prefer that they remain open to your point of view? Presumably they would feel the same about you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s