Confirmation Bias when listening to Sermons

How does one tackle the issue of confirmation bias when listening to Christian messages. At times we have an inclination to believing a message because it kind of affirms our bias without it necessarily being the truth. Is it a degree of skepticism that we need? In essence, how do we live like the Bereans as commended by Apostle Paul given the reality of Confirmation Bias?


Great question.
I think the short answer may have to do with 2 Pet 1:3-8

Here’s my thoughts to try to explain why:

I don’t think it has anything to do with trying to be more skeptical. Maybe part of it has to do with being sober. Maybe part of it has something to do with having “skin in the game”. (From what I can see, both have more biblical basis than adding skepticism to your mindset)

I’ll try to illustrate (using an airplane pilot example) how growing upwards in these 2 areas is relevant to diminishing confirmation bias and how that relates to 2 Pet 1:3-8 (hopefully you’ll be able to follow my train of thought)

An airplane pilot must go through a pre-flight checklist with care and attention prior to take off. He honors the routine. He communicates with air-traffic-control. He is not a passenger. He does not have the mindset of a passenger. He doesn’t talk like a passenger and he doesn’t act like a passenger in any way. He’s the pilot of his vessel however large or small it may be. His vigilance is well established. He is up to date with the weather conditions He is intimately aware of the causes and concerns that led to the demise of other historical plane crash events . He’s sober. He’s alert. His experience and knowledge of flying, guides his mind and he is instructed and trains accordingly. Put him in an airplane and he is in his element. Put him in the passenger seat with a pilot who is sloppy and does not regard these things and this conscientious passenger/pilot is likely to know it. His intimate awareness will put up red flags without any need for him to be skeptical or suspicious.
Starting to see the connection between the airplane pilot and a biblical Christian?
Part of what fuels the conscientious pilot’s awareness is the fact that he himself is actually a pilot. The fact that he is conscientious to do it “by the book” means he believes its knowledge to be true and of excellent utility. The journey, of Christian integrity has some similarities…

From what I can see, the following scripture gives some complimentary reinforcement along the same lines of this airplane pilot analogy:

…According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:3-8)

The ability to reinforce what we hear and see along the lines of our own assumptions is usually protected by confirming our bias inside the bubble of our own fragile ideologies. The willingness to grow in faith by obedience to God opens us up to the need for humility. It exposes us to the confrontations and correction that enable our growth;. It gives a practical and convincing context to rewrite, or make adjustments to, our bias.