What is your view on bias, how deep does it go, and what benefit is there to being biased?

My question for someone of this background is to ask about human bias and how “deep” it goes.

I have studied Jung to some degree and it seems from reading his material that all people are inherently biased in one way or another and that this permeates nearly all of a person’s decisions. I have also been involved in a DBT Group Therapy spanning about 2 years time. I noticed a lot of things about people when I was there and once again it seems like it makes perfect sense to say people are almost never objective about anything.

What is your view on bias, how deep does it go, and what benefit is there to being biased?

Thanks,

Jesse

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Dear @Jesse Dornfeld,

Thank you for this excellent question! I’m not sure I can answer specifically as to how deep our ‘biases’ go - I’m not sure anyone could answer that since I don’t believe anyone can plumb the depth of human hearts. However, the prophet Jeremiah did say, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) So, given what Jeremiah said, I think it is safe to say that the human predilection is often towards distortion and bias in all of its forms.

In addition, what I believe we can say is that all human beings look at the world through ‘lenses’ that we wear. They might be the lenses of culture, of gender, of age, of learning, of family environment, etc…these lenses do inform our reading of the text and of our world. Let me give you an example: it is very difficult for a person living today in the 21st century to understand what it was like to live in the 1st century - even with all of our historical knowledge, our ability to understand literature etc…we simply didn’t live then and cannot grasp all the nuances of that particular culture. In the same regards, it is impossible for me to know exactly what it means to be you - to have lived your life or known your experiences. I simply cannot because I have a different set of experiences and lenses as you do through which I understand and “read” the world.

All that being said, I do believe we can come to know many things truly. So, the fact that you and I share humanity together means that we both understand what it means to be hungry, to desire relationship and connection, to be tired, and to some level what it means to live in the U.S. We believe that the gospel transcends all cultures even as it can speak into them uniquely. That is what it means when we say the Scripture is “inspired” by God - if God is inspiring the writers of Scripture and God created the world, then the gospel can and does speak to all cultures in all times. At the same time, we affirm that God used individuals who spoke languages and who lived in particular places at particular times which means that the writers had a culture and a perspective from which they wrote. Therefore, we can learn something about the culture in which these events took place because the writers offer that perspective in the narrative. I hope this makes sense.

One final point here. This is the power and the work of the Holy Spirit - to bring the gospel anew and afresh to every generation around the world. The Holy Spirit is at work and works in ways that transcend our cultures (and our lenses) and that challenge our cultures and lenses even as we can understand the power of the gospel in our culture and by reading it with our lenses.

I am glad that you have found support in a DBT group. DBT has been a powerful therapeutic tool for many individuals and I know how hard that work can be. Keep up the good work, Jesse, and keep asking these great questions!

Every Blessing,

Margaret

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