In a recent conversation with my wife, we were rattling off numerous ways that our minds become trapped. What happens is that someone lays out that his or her position as the neutral position, and all other positions, which fall outside this one, are therefore wrong.
I have elsewhere addressed whether saying that “God is biased” is accurate or not, but to set up how this discussion pertains to God, we should briefly address how humans learn. It is impossible to remove what philosophers call “features of situatedness.” After all, I was born somewhere, and I cannot be born nowhere. That is a feature of my birth history (my situatedness). I will speak a certain language, and those words that get used in that language will have certain meanings. Furthermore, some of those words will have loaded connotations not strictly assigned to that word’s denotation. Within the way these words get used, there will be cultural trends, like tattoos becoming mainline in the 80s and 90s. Tattoos, at one time, were associated with ungodliness or at least a certain moral irresponsibility. Today, in the 2020s, within a relatively conservative church in Florida, I’d venture to say that you will see as many tattoos as you do people who do not have them. Within your neighborhood in which you grew up, there was an attitude about tattoos, and that attitude was very different from a similar neighborhood located elsewhere, with families of different economic means, and with communities of various secular or religious perspectives. This is the cultural milieu that silently “taught” us; these features influenced us based on our unique situation. Humans, therefore, learn only in a bias laden situation. To say a human could learn in a non-biased situation would be to claim that somehow “I could be born nowhere.” Bias is the learning environment. The question we must ask is what biases are good and which are evil.
It is not ‘biased people vs. non-biased people.” This is a dichotomy that is indubitably a trap. There are many who believe that they are those who are unbiased. This is self-deception, malice, or the result of culture programming them to have this belief. The real battle is ‘good-biased people vs. evil-biased people.’ However, if this is the real battle, then it inexorably brings the debate to the matter of comparing values-sets or questing for the “best morality.” To frame this discussion as ‘biased vs. non-biased people’ is a trap.
Why is it a trap? It takes solid and sizable mental effort to get out, first off. This trap sets up something impossible to achieve. Why so? It creates a category that cannot exist. Let’s lay out an example of this using “bias” since I have touched on this already. Humans see the world from a certain perspective; saying the same thing differently, all human perceiving of the world is seen through a lens called bias. There is no human who sees the world with access to all knowledge, which is what it would take to potentially see the world without bias. If we listen to news, media, radio, what have you, we will find over and over again accusations that “someone is biased” or proclamations that a source is unbiased, fair, accurate. What is unachievable is the removal of bias, but such proclamations and accusations silently presume such non-bias is possible. Why is it a trap? If we listen to such voices, we find ourselves striving to do the undoable, or, worse, we seek the approval of those who insidiously suggest their perspective is the “unbiased one.” The trap itself is nothing more than building a cage without an exit, so that those enclosed in this trap spend all their time trying to find the exit when they could be devising ways to break out of the trap.
Let’s boil this down: no one has an unbiased position, therefore do not waste time listening to those who claim such. How we determine whether a bias is good or evil is by filtering it through a set of values. We should spend our time figuring out what set of values supports a bias rather than spend time and effort trying to be unbiased—which is unachievable. I think we can visually present this idea.
Imagine two great armies ready to meet the next day on the field of battle. They come to parley the day before on so-called neutral ground. What isn’t said is that this neutral ground has the sun at one army’s back and in the other’s eyes, that there is a slight downward slope helping a would-be charge of one army, and that the neutral ground has been thoroughly scoped out by both armies scouts. The two armies represent two competing and opposed biases. The neutral ground is the so-called “unbiased” position. What we find, however, is that the neutral ground is not really neutral, but it favors one army or the other more or less. Therefore, you find ourselves dining in one army camp or the other even if we had meant to be neutral.
In whose camp will we serve? We need not reinvent the wheel; we need only devote time to social institutions that promote traditional Judeao-Christian values. Many presume these values without knowing it already. The media and other informational sources who present themselves as the net neutral position, these are to be rejected out of hand. There is no need for long debates. The world, this secular spectacle we face every day, has not changed over the millennia. The game is the same. On one hand, tyranny accosts our senses and drives us mad: we find freedom in our obedience to goodness, to a transcendent moral norm (God) that power hungry tyrants cannot impact, control, or change. On the other hand, a society engorged on freedom unhinged from objective moral norms inevitability will be rotted out and destroyed from its acceptance of all lifestyles. Those societies, as God would say, “Let them become a byword.”