Everyone has bias. The trick is not letting those ideas prevent you from seeing the truth, or modifying your position when new facts dictate. Confirmation bias creeps in when — instead of seeing the facts — you see everything as proof of your position.
For example, it’s no secret Sojourners (Jim Wallis and friends) promote extreme far-left socialist ideology (income redistribution, big government, high taxes, collective salvation, etc). They’re free to do as they wish, the problem arises when they try to make the Bible fit their position (and claim all Christians should follow heretical ideology), in spite of what the text says.
Here’s a classic example of confirmation bias in action:
…let’s take the parable of the rich fool. We miss this part because it’s not actually in the text, but it would have been understood that part of the reason God was displeased was because he didn’t consult with his neighbors before determining what he should do with his blessing.
When someone admits the text doesn’t support their claim, but then turn around and claim the text supports exactly their extreme ideology, that’s an example of confirmation bias. In this example, right after admitting the text doesn’t provide evidence, the person proceeds to give God the exact characteristics (collectivism, collective salvation, etc) he admits aren’t in the text, putting words in God’s mouth (which isn’t a good idea).
Here’s another example:
Can the church be considered a collective? I would answer in the affirmative. I say that not as a non beliver but as a member of a Christian fundamentalist church who has accepted the teachings of Christ as laid out in the Bible. Of course we must decide as individuals as to whether or not we accept Jesus as our savior. But, once we decide to follow Jesus we beome part of a body of believers that exists for the common good. Using Jesus as our example we beome servants of mankind …
This person also admits the Bible speaks of individual salvation (true), but then tries to stuff the truth into heretical ideas of collective salvation and social justice. Naturally, this requires a bit of twisting (where does the Bible state the church exists for the “collective good” — forced income redistribution and social works from a Godless government?).
Does your head hurt yet? That’s the kind of verbal twister people engage in to prove extreme false ideology like social justice and collective salvation — even supporters of those ideas admit they’re not found in the text they claim “proves” their position. Confirmation bias at it’s best (as well as cognitive dissonance, what Orwell called doublethink — the idea of holding conflicting ideas and believing both simultaneously).
The Bible Forms Ideology, not the Other Way Around
Those are extreme examples of confirmation bias, which must be avoided if you want to use critical thinking. Don’t come to the Bible with your ideology and try to make it fit, allow the Bible to form your ideology.
If you don’t, at best you’ll end up looking rather silly (as well as making large errors in analysis and logic). At worst, you’ll make devastating theological errors — some have even promoted heretical alternate gospels appearing nowhere in the Biblical text.
Once you can justify what isn’t in the text, you’re on your way to cultdom. Or as Chuck Missler says, “never underestimate a persons’ ability to rationalize”, as the liberal social justice crowd abandons the Bible (and rational thought) for their own designer religion — one in which the Bible takes a secondary role to radical ideology.
Logic Proves Heresies False
Heresies have come and gone since the beginning of the church, today’s problem is many people can’t think logically, and thus are susceptible to new waves of heresy blowing through the church — heresies which logic and critical thinking clearly reject. The inability to think clearly results from a failure of pubic education which has turned out millions of people who can no longer discuss and debate ideas.
As we’ve recommend in the past, a good book for logic is Jason Lisle’s “Discerning Truth” (ISBN 978-0890515945) which presents a good foundation to the subject. It’s really an easy read, so if you’re expecting a dry textbook on logic you’ll be disappointed.