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Spiritual Growth

The Confirmation Bias in Religion

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Everyone believes in something – even if that something is nothing. And there are a lot of people, with a lot of opinions, who put a concerted amount of effort into swaying ours. The election process is a great example of this concept. We all have beliefs, and politicians target those beliefs. They either want to confirm them to reinforce our need to vote, or change them, so that in turn we vote for them.

But let’s talk about us. We too have a part to play in the election process. We can either seek understanding or seek to confirm. More times than not, we are seeking confirmation because we aren’t looking for politicians to define our morals for us. Instead, we’re looking for politicians that represent what we already believe because how could we be wrong? No worries – we’re not, so no need to worry about that problem. Or should we?

The reality is this – confirmation bias touches all of us. Whether at work, at home, or in religion, we have a built-in bias that feeds our need to be right. We seek confirmation of what we already believe while rejecting any notion that would indicate we could be wrong. That’s not to say we couldn’t change our minds, it just depends how deep the confirmation bias runs and what we are doing to counter that.

So Let’s Talk About Religion

With spirituality, confirmation bias runs even deeper. Why? Because our spiritual beliefs touch the core of our souls and minds. For many of us, our religion or lack thereof, is the foundation upon which many other decisions are made and is a key part of our identities. Furthermore, we believe our faith is stronger when we can find more supporting facts – and so we search to confirm. And if we’re challenged, we search for even more confirmation.

The cycle can be vicious. Scriptures can be strung together and misconstrued to say almost anything. We can find reasons to believe, reasons to be a certain denomination and reasons to be forego religion altogether. And everyone finds something. We even change what we find, if it’s not fitting to the lifestyle we want to have because our confirmation bias has been altered to now confirm whatever it is we want. Again, confirmation bias touches all of us – and religion is no exception.

Wait…but are my beliefs correct?

Before we get to an answer, let me say this… there is a lot of noise in the atmosphere. Every day, there are new blogs, vlogs, Instagram posts, scholarly papers, and more that are meant to convince us of what is best for our beliefs. These opinions are just that – opinions. They suffer from confirmation bias in the same way that we do. More times than not, these messages are about garnering support. The call to action is the same: join the allegiance, take on the opinions, follow the beliefs – they know best.

Now back to the question at hand. Are your beliefs correct? Should you take a stand or be more open to the thoughts of others? Proverbs 3:5 gives us the answer –

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

You don’t have to take that advice, maybe that’s not what you believe, but it’s the best advice I can offer. Humans fail – God doesn’t. If we are willing to seek Him and put self aside, God will answer.  If we are willing to study the scriptures while casting aside preconceived notions, God will reveal the mysteries we seek to understand and open our hearts to new truths. From there, the Holy Spirit will touch our lives in new ways and guides us to where we go next. So yes, an internet search will result in many opinions, but only a search with God will open the truth.

Love's an Action. Thank You for reading about confirmation bias in religion. Please share your thoughts below.
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