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Is bias a bad thing?

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Published: 19 July 2018 (GMT+10)
bias

Recently we received an email describing a common dilemma. A reader had shared a CREATION.com article on social media, but a friend had refused to read it, saying that an article from a website called CREATION.com must be biased! Because we have biblical presuppositions, this atheist thought we must be unreliable. However, that we’re open about our bias is actually a sign that we’re a credible information source.

Everyone has a bias

We don’t often think about it, but everyone is biased about lots of things. If you have an opinion on a given topic at all, you have a bias. If you have a favorite sports team, brand of coffee, or economic philosophy, that’s a bias. And we can be biased about everything from trivial to vital topics.

When it comes to philosophical biases, however, atheists claim to be more objective than Christians, because Christians are constrained by the Bible’s teaching, which supposedly ‘boxes us in’ and leaves us less open to other ideas. However, the atheists have just as rigid a philosophy; they’ve just dressed it up as objectivity because they have wrongly conflated real science with evolution.

Standing on Christian presuppositions

So how can we respond when someone accuses us of being biased? First, bring it back to the idea of presuppositions. Everyone has things we simply assume to be true without being able to produce proof; these foundational ideas are presuppositions. So Christians have presuppositions, but so do atheists, agnostics, and people in other religions. You could ask the evolutionist to name one thing he knows to be true about evolution, for instance, and when he mentions any specifics then you have an opportunity to show him how such facts can be interpreted differently.

Don’t allow the unbeliever to pretend to be neutral when he isn’t. Both sides have biases which affect how we think and interpret evidence. Getting an evolutionist to realize that he has a bias is often the first step to a productive conversation.

Also don’t be bullied into abandoning your presuppositions to try to stand on the pretense of ‘neutral’ ground. In fact, you’ll be stuck trying to defend Christian principles on a non-Christian foundation.

The role of evidence

But there is also good evidence that Christian presuppositions are actually true. The Bible has been shown to be a very reliable historical source—where an archaeological or other historical record exists at all outside of Scripture, it affirms that the people and places described in Scripture actually existed, and the events recorded actually happened.

But the best evidence that the Bible is true is the testimony of Jesus, whose resurrection from the dead is proof that He is actually who He claimed to be—the Son of God. And His testimony about Scripture is unambiguous—He claimed that not even the smallest letter of Scripture would fail. When He cited Scripture, it was always completely authoritative.

Do presuppositions taint our information?

At CMI, we clearly have a bias, or presuppositions, regarding biblical creation. We believe the evidence supports biblical creation, but we believe biblical creation, fundamentally, because it is what Scripture teaches. So even if soft tissue in dinosaur bones, carbon-14 in diamonds, and all the other best evidences for a ‘young’ earth were disproved tomorrow, we would still be creationists, because our faith was never in the evidence.

However, because we’re open about our bias, you can tell what the facts are vs. what our interpretation of those facts are. The fact is that soft tissue, blood cells, and even DNA has been found in dinosaur fossils. Our interpretation is that the fossils aren’t millions of years old, but were buried in Noah’s Flood only thousands of years ago, explaining why unfossilized tissue could still survive in special circumstances. Evolutionists have their own interpretations—the question is which explanation fits the facts better.

CMI has been helping Christians to discuss these issues biblically for over 40 years. We thank our supporters who make this ministry to equip believers possible!

Helpful Resources

From Creation to Salvation
by Lita Cosner
From
US $12.00
Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
From
US $17.00

Readers’ comments

PaUL R.
The atheist bias is 'Biblical creation can't be true', and so will not even consider it. This is demonstrated here by the fact that he refuses to read an article from a Biblical creation view. Thank you CMI for your work in the Lord
Philippus S.
It is a human fleshly thing. It comes from Adam, Eve who was made from the rib one of Adam rebelled against Gods Commandment, and did what God told them not to do. Although Eve was the one deceived, Adam ate without being deceived, he followed his wife who just gave him to eat while he knew clearly not to. We must never forget sin is in the flesh, and that brings us to the fact that the sin in the flesh is what leads our Spirit to hell. That is why Gods word tells us to strengthen ourselves Spiritually as our spirit must resist the fleshly sin full ways. When we die, it will only be our body that dies, but our Spirit does not and we need to make sure our Spirit goes to the same place Jesus told the sinner repenting next to Him when they were dying on the Cross. Luk 23:42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  Luk 23:43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.  "TODAY THOU SHALT BE WITH ME IN PARADISE!"
David S.
We must be very careful in how we define the word "bias" and not mistake it for preferences. Liking something better than something else in this context like a type of toffee or a football team should be treated as preference and not bias. Having a preference does not need one to provide evidence but bias does. To prevent the accusation of bigotry, it needs evidence for its stand. The atheist and the religious need to provide evidence for their bias or what we call our world-view to account for reality. The former have a deep faith in the philosophy of materialism in that, in this universe matter and its characteristics are all there is. Christians on the other hand, have a deep faith in the inerrant nature of the Holy Bible (being God's Word) to explain reality. In my opinion, the materialists have far less evidence than the Christians for their world-view because of the complexity of reality, especially, the existence of information which only our mind can recognise as part of the universe. The Intelligent Design (ID) movement have provided far more overwhelming scientific evidence for the existence of God than the materialists ever could for His non-existence.
Rev Robert W.
I would not say that we have a bias: I would say that we have looked into our insights and reached a position where we are as impartial as possible, and from that stance, have followed the facts wherever they lead; which is the true scholarly position and leads to truth, and to all the advances of natural science and other disciplines. Knowledge is therefore possible. However, if we are at fault in any way we are open to being challenged and will not hide behind any 'no-platforming' or 'safe-area' policy. We do not believe that we have anything to hide: even our premise that the Bible is true and reliable is the outcome of investigations into what it says of itself and how that measures up against other forms of knowing.
Jamil A.
Great article Lita. What makes CMI trust worthy is that you are transparent about your initial presuppositions and are obligated to speak the truth since our faith requires of us to be truthful even if we were mistaken in certain facts.I have been reading CMI articles and watching CMI videos for maybe one year and the way you represent your arguments and articles is trustworthy and non deceptive because its backed up with evidence, seeks truth no matter what the costs and clearly states that we suppose the bible to be the word of God. The biggest obstacle confronting atheists is their pride. God reveals himself to people who are willing to humble themselves before him and are willing to die from there selves and put Jesus first above all things. Jesus himself said Matthew 16:24: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me." One thing I have learned through my 14 years with Christ is that people will continue to refuse God in their lives until they learn that without humbleness and meekness they will never see God. Pride was the sin of Satan and Adam and continues to be the sin of all humanity to this day. May God pour out his Holy Spirit on all non believers so that they may know the truth and be set free!
God bless your ministry and may you always fight for the truth no matter what the costs!
Aiden B.
Splendid article! Indeed, facts and interpretation should be separated in the same way of theory vs hypothesis, etc. and an essential point to bring up, because it has become a mantra, is that facts don't “speak for themselves" but are deprived from our worldview, bias, etc. because past events like the origin of the universe are deprived from our worldview glasses which will determine our conclusions. Furthermore, I and CMI, as many others, have found that the Biblical glasses make the best sense of the scientific evidence.
Guy G.
This is one of the rare times I respectfully and mildly disagree with Lita. While I agree that creationists have some bias, it is relatively nothing to compared to the bias (actually, a result of blindness) with the evolutionist/atheist. When I first acquainted myself with the cre-evo debate, I was blown away by the blindness of the evolutionists. This led me to study the issue of blindness in the Bible. I still don’t understand it completely. It would appear one can find references that suggest that God causes blindness, Satan causes blindness, and that we can even blind ourselves. So I don’t understand it. In order to understand the “bias” of the evolutionist, we must understand that they are blind to the truth. Jesus illustrated this in Lk16:29–31. Even if someone came back from the dead, they wouldn’t believe. What I do understand is that the illumination of the Holy Spirit wipes blindness away.. When doubting Nathanael met Jesus in Jn 1, the combination of evidence (Jesus describing his recent past) and belief “turned the lights on” and he believed Jesus was the Son of God. His heart was open, and the H.S. came and did the saving. The flip side of blindness is illumination, and IMHO, only the Holy-Spirit-turned-on-Christian can honestly see both sides of cre-evo question. This is what made the Christian scientists of centuries ago so marvelous–they could study science with honesty that was spiritually inspired. Isn’t it interesting that the evo demands that “creation not be taught”, but the Christian wants to show both sides–including evo–so that the individual can make an informed decision. A Christian’s bias is a result of our experience with God. Bias for the evo/atheist is the result of blindness in his soul, a very different issue..
Christopher W.
Consider a jigsaw puzzle. All the bits are tipped out on the floor and you start collecting together and arranging the parts, eventually hoping to replicate the scene/picture that the jigsaw puzzle is for. Now, how did you know how to arrange the parts? The presumption made is that the jigsaw was in the right box and will produce the picture on the lid of the box. It is fundamentally impossible to prove otherwise until you start assembling the puzzle, and the greater your conviction that the box was the right box, the harder you'd find it to admit that the parts will never make the hoped for picture. Whether one chooses evolution of creation is no different - you need a starting point with which to compare the evidence {aka jigsaw pieces}. Try using the same evidence against both presumed starting points and decide which "box-lid" picture fits the evidence best. As with jigsaws, once you have a lot of pieces in place, the rest follow quickly, and similarly, when making a jigsaw having made a mistake and forced in parts that don't quite match, it gets more and more difficult to fit the remaining pieces in.
Gary T.
I've said the same for many years now: If you want to show that you're reasonably objective, you need to admit to your biases. And when I discuss this with friends, I also point out our other biases — favorite sports teams, favorite foods, favorite authors, etc. I also point out that if you bowl (ten-pin bowling) and you put a spin on that ball, then you've given that ball a bias. Because my professional background is in electronics (I worked in telecom for 30+ years, with the majority of that time maintaining/repairing cellular switches, and some of it also maintaining/repairing different types of radios), I've even pointed out the different kinds of technical biases found in electronics. I go to all that effort to show people that there are a lot of different kinds of biases, and the great majority of them are *not* bad, since most seem to have the mistaken view that *all* bias is bad.
Antonio H.
One of my in-laws was saying that he didn't want to listen to Bible talk because he didn't want to be radicalised. I had a bright thought from above and answered that he was already radicalised. He was puzzled, so I explained that we're all influenced by the media and the times we live in. I cited that what the media 'dictated' today about homosexuality, for instance, was not what they were expounding on only 50 years ago. Who was right? Them then or those now? One needs to be radicalised using one's reason and making an honest decision on the evidence presented.
Cameron N.
Sadly, I've also run into this problem when presenting your information to Christians as well. I was arguing for the Christian foundations of business ethics and law using mostly your articles due to them being heavily sourced and annotated but was told my argument is shaky because it came primarily from you guys. That is the authoritative fallacy, as truth can be spoken from anyone and is independent of anyone's beliefs or feelings.

However, I do believe a man's belief has a lot to do with credibility. If you truly believe and follow Biblical Christianity then you believe in the Lord and love what He loves...compassion, mercy, faith, goodness, peace making, hopeful, self-control, hard work, forgiveness. And hate what He hates... lies,lust, murder, strife, gossip, slander, pride etc. You see God as the Lord God of your life unchanging, and fear Him at His word and seek to emulate Him and walk as He walked.

To me a person with this demonstrable belief system will be dedicated to speaking and finding the truth and doing good because He genuinely fears God.

Conversely, an Atheist believes in nothing but a series of human reasoning stringed together in the theory of evolution. Reasoning that could simultaneously argue for Abortion as a proper modern culling evolutionary development in humans, and against Abortion as a dangerous practice that stops the spread of potentially favorable genes that might mutate in future offspring by those who undergo the procedure. It truly is a mess of lies bogged down by the futility of man.

Agnostics can be worse as their appeal is only to their personal limited reasoning, experience, and feelings and refuse to see beyond this obviously deficient paradigm.

Better to build a house of trust on the Lord unchanging than on sand.

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