I think it’s very difficult for any of us to be objective about any subject, especially something we care deeply about, but my objective observation is that liberals tend to be less aware of and less willing to admit their biases.
We see this often, which I’ll get to, but first, let me relate how this phenomenon most recently came to my attention.
In a conversation with a saleswoman for online college courses, I expressed my disappointment that the professor of a religion course I was considering for purchase is an avowed atheist. I said that if I were going to spend time studying the subject, I’d prefer the professor share my Christian worldview.
Don’t misunderstand. I think it can be profitable to learn what nonbelieving “scholars” teach about the Bible, but the point I want to discuss here is the woman’s response.
She maintained that it is preferable, for this largely secular course on the Bible, to have a professor who can approach the subject from an objective, critical and historical perspective, as if a believing professor would be incapable of that approach. But is that true?
Her error is assuming that nonbelief equates to objectivity. In fact, every human being — and thus every professor — has a worldview, and that worldview will inevitably influence his perception of the material. Every professor will have made critical intellectual decisions on a multitude of issues in the material, all of which will be influenced by his worldview.
For example, if you don’t believe in miracles, you’d be more inclined to discount those verses of Scripture describing miraculous events, from the Virgin Birth to Jesus’ converting water into wine to the bedrock Christian belief: the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Nonbelievers might be more receptive to “higher criticism” and the “documentary hypothesis” and thus less skeptical of the theory that Moses didn’t write the first five books of the Old Testament. They might be quicker to focus on apparent contradictions in Scripture that critical examination often reveals are not contradictions at all.
A believer in the divine inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture will certainly bring his biases into biblical exegesis, but so will a nonbeliever. We cannot escape our biases.
But the woman insisted the secular professor is only interested in presenting the material from a critical and historical perspective. A noble aspiration, I concede, should the professor actually possess it, but nevertheless unattainable. Historians and critical readers have biases, too. They can’t help it.
It’s just wrong to assume that a nonbelieving worldview is more objective than a believing one. We are all blessed (or burdened) with our presuppositions, and they accompany us wherever we go.
It occurred to me that the woman’s argument is analogous to the political liberals’ legendary denial of bias. Indeed, many liberals don’t even view themselves as liberals. Rather, they are reality- and fact-based creatures. Only conservatives allow their biases to taint their objectivity. Liberals will admit that some conservatives are rational, but to be both rational and conservative, they must be evil. They know the policies they support are wrong, objectively, but they choose to do so anyway — or something like that.
Evidence abounds: Scholarly studies show that mainstream journalists are overwhelmingly liberal, yet many deny it, and many honestly don’t even see the biases they bring to their selection and reporting of the “news.” ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, for example, denies her liberal biases, saying she “remains in the realm of fact.” The Bush haters who deceived themselves about Bush’s alleged WMD lies claimed they were reality-based when in “reality” their hatred made them stark-raving mad on the subject. A liberal college professor touting open academic inquiry banned “conservative” materials from class because she refused “to tolerate the intolerable.” Members of the man-made global warming cult dogmatically proclaim a consensus despite strong dissent. Environmentalists extrapolate this mindset in their approach to scores of issues, traveling utterly quixotic paths and pursuing devastatingly expensive larks while dismissing skeptics as flat-earthers. Obama constantly refers to his ideas
as self-evidently reasonable and Republicans’ as driven solely by partisanship, because how could they possibly oppose his reality-based proposals?
As a conservative, I believe that many liberals proceed from good intentions, though I think their consistently horrendous results entitle us to some skepticism after a while even as to their intentions — or at least to their ability to see past their oppressive biases. I don’t believe, for example, that they are racists because their policies harm minorities, though they often do. I don’t believe they automatically lack compassion just because their policies spread misery.
Yet many liberals do believe that conservatives are evil, uncompassionate racists because our policies don’t fit their self-serving, narrow, shallow parameters of “good intentions.” Many leftists are so possessed by a need to be morally superior that they can’t abide the possibility that conservatives also have noble intentions. So it is that many who believe they are objective, fair and reality-based are far less so than the objects of their scorn.