Saturday, June 16, 2012

Basic Logic, education and disagreeing

There are Facts, which anyone with a brain cannot argue although many people do.  There are opinions which we can argue.  There is also the interpretation of facts which is actually an opinion.

Once our pastor preached that Peter denied Christ because of fear.  I asked them to provide me with a Bible passage that told us Peter was afraid when he denied Christ.  At first he told me "sure".  Later he told me it was "implied".  I asked how?  He explained that fear was the reason.  I gave him an alternate possible reason, arrogance.  I told him that Peter could have been waiting in the front yard of the High Priest's house to rescue Christ.

This is not a new idea.  The idea of Peter thinking he could take on multiple opponents and succeed is well defined in the Garden of Gethsemane.  For over two thousand years theologians have discussed the various reasons Peter denied Christ.

This pastor told me he disagreed with me in front of a Bible study class.

Disagreed with what?

I did not say that Peter DID deny Christ because Peter wanted to rescue Christ.  I said that it was a possibility and it is one I chose to believe as being more likely.

Did he disagree that Peter could have denied Christ for reasons other than fear?

Did he disagree that I believed it?

Did he disagree that the Bible did not define the reasons why Peter denied Christ?

Of course not.  He just disagreed with ME.

Anyone who has read of Peter attacking the High Priest's guards in the Garden of Gethsemane and who believes fear is one of Peter's main motivators is not being very genuine.  I asked the pastor to explain why, if Peter was afraid, he was hanging out in the court yard of the High Priest's house.  People who are afraid typically don't walk into the walled court yard of their enemy.  The pastor said that was no big deal, to hang out in the yard of an enemy.

Is that a can of worms or what?

Once I was in a bar when three gun shots rang out from the bathroom.  Of the couple hundred people in the bar three of us fought against the crowd rushing out to get into the room where the gun was fired.  Maybe my pastor would have been one of the three of us.  Maybe, but.....

I have placed myself in many situations where my life is in danger and I am well aware that people talk a better game than they actually play.  When the guns start shooting, when people start kicking ass, most people run.  One of the disciples ran when the guards showed up.

Peter not only did not run he attacked those who came to take Christ and then walked right into the den of the "lion".

Yeah, somehow I don't see fear being a big motivator in Peter's life or his denial of Christ.

So the only thing to disagree with is my believing Peter was more likely arrogant enough to think he could rescue Christ and did not want his plans interrupted because he was recognized than he was afraid.

I read a discourse on this issue once, it had been copied from a document written around 1200 AD.  The basic idea in the document that Peter was waiting to help Christ somehow and he denied Christ because he was "afraid" he would be stopped from helping Christ.  The author also discussed other potential motivators.

One of the problems with guys like me, guys who stand flipping the bird at people who are shooting at them, people who walk into the gunfire instead of run away from it, is that while fear is present it is rarely a motivator for action.

People who have been in firefights are always amazed at the number of misses, especially in low light conditions.  Even at the range I have seen cops (and other people) miss targets 8 feet in front of them.  So standing and letting a guy shoot at me is actually just taking an educated chance.  Sure, I could be hit.  Not likely at 75 ft in low light conditions.

Most people would think standing and letting a guy shoot at me was stupid, or crazy.  To me it was just taking a chance at a time when I knew the odds were in my favor.  Untrained kid with a 22 from between 75 and 100 feet at night.  Yeah, find a range with targets 100 feet away, turn down the lights and start shooting at a silhouette with a 22.  If you hit in a vital area I will buy you a beer.

Sure, tough guys, cops, fire fighters, military, special ops, are afraid.  The difference between them and the rest of the world is that fear is not a primary motivator of their actions.  This is not my opinion, this is a fact proved by behavioral studies over and over again.  The exact motivations are different, some are narcissistic, some are selfless, very occasionally they are grand ideas like freedom and democracy (not often though).

People have primary motivators.  Fear, or avoidance if you like the politically correct ideas.  Courage, or desire if you blah blah blah.  My primary motivator is desire or courage or crazy, however you want to put it so I decide what I want, I factor in the variables and make a decision to do something like stand and let someone shoot at me.

If I have enough information to make a good decision, if I want something, I do it.  Otherwise I pretty much ignore it.  For example, I may choose not to fight with someone because I want peace more than I want a fight.

Do me, and yourself, a favor. If you have not had special training don't just go stand in front of a guy shooting at you.  Yeah, even cops miss short range targets in good lighting conditions, but, you could end up facing someone trained in point shooting who is holding the gun sideways and will hit you 6 times out of 10.  Make a choice for peace and run.

So when I, or other people to whom fear or avoidance is not a primary motivator, hear about someone we know has reacted without fear before doing something we don't think of fear as being a motivator for them.  We wonder why they did what they did.

Of course if fear, or avoidance, is a persons primary motivator then it would be natural to assume that fear is everyone's primary motivator and seek out facts that support the idea of fear as the motivator.

Of course, my pastor disagrees with highly regarded theologians over thousands of years and all the behavioral studies.  Probably because fear is a primary motivator.

Why bother with logic or educating oneself when it is so much easier to disagree.

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