Unchallenged Thought

February 11, 2008

Thinking is only thinking if it’s challenged, only then is it a verb.  Unchallenged thinking is only a thought and that, left unchallenged, is prejudice.  If you enter a conversation and there is no chance of anyone changing their perspectives it is a pointless exercise.

Where is this coming from?  Over the past few days I’ve had the opportunity, at this blog and elsewhere to witness people unwilling to accept challenges to their preconceived notions.   This frustrates me.  I’ve spent the majority of my life, with the exception of two years, in an environment that is antithetical to most of what I believe.  If you’re a Christian going through public education or university you are in an environment that at best tolerates you for your aberrant beliefs and at worst openly mocks what you believe.

Before you dismiss me and what I believe as stupid perhaps you should consider whether or not any of your perceptions of the world have ever faced serious or constant challenge.  Contrary to popular belief, you can move through life as an atheist or agnostic and never be seriously challenged intellectually.  It requires thinking to actually believe something.  Otherwise, it’s only a thought.



  1. I couldn’t agree more. There is a serious confusion between epistemic certainty and emotional or psychological certainty.


  2. I would challenge this, but I think I agree.

  3. Hi Nathan,
    Thanks for commenting.
    I had to look up Epistemic to make sure I read it in the same way. But if I read you right most people assume the believer operates on strictly emotional and/or psychological certainty using no framework of analysis to reason through their belief, but we’re forced to.
    Hey Matthew,
    When I read your comment last night it took me a few moments to get. Then I laughed, both at the comment and how slow I was reading it.

  4. Liam,

    Great thoughts. I agree, and therefore will leave them unchallenged. 🙂

    I believe that a lack of willingness to enter into a dialogue about thoughts/ beliefs/ positions often comes from someone either espousing the ideas & thoughts of others that they have adopted as their own, or because they fear any conversation will turn into a debate that they cannot defend.

    In either case it is safer to stand rigid in your beliefs then to take a chance that doubt might send you into a time of questioning. Sadly, neither questioning beliefs nor living with the mystery are held in high regard.

    There is so much freedom in building relationships of love where people are free to share in one another’s lives. I am part of a prison chaplaincy program with several Catholics, a Buddhist, a Muslim Imam, and a Native American spiritual guide. I love that we are free to get to know more about each other and our traditions. In doing so I have found so many similarities, as well as many things that have helped me in my own faith.

    As for the experiences of a Christian in a secular academic setting, I too have been through that and it is very frustrating. I think that most of this comes from the Christians they see in the media, and will usually change as they get to know you. At least that is my hope for you.

    Have a great night brother,

  5. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for the words of wisdom. I’ve spent so many times in periods of questioning that sometimes I feel like a boat with sails taking me where they will. I’m growing more comfortable with the mystery part of faith though. An infinite God can do what he wants.
    Thanks again,


  6. Thanks for this.

  7. […] Kinnon had a wonderful post on his blog. I love the first paragraph: Thinking is only thinking if it’s challenged, only then is it a […]

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