The Experiential Echo Chamber

Our experiences amplify our beliefs.

Are you familiar with the echo chamber effect? Learning about this was one of many fun reasons to be a Psych major (not as fun as being in class with basketball players, but still pretty fun). The echo chamber effect kicks into gear when a biased bit of information gets into the information stream and gets picked up by multiple sources, amplified and passed along as unbiased.

For a long while, I would have said that our goal was to escape the echo chamber, to slip into the realm of unbiased data examined objectively. But I've become more and more skeptical that such a realm exists, skeptical that there are unbiased data or that I am capable of examining them objectively.

It is hard to be objective when matters of loyalty are at stake. Duke is slated to win my NCAA bracket. I know it's a long shot, but I'm not objective. Nor should I be. I value loyalty.

It is hard to be objective when matters of love are at stake. Amy is the most amazing woman in the world. I know not everyone will share my opinion, but I'm not objective. Nor should I be. I value love.

I like to be around Duke fans and I really like to be around Amy fans. The world is full of them, so it's not difficult to find them. They amplify my dearly held biases. And I think that that's a good thing.

Not all biases are to be nourished. There are some echo chambers we should never enter, some we should strive to escape. Some echo chambers send us on evil spirals, reinforcing beliefs and experiences that deepen our bondage to sin and amplify our brokenness.

The Bible is an echo chamber.

We all have experiences of Jesus and God, experiences that provide either true or false data to our ever-developing view of the world. Something is going to amplify your experiences. Maybe several things will amplify your experience. South Park. Church. GCF. Lectures attended. Books read. Late-night fraternity conversations.

We bounce from echo chamber to echo chamber, constantly exposing our experiences to amplifying influences.

If the Bible is God's way of breaking through the scandal of particularity and providing us with the roots, shoots and ladders we need to know him as he really is, if that's what the Bible is, then it's a God-given experiential echo chamber. We can go to it not just to find trust, but to amplify it.

And this is what lies at the heart of a Jesus-trusting dive into the Bible. The church fathers pulled these writings together because they believed that reading them in the church community would amplify and preserve the testimony handed down from the first witnesses.

This line of argumentation follows Anselm's fides quaerens intellectum and is, I know, a backward way of thinking theologically. But I find it helpful.

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