B: A better question may be, why do we care? And the answer to that question is that if we want to distinguish the truth from the lies, we have to have an open mind, in case there is truth we don’t know about something (which could be just about anything). If we had a “closed,” or “non-open,” mind, then we would be holding on insistently to some belief, whether or not that belief is consistent with truth, so if we ever come across an idea that may contradict our belief, we wouldn’t have any inclination to test its truth – to do so would require an open mind. So that brings up your question: what, then, is an “open” mind?
A (sighing exasperatingly): Whatever.
B: Well, what do you think it is? When we say “open,” we mean to any or all possibilities that may not have been considered before. Which usually means we need to change or eliminate the restrictions we may have had on our previous thinking.
But we’ve got to be careful to not simply dismiss any previous thinking as erroneous. If we did then we would be putting a new restriction on our thinking – specifically, that of the idea that nothing of the past could be of any use to us now. But there may be some things that are still true, and always will be, which is natural to suppose if we assume the existence of some eternal truth, which we have.
Furthermore, if we already know something to be eternally true, what good does it do us to have an “open mind” about it, or to consider the possibility that it’s not true, if we already know that it is true? There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, if the “wheel” was already truth. For instance, what good does it do us to consider the idea that two and two make five? In the real number system that we have invented for our own use, consisting of our own axioms and definitions of numbers and arithmetic operations, that we ourselves have made, we already know whether or not this is true. There’s no need to explore the proposed possibility, since we already know it to be false – unless we decide to redefine things in a different way, or to discuss entirely different number systems altogether. But that would be an entirely new question altogether.
In short, if we want to have an open mind about truth – and we should! – we would need to be aware of all the restrictions that we put on our own thinking, and to be careful as to whether or not those restrictions are accurate.
How surprised might we be about the restrictions we put on our own thinking? There are many who may consider themselves open-minded, but how aware are they of their own thinking restrictions? For instance, I’m wondering how open so-called “free thinkers” are to ideas such as the one that science may be wrong on occasion? Or that the assumptions that have been made in its advancement might not be entirely accurate? How about the idea that by restricting ourselves to a certain standard of moral living, we actually open up possibilities for knowledge that we may not have had available to us otherwise, and this because there is a God, i.e. a Source of truth “activated” by our standard of living 1? Which would mean that if we want to obtain that knowledge, we would have to be intolerant of certain philosophies and behaviors in ourselves, and so what many call “intolerance” would lead to further enlightenment than would otherwise be possible. How truly open are those free thinkers to these ideas? It would be more than just a bit hypocritical if they would intolerantly dismiss them.