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David Hegg: The choices we make will make an impact tomorrow

Posted: August 3, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 3, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

It has long been understood that we always choose according to our best interests. That’s the way our minds work.

Even if we deny ourselves something, like a third fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie, we do so because at that moment what we want more is to look good at our upcoming high school reunion.

Psychologists and sociologists all agree we make our choices on the basis of importance, choosing in every situation what we believe is in our best interest.

But that means there is even more to the story.

None of us actually makes random choices. We all choose from the options before us according to some prior set of facts we have gathered and archived in the “neuro-lockers” of our brains.

Think of your brain as a huge warehouse full of file cabinets filled with bits of information that your senses have been collecting from the day you were born. Your brain sorts them, clarifies them, and stores them for future use.

It is this information that lies behind the choices you and I make.

Take, for instance, the clothes you chose to wear today. You didn’t choose them randomly. As you stepped into your closet to get dressed, your brain was working through all the options and giving you the best choice.

You chose what you’re wearing for any number of good reasons: because it was clean, or someone thought you looked good in it, or you were going to church, or you were going to work in the yard.

Whatever it was, your choice was based on prior information accessed by your own will in regard to your plans for the day.

So what’s my point? It isn’t really to dig any deeper into the neuroscience of the brain, since I don’t claim to know any more about it than what I’ve read.

What I do want to say is that this whole process makes it very clear that what you put into your brain had better be the best information you can find.

If our choices are fueled by the information our brain has organized and now holds as essential to our choices, then we’d better guard carefully what we allow into our warehouse.

So many of our personal values, and the choices that stem from them, are built on things we’ve come to believe.

But are they true?

For example, what do you believe about the probability that absolute truth actually exists? In our post-modern era, many now believe that nothing can be known with certainty unless it can be known perfectly and completely.

And since there is always the possibility we can learn something new tomorrow, it is impossible to be certain today.

Believe it or not, many have allowed this nonsense to hold a primary spot in their warehouses, and it certainly fuels their choices.

If there is no absolute truth, then all standards and laws and social mores are up for grabs.

We are then in a fully subjective universe where there is no absolute right or wrong, and ultimately, those with the most power and resources will enforce their brand of right on the rest of us.

When computers first came along, someone gave the world the simple formula “garbage in, garbage out” to describe the importance of programming the computer correctly.

You get out what you put in. The same is true for our minds.

Be careful what you believe. It is as simple as that. Take in information, but form a grid through which to sift its veracity.

Read, listen, and watch, but build a robust form of discernment so you aren’t bamboozled by the torrent of information that floods us every day.

Remember, a mind is a terrible thing to clutter.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. “Ethically Speaking” runs every Sunday in The Signal.

 

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