In the introduction to this eight-week
experiment, a “bell curve” was used to illustrate how, in the matter of discussions regarding faith, 90% of what we hear these days tends to come from the 5% at either end of the spectrum — the vocal hard-line atheists at one end, and the unyielding “bible-banging” fundamentalists at the other end. The point of the illustration is that while the fringe groups are interested only in one-way communication (monologue), the vast majority of us reside in the “skeptical middle” where we honestly struggle with unanswered questions, and where true two-way communication (dialogue) should be taking place.
While the illustration made some sense, I began to wonder: If there really is this large dromedarian peak in the middle, why there isn’t more dialogue taking place? Perhaps one of the reasons is that wrestling with doubts, listening to dissenting viewpoints, and testing our own belief systems requires humility, willingness to change, and the hard work of thinking. Why go to all that trouble, when it’s so much easier to let someone else do our thinking for us?
So for the most part, those of us in the middle have long ago decided which of the competing voices we’d rather listen to, and have drifted away from the center, where we can better hear the voices we like, and ignore the ones we don’t. It happens in “red state vs. blue state” politics, and it happens in discussions of faith. The result is a polarized distribution that looks much more Bactrian than dromedary: