Having an opinion does not make you smart. In fact, it can if held without humility or respect for other opinions, hamper your intelligence. An opinion can make you feel as though you have nothing to learn from others. Your opinion can cripple your ability to see things from multiple vantage points and is not receptive of new or different information. This tends to lead to the cliche of uninformed opinions or unrepentant notions that people hold despite all evidence. It also makes you seek information only from sources that affirm your opinion. Believing you are smart or have the only way of looking at things can lead to a lack of respect of others. This in the end will hamper you spiritually. The arrogance of holding a certain opinion is when you look at disdain at others. Arrogance or pride is one of the deadly sins.
Today, we have many people who invoke God but have long sense lost any real belief in God. Afterall if you can invoke at will God to enforce your opinion that is not God but a yes man. I believe the attitude of thinking an opinion makes you smart is connected to the lost of belief in God. God for many has taken on a magical incantation of words that either prove you right or give you the right to enforce your belief on others. Notice that none of this requires a belief in God. In fact, to invoke God’s name is to break one of the Ten Commandments Thou shall not use the Lord thy God’s name in vain. You as a human do not have the power to call God forth to empower you. It is more an asking thing you need to do. But nowadays if you have an opinion of what God thinks you can claim special knowledge and do not have to listen to others or the Other.
The things that I know I am intelligent on came to me through hard work. I studied, I listened to different points of view, I continue to think about them, to meditate about them, to read about them, and after years of this I have developed a strong sense of the essence of the issue. And the other essential part is it correlates with some rational world view others can understand. But how have so many become experts on so many things so quickly? I explain it with the sociological phenomenon of the ‘Freshman Effect’. The freshman/woman who has started their first year of college is confronted with many new ideas and experiences they have never had before. The adrenaline rush of new intelligence makes them feel invincible intellectually. They return home to tell their older and more experienced parents every new idea of which they barely have a handle on as if they are the gospel. At first it can be considered sweet naivete’. But it becomes worrisome when they become very cemented in ideas, they have not spent any real time. After a while, it develops into an annoyance and later becomes arrogance. And ultimately, if not careful. It can become authoritarian effecting their attitudes and life.
I think in the society and culture we are now experiencing the Freshman Effect. The internet has brought us new information and experiences and we have an intellectual adrenaline push from so many people of all ages at one time. The internet the land of anyone can say their opinions on any subject rather they know anything about it or not. The information they have is new but the deep thought and long lived with the thought is not yet there. Neither is the further study that Freshman will continue to get. I can hardly wait for broadband to reach all everyone. Our whole country can experience the Freshman effect.
The advent of the internet and the information it has made available is wonderful. The problem is too many have the Freshman Effect They feel that they now must express opinions on everything even those things that do not affect them or they even care that much about. And now they have found a piece of information or person on the internet that agrees with them. Their opinion not only makes them smart but beware they have people who agree with them.
We might make it through this. A minority full of opinions is now threatening to use violence to assert their opinion. This violence is both physical and verbal. And even intellectual. They deny science while claiming they believe in it, they practice racism while becoming angry when accused of racism, they challenge obvious facts while accusing others of this, they twist democratic institutions to their will while asserting they are patriots, and yes they invoke God as on their side while they live lives that do not have any real Godly love for others. We are in trouble. God help us all.