There are no spoilers in this blog (in my opinion) in case you're worried about that. I'll only summarize the basic plot that you would've known anyway if you had only read the tiny description of the show in the Netflix browser. The premise is basically: girl meets boy, boy/girl like each other, girl falls for boy, boy tells girl that an asteroid is coming to destroy the earth in 8 months, girl thinks boy is crazy, girl goes on liking boy anyway.
Now, I come to the reason I am writing about this show. In the third episode, the boy, accompanied by the girl, presents his research and subsequent findings to a scientist. The camera backs out and the scene closes so that the viewers don't get to hear the spiel, but later it does come back in at the end of the speech and we hear enough of his close to understand that he got a proper platform for which to present his arguments uninterrupted. Later in the show, the girl is confiding in her mother that he "sounded so smart and insightful and passionate" when he had the chance to present what he had found but that she's feeling conflicted because she still thinks he's crazy. Then, for some reason I can't explain, she finds solace in her realization that his belief in the impending asteroid-earth collision isn't religion but pure math. Armed with this new epiphany, she explains to him that she admires him for living by his convictions, admits that his way of life is positive, contagious, and adds real value to others. She realizes that it doesn't matter if she believes what he believes. She can continue to have a relationship with him and support him in his beliefs whether she believes them or not.
The real-life applicable takeaway I learned here is this: You can aptly present factual arguments, even in an inarguable mathematical format, and even those who love you the most may still choose to believe the opposite in blind faith.
I'm not saying that the boy is right about the asteroid. It's a tv show. I'm saying that the girl sat and listened to the boy, admitted that he made intelligent arguments, has personally witnessed the benefits of harboring this belief, and EVEN understood that it was simply a matter of mathematics. She did all this but goes on to claim she believes the event won't happen. Take notice that she didn't make this decision because she looked through a telescope, examined the research, plotted the course of the earth herself, determined the trajectory of the asteroid and found his math to be full of errors. She simply and blindly chose to accept something else to be true. Her decision to believe he is wrong is a purposefully uninformed decision. She's knowingly choosing willful ignorance.
Now, perhaps the boy is wrong, in fact. It still wouldn't justify the girl's decision to believe that he is wrong without first exploring the issue herself. Ironically, she understands it only to be a matter of math, but doesn't bother to look at the math to look for the error. She just assumes it's wrong.
I can mathematically disprove the supposed age of the earth being in the billions of years. But, in showing people this math, I can't expect to convert someones belief system. It's a very useful tool in reinforcing people's belief system who already believe the same things as me. But, it's unlikely that it will serve as a very useful tool of conversion. Most will just convince themselves that there is some unseen trick in the math or will just simply do like this fictional girl did and write it off through willful ignorance.
The reason why it won't help to convert people is because our belief systems are not necessarily grounded in facts. We would like to think that they are, but our beliefs go deeper than that. They're not intellectually born. They reside in the heart. No one is without bias. Our bias' steer us. If you want to see someone in inner turmoil, find someone who believes differently from how they think. Regardless of what they may "know", they are a slave to their belief. Belief and thinking can't indefinitely be out of line. Eventually, one will win out.
Our beliefs steer us. Like a whip, they control us. We can break free of their bondage. But, it takes something much more powerful than a thought, a desire, a well-delivered speech, a sermon, or a presentation of facts. It takes an act of will. It's a matter of the heart. You can hear one of the aforementioned things like a sermon, for instance, and respond by willfully choosing to break free of your previous beliefs. But, make no mistake. It doesn't happen to you. No one can force you into freedom. You have to take those steps yourself.
It's a backwards concept to most of us. But, in Christianity, it requires that we first come to God and accept Him, before you will find it intellectually sound to do so. Until then, the spiritual blinders are still on. And, no amount of intellectual pursuit will get you there alone. If you, the reader, are one of those who don't believe in God, would like to, but don't feel like you can because intellectual roadblocks exist in your mind that are keeping you from accepting His existence, the relief I have to offer you is this: Once you surrender your will and choose God, there is a seemingly infinite amount of intellectual pursuits that stand to justify the choice you made. Again, it sounds backwards. But, what I'm suggesting to you is that, despite what you may think, your roadblocks are not intellectual ones after all. It's completely a matter of your will to choose to step away from the beliefs you've held many of which are baseless. So, make the choice. You won't be disappointed.