Assumption: [uh-suhmp-shuhn] (noun) – something taken for granted; a supposition

I’m not sure that innocuous definition does justice to the dangerous power of assumptions. Maybe the subtlety of the definition hints at the subtlety of the concept, but it certainly does nothing to suggest its power.

  • Assumptions are “just the way things are.”
  • Assumptions are “how its always been done.”
  • Assumptions are “the way the world works.”

I’m going to be teaching about assumptions for the next couple of Wednesday nights, and I wonder what the Fumbling family thinks about them. My own definition still doesn’t do them justice: “Assumptions are concepts that are merely supposed to be true, without consideration, investigation, or questioning.”

Here are some of the dangers associated with assumptions:

  • Assumptions lie at the root of many, if not all, prejudices (could they be synonyms?).
  • The unexamined nature of assumptions quenches imagination, because they disallow (or at least *strongly* resist) creative thinking and challenging.
  • Assumptions blind us to reality: because we THINK we know something, we fail to see it for what it is and (more importantly) what it can be.

How would you define assumption? What would you add to the list of dangers associated with assumptions?


About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 18 January, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Assumptions are essentially what cultural studies call “worldview.” They are the things that we don’t call into question, the things that we use to analyze everything else around us.

    The problem, of course, is that our worldview comes to us from our culture. It takes conscious effort to allow the Bible to reshape that worldview, those assumptions that we all make. Without that conscious effort, we allow our assumptions to reshape the Bible. That’s the biggest danger I see.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  2. Nick – it’s also worth noting the positive aspects of assumptions – that they free us from having to constantly question every aspect of every facet of a plan, which can lead to “paralysis by analysis.” In Christianity, our assumption ought to be the unconditional love and grace of Jesus, despite our personal failings and falling short of his glory.

    In that respect, I offer the official Joint definition, which I think makes the point well:
    “A supposition on the current situation or a presupposition on the future course of events, either or both assumed to be true in the absence of positive proof, necessary to enable the commander in the process of planning to complete an estimate of the situation and make a decision on the course of action.”

    The key here, I think, is that we cannot base our lives on assumptions – but neither can we get so caught up in questioning every little thing that can go wrong that we fail to act on what is in front of us.

    Good topic!

  3. Assumptions lack the most (if not all) necessary data they imply they know

  4. Assumptions repeated often enough become theories … repeated too often, become facts. The sun revolves around the earth. Humans have 48 chromosomes. And on and on.

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