Monday, November 19, 2012


Knowledge and Humility

Justin Taylor quotes Michael Kruger, John Frame and GK Chesterton to make a case that Humility does not mean we are uncertain about truth. But of the three quotes, only Chesterton still acknowledges the need for humility:
What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed.

Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert—himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt—the Divine Reason. . . . The new skeptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn. . . . There is a real humility typical of our time; but it so happens that it’s practically a more poisonous humility than the wildest prostrations of the ascetic. . . .

The old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which makes him stop working altogether. . . . We are on the road to producing a race of man too mentally modest to believe in the multiplication table. (Orthodoxy [reprint, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1995], 36-37.)

I always worry when I read stuff like this - not because I think we are suppose to be uncertain, but becasue It's not really about what we know, but how we express what we know.

Just a couple of quick comments. One, what we know and what we think we know are two very different things. Let us take the doctrine of the Trinity as an example. Do we "know" this? I would argue a definitive "NO." You see the very doctrine itself is essentially an admission of a mystery - an agreement to not know. And yet, we often use this doctrine, this doctrine of not-knowing, as if it were the most certain thing pinning down our entire universe. God, most certainly is that essential pin, but His precise nature is beyond us.

Having a doctrine that says it is beyond us does not mean we understand, it just means we can make our lack of understanding sound important.

Secondly, knowing something is not a license to be a jerk. All of us remember Joe-straight-A's. The guy that always got the best grades and was more than willing to make sure we knew it and make sure the rest of us knew that we had to sit towards the rear of the classroom to make room for his enormous brain. In my calls this person had the name "Norma." Or as we refereed to her when she was not listening "Abnorma." She was a tad bit reviled. Was she smart - oh yeah, very. But no one cared because she was a jerk.
Jesus undoubtedly know all there was to know about quantum physics. Yet He said nothing. Knowing the truth and saying it are two very different things.
Technorati Tags:,
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator


<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Feed


eXTReMe Tracker

Blogarama - The Blog Directory