I’ve been reconnecting with friends and family here in the real world, going for coffee and having conversations. I must say, talking to real people is good. Probably healthy too. I’m also reading books that I really want to read, particularly relating to my current quest for understanding the inter-relationship of faith and learning, as alluded to in a previous post.
I had a conversation with my bro-in-law regarding a statement I made in that previous post, asking, “how can Christians negotiate the tension between faithfulness to Christ and the pursuit of academic excellence?” He thought that my saying that a tension exists was wrong, that there was no tension. I was happy for the challenge, because I really want to refine my thought in this area and that will not come easily.
As I started to think things through further in our conversation, what I came up with this: the skepticism necessary to promote academic learning has its place, but it is not a long term strategy for healthy living. Skepticism is not a whole-life strategy. Skepticism as a whole-life strategy produces cynicism and inaction, which are not exactly the fruit of the spirit. So, I think that skepticism has a role to play in particularly the life of the mind, but not in the life of the whole person. How to slice and dice that—if that’s even possible—is a whole other issue.
So, the quest continues, and the reading that I am currently doing is in that vein. I’m reading All Truth is God’s Truth by Arthur Holmes, and at the risk of putting way too much information in this post, I’ll close with this quote:
…learning, like anything else brings temptations. One temptation is to intellectual pride. But the cure for intellectual pride is not ignorance, any more than the cure for sexual license is celibacy. To prize ignorance, when God gives us the capacity and opportunity for understanding, is a sin, just as requiring celibacy is wrong I view of God’s call to make marriage something holy. The ultimate cure for sin is the grace of God which can overcome both sexual license and intellectual pride. Moreover, I regard to pride, it is a little knowledge and not a lot that is a dangerous thing. The person who has worked for years to acquire extensive learning usually recognizes how little he knows. The horizons of his knowledge are also the frontiers of his ignorance. But the undisciplined mind that has not learned its own limitations more easily takes selfish pride in the little it knows. (p. 29)
4 responses to “Conversing in the Real World”
I agree that skepticism seems to breed, especially, inaction. I’m not sure that it needs to breed cynicism though. In any case, I empathize with your reservations on skepticism being a healthy posture for life.
Good quote. Consitent with the maxim, though probably an inaccurate paraphrase, “the more you know, the more you see you have to learn”.
Good use of the maxim my man. Every question I answer breeds a few more.
As for skepticism, I don’t think that it has to breed cynicism, but my experience has shown me that it does so amongst those who exercise too broadly as an approach to life.
Fair. I was reading you through too extreme a lense. You would say skepticism has its place, but only ‘a’ place, not ‘the only’ place. To this I would have to agree.
I’m also reminded of Willard’s claim that skepticism is only healthy if a person, along with the ability to doubt their beliefs, is willing to doubt their doubts.
Have fun in Brandon.
Ah, good use of Willard. Doubt your doubts indeed.
I think the real danger of skepticism is pride; the false assumption that what works as a discipline for academic inquiry pertains to all of life. Hubris I tell you.