Friday, June 09, 2006

Humility is Never Having to Say "I'm Certain." Not!

The following from bethinking.org's monthly email was too good to keep to myself:

"Humble : bethinkers know that our understanding of some truths is fallible, and will not press a point beyond what the evidence allows."


Being less sure doesn't make you humble. That's just a plain fact. In the past, humility was the opposite of pride. But now it has become the opposite of conviction. Being sure of something is now often considered a character flaw. There are three basic reactions to being challenged. Reaction one is to turn the volume up. For example Fundamentalists seemed to have more "certainties" than they could every justify from Scripture. The next reaction is to turn the volume right down. This might seem humble, however, the danger might be that we overreact with equally arrogant assertions of uncertainty when God has clearly spoken. The third and final reaction is to turn the volume to a level so that you can actually hear the conversation or challenge and interact with it, but while you still keep the music on.
In the wake of all of this we should ponder carefully this question - Do we have the humility to doubt ourselves while having the courage to witness to the truth as it has been revealed?

1 comment:

David said...

Outstanding quote Keith. Reminds me of Chesterton's quote on 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."