Friday, January 16, 2009

Good words for today

"Until we have reached the perfect understanding, which must be beyond our grasp so long as this life lasts, the wise man will alternate between these two activities, using his religion as the inspiration and guidance of his life unless he sees real reason for disregarding it, while he is as relentlessly thorough as his mental capacity allows in bringing to bear upon that religion the purging criticism of philosophic inquiry." - William Temple

It is an unhealthy and dangerous thing to assume that we know something absolutely, ultimately, or infallibly. One of the basic tenets of science is the understanding that new and fascinating discoveries might - and hopefully will - force us to revamp our theories, improve our grasp of the underlying principles, and thus learn. There is a strange surety which has become prevalent in certain circles that a single religion (and/or philosophy) must be absolutely right, while no others can be right, nor can the chosen religion be the tiniest bit wrong. This is a terrible fallacy. We've only fallen into that same old trap, the one human beings have fallen into since time immemorial, the belief that "I know better than you." We are called to "test the spirits," to not be sure about anything in religion and philosophy but instead test our beliefs rigorously. At the same time, we need to be living out our beliefs as the best option we have available to us. This is to what Temple refers: we use our religion, our spirituality, as our inspiration and guide in life (in practice), but also question its "rightness" (in theory) every day. This is how we grow spiritually. Doubt is ingrained within the human mind, and even that "blessed assurance" must (and will) at some point come into question, because that is our nature. Human beings must be able to perceive mystery in order to be truly human, for it is that divine and ultimate Mystery of God which sustains our very lives.

1 comment:

  1. The verb transitive of "doubt", is to "challenge". Challenge, what a fantastic way to live. Can you imagine if we all spent our days, challenging ourselves? In our work, attitude, moral beliefs, and religious understandings. Wow...! We might cure cancer, tell someone we love them, not see the color in someone's face, or even believe in a hundred different Gods. I suggest we try it..!
    Didn't God present us with the greatest challenge of all? That which is to care for this earth and all that inhabits it.
    .......Doubt, Doubt, Challenge, Challenge...... everyday, all the time! What ever you come up with at the end of the day, sounds good to me! I accept the challenge!


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