Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wise Words on Skepticism and Humility by Tim Troutman

Writes Troutman:

The proud man, says C.S. Lewis, cannot see God because he is always looking down his nose at things and people, and so long as you are looking down, you cannot see what is above you. We can never let ourselves forget that in this on-going search for truth, the truth will always remain above us. We must approach the truth as children ready to be transformed by and conformed to something greater than ourselves and not as aggressors. We do not conquer the truth; if we seek it rightly, it will conquer us....

But none of this means that we can’t know truth nor that we should too readily profess agnosticism. Arrogance is a danger but skepticism is also dangerous and is not true humility. Recently, there has been some lively discussion in response to Bryan and Neal’s article on sola vs solo scriptura. Some have agreed that there is no principled distinction; others are unwilling to grant the distinction, but the sole objection seems to be this: that the Catholic position is no better. Bryan, myself, and others have given reasons in the combox why we do not believe this to be the case, but I am particularly interested in drawing out a one-liner, not well received and perhaps for good reason, that I left on Chris Donato’s blog. I claimed that “there is a difference between humility and skepticism.”...

I find most counter arguments to be based in skepticism, in fact, and I don’t find that to be a humble approach to history or to truth seeking. E.g. How can we be certain that there is an unbroken line of Apostolic Succession from the Apostles until now? We can’t know who is rightfully pope because sometimes there were multiple claims to the See of Peter. Many of the popes said and did bad things, etc. Now all of these objections deserve answers in due course; I wouldn’t deny it, but I believe that skepticism is a hindrance to one who is honestly seeking the truth in humility. In short, I find skepticism to be a counterfeit humility. True humility consists not in denying knowledge nor in saying that truth is unattainable, but in admitting that one’s knowledge is imperfect and that the truth we do see, is only through a glass darkly.
Read the whole thing here.

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