02 December 2007

They know; we "only" believe -- Wisdom Sunday

It is...obvious that knowing has both a subjective and an objective pole.... What seems to have happened in our culture is a falling apart, a disconnect between the subjective and objective poles. We have on the one hand the ideal...of a kind of objectivity which is not possible, of a kind of knowledge of what we call the "facts" which involves no personal commitment; and on the other hand a range of beliefs which are purely subjective, which are..."true for me"...but which are a matter of personal and private choice. To suggest that these latter beliefs ought to be accepted as true for all is to be guilty of the unforgivable sin -- dogmatism. And...this dichotomy between knowing and believing is embodied in...our public schools and universities. This dichotomy is seen at its sharpest in...the First Amendment. There is a legally enforced division between what is called science and what is called religion. The one may be taught as public truth, the other may not. To teach that human beings exist as the result of the successful elimination of weaker species by those which have accidentally inherited superior strength of skill is allowed. To teach that human beings exist to glorify God and enjoy him forever is not allowed. [B]oth of these beliefs refer to what is believed to be true for all human beings. They are both -- if true -- extremely important. Both of them are affirmations about what is the case. One is held to be a matter of objectively true facts, even though [it] is obviously incapable of proof; the other is held to be a matter of private opinion. It may be taught in churches which are voluntary associations of those who choose to belong to them; it may not be taught as part of public truth. Lesslie Newbiggin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, p. 23.

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James Frank SolĂ­s
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 22 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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