Saturday, 23 April 2011

Certainty and expertise

Once again, Dr McGrath hits the spot with this post.

It really is what draws me to the Quakers' self-reliance when it comes to questions of faith.

We cannot look to the professed certainties of others to compensate for our own lack of conviction.

It is in fact remarkable that Quakers agree about anything. My own faith derives from the existence of core values of "love in action" associated with whatever the individual derives from their own "light". Improbable agreement plucked from the jaws of diversity.

To be able to live with this level of uncertainty may be intolerable to some but, in Addition to what Dr McGrath says about the true expert who knows his/her limitations, versus the certainty conferred by ignorance, any level of vagueness is surely preferrable to a certainty which would have us going forth to reek havoc against Christians, Moslems, or Jews, or anyone else we might identify as a pariah.


  1. I am concerned, Reg, than in decrying "certainty," we fall into the morass of ethics which has no basis in any fact at all. Certainly, forgive the pun, there are facts on which we can hang our spiritual hats and all beliefs are not the same? Some clearly lead the believer to kill, maim, or otherwise trespass on another's sacred right and these are obviously wrong. However, can we really relativize faith until it becomes virtually meaningless? It seems that the more we do so in the public sphere, the more concrete the literalists become. Just a thought.

  2. And a very good thought it is too, but I'm attempting to describe what i feel rather than what I ought to think.

    As much as uncertainty may leave literalists an open target, I think the danger is greater in polarised discussions, which allow those with some provocative agenda to goad their opponent into extremity, which provokes only dissension. This has been my experience.