Saturday, July 14, 2012

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry...

If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. If some one maintains that two and two are five, or that Iceland is on the equator, you feel pity rather than anger, unless you know so little of arithmetic or geography that his opinion shakes your own contrary conviction. The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.
– Bertrand Russell, “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish,” 1943

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The funny thing is, if you'd shown me this quote ten years ago it would have made me angry (or at least annoyed), because at the time I believed that faith and theology were about becoming more and more certain -- on a rational level -- of the rightness of my opinions.

Now, however, I am not angry. Nor am I afflicted with the false and patronizing pity born of pride. Rather, I feel deeply the Sadness of the pain of Unknowing, and also (sometimes) the gratitude born of glancing experiences of Grace.

To live right is not to be right, but rather to love well, and humbly, and often -- knowing full well that in everything other than that, you may very well be at least a little bit wrong.

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