Tag Archives: Truth

We all need a little more John Milton right now

I first encountered Milton’s excellent treatise in support of free speech when I was teaching British Literature, and I’ve never forgotten his stunning prediction that Truth, in an open encounter with lies, will always win.

Given the nastiness of our civil discourse these days, perhaps Milton was too optimistic. The Enlightenment guys always were a bit under appreciative of just how bad humanity can get.

But at the core, I think Milton is right. The goal of thorny discussion is not to banish the ideas we hate – though indeed, racism and misogyny and xenophobia are ugly, horrible ideas that are driving elements of the 2016 election cycle. The solution is to shine more light on those ideas, to examine them, to teach adults as well as their children to discern critically the nature of ideas, to offer explanations of complicated concepts in ways nearly everyone can understand (YouTubers! Get on this!), to listen and respond rather than shouting and screaming and walking away.

We all need a dose of Milton right now. We need his dogged determination not to fear ideas we don’t agree with, and be willing to talk about them.

Freedom of thought, freedom to pursue knowledge, and freedom of speech is a societal good, I argue, not a threat. We need to embrace the battle of ideas, not seek its regulation in new-fangled licensing laws, the like of which I had hoped were going the same way as monarchy. ‘Where there is much desire to learn, there of necessity will be much arguing, much writing, many opinions’, I wrote. ‘For opinion in good men is but knowledge in the making.’ And further on, ‘Let [truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?’ You see, a free and open public sphere, in which people are able to say what they think, and print what they believe, is the best way to get at the truth of the matter. This is because the people, as free and reasoning individuals, will be able to judge for themselves the merits of opposing arguments. A bad argument is best corrected, in public, by a good argument.

Source: ‘Let Truth and Falsehood grapple’ | Free speech | spiked

Read the whole essay ^ – it’s worth your time.

Article: “Goodbye Evangelicalism” | exhaleinexhile

This blog post really resonates with me right now.  Recommended. Feel free to dialogue via comments.

Goodbye Evangelicalism.

“Historically, this fixation on absolute certainty is a rather recent development in the course of Christianity. It is primarily the result of the Enlightenment and the evangelical response to scientific evidence. But for me, there is much more uncertainty in this world that has to be acknowledged within us before true transformation can occur. Being “right” rarely has anything to do with being true. And, the more I studied the earliest Christians, the more I found that they were less preoccupied with believing the “right” things and were primarily concerned with loving each other as an expression of the truth they found in a Person rather than fixed ideas. This led me to conclude that I could no longer exchange the essential art of critical thinking for foundationalist epistemology.”

Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers? | RELEVANT Magazine

Good point.    We need to stop fearing the task of asking the Truth hard questions and listening to the answers in faith. And leading our students and kids and friends in that same endeavor.

We must stop pretending that Christianity doesn’t make any claims beyond our personal experiences with God. The it’s-not-a-religion-it’s-a-relationship rhetoric sells short what Christianity is—a series of significant truth claims.

Yes, if accepted as true, these claims are simply the jumping off point for a profoundly intimate relationship with a powerful, loving creator. But when we discourage members of the body of Christ from challenging the status quo or even the fundamentals of our faith, we limit their own discovery of truth. By testing the claims of Christianity, we substantiate them in our own hearts.

via Why Aren’t More Intellectuals Believers? | RELEVANT Magazine.