January 25, 2010

True Skepticism

I wish I had time to dissect Mark Goodacre's latest podcast on the Historical-Critical approach. I'm all for critical thinking, but the "rules" of the H-C viewpoint always get presented so dogmatically. One impression I get is that Mark's anti-faith, which I know isn't true. But it is true that historians often have to chose whether to trust their sources, and I don't think I heard that get mentioned.

That replacement of one dogma with another is common, and it must be a big part of what frustrates and confuses so many believing undergrads who pick up a New Testament course. That struggle itself may be worth something, but the sad irony is that professors present themselves as being fair-minded, and the students detect a very real bias. Towards doubt.

A true skeptic doubts their own doubt as much as anything else. So, Professors: Assert, and you'll be contra-asserted against. Push and you'll get pushed back upon. Offer to trust, and you might be more trusted. Present a willingness to believe, and you'll probably get more openness to question.

At the end of the day, critical thought mixed with faith should be a very good thing. So I believe.

Update: Mark linked to the podcast from his main site. Sometimes that sparks added conversation...

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"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient observation than to any other reason."

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