Tomorrow I’ll be a guest at a discussion on campus about “whether others have to be wrong for us to be right.” In essence it will be about matters like convictions, Evangelicalism and pluralism. It is part of the “Big Questions” series sponsored by the Center for Faith and Vocation.
I for one am a critical realist, and really find it disappointing when someone says that all views are equal. That, to my thinking, simply shows that the person who says it doesn’t care very much about the topic. I prefer people who have convictions and believe there are views that correspond more or less closely to an actual “truth” or reality, but who also have the humility to realize that their own perception may not match up as closely as they would like it to.
I don’t think that most who are in the mainline to progressive part of the religious spectrum are necessarily less “evangelical”. I think that most conservatives and liberals are “evangelical” about those convictions that they consider important.
Nor are all matters equal. Some questions posed in the natural sciences have right or wrong answers about which we can be as certain as it is possible to be. Some matters in history are really rather certain. When it comes to values and convictions, the Golden Rule may well not be susceptible to scientific or historical “proof”, but that need not mean we should loosen our grip on it. Other matters – symbolic language we use to talk about God, for instance – may be appropriately considered “highly uncertain” from many of those same perspectives, but that may not undermine the importance of the symbol as a guide to live by. In addition to the question of whether there is such a thing a “truth”, it is important to recognize that there are not only different kinds of truth, but also differing degrees of certainty within each category.
I will, of course, blog about the event at some point, once it is over. By the way, tonight I finished watching Vantage Point (hence the image), and am trying to think of ways to use it as an illustration…