Post Reply
Page 1 of 2  •  1 2 Next
Switch to Forum Live View Epistemological Modesty
5 years ago  ::  Jun 25, 2009 - 7:59PM #1
Dubay
Posts: 22

 Epistemological Modesty: A Foundation for Interreligious and Nonreligious Dialogue


Faith is a hot topic, and so is nonbelief.  Although the question of whether God exists or not will never be answered to everyone's satisfaction, there are plenty of believers and nonbelievers who are so certain they are right that they often express contempt for those who disagree with them.  Even among religious folks of the same tradition, unending theological disputes highlight the problem of disagreement coupled with indignant certainty. 


Epistemological modesty is an alternative to parochial certainty.  Epistemological modesty means admitting that we don't have all the answers, and that it's the journey through life's questions that matters.  Such an attitude is the mark of mature religion, philosophy, and science. 


But acknowledging uncertainty does not mean we must be void of beliefs, whether naturalistic or religious.  It does mean we should not fault others for their belief or nonbelief.  We all have our misconceptions.  There's no guarantee I'm right, even if I think I am.  But it is guaranteed that at least some of my ideas are wrong, and that other people are right some of the time.  As such, epistemological modesty means acknowledging that other people hold their beliefs as honestly as I do.   


Other aspects include:

  • Approaching religion constructively instead of combatively or blindly.
  • Viewing uncertainty positively as mystery.
  • Viewing faith and doubt as complimentary, not antagonistic. They coexist in tension, and there is much to be learned from engaging this tension.
  • Appreciating that even if truth is absolute (a controversial position), individual perspectives are relative. In other words, no one has exclusive access to absolute truth.
  • Leaving the answers to specific questions about meaning and metaphysics open to the individual.
  • Understanding that the most important thing is not to battle over who is right and who is wrong, but rather to try to understand each other through respectful dialogue. 
  • Valuing the moral teachings of world religions and philosophies, such as the Golden Rule, service to others, forgiveness, and so on. None of us fully live up to our moral ideals. So instead of judging each other, an important aspect of grace is the forgiveness of self and others that bridges the gap between our ideals and our moral failures.
  • Openness to non-traditional views of various scriptures. For example, viewing the Bible, which is a collection of books written over a 1,000-year timespan, as a conversation about God. For believers, God is the central conversation partner, while nonbelievers understand the Bible only as a human conversation. But with the Bible as conversation, believers and nonbeliever alike try to understand the dynamics of the conversations happening within the Bible.
Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jun 26, 2009 - 12:35PM #2
allthegoodnamesweretaken
Posts: 11,634

Excellent post.  Don't forget about the polytheists, but excelent post.


 


all

Yesterday, in America, 100 million gun owners did nothing.
Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jun 26, 2009 - 5:15PM #3
LeahOne
Posts: 16,128

What is you definition for a 'believer'?  For a 'nonbeliever'?


And are you so certain that only 'nonbelievers' view the Bible as a human-only conversation about GOD?


With reference to not arguing about who's right or wrong:  when someone's "doctrine" (SPIT!) is to label certain other groups of humans as 'not fully human' and/or 'descendants of the Devil',  I tihnk it's long past time to have the argument.....

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jun 26, 2009 - 9:24PM #4
Dubay
Posts: 22

Believers and nonbelievers...well...in a way all of us are both because everyone believes certain things and disbelieves others.


With respect to people who are absolutist in their views, or who don't see outsiders as fully human, I'd say that epistemological modesty probably wouldn't appeal to them. It's rather a self-selected group, really.  People who think, "I'm right, you're wrong, and that's that" are not usually seeking opportunities for dialogue.

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jun 26, 2009 - 9:26PM #5
Dubay
Posts: 22

Jun 26, 2009 -- 12:35PM, allthegoodnamesweretaken wrote:


Excellent post.  Don't forget about the polytheists, but excelent post.


 


all





Fair enough.  Read "God" as "God(s)(ess)."

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jun 30, 2009 - 4:39PM #6
Neomonist
Posts: 2,698

Jun 25, 2009 -- 7:59PM, Dubay wrote:


Epistemological Modesty: 





Excellent post. I have a goodie file that has favorite posts - yours just joined it.


 

Standard Disclaimer: This is just my 2cents worth.
Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jun 30, 2009 - 9:11PM #7
LeahOne
Posts: 16,128

Jun 26, 2009 -- 9:24PM, Dubay wrote:


Believers and nonbelievers...well...in a way all of us are both because everyone believes certain things and disbelieves others.


With respect to people who are absolutist in their views, or who don't see outsiders as fully human, I'd say that epistemological modesty probably wouldn't appeal to them. It's rather a self-selected group, really.  People who think, "I'm right, you're wrong, and that's that" are not usually seeking opportunities for dialogue.




Thanks for a mellow response to what may well have read like a 'third degree' from me : ))   I've quoted your post above because I think the latter part is particularly applicable to this forum ....


I'm not an absolutist, well not really.  I tend to think it's absolutely UNtrue that there's 'One True Religion', though.....

Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jul 01, 2009 - 12:12PM #8
Neomonist
Posts: 2,698

Jun 30, 2009 -- 9:11PM, LeahOne wrote:


I'm not an absolutist, well not really.  I tend to think it's absolutely UNtrue that there's 'One True Religion', though.....





The way I look at it is "-O- is and the rest is commentary."


(-O- is my spelling of the word God.)

Standard Disclaimer: This is just my 2cents worth.
Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jul 01, 2009 - 1:36PM #9
allthegoodnamesweretaken
Posts: 11,634

Well, you can think it's all -O-


 


I like the acceptance that was corrected later.  I'm impressed, and that is hard to do.

Yesterday, in America, 100 million gun owners did nothing.
Quick Reply
Cancel
5 years ago  ::  Jul 02, 2009 - 7:10PM #10
Neomonist
Posts: 2,698

Jul 1, 2009 -- 1:36PM, allthegoodnamesweretaken wrote:


Well, you can think it's all -O-


 


I like the acceptance that was corrected later.  I'm impressed, and that is hard to do.





Please forgive the dusty memory of an old fart. What acceptance?

Standard Disclaimer: This is just my 2cents worth.
Quick Reply
Cancel
Page 1 of 2  •  1 2 Next
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook