A Little Internet Wisdom

by Mar 9, 2015Piety2 comments

So true, from a CT movie reviewer:

The trick to writing on the Internet and getting heard is making a very loud, very extreme argument. The Internet does not reward nuanced takes or people who wait a week and a half to think something through, and the Internet especially does not reward people who say, You know? I’m not sure I’ve figured out what I think on this yet.

And this is wise:

At several of the most formative moments in my life, I encountered three philosophers whom I greatly admire. All three of them are Christians, as it happens; all three also are colleagues and friends of one another, and they all prompted a revolution in the field of academic philosophy, which I peer into every so often from my perch way out on the edges. Those men are Nicholas Wolterstorff, Alvin Plantinga, and Richard Mouw.

In three separate settings, on three separate occasions, I heard people ask these men questions in public settings—events they won’t even recall, but that made a great impression on me. Each time, the questioner asked something relatively benign (so benign, I don’t remember what the question even was). Each time, the eminent philosopher, a leader in his field, an authority and well on his way to being a sort of legend, responded the same way: “You know, I haven’t thought that through yet. So I’m not sure what I think.”

I was knocked flat every time. And I’ve never heard it elsewhere.

I’m not sure I like the service these paragraphs do in her argument (see for yourself), because it is possible to withhold judgment when you are morally required to give it. But I still thought there was some real wisdom in these paragraphs. How much of the Internet—how much of my blog?—would disappear if we were all swift to hear, slow to speak? One of the most liberating things anyone ever said to me was that I’m not required to have an opinion on everything.

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  1. Layton Talbert

    A liberating thought indeed! I’m reminded of Jefferson’s observation about Franklin: “It was one of the rules which, above all others, made Doctor Franklin the most amiable of men in society, ‘never to contradict anybody.’ If he was urged to announce an opinion, he did it rather by asking questions, as if for information, or by suggesting doubts.” Not, of course, that Franklin is the Christian’s premiere guide in such areas. But notice, he doesn’t say Franklin didn’t have opinions, but that he expressed them in a more roundabout and thought-provoking way; there can be a winsomeness and persuasiveness in such an approach. One of the things I admire about Dr. Bill Lovegrove’s teaching is that even when he could be dogmatic, he often isn’t. Not necessarily because he isn’t personally convinced or doesn’t have a strong opinion, but because choosing the path of “asking questions” or “suggesting doubts” can often be more persuasive. Having a decided opinion on nothing is not a virtue; but neither is having a decided opinion on everything (and always expressing it dogmatically). God grant me the humility to admit the things I don’t really know, the courage to express the things I do, and the wisdom to do so in the most effective way possible.

  2. Jeremy Patterson

    Can you “like” a blog post? I “like” this one.