Humility | How to Hold Knowledge

Both science and the Christian faith share a commitment to humility. Each also provides us with a perspective of the world which we believe to be true. How then do we hold onto these things we believe to be true and be open to the fact that we can’t know everything? In this episode we explore that tension, looking into the deeper meaning of humility in the realms of both science and faith.

Featuring guests Sarah Bodbyl Roels, Steve Roels, Padraig Ó Tuama and Charlotte vanOyen-Witvliet.


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I enjoyed the discussion. It is obviously a topic that is essential to civil discourse as well as personally for anyone more interested in knowing the truth than in seeing their best guess crowned the winner.

A wonderful podcast on a virtue that isn’t Aristotelian, but is definitely Yeshuan!

A definition of humbleness that I’ve found helpful is the ability to feel grateful for your neighbour’s gifts, talents, and contributions. It’s hard to feel petty, jealous, competitive, withholding, and narcissistic when you have room in your heart for the awesome gifts of the people around you – which is what the podcast contributors have said. Thank you!

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This podcast is being refeatured today, so I’m giving it a bump here in the forum.

May we all take notes on how to address science and faith more humbly, with open hands.

This promises to be good I may not be able to read it until tonight or tomorrow. With science as with philosophy, the more you learn the more clearly you see how much there is to learn and the better you appreciate the nature of certain unavoidable obstacles.

But I can see how one might approach the Bible as God’s own word and just assume one’s understanding of it is guaranteed. But I know humility is extolled in the Bible so I’m interested to read the transcript.


by the discussion above it does look like you have read it before :wink:

but always warrants a re-read!

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No but the book I’m reading now goes into this in it’s introduction. Makes so much sense.

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There is such a thing as false humility as well. True humility is recognizing what you can know and what you cannot. And similarly, with respect to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, there is what reason can tell you and what it cannot.

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  • I’m reminded of a true story told by a Jew, in a podcast or interview and shared here in BioLogos one or two years back, about the Jew’s friend who was a professor of Biblical Studies or something like that. The professor had a class full of eager students who chided him over his frequent lecturing on a bible text and posing two or three disputes between rabbis on the correct interpretation and understanding of the text. So one day, the professor came into class, announced the scripture portion up for consideration that day, opened his Tanakh to the text, and laid the book before him. Then followed five to ten minutes of silence, during which the students became increasingly restless. Finally, the professor said: “That’s what happens when you let the Bible speak.”
  • IMO, humility can be like that, with no one wanting to be the first to break the silence. But then someone steps up and declares something about the text, invariably something they think is obvious, and allhell breaks loose.

Not with BioLogos’ lines in the sand we won’t.

Care to…expand? :face_with_peeking_eye:

If you don’t like it you don’t have to participate :rofl:


Oh I see that now. Obviously I had. My bad.

Looking over the transcript I like the tone Jim sets right away:

today we’re going to explore humility. It’s a virtue we talk about a lot at BioLogos, but it’s also one of those words, like grace or righteousness or courage, which are words that have a rich history and depth but also have lost some of their meaning in our culture which often prefers simplicity to nuance. Humility is pretty clearly an important virtue for Christians, but it also plays a vital role in science.

He is right to blame the wider culture but he could even have dialed out even wider to implicate our basic humanity, ie the way we are wires . We are disposed to prefer a too simple understanding to a more encompassing one that is less easily defended and subject to being seen as inconsistent by anyone unwilling to consider any form of experience except what can be straightaway observed or vouchsafed by science which after all is merely a careful expansion of the observable.


The book I mentioned as supporting this view (before seeing and remembering the earlier discussion) includes the quote below from its introduction. If our understanding is seen in this way then the reason for humility is inescapable. Regardless of how well our beliefs have earned our conviction or allegiance it is we ourselves who acknowledge and claim them and it is just wrong for the new atheist missionaries or the old style Christian ones to represent them to others as something independent of their own understanding complete with the inevitable human gaps.

I’m having trouble sharing my kindle notes directly so here is a screenshot. Sorry about the quality but at least it is short.


Does humility a priori preclude the existence of the supernatural for subjective reasons?

Of course not. Do you suppose, a priori, that only a cosmos with a supernatural component going by the name Yahweh or Jesus can possibly make sense of the reality we experience?

Absolutely, except it’s not a priori. I have trustworthy testimony and evidence.

Fine then there is no point discussing such things with you.

I answered you when your whole post consisted of “absolutely”. Save your special pleading, your non responsive stance has been noted so the discussion is closed between us - from my side overtly as from your side implicitly.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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