Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The dangers of humility under modern conditions


Humility is a necessary virtue for Christians, but cannot be a first step towards becoming a Christian.

Indeed humility in the absence of Christianity may be extremely dangerous under modern conditions.


In a world of moral inversions, to be humble may mean to accept the world's evaluations - because to reject them would seem arrogant, prideful.

When the world's evaluations are evil, humility may accept evil, submit to evil - or at least go-along-with evil.


Why? Because humility is relational - we can only be humble in relation to something, or to someone.

Whether humility is good or evil depends on who we are humble towards.


So, it is dangerous, it is counter-productive, it is in effect anti-Christian to call for greater humility in the absence of Christian faith.

And humility cannot be the first step for a modern Christian convert. 



Bruce Charlton said...

@Titus Didius Tacitus :

"Ever tempted to babble in theism? Weigh your credentials against the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008, ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author, Richard Dawkins, Fellow of the Royal Society, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and be more humble!

"Do you think it is wrong for infants born alive as a result of a botched abortion to be neglected to death in the abortionist's establishment? The two term President of the United States of America, Nobel Peace Prize winning, two time Grammy Award winning, three term member of the Illinois Senate, graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School and teacher of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School, president of the Harvard Law Review and all-round model of modern rectitude Barack Hussein Obama knows better. Be more humble!

"Do you think that opponents of same sex marriage have any other motive and argument than pure, brute malice and a prejudiced, malignant will to humiliate innocent [people] and deprive them of their human rights? The Supreme Court of the United States of America has found you are wrong on that. Lets add up the credentials of the court you suppose you may know better than..."


Bruce Charlton said...

@TDT - That's it.

The Crow said...

There's a world of difference between acting humble, and humility.
In the same way that acting spiritual is not remotely spiritual.

Humility is never bad, if it is, in fact, humility. It is acting humble, without knowing what humble is, that is dangerous.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - but what do you mean by humility? To whom are you deferring?

The Crow said...

To Reality: That which people loosely term God.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - Yes, that would work. For example, a scientist who is humble to The Truth.

The difficulty is at the next level - when it is asked 'why be humble to The Truth' (especially when to do so is inexpedient - and would probably get you sacked, at least).

It was this kind of consideration (my inability to answer the 'why' questions) that led me to Christianity, because there is no possible answer to that 'why' except divine revelation (entailing belief in divinity and revelation, which means a personal God concerned with me).

Samson J. said...

In a world of moral inversions, to be humble may mean to accept the world's evaluations - because to reject them would seem arrogant, prideful.

Brilliant. This is like the situation that obtains here in Canada, where being "nice" and "easy to get along with" is culturally paramount, and it has led us off the brink of social disaster.

Americans, by contrast, are often felt to be dislikeably loud, arrogant, "not nice" - but in the context of the current culture wars that's something I appreciate for its necessity (if not its beauty).

Donald said...

This seems particularly apt in the context of social pressure to redefine marriage. Only those with resiliency will hold out.

The Crow said...

@Bruce: Reality does not concern itself with me, or you.
One concerns oneself with Reality, once one divines the way in which Reality works, and hence, one's place within it.
In order to recognize one's place within Reality, however, humility is required, in order to even be able to see it. If oneself is all one sees, then all one sees is oneself.
Thus humility is perspective, or context.
This can never be a dangerous thing, although those who would redefine reality might well take exception to it.

Sylvie D. Rousseau said...

I think there is a confusion here between humility (there is only one sort: false humility is a kind of reversed pride, generally) and pusillanimity or mere shyness. Real humility always goes with courage and courageous people look arrogant to the self-deceiving judgments of the Leftists-nihilists.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Crow - If you feel that reality is not concerned with you, why are you concerned with reality?

Why prefer reality to a convincing illusion (i.e. a delusion)?

And, anyway, how could we ever know reality - I mean, why would we assume that we are capable of correct knowledge?

The above arguments are the kind of thing which imply that only divine revelation can be a basis of knowledge, and only a personal God would enable revelation.

(Of course we have to have a revelation of the validity of a revelation - but that argument is not circular - it stops there!)

The Crow said...

Why am I concerned with Reality?
Why are you concerned with God?
I prefer to drop the hugely-laden, massively-misunderstood label 'God', in favour of 'Reality'. They are one and the same. as far as I am concerned.
So we are doing the same thing, being concerned with this.

Why do I prefer Reality over delusion?
Why do you prefer God over secularism?

We know Reality by eliminating ego. This is in the realm of 'enlightenment', since it is so very, very difficult to realize (although, in truth, absurdly simple).

My only issue with you and your Christian views, is the idea of God being personally concerned with a personal 'you'. It doesn't work that way, nor does it need to.

Perhaps your view of what 'personal' is, is unclear.
I know that Reality enfolds me and orders me, since I have become one with It. Free choice would suggest I might choose not to be in line with Reality, but knowing what I know, this would be obvious disaster-to-come.