Thursday, July 07, 2005

Matters of Taste

Every day, A.Word.A.Day drops a gift in my mailbox. Today, the word was "nolens volens," a fine word, though I'm partial to its synonym "willy-nilly."

Anyway, there's also a quote everyday -- often thought-provoking, but today's was just bone-headed (sorry, Santayana):
Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, nor condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion.

-George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

Or maybe not boneheaded but revealing a mindset so utterly secularist that it casts its own light on everything else he says.

If matters of religion are only matters of taste, not questions of truth, then he's certainly right that there's no point arguing about them. I might say to a friend, "How can you not like chocolate?" but it's a joke, and it ends there.

But if there is reality beyond our sight, and if the reality is in any way knowable, then there is a point in arguing about it. Argue humbly, because we know we don't know everything. Argue charitably, presuming that the other person holds his views dear, but argue strongly, because it matters.

Unlike a dead philosopher who thought religion a question of taste.

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