Friday, February 03, 2006

When to Form an Opinion

From Hugh Nibley:
At what point does one have "a right to an opinion"? I have never reached that point yet, and yet I go right on having opinions. I have been having them ever since I was a child and knew nothing at all; and I still go right on having them now that I am old and know nothing at all. The ideal thing would be to withhold opinions until all the returns are in, but as Karl Popper reminds us, that day will never come. So there is nothing for it but to go ahead and have our premature opinions, gratefully selecting in support of such the evidence we like best.... What is not permitted is to make one's choice on the authority of someone else. If you are not concerned in the matter, don't bother to take a position; but once you have decided to be concerned, you must make your own decision, no matter how limited your knowledge. All of us have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge, not just the Authorities, and each is accountable for his own decisions: you cannot delegate free agency even for a moment. You may go to the expert for information, and that is what he is good for, but not for a final opinion. ("Of All Things" p. 221, a Hugh Nibley quote book edited by Gary Gillum, 2nd edition.)


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  • Is it at all correct to say that having an opinion (in gospel related matters) without a full knowledge is faith? If so, would we not at some level be required to form opinions about certain things (Jesus Christ for example)?

    By Blogger Eric Nielson, at 2/04/2006 6:42 AM  

  • Good point, Eric. Nibley's point is that we'll never get enough information to have a perfect opinion. I think the same argument applies perfectly to faith. We will never get enough information to have perfect knowledge that a light will turn on when we flip a switch. (The light in my kitchen just stopped reacting to the switch, even after replacing the bulb.) But we can have enough information to make a reasonable guess. I think that's all we can hope for in mortality.

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 2/04/2006 11:08 AM  

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