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Persistence & Humility

Some quotes from one of my favorite theologians:

Almost all scientists believe the progress of science to be a convergence onto an increasingly verisimilitudinous understanding of the nature of the physical world. We are its mapmakers and sometimes we have radically to revise our views (that patch of apparent Newtonian terra firma turns out to be a quantum swamp). Yet overall, accuracy improves with each major discovery. Scientific progress is not made either by denying the existence of phenomena that we currently cannot understand or by exaggerating the scope of what we have currently achieved. Persistence and openness in investigation, and a degree of realistically humble assessment of present attainment, are indispensable virtues in the pursuit of science.

This edifying conclusion is of wider application than just within science alone. It certainly bears extension to theology and to the interaction between theology and science. If we do not display a certain degree of intellectual daring, no progress will be made. If we do not display a certain degree of intellectual humility, misleading and untenable claims will be made. If we are not content to live with the acknowledgment that there are phenomena that are beyond our contemporary powers of explanation, we shall have a truncated and inadequate grasp of reality.

— John Polkinghorne, Faith , Science, and Understanding.

It is certainly this combination of persistence, daring, and humility which is needed in the pursuit of all human learning — how can we move forward without it?

Yet, how rarely we find this combination of virtues.

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