Thursday, May 27, 2010

Am I right?

"That is just your opinion" or "That is just one interpretation of the Bible".
Whether it is understanding a passage in the Bible or interpreting a particular scientific theory, this is the reponse one might get to a strongly held view.
But, as a scientist you soon learn that not all views are equally valid and not all interpretations worthy of consideration.
But how do we decide whether or not to take a view seriously.

One criteria which I think is important, but is perhaps not considered enough is the following. How unusual is the view? Are there people from different times, places, cultures, who hold this view? Or is it just me, and a few people with similar backgrounds to me to hold this view. If so, I should be very careful. It is somewhat arrogant to claim that I am right and all these other people are wrong. But, perhaps I am right.
I should stress that I am NOT saying that truth is determined by majority opinion. And there are occasionally individuals or small groups of people who hold a minority opinion that is subsequently vindicated. Examples include Einstein, Luther, Wilberforce, Barth, ...
But, most of us are not in this league!
I am just saying that having a minority opinion should cause me to hesitant about being quick to dismiss other views.

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