The glory of “I don’t know”

More really good stuff from Merton on faith and paradox.

Surely, the faith that science can contradict itself and still be science is a faith that doesn’t honor science at all, because the only value science pretends to have is that it is certain and cannot cancel itself out.

The greatest weakness of Marxists, for example, is the readiness with which they can explain absolutely anything in brisk and chatty and pseudo-scientific terms. They have not yet begun to feel ridiculous at the way their explanations have taken to contradicting themselves completely from one day to the next.

Faith, on the other hand, seems to be contradicting itself, because everything we say about God is so inadequate that it always runs us head first into a paradox.

In certain things, it is even more the glory of the Catholic than of the skeptic to say “I don’t know.”

It should be the great pride and strength of every Catholic [I’ll make that Christian] that there is no ready, ten-minute, brisk, chatty answer to the question what we believe, except in the words of the Apostles’ Creed, which are not comprehensible to scientists anyway. It should be our greatest strength that we don’t have, on the end of our tongues, a brief and pithy rationalization for the structure and purpose of the whole universe, only a statement that, to some scientists, is a scandal.

-Thomas Merton, Secular Journals, May 30 1940

If there is any endeavor in with the reformation really dropped the ball, it was in trying to rewrite the creeds so as NOT to be a scandal to the scientists and logicians.