Monday, April 25, 2005

A Little Learning

A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir'd at first Sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of Arts,
While from the bounded Level of our Mind,
Short Views we take, nor see the lengths behind,
But more advanc'd, behold with strange Surprize
New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise!
So pleas'd at first, the towring Alps we try,
Mount o'er the Vales, and seem to tread the Sky;
Th' Eternal Snows appear already past,
And the first Clouds and Mountains seem the last:
But those attain'd, we tremble to survey
The growing Labours of the lengthen'd Way,
Th' increasing Prospect tires our wandering Eyes,
Hills peep o'er Hills, and Alps on Alps arise!

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

Is the internet a blessing or a curse? It puts vast storehouses of knowledge at our fingertips, and yet it is not able to impart wisdom and understanding. All too often I encounter people who have been seduced by their own trivia-accumulation into believing that they actually know something. Our limitless access to information has made the virtue of intellectual humility more difficult to come by.

What we need is not more information, but a deeper understanding of the few things that actually matter. Even the average Christian knows too much Bible. As Howard Hendricks, professor emeritus at Dallas Theological Seminary, says, "Many Christians are like bad photographs -- overexposed and underdeveloped." We pity our fellow faithful from past centuries who were deprived of their own personal Bibles and countless Christian books. But has our formation kept pace with our bookshelves?

Whether in our universities or our churches, our penchant for bite-size wisdom and incessant google-ing is crippling our minds and souls. We don't even know how much we don't know. Arrogance abounds and opinons multiply, but are we really learning anything?


Post a Comment

<< Home