It did not seem to occur to such controversialists that if Cardinal Newman was really a man of intellect, the fact that he adhered to dogmatic religion proved exactly as much as the fact that Professor Huxley, another man of intellect, found that he could not adhere to dogmatic religion; that is to say (as I cheerfully admit), it proved precious little either way.

– GK Chesterton, All Things Considered, 232-233.

We tend to appeal to the clever or impressive people who agree with us, and disregard the equally impressive who did not. Human nature.

What this should tell us, though, is that for the types of questions that really matter, a purely intellectual or cerebral approach is inadequate. We make such decisions with our minds, but non-rational factors always come into play.

There is no shame in this, but there may be when we insist that we are the rational ones and those who disagree are not. There is no truth that some very bright person has not contested, and there is no idiocy or fallacy that has likewise not had its share of well-credentialed credulity.

This ought to make us humble, and ought to remind us that smarts aren’t everything. In many cases, they are hardly anything.


Newman vs. Huxley