Sophism, secularism, forever seeking

The sophist, who is often a carrier of cleverness, is really an intellectual guerrilla, a forlorn man without a country who draws his delight and satisfaction from the process of verbal combat and encounter itself; he does not seek resolution, but disruption. He has no homeland and, therefore, seeks always to fight his battles on the homefront of the believer. The sophist has nothing to defend. He takes no real risks because he believes in nothing. Perhaps, in a strange and twisted way, he wants to create anomy and drift by using the sword of speciousness to cut other men away from the eternal things that anchor them.

–          Neal A. Maxwell, A Time to Choose (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1975), 31.

The internet has only increased the reach and scope of such folk. There is plenty of discussion, plenty of “dialogue”—but the effort seems mostly focused on the discussion and airing of views, and not on actually answering the questions posed.

To be sure, some questions have no answers—or at least no definitive ones. (One might ask, then, how much value opinions about them have, since they can neither be confirmed or disproved.)

Others, though, have quite decided answers, but many do not wish to hear them, or it is considered poor form to insist that such answers exist and that one has them.

In other cases, the sophist is quite certain he or she has the answer—but, adopts the posture of an inquirer to lure in others. At the very least, he or she knows that the answer is not what the apostles and prophets say it is. On that point, there is certainty in the midst of post-modern skepticism about “final answers”.

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