Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Being Smart Doesn't Immunize From Stupidity

In addition to being a long time judge on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Richard Posner is a prolific author of several high-minded books on the law and economics. Education-wise, Posner has a Bachelor's degree in English from Yale and he finished first in his class at Harvard Law School. Posner has also taught law at Stanford and the University of Chicago.

Outside of his impressive background in the law, Posner does not appear to have any formal education in theology, religion or religious history. I can't even find any information as to whether Posner is an adherent of a particular religious faith. With all this in mind, it wouldn't seem that Posner would be dumb enough to attempt to provide any public insights about the specific doctrines of Catholicism without at least doing some cursory research. Yet, Posner did exactly this with the comments he posted a couple of weeks ago on his blog. (See John Breen's excellent take down of Posner's attempt at being a theologian here.)

As much of an intellectual as Judge Posner obviously is, why would he do something so stupid as to discuss a topic that is clearly outside of his scope of knowledge? It's hard to be certain, but hubris and a condescending attitude toward the Church are probably significant factors. I haven't always agreed with Posner's conclusions on various issues about the law, but I at least respected him as a serious academic. The ignorant laden comments Posner has made about Catholicism has caused me to lose a great deal of that respect.