It seems to me that it was well said by Madama Serenissima, and insisted on by your reverence, that the Holy Scripture cannot err, and that the decrees therein contained are absolutely true and inviolable. But I should have in your place added that, though Scripture cannot err, its expounders and interpreters are liable to err in many ways; and one error in particular would be most grave and most frequent, if we always stopped short at the literal signification of the words.
Society is composed of men, and every man is a FREE agent. Since man is free, he can choose; since he can choose, he can err; since he can err, he can suffer. I go further: He must err and he must suffer; for his starting point is ignorance, and in his ignorance he sees before him an infinite number of unknown roads, all of which save one lead to error.
And whatever things you have been given are only a provision of this world's life and its adornment, and whatever is with Allah is better and more lasting; do you not then understand? / Is he to whom We have promised a goodly promise which he shall meet with like him whom We have provided with the provisions of this world's life, then on the day of resurrection he shall be of those who are brought up? / And on the day when He will call them and say: Where are those whom you deemed to be My associates? / Those against whom the sentence has become confirmed will say: Our Lord! these are they whom we caused to err; we caused them to err as we ourselves did err; to Thee we declare ourselves to be clear (of them); they never served Us.
Our knowledge and our ability to handle our problems progress through the open conflict of ideas, through the tests of phenomenological adequacy, inner consistency, and practical-moral consequences. Reason may err, but it can be moral. If we must err, let it be on the side of our creativity, our freedom, our betterment.
We patronize the animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other Nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time.
We humans are prone to err, and to err systematically, outrageously, and with utter confidence. We are also prone to hold our mistaken notions dear, protecting and nourishing them like our own children. We defend them at great cost. We surround ourselves with safe people, people who will appreciate our cherished views. We avoid those who suggest that our exalted ideas, our little emperors, have no clothes.
Most errors consist only in our not rightly applying names to things. For when someone says that the lines which are drawn from the center of a circle to its circumference are unequal, he surely understands (then at least) by a circle something different from what mathematicians understand. Similarly, when men err in calculating they have certain numbers in their mind and different ones on the paper. So if you consider what they have in mind, they really do not err, though they seem to err because we think they have in their mind the numbers which are on the paper. If this were not so, we would not believe that they were erring, just as I did not believe that he was erring whom I recently heard cry out that his courtyard had flown into his neighbor's hen, because what he had in mind seemed sufficiently clear to me. And most controversies have arisen from this, that men do not rightly explain their own mind, or interpret the mind of the other man badly. For really, when they contradict one another most vehemently, they either have the same thoughts, or they are thinking of different things, so that what they think are errors and absurdities in the other are not.
I choose to suppress the initial categories I want to put people in - rich, poor, together, not together, druggie, yuppie, rocker, loser, winner, cool, uncool. I choose to remember that I don't know their struggle or their pain. I choose to err on the side of grace because someday I'll stand before God, and I pray He'll err on the side of grace with me.