Have a broad understanding of the intellectual landscape
Have strong generic intellectual abilities
Know how to evaluate information and claims outside their area of expertise
Can delve more deeply into an area of specialization
with efficiency and
appropriate conf idence
Are an informed and appreciative audience for works of arts and science
Have an informed appreciation and
understanding of the nature and society
Competent laypeopleV,now their intellectual
limits, but also have the confidence and
competence to expand them. Most of our lives are spent
working and dealing with
issues that are outside of our specific
training: dealing with everything from
problems to personal problems, from doctors to computer technicians, from trou-
bled children to architectural decisions, from an appreciation
offilm to the under-
standing ofpolitical affairs. The sheer breadth ofenterprises can seem daunting,
that is what is involved in the kind of personally, professionally, and publicly rich lives
we hope for.
teaches philosoplry at Capilano
College, in Vancouver, British Colum-
bia, and is completing
guide to statistical and scientific information, intended to
help laypersons do the kind of citical thinking and research
discussed here. This essay
is reprintedwith the author'spermission
andis excerptedfrom alonger piece, which may
be accessed at http://merlin.capcollege.bc.ca/mbatters/competentwerson.html.
in the Goddess?
Remember the joke
about the man who saw God and
was asked to describe the vision?
"You won't like it," he
said. "she's black." To some, this is more than
inal religion was goddess worship, emerging from traditions in Africa.
Belief in a Great Goddess is quite fashionable these days. The
notion of an Earth
Mother is extremely attractive:
removes divinity from associations
power' domination, and war, and puts worship
closer to life and the earth. For
manywomen, the Mother Goddess
has extraordinary appeal, soothing and
the wounds of millennia of woman-hating.
Books and lectures on goddess religion tend to avoid intellectualized theology.
Mysticism, motive, and wishfirl thinking
are more conspicuous than clear straight-
forward arguments for the existence of
a goddess. For me, this is a serious gap.