Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Faith and Uncertainty vs. Doubt and Certainty

I will never "teach doubt" - but I teach the need to accept uncertainty and limited knowledge, and the subsequent need for inquiry and searching, all the time. Teaching doubt simply means teaching people to close their minds and avoid exploration and wait for others to do their searching and deciding and, as a result, allow someone else to do their acting for them.  Ironically, teaching doubt, in the end, is exactly like teaching certainty - and that ought to be contemplated in theological terms much more than it tends to be. 

I know it's not the exact same thing, but I've seen cynicism destroy people's lives - and it is ugly. I prefer to teach things related to doubt in a positive, solution-oriented way - so my approach is to acknowledge the universal nature of doubt / uncertainty / ambiguity / non-understanding / whatever and "teach" positive approaches to deal with and gain from it. In other words, I teach about the unavoidable existence of uncertainty (which sometimes is called "doubt") and its ability to encourage growth, but I actively teach constructive, productive ways to negate its potentially harmful effects.

Especially in matters of religion, that allows me to teach in a way that doesn't dismiss statements like, "Doubt not; fear not" - or anything else that casts doubt in a negative light. I can say, "Yes, doubt (a foundational attitude of disbelief) can keep someone from the benefits of faith (a foundational attitude of belief)." Even the scientific model is based on a willingness to believe that research of the unknown can produce new knowledge - and, at the heart, that is a vital, non-religious application of the core concept of faith.

Also, it's easier, always, to teach an extreme - on either end. It doesn't take much effort at all to do that. Thus, the extremes - on both ends - get taught more often than a more comprehensive understanding of the "perfect" (complete, whole, fully developed) concept and principle.

Anyone can "teach doubt" or "teach faith" in isolation. Not everyone can teach how they are inter-related - meaning not everyone can teach "eternal progression" and how both uncertainty and faith are integral to it. The ideal isn't to teach one of the extremes; the ideal is to teach the perfect concept. 

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