Thursday, September 16, 2010

Is thinking positively such a bad thing?

For the last few months I have been participating in a blog sponsored by NPR - 13.7
It tends to focus on the intersection of science and religion, and as you would expect, at times you get a lot of very heavily debated and strongly worded attacks on one side by the other.
The critical issue seems to be that one side has curiosity and wants to discover things, while the other only wants to defend and proclaim that what is immutable is their side of the discussion.
And when you reread a post a day or two later, you can't help but get an overwhelming feeling of negativity in the debate.
It may be because one argument is a few thousand years old, and basically indefensible from a scientific point of view.
Or it could be because the other is a few billion years old, and a continuing revelation about us and our universe, and what makes it tick, and often flies in the face of faith.
Several times the suggestion has been made for both sides to think about their reaction to a superior intelligence landing in their little green flying saucers, and challenging all our beliefs and science.
And I suspect that this suggestion is the most worrisome of all to both sides.
Who likes their belief tree shaken? Confronted by things not immediately understandable by us?
My answer is simple - just like Oliver, ask for "more".
True growth only comes from stretching your mind into a different shape now and then, chasing those little intangible thoughts "what if?" and "why is that?".
Human curiosity - our capacity for abstract thought - our unique ability to project beyond our comfort circle - are what has given us the incredible technology we take for granted today.
So be positive and curious, and not afraid to have the holes in your certainty opened for all to see.
The next great thought might just be your own!!!!

1 comment:

Mike Gottschalk said...

Pete, this is where I think the concept of faith is sorely misunderstood. And we're the poorer for it.

Innate to faith is the recognition that one doesn't or can't have all the knowledge, but has to act any way.

For instance, an Aussie is in need of more rum (he has plenty of coke though...) so he hops in his car to drive to the liquor store.

Can this rum runner know or be certain that he'll return unharmed?

Not until he's home, and his run is history.

Did he believe--that is have faith--that he would return successfully?

Of course! If our rum runner didn't have the faith that he'd be successful in his venture- faith in himself as a driver, faith in his car, faith in his fellow drivers, he wouldn't have even gotten in his car!

Faith is quite different than certainty. Properly speaking, a rum runner in faith wears his seatbelt; in certainty, our rum runner should leave it off- lest he incurs an onset of cognitive dissonance....

Certainty lacks this dynamic of flexibility innate to faith. So when it's bumped, its innate rigidity makes it fragile and susceptible to structural damage.

In my experience, a lot of Christians mistake certainty for faith; you can tell, for when ideas of God are properly questioned, you can see the structural cracks propagating right in front of you.

On the other hand, I see non-religious people make the word certainty work like the word faith by attaching a "rheostat" to it; here one can have "degrees" of certainty.

I notice that in your writing Pete, you use the word faith in its original sense, which is the way I depict it here.

I think that without the proper use of the word faith, we miss out on a core human experience of acting from fully fledged selfs and minds.

I hope our understanding of faith can be remodeled.