"I don't know"
In all of my work, and everything I do I believe that it is important to not only be willing to admit my ignorance but I take pride in my ability to openly accept my ignorance when I face it and educate myself as necessary. I see this as one of the weakest assets in a lot of people. An inability to admit ignorance prevents people from learning. It leads to work not getting done, getting done badly or inefficiently. People are afraid to admit their own ignorance because they feel that by admitting ignorance that they will be looked down upon or admitting failure. In the end, some people would prefer failure over admitting ignorance.
To expand ones knowledge and become better at everything they do the most powerful words one can learn is “I don’t know”. It’s simple to say, and will generally result in the gaining of useful information.
But what if you don’t want to gain the information, what if you just want to not worry about not knowing? That is essentially the roll that faith can fill for a person. It gives them the comfort of not having to be worried about death. It gives them a reason to latch on to as to why they shouldn’t do bad things. It gives them an explanation of human history as well as the future. Faith can explain essentially everything, but at what cost?
The cost is knowledge. The knowledge that we gain about ourselves, our history, our planet, our solar system, and our universe is unquestionably to our benefit. That knowledge we gain about biology, evolution, abiogenesis, astronomy and so much more can not only explain our pasts but it can drive our future.
By claiming that we already have the answers to all these things without actually attaining knowledge but rather just by accepting history on faith we do not gain any of the benefits that the journey provides. We instead keep ourselves confined to static information that has no effect on our advancement, and continues to not provide answers about our past. Now, I know some people will debate that religion provides an accurate representation of our past but it is constantly demonstrated that this is simply not the case and religious texts cannot be relied upon to be accurate documents of human history.
Faith rots the mind from the inside. It stops people from being inquisitive, blocks knowledge, slows human progress, and replaces reality with a delusion that clouds ones judgment and ability to think critically.
Religion not only relies on faith, but then also has the audacity to promote it as a positive virtue.
What use do we make of our brain, our intellectual capacity, our ability to solve problems if we are to accept answers to problems with nothing more than a single story? Quite simply, we are making nothing of it all. We are throwing it away.
Now before I get ahead of myself and before one starts to make assumptions about my intent here, I should note that I am not presumptuous or delusional enough to believe that this one tiny little blurb of text is going to change anything or anybody. What I want to do here is open at least one persons mind to the possibility that they can open their mind to ask the questions and look beyond their faith for the answers.
Listen to what your religion has to say, embrace it even, but understand that what you are being told is not proven fact. You only know that it is a story you are being told, and you do not know if it is 100% accurate. As a theist or an atheist, when you are asked “how was the world created?” proudly answer “I don’t know”. Continue on your quest for answers. Look to religion, look to science, look to mythology. But don’t presume to know the final answer due to a single book or a single claim. Do not even presume that you will ever find the answer. Just accept that you do not know and enjoy the ride.
Enjoy the quest for new information, for new stories, for new perspectives. Perhaps even choose to believe that Yahweh or another god created all that you know. Perhaps you choose to believe that he is there judging everything you do and all he wants is your faith.
Do not presume to know what your god wants 100%. Presume only to know that you don’t know the answer. The quest for answers and the quest for more questions is the greatest quest any and all humans can subscribe to. If millions of people suddenly get struck by the bird flu it will not be faith that will save their lives, ultimately it will be the knowledge that we have spent many generations acquiring in the name of scientific advancements.
Unquestioning faith is a virus that needs to be abolished from the face of the planet. It is a poison to our minds, our culture, our self respect, and to our biological selves.
If you believe that god gave us our minds, what more cruel of an insult could you possibly have for your creator than to not use the one unique gift that he gave humans?
So I ask for you to at least place “I don’t know” beside your faith and try to answer the question without resorting to a single source. Perhaps someday you’ll be ready to accept “I don’t know” as the only answer and list a whole bunch of “ideas”. Perhaps someday you’ll just accept that you simply don’t have the answers and ultimately you may never.
It’s not such a bad thing to not have all the answers. Not knowing how the world is going to end does not mean that you can’t enjoy blowing out the candles a birthday cake. It has no effect on our daily lives to admit that we don’t have all the answers. But it can have a profound impact on the future if we can all accept “I don’t know”. It can have a profound effect on how we influence our governments and where we place our funds and our research so that we better benefit humanity.
Our investing more of our time and resources into knowledge, rather than faith, will greatly benefit all of us.