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The Watering Hole - Conversations on 21st. Century religion.

Questioning is the beginning of wisdom


Failure to question blocks human progress. Doubt and Questions are essential to progress

Questioning is the beginning of wisdom

Questioning is the beginning of wisdom.

I've said this many times. Religion once said that the Earth was the center of the universe. People who questioned that were hauled before religious tribunals and threatened with death.

Various scientists throughout history offered alternative ideas, and finally the astronomer Galileo created a telescope that indicated the Earth revolved around the sun along with other planets. After publishing he was threatened with death.

After this collision between science and religion, science eventually flourished, bringing many major benefits to humanity, and religion got real.

No scientific fact and no human endeavor is without exceptions that raise doubt and result in challenges. There is always room to explore. Always room to find better ways. Covid-19 is the latest to raise the questions.

Most, if not all, faith leaders have doubt. Doubt isn't the enemy. Doubt makes us question so that we arrive at better understandings.

The reaction to modern education and knowledge, and its smug idea by many that everything was known, resulted in an aspect of Postmodern philosophy that said, no everything is not known, and sometimes it's better to "not know." To live with not knowing makes it possible to move forward. The challenges remain before us to inquire, to investigate, to learn more.

My Dad, a WWII Vet, used to tell me, "There's the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way." But what we find in life is not that there is a "right way," but that there are many ways forward. There are usually multiple paths toward our goal. We need to find the one that works best for us.

In this age (150 or more years) of very rapid technological and cultural change, people feel like the ground is constantly shifting, so there is little they can depend on. Understandably people need stability to live their lives. We should be finding ways to make things more stable, while continuing to improve lives.

The antithesis to wisdom is rigid belief, especially the belief that only our way can be right. For example, I have a facebook friend who lives in a tribal area of a foreign country. He believes in tribalism as opposed to central government. For his situation he makes a lot of sense, while I prefer central government. We both want the same things for humanity, but our approaches are very different. These approaches could be argued all day. But in these different circumstances each seems to work well.

The movie industry long opposed going from film to digital. "Film was so much better!" Same people who said that "black and white gave better shadows," and "Talkies would ruin movies." But digital makes movie making open to nearly everyone, and editing is so much easier. Now it's all digital, and 3D and Virtual environments are moving forward.

Not all questions can be resolved by science, philosophy, or religion. Experience and keeping an open mind help navigate these waters. Often the rules humanity creates crumble under questioning.

But we have to live. We have to accept things, at least temporarily, to move forward with life. I laugh at Socrates, the father of endless questions. He tortured people with, "Why" until they decided he was a threat to humanity and made him drink Hemlock. At some point we have to move on with life.


n philosophy there is the concept of "Reductio Ad Absurdum." It's questioning things to an absurd extent. Nothing in life is perfect or exists without exceptions. Finding exceptions is just a way to stand fixed in place and take no risks. For example, when fishermen go out for fish, they don't know where the fish are. But rather than stay home because it might be a futile exercise, they go out and fish until they find fish.

Asking a question doesn't make you wise, but questioning leads to wisdom. But gaining wisdom might be painful. You have to accept risk and hard work, and some people may want to kill you for it.

- Dorian

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- Dorian

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