the god of certainty

Posted on March 11, 2009



“I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it” – H. E. Fosdick

“Each of us creates a picture of our world by connecting a dozen or so of the trillions of dots that would need to be connected to make a ‘true’ portrait of the universe.” — Sam Keen

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble; it’s what you know for sure that ain‘t so.” — Mark Twain

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” — Bertrand Russell

“There is more faith in honest doubt than in all your Creeds” – A. L. Tennyson

“Education is the progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” — Will Durant

When I was young there was so much that I knew for sure. I knew those things so absolutely that I could even judge others based on my superior knowledge. I could judge other people’s life style, habits, beliefs, values . . . just all kinds of things. And I could do this without even having to think much about it, since I did KNOW so much.

I should probably ask for forgiveness of all those people that I have judged out of my certainty and my superior knowledge.

Why did I cling so tightly to certainty?

There’s comfort in certainty. Life becomes much more simple when we know for sure. We can discriminate, segregate, and even eliminate out of our certainty. Hmmm, that gives me a sense of power that I wouldn’t have without this god of certainty.

It might be quite beneficial to worship this god of certainty for the rest of my life.

If I don’t question and just believe, I could create quite a life . . . life in a bubble, life based on delusion, life avoiding any hint of uncertainty, reality, pain.

We can wage war at a whim, pre-emptively, as long as we KNOW they have weapons of mass destruction, as long as we KNOW they are part of THE Axis of Evil, as long as we KNOW we, not them, have a corner on the “truth”. What power . . . what freedom!!! (By the way, does that axis include civilians and all?)

The god of certainty walks hand in hand with the god of comfort.

For some reason, for me, aging is bringing the death of these gods. Maybe I’m learning to THINK . . . after nearly half a century of living. Maybe reality is finally sinking in.

Who am I to think I KNOW anything? As soon as I KNOW, my mind closes. My opinion becomes my reality and facts get thrown out.

If I want to keep learning, I must keep my mind open to new information . . . new facts. I must remain tentative in my opinions and beliefs.

If I KNOW, then I’m saying I have all of the facts, that I know it all.

No, that god is dead.

I choose the road less travelled. I choose a road of mystery . . . a road that is not certain . . . a road full of questions . . . a road with very few answers. Because no matter how much I want to believe in the god of certainty, life just doesn’t work that way. It never has and never will. The only thing certain in life is change. Must be God created it that way…

“There’s roads and there’s roads

And they call, can’t you hear it?

Roads of the earth

And roads of the spirit

The best roads of all

Are the ones that aren’t certain

One of those is where you’ll find me

Till they drop the big curtain.”

(Lyrics from Child of the Wind by Bruce Cockburn) (wanna hear it? click here)

(Saturday, 21 July 2007)