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Somewhere Between Certainty & Doubt

By David L. Hawkins, III / Published on Tuesday, 17 Apr 2018 11:04 AM / Comments Off on Somewhere Between Certainty & Doubt / 105 views

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Philosophy
  • Somewhere Between Certainty & Doubt

Belief is in our blood. We will kill for our ideals, ideologies, and belief systems. We naturally seek certainty and structure, yet we all grow weary of structure as time chugs along. We tend to doubt. We doubt our morals. We doubt our worth. We doubt our perception. Our fickle brains take sledgehammers to everything that we once believed to be true. Order descends into chaos as the dragon of doubt burns down the kingdom we have spent centuries constructing. Better things grow from that destruction. Flowers reach from the stone the very next spring, giving way to brand new ideas. Certainty and doubt should not be mutually exclusive, for they are both very necessary. Juxtaposing certainty and doubt creates extremes that will only destroy and leave us stagnant.

Our beliefs are important things. They serve as groundwork for us to grow upon. There are some things you should be certain of; there are some things you need to be certain of. Some people find this in religion, but it is dangerous to allow your certainty to exist there without some form of doubt. Why ca absolute certainty be a dangerous thing? Well, take a look at the stories behind many of the religious cults that have been formed. Look at the way they were able to turn seemingly average people into myopic gears in their twisted machines. Look at how Heaven’s Gate was able to convince 14 of their members to commit suicide at the same time and in the same robe and black Nikes. These members were promised a second life on an asteroid with alien-like beings. They did not doubt that. They did not doubt that they only had a small window to take that second life. So they shaved their heads and threw away their individualism. They became cogs in the machine of a madman.

Religion is not the only space where absolute certainty can become toxic. Some people have died in the name of utopia. We yearn for a perfect society where we can all be certain of our government’s benevolence. We just want to be certain that they can protect us and ensure a perfect environment for us. We should understand not to put our absolute certainty into a figure or ideology, yet we do it anyway. We can sell our souls for a better society. We can become a part of their political machine and then watch as millions of people perish. And the kicker is that we don’t even blink an eye.

Once one sees the disastrous implications of mindless certainty, the conclusion should just doubt everyone and everything. We should throw away faith and treat belief like a cage. Throwing off the shackles of certainty sounds like an easy endeavor, but the extreme that doubt presents can be just as destructive. Doubt in everything breeds nihilism. Once you doubt to the point of believing that your life is meaningless, it is not a stretch to see others’ lives as such. Your entire perception of what humanity means can be skewed by doubt in heavy doses. In a TED Talk, the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine shooters, talks about his self-harm. Klebold saw his own life as meaningless and he allowed doubt to take over his life. Mere atheism became extreme social darwinism and Klebold adopted a ‘survival of the fittest’ mindset when looking around at his classmates. Too much doubt can erode the structure that we all dearly need. It can fuel the dragon’s fire as it devours everything around us. Doubt kills.

We need both doubt and certainty in healthy doses. We need to keep balance or we risk falling into an extreme. We must stand at that crossroad and decide who we are, and our identity can be found in the choice between certainty and doubt. As a Christian, I have values that I use as groundwork for my life. Certainty in something makes existence bearable but I do not wish to allow myself to fall to the extremes like the gay-bashing Westboro Baptist Church. I sometimes doubt my purpose and my worth but I allow that doubt to be improve myself. If I do not it is broken, I cannot fix it. I am broken beyond belief. I am certain in my own ability to improve myself but I know that I will never be perfect. Doubt reminds me that perfect is not possible. This is a healthy balance, and this balance between certainty and doubt is absolutely necessary.

As humans, we find ourselves in this tug-o-war between two very real monsters: certainty and doubt. They are both monsters with the potential to drive us to do terrible things. They are both monsters cut from the same cloth, despite the fact that they can seem like opposite ends of a spectrum. They are both monsters who also no inherently evil or destructive or particularly cataclysmic. Feed both of them as you see fit. Do not allow certainty to blind you but also do not allow doubt to numb you.