1 complete trust or confidence in someone or something
2 strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof
This morning I was told that I must have faith. My usual reactionary response was to contend that I’d rather have certainty, obviously having been influenced by the lyrics of David Bowie’s song Law (Earthlings on Fire).
“I don’t want knowledge, I want certainty.”David Bowie
Not considering the first half of the lyric, it turns out that my response was unintentionally sarcastic.
For, of course, knowledge is the key. The key to so many things that any list would be incomplete.
Knowledge opens doors, enabling one to grasp a more realistic understanding of the world, the universe, and everything within it.
With knowledge, the planet beneath our feet is no longer flat. Illness is no longer the result of a curse.
On the other hand, faith is a denial of truth. Putting “complete trust or confidence in someone or something” prevents exploration of the views, perspectives and findings of other people or institutions. The blinders are on, the ears are plugged.
That’s where I erred on certainty. Bowie the atheist was certainly (yes, I know!) mocking faith, with his surgically precise line of only seven words. The faithful are certain in their beliefs as set out by their faith, their holy books, the preachings of their spiritual leaders, the myths, the dogmas, and the lies of their demagogues (yes, him).
We are always in the process of approaching truth and perfection without actually ever reaching truth or perfection.Mark Manson
It just occurred to me that in Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, the idea of certainty is addressed, perhaps not explicitly but certainly in principle. Within those pages Manson points out that so much of what we know today will be proven to be wrong at some point in the future, just as the entire global population once had to accept that this planet, after all, is not flat.
To have certainty one must have faith. Faith provides a false certainty. Helios pulled the sun up above the horizon every morning, until the day when knowledge killed Helios.
With good intentions, people tell you to have faith in yourself. I’d rather have knowledge, a realistic understanding of my abilities and my limitations. Without that, false hope will prevail, leading to disappointment, frustration, self pity.
Realism, not faith or certainty, serves well as a constant reminder that there are always new things to learn, and everything we think we know today could, and probably will, be proven wrong tomorrow. That concept can be embraced, with eyes and mind wide open.
So, yeah, I want knowledge; Regularly updated, challenged and refined.