I was sitting with a friend in a Mexican restaurant in Peoria, AZ-where the Padres and Mariners play Spring Baseball. He was experiencing one of those oh-so healthy periods of questioning the legitimacy of his faith tradition. He asked me directly, “Charlie, do you believe in God and what you’ve been taught about the Bible with 100% assurance?”
Such an easy question to answer; I responded, “Of course not!” I might believe 100%, but I can’t be 100% sure that my belief is “for sure.”
A bishop once told me, “Charlie, we confidently believe in our faith, but with modesty and humility, always knowing that we could be wrong.” There are indeed certain genuine universal truths but we, as finite humans, are incapable of grasping all the mysteries of God.
Oddly, this post is not about religion—that was just an example. I really believe that we are best off believing something “almost” assuredly while at the same time always knowing we could be wrong.
It’s not just true with religion and philosophy but with science as well. Many are the highly regarded scientific theorems that have been disproven and replaced later with “more accurate” theorems that are in turn also displaced. In fact, Steven Hawkins disproved his own Nobel Prize winning theorem. Haha. How cool!
Okay, I know what you’re probably saying, “C’mon Charlie you’re killing me with all of this philosophy stuff. Where are you going with it?”
“Know-It-Alls” Drive Me Nuts
Let me ask you a question: What attributes most endear you to another person? It’s probably things like kindness, humor, caring, love, humility, and the like. Two things are sure to turn you off: arrogance and know-it-alls, especially if they are boisterous about it. Man, those kinds of people drive me nuts!
However, there is some little demon inside all of us wanting always “to be right.” I’m sure if I could speak with doctors Freud and Jung, they could explain why: Freud would tell us we weren’t “potty-trained” properly and Jung would say there really is a demon in you.
Back to the point to “be right.” Our egos are somehow damaged when we think others disagree with our deeply held beliefs. We take it personally. It’s as if they are not rejecting our thoughts, but they are rejecting us as a person. Which in turn makes us doubt our own value, so in retaliation we dig in deeper and the tragic fight with that other person begins. Over what? An idea no one can prove?
Wisdom and Not Being Sure
It’s often said, “the older I get the less I know.” I guess there must be some truth to the statement. However, my truth is, the older I get the more I know. I haven’t stopped learning. No way. But here’s what I’ve found, “The older I get the less I know for sure.” I’m less certain about religion, philosophy and science and yet… oddly I am more confident in God and in myself.
I no longer feel that I have “to prove” anything to anyone. I don’t really care if they disagree. After all, “I’m not really sure!” So I try to be open to at least listen to a point of view counter to mine. Who knows? Maybe I’ll learn something.
Uh-Oh… Now I’m Pretty Sure
The older I get, I am also more certain about what I want to do with my life. I believe ever more deeply in love and kindness and friendship and helping others when I can. I am confident in my feelings toward my wife and son and dearest friends. I have a driving need to experience the world—other cultures and other people and magnificent awe-inspiring spectacles and new ways of thinking.
And finally, I’m more sure about YOU. I write these posts and maintain this website because I believe in our tribe of difference-makers. One thing I do know for sure… this world and its people do need help. Why can’t you and I be part of the answer?
I’m ready. How bout you? C’mon, let’s go make a difference! We can do good deeds; we can learn; and we can have a blast. And maybe, just maybe… we can find some meaning, adventure, and awe along the way. I’m sure… I think.