An Accompanying Grain of Doubt

Over the past few months, I’ve submerged myself in a crash course in philosophy that might be subtitled What I Believe. I’ve taken long drinks from the literary fountains of modern proponents of atheism (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens) and secular humanism (Chet Raymo), as well as diving into the cosmological pools of Sagan, Einstein and Galileo. My appetite was primed by a strong desire to expound and solidify my own personal belief about the world and my (our) place in it — and by the realization that I was dangerously ignorant of what others had written. I dove in with a seemingly open mind and a multitude of questions — most of which I was unsure even had answers.

Along the way, what appeared to be answers revealed themselves in the pages I was consuming. Slowly, ideas began to coagulate into cohesive foundations for belief — an underpinning to which I could return as I push the investigative envelope even further.

But as this foundation continued to coalesce, something happened. I stopped asking new questions to challege the strength of this foundation. In the place of the questions that still needed to be asked, I began to believe that I had the answers — answers that needed to be shared. I became an evangelist of a new foundation, ignoring its cracks and my lifelong distate for one-size-fits-all solutions to complex, inherently personal, challenges. It has taken the insight of those around me to realize that although I may have discovered my own personal source of nourishment, my mistake lies in insisting (either expressly or by way of implication) that others must sip from the same cup.

So now I must refocus on reopening the investigation, continually examining the structural integrity of my own foundation for belief, instead of recklessly or trivially pouring my often shaky concrete below the houses of others. I will continue to share those things that seem poignant to me, that illustrate who I am and what I believe. But I do so with the utmost humility, always with an accompanying grain of doubt.

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