“I Don’t Know” Is An Acceptable Answer
I’m beginning to find it interesting that religion is the one intellectual arena that has all the answers and expects other to have them as well. I find it unthinkable that religion seeks to say “I have all the answers to the meaning of life, what comes after death, and the seat of morality.” Certainly not all religions are hard set on those answers, but some I find infuriating.
For instance, if I asked a person if they knew everything that they would be doing with the rest of their life, they would find the question ludicrous. If I asked a person if they were an expert in every branch of science, they would scoff at such a proposal. The reason: ignorance is not so uncommon as everyone attempts to make it. Why is ignorance bad? Why do we see not knowing as failure? Why is the answer “I don’t know” to a question a faulty one?
Religion. I really think so. Religion instills in us this “ultimate meaning,” that we suddenly can know everything there is to know about life, death, and morality.
Take Christianity for example. 2 Peter 1:3 says that Christ’s power has given us “everything for life in godliness.” Christians take this to mean they have all the answers. Now, a Christian will deny they know everything, but presenting them with any world problem or personal problem, and that Christian believes he or she can solve it, using Scripture, of course.
I find this arrogant, foolish, and just flat out embarrassing. A respectable scientist is willing to admit he doesn’t know. An honest politician should be able to say that he does not have the answer but he has a plan. Why do the religious say, “God has given me the answer to that,” when the answer might be strange, foreign, or utterly absurd.
I for one like the answer “I don’t know.” It conveys honesty, thought into the question, and articulates the common philosophical problem: many answers are very elusive. Where this answer is absolutely unacceptable is when it is used as a cop-out, or it is a departure from obvious fact, or conversely, that the correct answer can be arrived at from logical deduction, or that the correct answer can be derived from reality.
Ignorance is not to be shunned. Without ignorance there is no discovery and no curiosity. It is the act of remaining ignorant that we must fear. The one who is too afraid to question and to explore should be discarded as a hindrance. It is for knowledge, for truth, for depth, for answers we must strive and thirst.