Believe nothing UNTIL you question everything

I believe in reading a wide range of information, keeping an open mind, and questioning everything. If something is true and real, it will withstand questioning. If it can’t withstand questioning, wouldn’t you rather know it than continue to be deceived? Some people, especially those considered “religious”, advocate steering clear from any number of topics and materials. A good example of this is the battle some Christian parents undertake against the teaching of evolution in their kids’ classrooms. My parents never shielded me from differing beliefs, ideas, information. They gave me a strong sense of what they believed was right, and then supported me as a questioned it to death to determine if I believed it, too. I know I drove them crazy many times, especially when I went to the “Berkley of the Midwest”, the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  And I know they were terrified sometimes when I questioned the very foundations of who they were and what they believed in.  But by allowing me to question what they taught me, they knew that ultimately my beliefs would be tested, unwavering and truly mine. They would have rather I disagreed with them and meant it with my whole heart, than agreed with them just because they said so.  In fact, there were a number of times that my questions caused THEM to change their beliefs.

I believe if you’re mature in your faith, you can separate the wheat from the chaff. You can read a book, article or blog and gain something valuable and worthwhile out of it, even if you don’t agree with it. While there is some wisdom in keeping your mind pure and not being able to “un-know” or “un-hear” something, I believe in some cases it’s best to err on the side of gathering more information than less. After all, how can you discuss your point of view and advocate your beliefs, if you don’t understand what other people believe and why. The first step in discussing a topic is understanding it. How can you understand it if you don’t know anything about it? How can you even know what you believe if you haven’t questioned it?

I think the world, the country, the religious community, the schools are full of sheep — people who swallow anything they’re spoon fed without thinking about it, questioning it, and testing it to see if it’s true.  And I think we’re AFRAID of questioning what we believe.  And why?  It’s as if we’re terrified it might not hold up under scrutiny.  Who wants to hold onto a belief like that?  How can you put your faith into something that might not withstand an honest question or discussion?  Talk about building your house on the sand! 

Alfred Korzybski said, “There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking.” 

Let go of your fears and really think about what you believe.  Discuss your beliefs with people who disagree with you.  Only then will they become truly yours.

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