I’ve expressed my opinion in this column for over a year – my thoughts and musings about life. I’ve always attempted to form my opinions on any subject by logical reasoning and critical thinking.
Furthermore, I gather as much data as possible from various sources, including direct observation. Notice I don’t use the term “fact”. A fact is a piece of data that no one disputes. Too often, we assume something to be a fact, when it is an opinion.
After I have analyzed any information I can find, I form a tentative conclusion, which I check against my observations in other areas, now and in the future. I consider all my knowledge and understanding to be tentative. None are fully set in stone because the world and its situations are changeable.
That might feel unsettling to some who must hold firm to a set of core beliefs. For some, this could be the view of a supreme being and the accompanying doctrine or rules. For others, it might be the platform of a particular political party. Some may find that science is their bedrock. Those with an inflexible set of beliefs might feel anyone without the same firm foundation to be – well, wishy-washy.
You might wonder how anyone could view all “facts” as tentative when so much of our daily lives depends on countless things we have to assume as absolute facts to exist. Gravity keeps us and everything around us from flying off into space. The physical world constantly reminds us that it exists and will punish us if we dare to think otherwise. If you fail to maintain control of your body and let it fall to the sidewalk, you’ll feel the resulting pain. Failure to exercise reasonable control over your environment will come back to bite you. I’m not just talking about air and water pollution. Failure to wash your dishes results in a stink that will remind you of your neglect.
Christians who believe that God created the heavens and earth from nothing in seven days might have no problem believing that God could easily change any law of nature on a whim. For those who only believe in scientific data, their certainties in many things are constantly being challenged by newly discovered data. Much of what was once written as science fiction has become science fact.
Some might feel that certain concepts are constant and can’t or shouldn’t be questioned. The insecure can feel threatened by any presented information contradicting their status quo. It’s easily seen on social media, where opposing points of view clash loudly. People on each side of an issue may feel that their opponent’s path is the road to destruction. It causes both sides to work harder to reinforce their position and negate the other.
I’m willing to accept new information that may modify my beliefs about whether something is true or not, regardless of whether it is considered by most as an absolute, unchangeable fact. I always listen and learn from as many points of view as possible, but I evaluate it for myself. I tend to find that each side has some valid points and that most people have good intentions.
When we habitually close our minds to any new information and seek to avoid acquiring other points of view to evaluate further personally, we do a disservice to ourselves and our connection to all life. My firm conviction is that we are all connected, for better or worse.
But I could be wrong.