Healthy Scepticism?


by Alex Petric

I started my first year of university as a Chemistry major, largely due to the good experiences I had with chemistry in high school. I soon found that the combination of early morning class, an error-prone professor whose accent was impossible to understand, and an endless list of practice questions (all coupled with the stress of living away from home for the first time in my life) made Chemistry seem like a rather unpleasant career choice. I then explored philosophy for a year before finally settling on pursuing a degree in Math and Computer Science, which I have continued towards since then.

One of the greatest struggles I had with Chemistry was the idea that we would have to take errors into account for everything. They told us that we couldn’t know anything for certain, and that we could only know a general range for an actual result. However, (while I haven’t yet rekindled my love of chemistry) the more I think about it, the more I feel that this attitude is necessary in some areas, specifically when talking about religion. I feel the key to religious harmony, and likely to higher truths, is to recognize that there is no religion that is perfect or has complete authority on what the “truth” is. Perhaps some are closer to the truth than others, but we should not absolutely equate religious organizations and customs with God.

I feel it is also important to, at some point, question our beliefs and what we are taught, not so that we may disprove them, but so that we may find out for ourselves why we actually believe them. I think it is better to ask and wonder, and come to a conclusion, than to blindly believe something, especially if there is ample evidence against it. While I feel faith with the support of reason or faith in absence of reason is good, I cannot justify to myself having faith contrary to our own reasoning.

As well, I think one of the reasons examining our beliefs is most needed is to ensure that we are following the path we want to. If we accept the idea of evil forces in the world, then we should at the very least check that we are not mistakenly following evil instead of good.

Having said this, I think it is also important not to be cynical and question everything we see or are told. Some things cannot be explained in the end, and if we continuously ask “Why?” of every answer we are given, we will end up questioning fundamental aspects of life and axioms of morality that ultimately require our own faith in them.

In the end, I feel we should remember the timeless proverb: “Follow those who seek the truth; run from those who claim to have found it.”


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