Many people seem to be stuck in their way of thinking and confident in what they know, however there are others that seem to constantly have doubts and seem more open to new ideas. Is this because one of them has more knowledge than the other? Or is it just a coincidence? Knowledge is considered to be: facts, information, and skills acquires through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Doubt is: a feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction.
This essay will focus on the link between reason and faith in relation to human sciences and religious knowledge systems. Knowledge is relative. In religious systems they generally rely on their God and beliefs, whereas the general society relies on the knowledge of professionals and up-to-date investigations as well as our own experiences in order to acquire knowledge. However, in both cases you can involve faith, as in religious knowledge systems they have faith in their God and live in accord to what they’ve discovered throughout the years, mainly based on their source of cannon. In modern society we mostly rely on scientists to acquire knowledge for us, we rely on them and their doubts to be able to learn and develop our knowledge.Human sciences acquire knowledge mainly through reason, and religious knowledge systems mainly use faith. Human science relies on reason to acquire knowledge because it understands that in order to know something you have to investigate and experiment in order to get proof.
When humans want to know something, what do we do? We either look it up on the internet, which is what most people do, or we get practical. ‘Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing so not enough; we must do.’In this case let’s look at a student, when a student has doubts they either ask a teacher or look it up online. Yes, this in theory is based on faith, faith that your teacher or the Internet is reliable enough to have the appropriate information.
However the student bases their faith that the teacher has been reasonable enough to investigate or experiment this topic in question for it to be reliable, or that the Internet is basing its results on investigations that have been conducted in accord to the topic. In my Environmental Systems and Societies class when we were studying the Soil topic, someone had a question about whether inorganic and organic fertilizer affected plant growth differently or if it was just a myth. My teacher, based on what she knew from what she studied in university and what she had learned over the years, didn’t have a precise answer. At the time I hadn’t chosen a topic for my Internal Assessment for this subject, so I decided to take that question my classmate had and experiment it. Turns out it does affect plant growth quite dramatically. So, because of this doubt, I conducted an experiment and increased my knowledge on that subject as well as everyone else’s in my class, including my teacher.
However, humans do make assumptions, not based on reason which only increases their confidence in what they think is right. For example sociologists create surveys in order to simulate what the possible results will be in political votes. Before Greece voted or the referendum, sociologists created surveys to see what was most likely to win.
In the survey the results stated that the referendum was going to pass, however in the actual elections it didn’t pass. In the United Kingdom the surveys showed that Brexit wasn’t going to pass, however it did pass. In the United States the surveys indicated Hilary’s victory, in the end however, Trump won. This proves that although we take the initiative to investigate in order to attain knowledge, it doesn’t mean that doubt and uncertainty are completely out of the question. It is therefore clear that human sciences use reason to gain knowledge based on doubts to an extent, but although we decide to investigate for ourselves to gain reliable knowledge, there are still drawbacks which limit the certainty and reliability of certain data. People who have little knowledge of contrasting belief systems to their own have a high level of confidence on their own religious beliefs.
If someone is very extreme with their beliefs, then they won’t have as many doubts as someone who isn’t so extreme, as they’ll be more open minded to other ideas and beliefs. Religion has only one cannon as a source of reference. One unquestionable truth. You could say that faith confirms that we know with confidence when we know little, as faith does not need to be informed by fact. You can assume the confidence of the religious believer comes from their limited exposition to knowledge and new perspectives, and if they were exposed to these ideas, they would be less confident. Once I was shopping with my best friend who is quite religious. The topic of how the world was created came into discussion to which I stated that I believed the in Big Bang theory, to which she objected and said that obviously God had created the world.
I understood that that’s what she believed and I didn’t say that she was wrong just because I had a different belief, however she was dumbfounded that I didn’t think that God had created the Earth. Although I believe that the earth was created by the Big Bang, I understand that there are still doubts about how and why, whereas my friend has it clear how, when and why God created the Earth. This demonstrates that the reason leads one to acquire more than faith does. However, some people might use their religious beliefs as a lens to contrast knowledge of other belief systems in order to show the weaknesses of those belief systems, and this to bolster their confidence in their own beliefs systems. This means that some religious people, rather than believing blindly in their religion, seek out weaknesses and strengths of other religions, including their own, in order to see if they might be wrong, and if so to seek out the truth and, in consequence, gain more knowledge. My grandpa and I once had a discussion on religion, he is very religious whereas I’m atheist. He understood my points concerning why I wasn’t religious and I understood why he was.
Rather than shooting down every point I made, he made an effort to understand what I was saying and agreed that there may be certain weak points in his religion, but nevertheless he decided that that’s what he wanted to believe, despite its weaknesses. This shows that doubt increases knowledge, or the capability of acquiring more knowledge and that by not questioning anything you’re actually lessening your chance of knowing more on a topic. In conclusion, Von Goethe’s claim seems to be correct based on the arguments presented throughout the essay – doubt does increase knowledge. However not all doubts, without a logical reasoning, will lead to knowledge. Human beings use their senses in order to perceive, observe and reason in order to understand. Doubt has become a way of knowing due to the fact that it helps us understand the value and limits of reason, which makes us question, and therefore try and understand concepts better. The more people question the more they’ll gain, whereas people who don’t question and believe everything don’t acquire anything rather than gullibility.
This is important because it implies that some people think that because you don’t question things then you must know the answer to everything, when in reality people who question more tend to have a higher level of knowledge. Aside from human sciences and religious knowledge systems, we could also relate this to Indigenous knowledge systems. Indigenous knowledge systems use faith in acquiring knowledge. They have faith in their ancestors and live accordingly to them, which is very similar to religious knowledge systems. Knowing this, is there a limit to knowing? Are there boundaries to doubting?