2007-02-10

Questions liberate. Answers bind.

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by Neil Godfrey

Richard in his first comment responding to my Bauckham 4a post took me to task for asking questions but not answering them: “You raise some interesting questions, but do not really answer them. It is not enough to wave a magic wand of doubt . . . ”

I have been looking back over old posts of mine that I am preparing to add here to my blog and cannot avoid the fact. Yes, it’s true, I plead guilty.

I do ask far more questions than I answer. I’d like to think the reason is that I’m still a history teacher at heart, and still feel it’s the job of my bones to unsettle preconceptions and provoke debate and enquiry.

Or maybe it’s just my past history in a religious cult that thought it had all the answers and this is part of my “coming out” of that. I used to say Questions liberate; Answers bind.

I often (not always) do have answers in my head when I ask questions, but I don’t always put them down simply because they are tentative and I cannot deny they will no doubt change the more I learn. Who knows how ignorant we today will all look by comparison with our descendants 500 years from now? It would be another dark age if we didn’t look ignorant.

What I despair more over than answers that prove one day to be wrong is a closed mind that refuses to admit this fact. And by refusing to admit they could one day be wrong they are in fact creating a self-fulfilling prophecy: they never will be proved wrong but will die in their faith. For many that’s a good thing. To me that is the sort of thinking that is generated by a fear of insecurity, of facing the real world as it is, and opting rather to live in a stable solid world of make-believe or faith. I now look back on my years of faith as trying to carry a childish fantasy into my adult years, complete with a magic invisible father and inanimate matter that came to life when I fell asleep. Sure it was traumatic and scary at first to let it all go. But we all have to choose between comfort and honesty, and decide if we want honesty no matter what its future may hold in store.

But once the choice for the latter is finally acted on, as so many other ex-religionists have come to know, comes a level of maturity and courage and self-respect that only an ability to face the world as it really is, and without any dream anesthetics, can bring.

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