Knowledge is a truth that can be acquired through past experiences, education, opinions and facts. Different Areas of Knowledge requires different types of comprehension as well as the amount of comprehension that we need. Knowledge in Natural Sciences, for example, requires more expertise and skills rather than knowledge in Religion because natural sciences deals with aspects of the physical world which includes physics, chemistry and biology. These aspects require more precision as conversely many people (and scientists) talk about increasing confidence in one’s knowledge as a process of ‘proving things’ or finding “scientific proof”. This is not the case in religion, however, because for many people knowledge in religion relies greatly on faith. Religion is a particular system of faith and worship especially to superhuman controlling power such as a God or Gods. In this way most of the knowledge that people have on religion is inherited empirically and from ancient times that has been passed on to today. The essence of knowing too little may be fatal on Natural Sciences and the essence of knowing too much may be doubtful on Religion. This distinction is what leads me to explore the nature of “doubt” and confidence” in the acquiring of knowledge for the Areas of Knowledge Religion and Natural Sciences. Therefore the Knowledge Question that will guide my investigation forward will be; “To what extent does one’s knowledge of religion and natural sciences correlates with skepticism?”
A paradox is a statement that in first light may seem absurd or ludicrous and yet if investigated further might hide a latent truth. The key words “confidence” and “knowing little”, “knowledge” and “doubt” are contradictory terms that are used in this statement to create a paradox within the readers minds. I will take an example by highlighting the values that each of these Areas of Knowledge has on the human body. The human anatomy is a complex structure where organ systems are supported by cells, tissues and individual organs in order for a body to be fully functioning and alive. The knowledge we gain through natural sciences relies greatly on the importance of which each of these functions work so that as a whole, the body can exist in optimum condition. The inherent value of a body, as well as the knowledge we attain from these values, is different when seen from a religious perspective. In religion, the human body is seen not so much as a holistic system for us to function and live but it is more a symbol that sparks philosophical ideas and reflections. I have been born and raised as a Christian and arguably the most famous biblical reference is ‘The Last Supper’ in which Jesus Christ, son of God, offered his body as bread and his blood as wine; “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, ‘Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). In christianity, Jesus bestowing his body as an offering for his disciples, symbolizes his sacrifice to repel the sins of humanity. This becomes a belief for every Christian that in the Communion Service, when we eat the bread that symbolizes the body of Jesus Christ, we also remember and deeply appreciate why He had to offer His body to be beaten and abused for our redemption and absolution. In this way, the offering of the body of Jesus as bread (which in turn is a popular allegory for daily food, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11)), signifies the importance of appreciating our blessings in being given a basic necessity for living as the people who has faith will believe that because of the sacrifices of Jesus, they are able to eat. This knowledge and values are attained by faith. It does not need solid evidences to acquire knowledge of religion as much as it does for natural sciences. So the paradox between the key words “confidence” and “knowing little” fits perfectly for the Area of Knowledge Religion.
If said a person leans more towards the pursuit of knowledge in natural sciences they will have more doubts on their beliefs of religion. How was the world created? The catastrophic Big Bang? A holy hand painting the universe as if on canvas? This battle persists till today because, as the ancient Greeks and Latins belive, the human nature rests on its necessity to begin thinking in order to abolish doubt. In the beginning of human knowledge, the ancient people have been dependent on trust as the main form of obtaining knowledge. It is usually a priest or a high teacher that would lecture the young from a book that is reserved only for them. The knowledge acquitted at the time is customarily about or relating to religion for through religion, children learned how to behave ethically and live their lives through this ethical and morally right way. But modern “doubt” does not work in that way. For the now generation “doubt” is the ground from where we begin our search for knowledge in the hopes of finding “certainty” of what things are and how they become that way. The beginning of time itself has contradictions. The Christian religion accounts on how “God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh” (Genesis 1:1). This knowledge has been passed on from the oldest of generations till today. When the high priest or teacher lectures young minds on this matter, they nail it to their brain and believe in it. It isn’t hard to take what a person says to you and say “with confidence” that you know plenty. But if a critical thinking person would go out of their way to rebel against that knowledge to seek out further understanding on the matter, they will find that perspectives on the beginning of time has a lot of branches and these branches stretches out beyond the horizon so that the more they understand, the more they will begin to feel like they have even more to understand. This creates doubt. And with doubt, knowledge is requested. It becomes a perfect loop as the more knowledge you gain, the more you doubt and the more you seek to reach that place of “certainty”.
In natural sciences, the Big Bang theory is the most popular conspiracy on how the world came to be. A scholarly article written by Ram Brustein and Judy Kupferman’s with the title, ‘The Creation of the World – According to Science’ states that science grants a real possibility of approaching a definitive answer but “we still have no idea if an absolute truth can ever be found”. The millions and millions of researches of Quantum Universe, singularity/explosion, the hot Big Bang and the invisible dark matter do not satisfy enough knowledge for people to have a definitive truth. They cannot rest peacefully in the place of “certainty”. The knowledge is there, but they have more and more doubts and these gaps are hard to fill. As you search for your own answers, and you find out more, you suffer more on the doubts and on the questions that you have left unanswered. The visible matter of the universe is only 5%. The rest is invisible and are called “dark matters”. This surrounds the galaxies and the clusters. We know now that it is there. But we still can’t see it. How will you understand something that you cannot see? A person who believes blindly and has insurmountable faith in a knowledge will claim to know so much. But a person who asks questions will always find themselves with even more questions on top of the pile of unanswered questions. In this way, having little knowledge can increase confidence and having more knowledge can increase doubt.
On a more personal account, I too have experienced the uneasy place of uncertainty when it comes to knowledge. As a young child everything seems quite certain because no advanced knowledge precedes my young mind. Religion has been taught to me since a very early age and I had no doubt beyond the fact that “After creating the earth, the sky, the seas and plants, God made birds and fish on the fifth day and animals and humans on the sixth day” (Genesis 1:27). As I matured and developed as a human being and enrolled in schools, the education system has allowed me to pursue more knowledge and by doing so, more doubts has crossed my mind. In the gaining of knowledge I find myself inquiring more on the things that I have just uncovered. For example, the pursuit in my knowledge of natural sciences as I study biology has got me thinking about why the hypothalamus works so perfectly to keep the body temperature in check, or on how the cells in our body have different functions just to be able to support the simplest functions of another tissue? The nature of our uncertainty lies not in the “what” and “how” of things because these things, as Rene Descartes states, are called simple facts. The nature of our uncertainty lies in the “to what extent” of the “howness” and the “whatness” of these simple facts could it be “simple”. In the light of my studies I’ve discovered Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and thought that maybe this would answer my doubt to how a human being’s body could have so many systems and yet function very holistically as a whole. Either way, I still have a lot of questions unanswered and through the process of acquiring the answers, knowledge is gained and when knowledge is gained, doubt arises and with doubt comes knowledge again. This perfect loop of learning and doubting is the nature that humans have inherited to achieve the safe haven of “certainty”.
Thus we may conclude that in some Areas of Knowledge, people become more confident by knowing little and in some knowing more increases doubt. Either way the nature of this paradoxical statement is that knowledge increases doubt increases knowledge because humans thrive for a truth in the things that they believe in. No matter if the knowledge you need is little or more, where there is doubt there comes learning. And when doubt is no longer present, the learning becomes static.