Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Elusive Search For Truth

Watching a weekend morning talk show on MSNBC, "UP, with Chris Hayes" where they discuss many things but mostly political they came up with a notion while having a discussion on Global Warming with a panel that had a couple of Atheists on it as well as an Agnostic, also a couple of believers, but not fundamentalists, that much of what we believe is not from conclusions that we arrive at after careful consideration but rather trusting in certain sources, like renowned scientists or maybe religious leaders. I guess I already knew this instinctively but it was not up front in my consciousness. The notion makes a lot of sense but it sort of shakes the faith one has in oneself. I don't know about you but I like to think that I come to the serious conclusions about serious things on my own path of discovery.

When I think about all my mind has thought about enabling me to arrive at concepts and conclusions there is a relatively small percentage that I own outright, while there are more beliefs I have based on the acceptance of conclusions reached by others whom I consider experts in their field. Thinking about this phenomenon it seems perfectly rational for who has the time, energy or background to personally investigate all the important event that capture our imagination and intelligence.

I believe in evolution and global warming, climate change but I guess I hang my hat on the conclusions on what others have said about it all and it makes sense. There seems to be enough well known scientists who have investigated the subjects and come to the conclusion that the evidence points to the fact that carbon emissions are escalating climate change and the earth and its inhabitants are much older and more complex than religious writings might suggest. One of the panelists on the program "UP" was a noted Atheist proponent of evolution and was outspoken on the subject but when asked his position on climate change he would only say he believed in the scientific community's conclusion but relied on other experts in the field since he couldn't speak of his own research. I found this very interesting. He had plenty of arguments pushing evolution refuting the religious stance that the earth was only some 5000 years old but once out side of his field of expertise he would state his position based on findings by other experts whom he trusted.

Many of our beliefs are the result of the accident of birth. I was born into a Catholic family and before I had any chance or ability to think about it I was knee deep in the religion. As I grew up much of what I believed was what my Mom, Grandmother and religious leaders, Priests, Nuns told me or rather rammed down my throat. Another individual born thousands of miles away would have an all together different view of the universe and its origins based on what he or she was told. Both that far away person and I would hold views perhaps very dis-similar yet we would hold them as truths based on the authority and force of the people and experts in our environment.

Once we have to go to work we spend most of our time expanding knowledge in our field of endeavor picking up bits and pieces of information about subjects which interest us for entertainment or knowledge sake. The peculiar part to all this is once we get the chance to investigate some of what has been told we, I, usually find everything is not as it was explained to us, there are nuances which greatly affect the conclusions foisted upon us, not all the time but in many cases.

This little bit of knowledge I have picked up from "UP" will make me be a little less certain about arguments when presented to me. The arguments I will present will be tempered by the very fact that I know a lot less that I thought I knew and the same can be said for my antagonist.  
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