Tuesday, August 24, 2010


"We believe what we do about the world, of course, for many different reasons. All ways of explaining the world tend to be self-verifying and self-sustaining. An outlook does not have to be 'right' in order to seem right. It need not be logical (thought most people will consider their position reasonable), nor consistent, nor thorough, nor defendable, nor anything else to fulfill its primary function - providing an explanation of things. Once in operation, a belief system processes all information, all evidence, in its own terms, appropriating that which verifies its outlook and defusing or ignoring anything else."

"We fend off competing world views because by threatening our present understanding of reality they threaten our essential security...When people defend their world view, they are not defending reason, or God, or an abstract system; they are defending their own fragile sense of security and self-respect...No one understood the psychology of this better than Kierkegaard. He recognized how subtly intertwined are our beliefs with our instinct for self-preservation..."
Daniel Taylor, The Myth of Certainty, (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 23, 25.
Security. The one thing, above all else, that people want is security. That is why humans go to great lengths to pursue wealth, relationships, and a myriad of other things which give the human ego a sense of security. In much the same way, we pursue security in our belief systems. Everyone wants to believe that his or her belief system is correct because its "rightness" gives them a feeling of security in a world of uncertainty. In other words, people are constantly on the look out for certainty because their journey in life never seems to give them any. The slightest bit of doubt can create a fissure of unbelief which can radically alter a person's sense of security.

This is why we attack other people's belief systems. Not because they are always inherently "wrong" but because we do not feel comfortable enough in our own. Our "fragile sense of security" cannot withstand the storms of doubt that other belief systems could introduce to us. Instead of learning, growing, and adapating - we become rigid out of fear. This rigidity is what enforces the narrowing of our minds and philosphies to the limited acceptance of facts and figures that reinforce our own personal worldviews. Of course we're always right - because our depth is limited the realm of our own acceptance.

Self-preservation is easy enough to laugh off when it comes to the style of music we like or our favorite football team. The problem though is when it escalates to the level of personal belief about the world and its operations. Violence & tyranny become our only options as we must force our beliefs on as many people as possible in order to give our selves the greatest degree of security. The end result is a world of mistrust, anger, hurt, and revenge. All because of a simple chasing after the wind known as certainty.