Thursday, July 4, 2013

Certainty and Uncertainty

Downstairs they are discussing the “certainty of uncertainty,” or is it the “uncertainty of certainty”? I am not sure. It seems a bit of contradiction to be certain of anything, even uncertainty ... so I'll vote for the uncertainty of certainty, while, at the same time, envying people who have certainty.

My long-time friend Greg has had a few conversations with the almighty. There is no doubt in his mind. He is beyond the point of belief. He has experienced him directly. I hear a lot about Moses’ conversations with God in my Torah study class and I wonder if others in the class think that Moses is a liar, crazed, or being fooled by a guy behind the bushes? Or, is he actually hearing his voice? Or is it a combination of those four theories, or perhaps even a fifth or sixth or seventh?

I'm not certain of much of anything. And that's ok with me. It seems that to be certain you not only need a bulletproof proof, but you also need faith that you are right. Einstein was asked, “Suppose an experiment disproved your theory. Would you change your mind?” “No,” he said, “the experiment would be wrong.”

I can imagine a proof that would be pretty convincing. I drop a coin 1000 times and it hits the ground each time. That indicates it probably will hit the ground the next time I drop it (that is, unless gravity reverses its course, or a thief reached her hand out). But am I certain? No.

I've been fooled many times, as have most of us. As a kid I did magic tricks. I learned from the tricks that what you see might not be the whole story.

I can hear Uncle Ed asking if any of this makes a difference. Would certainty give one a better life? Or would uncertainty? If I were certain that a certain path would take me where I'd like to go I could probably walk more confidently. But if I ended up at a dump rather than a BBQ restaurant, I would be devastated. On the other hand, if I were uncertain of the path, I would worry so much that I might not hear the birds sing.

I think it does make a difference which way you say it, but you can't choose one over another just for convenience or happiness. A more practical approach might be to realize that certainty is a continuum and that in any situation we have some degree of certainty ... and, fortunately, some degree of uncertainty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that is wise but I am not certain. H.

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