The kindness of not knowing


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The question … “Is it possible to be a scientist and believe in God?”  The answer … “I said yes.”  The response … “I got a round of applause.”
Brian Cox recounting a Q&A session with London schoolchildren.
(see 3 minutes 50 seconds for those quotes)

What caught my attention was the gentle “I don’t know” throughout … the “I don’t like the antagonism that occurs – or is produced – by this question” … the humility and humanity on display … the kindness so easy when NOT having to be right or wrong … the kindness so easy of NOT knowing.

Being kind in freely saying “I don’t know … we don’t know … how can we know …” the ease of kindness if none of us know … if we DON’T need to be binary-yes-no-certain-knowing … The ease of being kind in NOT needing to fight about the evidence and absence of evidence … The ease of being kind when we are NOT attacking each other’s “evidence” to prove each other right/wrong.  For those who bring evidence of certainty – of knowing – must leave kindness outside (and replace it with “patronising”).

I am not a Scientist nor am I a Christian.  Not in the publicly defined and debated binary yes/no right/wrong arena.

“Who do you say I am?”

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And we are taught to declare our knowing and to present our evidence of knowing.  Which is not evidence but belief.  Beliefs we are taught is evidence.  Beliefs we present as evidence.  Beliefs that change.

With one small by-product …

I was taught by church – by science – by society – by all around me … To KnowTo Be CertainTo Be SureTo See EvidenceTo See No EvidenceTo Be SureTo Be CertainTo Make Up My MindTo Declare And Defend My PositionTo Take A Side  – To Be One Or The Other

And in that teaching I was taught to be unkind.

I was NEVER taught NOT to know.

“I don’t like the antagonism that occurs – or is produced – by this question.”

A question that demands a yes/no with the expectation that if I believe this then I MUST be all that as well.

Which is why divorce happens so often.  And why wars start.  And why violence occurs so frequently.  And why there is so much media anger dripping from anonymous keyboards. All because I was taught that if I believe this then I am this – and that if you believe that then you are my enemy!

And if you are my enemy …

Then I can justify so much unkindness and still believe I am kind … I can justify so much anger and still believe I am a peacemaker … I can put you to death emotionally, intellectually and physically and believe I am right to do so … I can be ordered to do that by one who believes the same as I and we can both believe we are right … I can be inhumane whilst rejoicing in my humanity …

Love can’t.  Love without condition can’t. 

Love without condition does not need.  Not your gratitude, or your anger, or your acceptance. or your rejection – and certainly not you (and my) being right and them (or me) being wrong.  And in the needlessness of NOT needing all that stuff …

Kindness is easy.

And if we are kind do we love … ?

I don’t know.

And I don’t need to.

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1 thought on “The kindness of not knowing

  1. Pingback: I was taught to be unkind | Church Set Free

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