DOUBT OR

CERTAINTY?

A Feline Heaven on Earth?

 

Our relationship with cats over the millennia has resulted in an evolution of their behaviour.

 

They have learned that they don’t have to become snarling adults hunting for prey. In the domestic environment they now retain their kittenish personality throughout life. It’s a role that suits humans looking for a pet to care for.

 

From the cat’s point of view, a cat owner is a god-like provider and protector. The cat enjoys a highly desirable life of idleness and luxury. Biologists call this retention of juvenile behaviour ‘Infantilism’.

 

Could it be that inventing a ‘caring father in the sky’ is a human attempt at

self infantilism?

People prefer certainty

Uncertainty is not our comfort zone.  

 

When we are doubtful we don’t know how to react for the best and we have to make snap decisions, some of which may turn out to be bad choices. Consequently, most of us prefer a safe and predictable existence. That’s why ‘jobs for life’ (as enjoyed by the clergy!) are reckoned to be a good prospect when they are available.

 

Obviously there has always been a minority of the population who are more adventurous - those are the ones who sailed around the world discovering new lands while their more conservative friends joined the priesthood, but most of us are content with a more unvarying and mundane routine. Minimising threats helps you to breed more! Evolution in action!

Death, of course, is the ultimate uncertainty which is why all societies have invented an ‘afterlife’ sometimes involving limitless celestial virgins (obviously thought up by men!).   More? click here.

 

The nearest we get to experiencing certainty is as children when we believe our parents will care for us and make everything better. Do you want to grow up? Me neither! Pity we weren’t born on Feb 29th!

 

The crushing responsibilities of adulthood tend to make us wish to return to the blissful contentment of childhood. Striving for that level of certainty may have stimulated mankind to abandon evidence and invent comforting stories of benevolent fathers in the sky. It’s probably the major pressure that has led to the development of religions.

 

Curiously, one of the accusations levied against Science by some religious people is that it is a smug dogma of know-all assuredness. Wrong! Scientists have to learn to live with doubt daily. Scientific facts are never proven. All Scientific knowledge is founded on convincing evidence, nothing more, and Scientists keep their minds open to the possibility that an even better explanation may come along and they will have to modify their views. This most famously happened when Einstein came up with the Theory of Relativity which fits the observed data of light speed travel in large scale space slightly more accurately than Newton’s Theory. Scientists know they don’t know everything, in fact, they know enough to really appreciate just how little they know.

 

Do you think it would be better if we all adopted this attitude of acceptance of doubt and ignorance?

 

Religions, however, being based on a ‘conviction’ rather than on evidence, do claim to offer certainties in the form of answers to prayers, forgiveness, absolution, salvation and heaven. Can they deliver their promises or are they ‘not fit for purpose’?

 

Do you think the Trades Description Act and the rules of the Advertising Standards Agency should apply to their claims?

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Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

Voltaire

1694 - 1778

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