Saturday, June 11, 2011

On Small Worlds and Closed Minds

Today I was asked to think about this question:
"How does someone's world get too small? Does it happen when they stop trying to make it bigger, or when you get comfortable where you are?"
My first instinct was to reply it was most likely the second case, but immediatelly I corrected myself. Actually, I believe, if one is comfortable where they are, their world will just start growing. The world will continue to shrink if one feels threatened about where they are. When they don't dare to look outside of their tiny sphere lest what they hold true, or precious, or basically what they put all their life and energy into, starts crumbling. When you don't dare to ask questions, listen to reason or think for yourself, to investigate what you are taught fearing that you might be "tainted", then your world becomes tiny and even more limited by blinders. If one is really comfortable where they are--in this case spiritually and in lifestyle choice--they can stand up, question, investigate and find confirmation. If they are truly comfortable with their lifestyle, they can mingle and not be "tainted" or corrupted. 

We live in an ever expanding universe*, so for an individual's world to be static or shrink is unnatural. To have such significantly limited world view is not natural. Of course, there have always been hermits and separationist groups. Cults are often found to behave like this: appear outgoing and super kind to draw in converts, and then separate and alienate the recruits from the rest of the society, with theology that they are better, special, or simply, the only true believers. It's super hard to see the line between a closed-knit community and cult. 

Just think about what if Galileo had been "comfortable" with where he was. Or Leonardo. Or Edison. Or Luther, Calvin, Hus, or the other great Christian Theologians. (Or really, Maimonides, or Szentgyörgyi, who helped sythetise vitamin C a lot easier than before.) Just think about where we'd be today. (OK, so some Amish and plain Baptists and Haredi Jews think we would be better off, but hey, I'm trying to illustrate a point here). Just think about how we wouldn't be able to grow if we only always accepted the things they were and the way they had always been. When I was in 5th grade I was taught that there have been no extrasolar planets ever detected and we didn't have a way to detect them. That very same year three exoplanets orbiting PSR B1257+12 were detected. And I'm not that old.

Sometimes I'm asked, "Don't you ever worry that you are not right? That Christ was the Messiah after all? Or that he wasn't, but G-d spoke to Muhammad? That there was never a singularity and there's no G-d?" My answer is I am constantly uncertain about everything I believe in. I don't know anything for sure, and that makes me want to learn as much of the world as possible, so I can make my own mind up, and then, when the time comes, I can honestly take responsibility for who I have become. There is so much I don't know, but I know that being arrogant in my faith doesn't make up for what I lack. There are so many people with whom I don't agree with on religion, or lifestyle or politics, but... I respect them, respect their choices and try to learn from them.

*Our Universe might collapse in several billion years, but humans won't be around to witness it if it happens,or it might keepon expanding for eternity.Just thought I needed to clarify that.


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