“We know with confidence only when we know little; with knowledge doubt increases” (adapted from JW von Goethe). Discuss this statement with reference to two areas of knowledge. ?
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
– Charles Bukowski
Knowledge is like double-edged swords. It brings the greater good or the greater bad. The result really depends on the accuracy of knowledge; it is not always the rightest information, and it is not always straightforward. Knowledge, true or not, will bring uncertainty and lower self esteem, as there are more to consider in either decision making processes or human’s perceptions of anything. It created distortion to our paradigms, judgement, and values. Confidence is the feeling or the belief on someone or something, in other word, mutual trust. To summarize, confidence is something subjective and ambiguous. It cannot be measured with exact value such as numbers, level, or certain metric units. There are people who are mostly possess high confidence, and vice versa. However, it is not possible for a human to constantly have a high or low confidence. Confidence comes with evidence. Evidence comes from knowledge. When people have more knowledge, they will have more evidence than they need. Problem occurs when these evidences are somewhat inaccurate, being translated to another perception, or contradict each other – as a result of both. This problem leads to uncertainty and decrease in confidence about anyone or anything. Knowledge is facts, information, and skills obtained by experience and education; a theory and an understanding of a subject. It is definitely measureable and objectives. Therefore, confidence is not the right standard to measure the rightness of evidences, but knowledge is – due to its reliability. History and Religion are two examples that are often misjudged by thousands of perspective and evidences. They are both vigorous and unstable. Fortunately, both of them are researchable. There are some methodologies to search for evidences that can increase the accuracy of evidences found. For instance, archeology. It is a study of artifacts to analyze the human history and prehistory (Jarus, 2014). As they have physical evidences and method to analyze them, knowledges and evidences gained from this branch of historical science is unlikely to be wrong. As a branch of science, archaeologist do research with data collecting process – these data are gained by doing repetition, measurement, and verification. Therefore, there are data which will support the claims made. The earth is claimed to be spherical – they took so many photos to proof it. Religion, is a branch of study in which its truth can not be justified nor proven to be right logically and scientifically, since a concept of God itself is something beyond human’s logic and science. However, there are still artefacts, stories, and traditions which can be analyzed in order to grasp the reality. For examples, scriptures. Christians have their bible, Moslems have their Qur-An, and Buddhist have their Tripitaka (Dhammika, n.d.).
Confidences come from pieces of evidence, which also come from knowledge. Logically, human lost confidences when they have no evidence that is backed up by knowledge. It is true that it happens a lot of time, especially when the evidence is untrue, contradicting, and doubting – resulting in the less certain we become. I would like to provide a true story about my own doubting in a pre-belief about a historical study in America presidential subjects. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) is often rated as one of America’s best president, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. FDR won four presidential elections and directed America through the Great Depression period – creating deals as responses to the greatest economic crisis in the History of United States (US). He also faced the World War II and World War III on his period of leadership – resulting in the initiation of the development of the first atomic bomb to protect the US and win from The Allies and Japan who continuously attacked the US. He did it by doing a diplomatic trust between Chiang Kai-Sek (Chinese Generalissimo) , Joseph Stalin (Soviet Leader), and Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister). Looking from these perspectives, we actually believe that this is the guy who brought the US to victory in both World War and America’s greatest economic crisis. Evidences are printed lots of books and internet. I concluded that he is a smart, strong, ambitious, and emotionally intelligence. I would be confident and proud to present that he is indeed one of the greatest president America ever had. However, over time as I learn more about him, there are some other perspectives that contradict my pre-belief about FDR and I become less certain about what I believe about him. Propaganda made by enemies and oppositions to alter the history have always been made. These maleficent efforts also distort both historical data and people’s confidence about what is actually happening. I also understand the reason behind his actions. There are big differences to knowing an understanding. Knowing is shallow, however, understanding is deep. Understanding is knowing the reason why do the things stated in the knowing happened. It provides extra layer of certainty to the knowledge that will be used as a basis for evidence.
FDR might be one of the best presidents in the US history, however, there are some social bias and propaganda that seems logic. Again, we will never know what actually happened. As we notice more perspectives we become less certain and at this point we try to understand more and at some point our confidence increases. As we doubt, some of us will try to learn more about it, and as we start learning more, we begin to be more certain. This process is called the process of justifying. Experts such as Brand H.W (2009) are keen to keep studying about the contradicting facts about FDR, how his ruthless works actually bring America to win and as per why he did that, and as they study, their level of confidence fluctuates.
Religion has no certain and objective form, and there are thousands of it around the world, among the tribes, race, and citizens. It is almost impossible to be certain about one religion once someone has too much information and evidences upon other religion. In my case, I was born a Christian and used to attend a Christian school, I met mostly Christian in my daily life. Therefore, I was confident to talk about my believes and knowledge about my religion because that’s the only religion I truly know. However, as I moved to new school where I can meet people with different religion, I began to learn how each of the religion taught what’s right and wrong. Often the dogmas given by each religion are different (although there are some similarities) . Therefore, my doubt about which one is right increases. As an example, Christian are often doubted by people who do not understand about the concept of Trinity of God – Why there are three of God – does it mean Christian is polytheism? Does it possible for a virgin Mary to conceived baby Jesus, whose father is the God without any interaction between Mary and God besides the evangelism acts? Vice versa, I also doubted another religion. They say Buddhist must obey human’s rules above their God’s rules. For instance, if in a certain area killing someone is legal, than it is okay to kill people. In my opinion, it does not make sense that in a religion, the human’s rule rules out the God’s rule. Moreover, there are so many cases such as priest who change into Moslems and vice versa due to these occurrences. The deeper they learn about their religion, the more doubtful they become. This resulting in the changes of their beliefs.
Seeing it in another way, the more religion we encounter, the more open minded we might be. Our faith might be strengthened and our confidence will increase. In my case, the more I found evidences based on knowledges I obtained by thoroughly researching and interviewing my interracial friends, the more I feel certain about my own religion. As an example, Christian believes in monotheism. There are only one divine God, in a Trinity concept. I found evidences of some other polytheism religions – in which they stated that their God could be more than one, and sometimes, is the nature itself. I believe that God is something bigger that all of us, He created us, therefore, for me, it is impossible of a tree to become my God as we can “beat” tree to paper pulp and other utilization. It also works with atheism, the more I understand their way of thinking, the more I feel confident about my religion. I believe that God exists, that there must be something / someone who is bigger than us and had created all of these. This concept also works on my mom. My mom used to be a usual Christian who only go to church on Monday, but as time passes she began to explore more about this religion, she started going to church more often not only on Monday, she began to join the ministry and started to know deeper about Christianity, and now as her knowledge about it increases, she began more confident in teaching her children about it and her faith also strengthen.
To summarize, knowledge contributes in confidence. The more knowledge are known, the more confusions are created – due to knowledge’s uncertainty and doubtful traits. However, worthy, logical and scientifically proven knowledge increase certainty and confidences as they can back up the evidences which will not contradict to each other. It is also important to pay attention to the evidences generating process, whether it is reliable or not. These verified and justified, knowledge will help to find the truth and actually increase the confidence in a righteous way – about the right things.