A Hymn to Doubt

To think is to doubt your own premises
to allow your certainties to enter the arena

A buzz word in winebars, a coffee house joke
yet that is what pardigm shift is really about –
coming to grips with the underlying principles
of underlying principles

Most people, for instance, see agnostics
as mugwumps –  wimp atheists –
clever but timid folk
playing both ends against the middle

But I stand in a different place
I draw the line elsewhere
on the side of Certainty I see two
and on the side of Uncertainty, only one

Atheism is no different from religion
in that it asserts without proof
[while giving much undue publicity
to that which it claims does not exist]

The atheist seems as certain
of HIS Truth
as any fundamentalist believer
is unquestioning of his

I am not a fence-sitter
I am very clearly on one side
the side of reasoning and doubt

I am not hedging my bets
I choose humbly to avoid
the domain of belief

I try not to believe
I either know
or I don’t know

I see no shame in not knowing
about any number of things

Mine is an active, positive unknowing
for I believe no one can know…

I believe that we were all born to
           shiver in the draft of an open mind*

Oh yes, I do know certain things
among them the fact that
whatever I know
is untransferable
except, perhaps, through
music or poetry
can never be reduced
to what today is called dogma
[although the word originally
meant opinion]

I also believe that
if history is in any way
a valid premise
it has amply demonstrated
that the hocus pocus of belief  
leads to mass manipulation
exploitation and out and out

To think is to doubt
to question your own certainty
otherwise it is not thinking
it is simply rumination

The land of thinking
is a scary place indeed
and few venture beyond its gates…
which explains, I suspect,
why it is so scantly populated


* Ah, snug lie those that slumber beneath conviction’s roof.
Their floors are sturdy lumber, their windows weatherproof
But I sleep cold forever, and cold sleep all my kind
For I was born to shiver in the draft of an open mind 
― Phyllis McGinley




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