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Half of a light bulb

Which is more important, questions or answers? My first inclination is to say questions, but then after further consideration I want to claim answers. I've decided that answers must, by nature, be more important. After all, that is what questions are for? Questions are for being answered, and real inquiry is happy when it discovers the truth. In loving questioning, and I love questions so very much, we cannot forget that there are real answers in the world. C. S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce

"Once you were a child. Once you knew what inquiry was for. There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you had found them."

I truly believe that in the end, answers are more important than questions.

But I would be a fool if I said that I knew what any of the answers were, or if I even thought that human reason really could discover what the answers really were, for sure. It seems not only a limit of our intellect, but a limit of the entire idea of human intelligence whatever that we can never know for sure. Answers are not provable, not really. So, I maintain that answers are more important, but the fact is they are, in a way, impossible. This knowledge that we cannot know anything (the only knowledge we can really trust) should give us a sense of humility, and meekness in our beliefs. More on this later.

So, if it is hopeless to find any real proof of answers, why do we ask questions to begin with? I think there are two reasons to ask questions.
1) It may be one thing to say "I don't know" It's really another to live it. People don't really doubt their own opinions by nature, so asking questions are a good way to make us think "maybe I don't know what I thought I knew." We think we understand what a soul is until someone comes and asks up point blank "What is a soul?" Or we suppose we know what love is until someone (or we ourselves) think to ask "Well, what is love?" Asking questions is a way of exposing our ignorance.

"The more you see the less you know, the less you find out as you go." - U2, City of Blinding Lights
The second (2) reason we should ask questions is because, while proof is impossible, I don't think certainty is. While we cannot prove what we believe, certainty does not depend on proof. It is better not to say "I know that God loves me", but rather to say "I think that God loves me". This in no way says that we are less certain of God's existence or goodness (For God has more about him than just existing). Asking questions can allow us to wonder, and in wondering discover more truth (though it may be unprovable).

I think . . . that we ought to have a tension between belief and humility about our ignorance. Some truths demand belief, or unbelief and there can be no agnosticism. In those instances, we ought to pick our side, and be opinionated, but always willing to dialogue. No one likes a dogmatist. Our understanding that we cannot know anything should give us humility in our beliefs, and always be open to be proven wrong. This should come not only from intellectual humility, but also from a genuine concern for other people. If people truly care about one another than they will listen to one another's ideas.

So, are questions or answers more important? Well, technically speaking the answers are of infinitely more importance, but in this life of uncertainty and ignorance, forming and thinking about good questions is more pragmatically good than seeking definitive answers. Dialogue is best fostered by questions, and questions encourage humility. Anyway . . . that's what I think. And just for the record, I think those dudes at the top are kind of hideous, but their speech bubbles are interesting.

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3 comments:

Hayley said...

So it's possible to know whether the question or the answer is more important.~

[I was just looking for an excuse to use an irony mark. Fail.]

K-Mac said...

they remind me of thumbs.

I really have nothing to contribute as a comment, but this is really awesome, and I told you that you're smart. you are.

Michael said...

See, Hayley, I'm not sure. I THINK that answers are more important than questions, but I don't know.