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Brent (9)

Welcome to The Big Questions.com.au

The big questions of life are hard to talk about. I mean, the really foundational issues, like purpose, meaning, hope, our nature, our origin and more. It seems that most people pretend that these issues aren't important to them or just don't think or talk about them much. Perhaps they're in the "too-hard basket", but my guess is that there is a growing sense that you shouldn't  think too much or talk too much about these profound things because you'll rock the boat.

On the one hand there is the religious community who like to give the impression that it's all sorted. "We have the answers and that's why we are preaching them to the world." On the other hand you might find the camp of those who see nothing beyond the material world. They think the idea of spiritual beings or realities is in the realm of Santa Clause and The Tooth Fairy. Both camps seem certain they are right and don't seem very ready to accept questions and open discussions.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a growing group of people who have once believed in one thing and are discovering bit by bit that perhaps it's not as certain as they once thought. Questions start to drive their thinking, their discussions and their reading. Life becomes less certain, more of a discovery, a journey. People like this are the most stimulating to be with. They have given themselves permission to wonder, to be wrong and to engage with the ideas of others.
  • People who are certain they are right... fight!
  • People who know they are wrong often journey together.
Hopefully thebigquestions.com.au will be a place where such journeys are inspired and journalised.

Hello, I'm Brent. I know I'm wrong. Not about everything. Some of my beliefs will turn out to be lucky guesses. Some of them will show that the probability I interpreted in the data was in fact pointing to the truth of the matter, but some of the beliefs I currently hold will most certainly turn out to be quite incorrect.

That's why I'm learning, questioning, discovering.What I believe now is very different from 5 years ago. And if in 5 years time I'm likely to say the same thing, then I can't afford to be very certain.

I was once involved heavily in the Christian church. It's my heritage, my background. I even worked as a pastor there for 10 years. I saw it as my mission in life, to help to change people's minds about God before it was too late and He destroyed them for being wrong. Being right was so important to me and my family that we even sacrificed relationship with extended family members because they held to a different theology and they reciprocated the sentiment toward us.

So you can imagine that when I started to be asked questions that eroded my certainty, I didn't like it. I felt vulnerable, like the rug was being pulled out from under me. If God didn't fit into my box or maybe didn't even exist, then what had I been doing all these years trying to convince people that what I/we believed was "the Truth". Could I even entertain the idea that I had been wrong? It wasn't easy. It eroded my confidence and my pride, put pressure on many of my important relationships and I found myself longing for someone to talk to about it. Someone to journey with.

Your story might be completely different. Your direction of travel might be the reverse of mine, where once you were sure there is no god and now you feel it is probable that there is. I don't know your story, but perhaps you'll share it with us. The point is that once you start asking these big questions, it can be very hard to find a place to discuss and process what you're thinking. You could go to church and ask, "But what if God didn't send Jesus to Earth?" or you could go to your uni science professor and say, "Doesn't it seem there is some intention behind the natural world?" and in both cases, most of the time, the discussion will end there and you will be made to feel that you have created awkwardness and you really shouldn't do it again.

Now if you don't know what I mean, perhaps this isn't the place for you to engage. If you're always surrounded with people who affirm your beliefs, chances are you haven't shifted them much lately. That's fine. Your choice, but this isn't the place to preach. All these uncertain people are not needing your wisdom to make them certain. It may even be that, on the journey to wisdom, their uncertainty puts them ahead of you, not behind.

In order to preserve genuine openness and safety, there are rules and they will be enforced by the moderators. Please read them. Thanks.

Most of all I hope that for some of you, this will be an absolute lifeline, a wonderful place of connection and discovery where you learn that so many clever people ask the same questions as you. That you're not foolish or sinful for asking them and that the asking can generate a good many excellent things.