Doubt as a guiding principle

My intense 1 month Upgrading-Morten’s-knowledge-about-Alcohol-and-Alcoholism-Course was supposed to continue today but school is adjourned! I am pretty sure that I don’t have to make such annoucements since I am doing these blog posts for my own sake but anyway…

The reason for the suspension of today’s intensive class is that I came to think about something that I really wanted to write about. Mainly because I will probably forget all about it unless I get it down on paper right away.

An old friend called me today out of the blue. We haven’t seen each other for at least 10 years. There is no real reason for us not seeing each other for so long other than the practicalities of life, I guess. I moved to another part of the country and, in those situations, some friends are no longer as clearly visible as they once were. The contours become a bit fuzzy. Today we talked about religion and he asked me if I am still a dogmatic atheist. He reminded me that when we were in our early twenties, I had nothing but scorn for Christianity. Or any other kind of faith-based conviction, for that matter. I responded that I would probably see myself more as an agnostic. If I were to be high-browed about it, I would say that I love to dwell in the mysteries of human existence and that I really don’t want to make any kind of final decision about the cosmological ordering of the world. So I guess I have moved beyond dogmatic atheism.

But our conversation also made me think about why being doubtful is so important to me. Throughout my life I have treasured doubt more than anything else. In my work as a researcher, doubt has become a guiding principle in the form of qualified scepticism. For as long as I can remember, I have almost… well, religiously, preferred a position from where I could question and even challenge any kind of truism or conviction. Still today, just thinking about, say, the fact that Protestantism is a state religion in Denmark makes me furious. What kind of absurd pseudo-democracy force-feds its citizens a decaying religion? A Scandinavian welfare state, apparently. That was probably beside the point, by the way...

But I realised that my celebration of doubt as a life principle probably derives from a childhood experience of lacking certainty about that which should be stable. It might be a half-baked psychological analysis but I do think that my scepticism about all kinds of final Truths somehow springs from an early realisation that there is nothing stable in the world.

One night while I was staying at my father’s place, he told me that I couldn't go home to my mother's place the next day as we had originally planned. My mother had just left her second husband and now she had to figure out what to do. They had recently bought a house together and I was really excited about that because it signalled that we would probably become a real family. At the last parent-teacher meeting at my school, my mother had even announced  that we would soon be moving. And she had given up our apartment. Now, suddenly, there was nothing. Nothing but doubt. 

Back to school

Sunday ramblings