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Strong Opinions Loosely Held

As society evolves, so does their God. And so does their type of request changes.

In the past, we prayed to God for rain, now we can do irrigation and we ask God to only give us skill for irrigation not necessarily rain anymore. In the past, we prayed for healing from Malaria. Now we pray for money to afford Chloroquine.

One thing is apparent though, science is what advances humans and thereafter changes their God and or their request to their God.

No matter what though, humans are conditioned to always seek the supernatural. No matter how glamorous or gloomy their life maybe, they’ll have reason(s) to seek the supernatural.

Which supernatural are you seeking?

Here’s a thing I learned about science though, science is always inconclusive. It’s always subject to scrutiny and it is only true per time until otherwise proven.

To take any science as an indisputable universal truth is to lose touch with the essence of science itself.

To assume a position is irrefutable and absolute certainty is to be unaware of what science is.

In science, strong opinions are held loosely.

And you know what?

All things in life can be reduced to Science.

If that’s the case, then it’s naive of anyone to hold a strong opinion strongly.

Holding an opinion is not bad, attaching your identity to your opinion is terrible because it makes changing such opinion difficult. And which invariably makes you hold on to a strong opinion strongly.

Be careful what you attach to your identity. You should optimize to attach as little as possible. That’s the best way about life. You tend to be less angry at situations and less attached to fluid events of life when you approach it that way.

Anytime I share this idea with people, the common question I get are these:

  1. Does this apply to opinions on religion, heaven, paradise, and hellfire as well? Some people believe that these things exist and some don’t agree.
  2. Some people believe that success (financial or otherwise) comes from GOD but some believe that this is just a direct consequence of your hard work, determination, and preparation.

It’s an interesting question and here’s my answer:

There is no identity without “strong opinion held strongly.”

But the more of such opinions that we add to make our identity, the less flexible we become and the more we hinder our growth tendency.

Growth tendency in the sense that only a mind that is ready to accept the new reality in the light of superior evidence is growing. Otherwise such is fixed in a spot.

The goal is to ensure that we have a few such opinions as possible. And I’m really less concerned about where those strong opinions come from. For some people, it comes from religion, for other scientific interpretations, and for others, it comes from something else. It doesn’t matter.

What matters is the knowledge of what’s going on and how it affects you.

Another thing that most matters is even the readiness to shed off “strong opinions held strongly” when new information that is irrefutable presents itself.

Still, on strong opinions, the Jews in Jesus era got it wrong because they couldn’t shed off old identity. They were not wrong to be Jews when they didn’t have Jesus. They were only wrong when they rejected Jesus for their existing identity.

It was easier on the hand for the likes of Peter and Matthew to embrace Jesus and his teachings because they didn’t have so many strong opinions or if they did, they held it loosely.

Down the line, they also got it wrong. Peter wouldn’t preach to the Gentiles because “that’s not their way.” But he was instructed to not be that way, to not hold strong opinions strongly. “Things are fluid Peter”, Jesus told Peter and he went on to preach to Cornelius, a Gentile. And because of that, many outside of the tribe of Israel today proclaim Jesus as their saviour with far-reaching influence. Just imagine if Peter had not changed his mind.

Strong opinions are needed to form our identity. We can’t exist without them. The goal is to recognize when we are having too many of it and which one is not necessary. Understanding when to shed off on those opinions are even more important and their effect can be far-reaching.

To record any significant growth as individuals, the readiness to change our minds in the light of superior evidence is important. This doesn’t mean we should leave an unstable life and without a backbone like a jellyfish. No! Rather it means we should not hold opinions dogmatically when we are presented with enough information with which we can update our existing opinions.

Think of the repercussions of Peter refusing to change his mind. Think of the repercussion of the world refusing to admit that it is the earth that rotates around the sun and not otherwise as we’ve always believed. Those are higher-level repercussions, take a step backward and think of times when you have refused to change your mind for whatever reason even though it was obvious changing your mind is the best cause of action.

Strong opinions are best held loosely if you even care to have any strong opinions at all.

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