This Daily Freedom is even more of a departure from the usual theme than the last two, but the freedom seeker needs more in the way of concepts than how to evade government. I've said before, those who have no intention of doing very much in this world, really have little need for freedom, but every independent individualist cannot live without it, because life is, for the individualist, more than mere existence, it is the grand adventure of discovery and achievement.
I seldom mention other writer's articles, but the theme for this article actually comes from one. Fred Reed's recent article, "The Neo-Fredwinian Synthesis" discusses evolution, and suggests one reason for its acceptance that I've also noted.
[Fred Reed has several articles addressing evolution which you can find in the
Subject Index for permanent Independent Individualist articles under "Evolution."]
"This agglomeration of everything under one theoretical roof appeals powerfully to minds that need an overarching explanation of everything. The great intellectual divide perhaps is not between those who believe one thing and those who believe another, but between those who need to believe something--I am tempted to say believe almost anything--and those who are comfortable with uncertainty and even the unknowable."
I think this true. There are great many people, perhaps most, for whom the idea of the unknown is a troubling, even frightening, thing. I agree with Fred that much of what is believed in the world, such as religion, evolution, and GUT (Grand Unified Theories) are embraced because they promise to provide a kind of "explanation" for everything, an explanation which shallower minds apparently need to find meaning and assurance in life and existence.
A friend of mine once explained his religious faith as the result of his having, "looked into the great abyss of the unknown," which terrified him, and it was his religion that gave him the assurance of "certainty" in the face of that unknown he needed. I think his kind of fear of the unknown is a very widely experienced one.
The Unknown Is What We Live For
In my article "Three Greeks" I wrote [adapted]:
"All of man's discoveries are the result of the almost insatiable human desire for knowledge, but there is another side of that good desire, which is not good and manifests itself as a horror of ignorance. There will always be more ignorance than knowledge because there will always be more to learn than we have thus far discovered. But the unknown is not something to fear; the unknown future represents all that we have before us to learn, experience, and discover. The unknown represents the great adventure of exploration and discovery which is our life.
"To some extent, the fear and loathing of ignorance is one of the motives for rationalism, because most people are terrified of admitting ignorance of anything; most people are simply afraid to utter the words, "I do not know," especially to themselves. Rather than admit they do not know, they would rather make up a plausible story that they are willing to accept as the "probable" explanation for something, which rapidly transforms itself into, "settled science." The examples that immediately come to mind are environmentalism, psychology, and evolution."
No matter how much we learn, there will always be more we have to learn and discover, and that is what living is, experiencing and discovering the unknown—it is all of our future and it is ours to claim and make our own which is our own achievement. The unknown and the so-called, "mysteries of life," are not to be feared, but embraced as that which makes us all detectives, adventurers, and explorers, reassuring us at every turn that we are capable of discovering the wonders of existence, finding the secrets of the future, and solving the mysteries that intrigue us.
There is one point Fred Reed makes that I cannot agree with, however. He wrote:
"This is very different from seeing the world as profoundly mysterious, as in many ways being beyond our understanding, as containing questions that have no answers."
One of the discoveries that will always be made as new knowledge is discovered, are things which we do not yet know, that previously were not even imagined. When the nature of electricity was first being discovered and understood, it was not imagined there was a whole field of solid-state electronics yet to be discovered. When the nature of light was first being understood, first its wave properties and subsequently its quantum properties, the possibility of coherent light (lasers) was just then conjectured (by Einstein), which possibility could not previously have been imagined.
The fact that there will always be the unknown which is greater than the known does not mean that anything that can be identified has anything about it which cannot be known. There are things that cannot br known: we cannot know what the conscious experience of any other individual is, or even what the conscious experience of any other creature is. We cannot know about any past events for which there is no record or evidence. We cannot know any future fact in the present. We cannot know what discoveries not yet made will be made in the future. But none of these things make the world an unfathomable mystery, "containing questions that have no answers."
The kind of things we cannot know are facts for which there is no evidence or record. The kind of questions that would make reality an "unfathomable mystery" would be questions about the nature of the world and the principles by which it can be understood. There cannot be such questions that, "have no answers," however difficult it is to discover those answers. A world with such unanswerable questions would be a world where nothing could be known with any certainty, for how could it ever be known that some undiscovered "principle" or "property" of the world would not cancel or invalidate all that has thus far been discovered, and is known?
The mysteries of the world are a sources of its wonder and interest to us, but never the basis of doubt about the certainty of knowledge or of fear of the unknown.