A Matter of Fact

Dan - Ellington, Connecticut
Entered on November 14, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: question

I believe that facts are all that we know to be true. Without facts, what do we really know?

As I write this essay, I am aware of the fact that the bacon on my breakfast sandwich is bad for my health. But it tastes so good. So, I acknowledge the fact that it’s bad for me. However, I make a conscious decision to enjoy the taste, despite the fact that it may contribute to adding another notch in my belt.

I struggle to understand why people ignore facts. There are facts that are more important than my choice of breakfast meat – facts that deserve to be acknowledged. But we, as a species, find it too easy to ignore facts.

There are facts that support the existence of dinosaurs on Earth over 65 million years ago. But millions of people on this great planet ignore this fact, and instead choose to trust their spiritual leaders who believe the Earth was created by an omnipresent being, just thousands of years ago. In this case, human behavior decides that belief through trust sometimes trumps belief through fact. Still, how can you argue with Science?

I believe it is important to adjust your beliefs as you learn new facts.

I was brought up Catholic – not because I chose it, but like many kids – because my parents told me that I was Catholic. As I have grown to be able to interpret the world around me (without my parents), I have discovered more facts – and the facts tell me that I don’t need a religion. I embrace many of the core values of many religions. But I don’t need religion to guide me towards being a good person. When Science can prove a man can walk on water, or part the Red Sea – you will find one more believer right here.

I believe people need to ask for evidence before establishing their beliefs.

Asking for evidence doesn’t come easily at a young age. Kids establish their beliefs through trust and repetition. If someone a child trusts continually tells them that the Earth is flat, the child will believe it. They may tell their friends that the Earth is flat, and their friends may tell more friends. Before you know it, fiction has been accepted as fact and belief through trust trumped belief through fact. But, clearly it is a fact – the world is not flat. At one time, we as a species thought it was flat. But we adjusted our beliefs as we learned new information. This fact stuck – it is now undisputed – because it is so blatant and measurable.

I believe the world would be a better place if we all asked for evidence of our beliefs and adjusted our beliefs according to the facts. This Christmas, when my kids are opening their presents from Santa, I will be waiting for that moment when they ask me why they have never seen Santa. And then, we will discuss the facts.