For on belief systems offering answers to


For thousands of years it is known that
humans have had the ability to desire knowledge. We have been in search of
answers to solve the unknown, as knowing has provided us with comfort throughout
our lives. However, whilst searching for knowledge and finding it, one must ask
whether knowledge is able to lead us to doubt. We encounter with a paradox when
we are able to contradict ourselves, yet if more knowledge is able to lead us
to doubt it is also possible that it may lead us to the growth of our
conceptual schemes.

Religion is an area of knowledge based on belief
systems offering answers to the purpose and meaning of life through faith. On
the contrary, Natural sciences seek laws of nature through the use of a
scientific method to formulate answers. The different approaches to acquire
knowledge between both areas of knowledge will allow this investigation to
provide an understanding of how doubt influences the gain of knowledge, and how
it affects it.


the case of Religion, it has been a convenient area of knowledge that has
allowed humanity to put itself out of discomfort. The largest and oldest
religions in the world tend to base their beliefs on ancient scriptures written
thousands of years ago.  Nonetheless,
society had changed over time, leading religious knowledge to be questioned and
doubted. In Christianity, the Bible is considered the account of God’s
teachings and purposes to have created the world, however over the past 2,000
years the book has been altered. For the first 200 years of the existence of
the Bible, copies were written by hand, leading to mistakes, reinterpretations
and changes. The Bible is a perfect example of religious reinterpretation. The
book itself was thought to contain all knowledge portrayed by God, nonetheless,
changes were made as there was doubt in whether the teachings and texts would
be useful and accepted as society changed. Although many texts in the Bible may
have been valuable and important for society in different eras and different
languages, it was important for religious knowledge to change and adapt to a
new era.


There are concerns whether more knowledge
increases doubt can be reflected upon our everyday life, and it is possible to
suggest that knowledge does indeed lead us to doubt. An example of religious
doubt has been present with scientific revolutions. Religions have increasingly
accepted scientific beliefs and incorporate them into the area of knowledge,
such as evolution by Natural Selection. Charles Darwin was able to contradict
religious faith, leading to new claims in religious views over the origin of humanity.


However, there are many people with religious beliefs that don’t necessarily have
any doubts pertaining to the knowledge they gain, as they firmly believe and
have faith in their knowledge. An example can be seen in Jehovah’s witnesses.

Jehovah’s witnesses believe that their religion prohibits them from accepting
blood transfusions even when their life is at risk, and although medical
advances have proven that blood transfusions are the only option for certain
situations, their faith and certainty in religious knowledge prevents them from
questioning and seeking medical knowledge to interfere.


In the area of natural sciences, doubt has
been essential to the development of science. The Natural sciences is a large
area of knowledge as it includes a wide range of braches that attribute to the
study of the natural world.  This area of
knowledge increases in importance to society for is achievements and
success.  What distinguishes it from the
others areas is the scientific method, which has been debated to be the only
coherent way to acquire knowledge in the natural world.  The scientific method was firstly introduced thousands
of years ago. The origin of the scientific method is dated back to the dark
ages, where human civilization rose, leading to the development of the science
we know by means of logic and reason.


An example of doubt in evolutionary biology
was presented with the discovery of gene interaction and proteins with other genetic
advances that changed scientists view on DNA.

Gene-environment interactions were one of
the newest and most important discoveries of the 20th century. Before
this discovery, this scientifically was considered an impossibility, yet as
doubt increased when doctors studied different diseases, such as asthma, diabetes
and some types of cancer, they were able to find that certain genetic mutations
occurred throughout a personas life, and not by inheritance. Mutations such as
these did not occur through inheritance, as thought to be some years before,
which led to the discovery of genetic mutations influenced by environmental exposure.

Although this discovery made a huge contribution to science, there are still a
lot of questions that have not been answered.

interactions have proved to cover many of the missing links associated with
traits and diseases, therefore this example proves that the more we learn in an
area of knowing, the more doubt increases and questions arise.


In relation to both areas of knowledge, we
are able to debate whether the ability to ask new questions can simply lead to
ignorance or increase doubt. As humans, we tend to feel uncomfortable when not
knowing; this is why many try to persuade themselves to be certain when knowing

François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) had stated that “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”  1In
this quote, he described our sense of discomfort with
knowledge, and how one can never be certain.  A contradiction to this can be seen in those
who are more attracted to confidence and reject doubt, or simply believe there
is an end to doubt. For instance, René Descartes, a philosopher and mathematician who believed he could find
the same certainty in mathematics than in philosophy, understood that certainty
could not be a feeling, but that it involved a type of rational judgement.

After several theories he once believed to be true were proved wrong, leading
him to engage to find true certainty, Descartes agreed that certainty existed.

He argued that the physical world was knowable, unlike Plato who
disagreed.  He took his search for
certainty coming to the conclusion that there was an ‘evil being’ making us
believe in a physical world that did not exist, or preventing us from finding
an absolute truth. Although Descartes doubted in the existence of a physical
world, he found certainty in his existence. He realised that we as humans are
able to doubt everything, yet it is impossible for us to doubt the fact that we
are living creatures capable of thinking.


When confidence is present it does not
always implicate that there is a lack of doubt, or vise versa. We do not always
tend to live our lives debating on both, yet we learn to choose one over the
other. A balance exists between both doubt and confidence when one influences
the other. It is known that the first steps to acquiring knowledge have risen
from asking questions. Doubt has always motivated us to seek the truth,
however, is doubt truly always applicable? From the point of view of natural
sciences, doubt has widened our knowledge through research. Doubtfulness leads
scientists to formulate theories and ideas that are researched in depth, often
leading to multiple experiments to come to a conclusion.

We are able to understand that doubt
plays a big role in knowledge of Religion and Natural sciences. We can also
know that doubt is able to construct a barrier between ourselves and knowledge
in certain circumstances. The more we know, the more we are able to discuss, to examine, and to evaluate something
on a deeper level.

Doubt is definitely able to bring us
closer to the truth, however excessive doubt can often lead us to complications
and confusion. Confusion and doubt often play a part in our lives, if we are
unable to make a decision or be correctly informed. Thus, both areas of
knowledge have often relied on doubt to allow them to grow and exist, leading
us to find truth. However, doubt does not always lead us to knowledge. In
Religion, we can observe that we are able to rely on our own senses and
perceptions. Therefore, the title of the essay “We know with confidence only when we
know little; with knowledge doubt increases” is correct to some extent, as we are able to gain knowledge through
questioning, yet if rational reasoning and faith are able to lead us to
knowledge without the use of further questioning, it is possible to suggest
that doubt terminates when we reach an absolute truth. Once we are able to
prove our knowledge without the need of doubting, this becomes true to our own



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