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President's Ponderings: Skepticism and Faith

By Edward Luttrell - President's Ponderings Blog (6/28/11)

  JUNE 30, 2011 --

This past week I had a member publicly express dismay and disappointment that I was skeptical of the point of view that they had. This was during the Oregon State Grange Session, where I had the opportunity to be a delegate from my Community Grange, and the body was debating a resolution. 

I believe that being skeptical has its place in our lives as it forces us to evaluate information before we accept it. The ability to question allows us to look at new information and to balance it with what we already know before incorporating it into what we deem facts. It also allows us to change our mind when presented with new information.

I learned as a young person that science was the search for facts. Scientists create a theory of why something is the way it is, or what will happen and then try to prove or disprove it. I also learned that many times through history people agreed that something was fact only to learn later, when better data came along, that the fact was incorrect. The search for facts is always ongoing.

The other issue is faith. Faith is when you believe in something without absolute verifiable proof. I have faith in God, a God that gave us the ability to make choices and solve problems. I have faith or trust in the goodness of Americans, even though I know a few are not good people. 

The future of our organization and even our country will require both skepticism and faith. We need to believe completely that we are doing worthwhile service to people and our community. We need to have faith that we can ride out the challenges and that we can find solutions to our problems. At the same time, we need to question every solution to find where it works and where it may fail. A healthy debate allows us to find the best solutions and should never be discouraged.

I believe that a healthy dose of skepticism on top of the foundation of faith makes for a person who can question and debate the issues. It doesn’t make us right all the time, but it will allow us to make good decisions most of the time.

Listening to others is required in being skeptical. If your position on an issue is an article of faith, then there is no discussion and there is no possibility of you learning something new. 

I can’t apologize for being skeptical, but I will be doing more research this summer on the topic that was presented in that resolution.

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