The BIG Questions, like “who am I “, “what is my purpose in life”, and “who or what created me” yield, at best, ambiguous answers, if any. The answers are essentially unknowable. Even the answers to little questions, like “when will the tow truck get here”, are unknowable (unless the tow truck driver keeps up a running dialogue it’s you, which we will admit is as unlikely as the exact minute is unknowable). How can you discern the person with a low tolerance for ambiguity? The best way is to listen for the typical first word of their questions. Questions usually begin with interrogatives.
An interrogative word is used to ask questions. Wh-questions are used to ask for information about an event or a situation. A wh-question consists of an interrogative word i.e. who, what, where, when, why followed by a verb and a noun complement. Who, when, where are what I call definitive subject words. All I mean by that is, the information requested is very narrowly definitive. What is a more open-ended interrogative. The answer might be right or wrong based on the knowledge of the object—the person being addressed—or the subject—the actual what. The answer to a what question might also be very specific, like in “what time is it?” All the interrogatives but one tend to yield measurable, definitive or objective information. Why is very different. I submit that the answer is always ambiguous.
The most common question starting with why is some variant of asking for a person’s true motivation, their reasons for doing or saying something. “Why did you/he/she/they do or say that?” Not only can the person addressed not know why someone else did something, they probably don’t even know why they do anything. If you start most questions with why, or you argue with my previous sentence, you probably have a very low tolerance for ambiguity. That’s okay, especially if you can let go of your quest for certainty in matters where certainty isn’t attainable. It isn’t okay if you have to turn what you hope or think are answers into orthodoxy.
Progress reduces ambiguity with attaining more knowledge, like in the experimental method. Regress is making something that is certain into something ambiguous, then turning the manufactured ambiguity into orthodoxy. As a student of the Bible, I am aware of hundreds of ambiguities in what is known as Christianity. There are some things that God explicitly says are not for anyone to know, like the moment that Jesus Christ returns. Some of the Bible is allegorical….or not (book of Revelation), some is eyewitness accounts (the gospels), some is letters to churches and individuals (most of Paul’s letters), some is prophetic (Daniel, the different prophets), some is repeating what God directly told the author (Genesis) and some is rules and regulations that God dictated (Leviticus, Numbers) and some is history (Exodus). Almost every book of the Bible contains some of those elements. If the Bible were not ambiguous, there would be no reason for most sects and denominations to exist, and hopefully no disagreement with theology. However, there is a quite clear distinction between the essentials of the Christian faith, and the secondary doctrines. Orthodoxy in the former is a good thing; the word “truth” appears 139 times, “true” another 110 times in the Bible. It is not a good thing when “certainty-seekers” elevate secondary doctrines to orthodoxy. The evils of the Spanish Inquisition—which tortured and killed hundreds—the burning of supposed witches at the stake, and the massive persecutions of Puritans and Pilgrims, are examples.
Sexually, the Bible is clear about certain ideas: God created man and woman, only women can give birth, men and women are distinctly different in their very natures, marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, mediated by God. None of that was ever ambiguous in all of history until the late 20th century. Then it all was declared by a hostile culture to be ambiguous, producing the inevitable result of a new orthodoxy. Why do I say inevitable? Because confused people with a low tolerance for ambiguity need to believe in answers, even if they are wrong. Orthodoxy substitutes an illusion of certainty about things that are essentially unknowable. What kind of mind prefers false certainty to the truth, which is often “we don’t know”? The following quote is usually attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” I should add, “small minds coupled with the desire to control others, produce false orthodoxy.”
The apostle Paul died long ago, yet he described our current state of affairs in Romans 1: For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. – Romans 1:21-25.