We all make them, all the time. They are fine as long as we know that’s what we’re doing and then are willing to shift or make a change as better data comes our way.
Assumptions are a starting point and when they are seen as such don’t create problems. We need to start from somewhere so we choose a point of view and proceed.
Where we get into trouble is when we cling to that point of view in the face of evidence to the contrary. When we identify with it so strongly that it becomes our selfhood. So much so that any challenge to it threatens our sense of self. Which is a lot of what’s going on right now and a great demonstration to all of us to see the difference between an idea or concept and who we are. We are not our beliefs, although they are what makes us act in certain ways when we think that’s all we are. We are so much more. The more our constructs reflect our greater self the more we behave in more humane ways and the more we make choices that are better for us and also better for all.
All science begins with a theory or proposition. A good scientist proceeds to look for evidence to support it. A great scientist looks for evidence for and also against it that leads to a much better and more solid and thoughtful conclusion knowing that at some point in time it may be overturned when new evidence is available.
It’s been said over and over again that the thing that sets humans apart from other animals is our ability to think. And, lately even that concept has been overturned. As a side note concerning the question do other animals think – one day I was walking my Great Dane on the beach and we came across the skeleton of a horseshoe crab. He sniffed at it and then we went on. Just a little further down the beach there was a Horseshoe crab still alive. My Great Dane looked it over, sniffed it then started back toward the other shell comparing them. He recognized their similarity. He demonstrated that he understood they were the same although in slightly different form. So, no we are not the only thinking animal. However, we do think and when we use that ability we come up with better and deeper understanding of everything. As we keep evolving and growing as individuals our insights also grow. We are then able to look at our past assumptions and see if they still hold up with our new insights. And, if not, we need to let them go and to move on to more solid ground in our thinking.
It is the process of constant examination of our beliefs that allows us to evolve as a species. It is our willingness to let go of assumptions, beliefs, even the most cherished ones that keeps us moving forward as a human race. When we give that up and stubbornly cling to a belief and refuse to examine it even in the face of clear evidence that’s when we get stuck and that’s when we defend a belief to the detriment of others and, eventually, ourselves.
As we look at our world today, we can see how mired in clinging to our assumptions we have become. The solution is simple – in the face of new evidence we need to entertain new thoughts and understandings and as we do, we let go of the old, outworn, unsubstantiated which allows us to move forward as a human race to being better, more enlightened and more willing to examine everything as we keep evolving.
Out with the old, in with the deeper and better for now, assumptions.
Dianne J. Shaver