The wording of the question has intrigued me;
“We Know” made me think about the knowledge I have gained in my life, and
imposed the following question on me “How did I come to know this Knowledge”.
The question then states two statements. The first one connects little
knowledge with confidence and the second one connects increasing knowledge with
The words “Knowledge” “Confidence” and “Doubt”
have intrigued me more. Knowledge can be really hard to define; however, it is
recognized as “a true, justified belief.”1
It is worth mentioning that even this definition can be unreliable because you
can have a true, justified belief and still lack knowledge. Confidence is
certainty, and we are certain when we believe something is true. So, certainty
is the level where doubt does not exist.2
Doubt is a feeling of uncertainty which often leads to more questions; it is
the broad line between knowledge and Ignorance.3
I always thrive for more knowledge, but I have never asked myself whether this
new knowledge is making me more certain or more doubtful about my beliefs. So,
I want to focus on whether more knowledge leads to more certainty or doubt.
This essay is going to argue that the more knowledge we gain, the more
confident we are. I will explore this claim using examples stemming from Natural
sciences and Religious Knowledge system as AOK and reasoning as a WOK.
The world we currently live in is developing,
and we are receiving more knowledge than we have ever received before.
Currently, human beings are leaning more toward a general method of induction
which is characterized by its specific paths and methodology.4
This is resulting in more “contextual certainty” which is considered to be the
highest level of confidence. Of course, we have different degrees of confidence
in our knowledge because we have different amount of evidences supporting a
specific thing. Evidences can come in different forms and we evaluate them with
the knowledge that we have up to day so that we can understand how reliable the
evidence is and whether the conclusion we have made can be doubted or not. So,
the more knowledge we are receiving produces more evidences and better
understanding and evaluation of these evidences; this leads to a higher level
of confidence in our knowledge until we reach the certainty levels where doubt
has no place.
Natural sciences is “the study of phenomenon of
the physical universe.”5
Science provide us with facts; It is reliable, objective, self-correcting and
can be tested. Evidences in sciences are based on logic and reasoning. So, the
knowledge that science gives us is reliable. Science is able to achieve this
through the unique methodology of the scientific method which is based on
observation, information generalization, theory and explanation.6
Take for example the atom. In the beginning it
was believed that when you rub a piece of amber with fur, the electricity
produced is a result of the amber and not atoms. However, as science was developing
more evidences started to appear which enhanced our understanding that it is
not the amber that is producing electricity but it is smallest particles in a
matter called atoms. Evidences was collected using the scientific method by
John Delton that proved that all matter consist of atoms.7
More knowledge started to appear which provided evidence that atoms contain
And then experiments were done which provided us with more knowledge and evidences
that have lead us to the current assumption that atoms are certain and true.
Atoms have been justified by evidences obtained from scientific method and
So, the more knowledge we know the more
evidences we have which enhance our understanding of it, and it help us reach
certainty. Now we are confident that the atom is something true because it
can’t be falsified by any new knowledge we will gain in the future; it is true,
proven and certain fact.
However, I have always thought that there must
be something missing. How can we be certain about the knowledge we have if we
do not even know everything, and if we are certain that we know everything, why
don’t we stop seeking for knowledge? So,
I realized that some people argue that science is indeed uncertain because the
relationship between knowledge and reality can never be found. The more
knowledge we have means more evidences which is making us uncertain because it
means that there is even more knowledge to be discovered. This has led to an
epistemological theory called Skepticism.9
Skepticism basically refuses knowledge and says that we know nothing if we do
not know everything, and of course science does not know everything so
according to this theory scientific facts are worthless and shows a very low
level of confidence despite some evidences that we may have. For example, my
favorite theory in physics is the “string theory” which states that
ultimate element of matter is small vibrating strings, but the problem with
this theory is that it left me doubtful because the more knowledge I acquired,
the more I realized I will not be able to verify it.10
The more I knew, the less I knew. The
vibrating strings are so small that you will need a Hadron
Collider the size of a galaxy to see it, so for practical reasons the knowledge
I have gained left me in doubt and law level of confidence.11
It is true that science can’t provide us with
all the knowledge in the world, but it provides us with a level of confidence
and certainty with the current knowledge we have through the evidence provided
from inductive reasoning.
. Doubt examines all our knowledge, and is
inherited in the humankind constitution. When we have little knowledge, we are
going to be confident of the knowledge we have because we know so little that
we can’t even doubt it. So the more knowledge we have will trigger us to think
more and question more; this will increase our doubt. However, the relationship
between knowledge and doubt is not linear. it is a cubic relationship in which
little knowledge will be associated with little doubt, and as knowledge
increase doubt will increase until a certain point when we reach the level
where we have gained necessary information to take a stance about a specific
topic. Then, as knowledge increases, doubt decreases and thus we become more
I have come to support the above claim based on
a personal experience that I have encountered with religion. As a person who
grew up in a very religious Muslim community, I have had little access to any
knowledge related to religion other than those provided by the mosque. So there
was no place for doubt. This is why I thought that I am confident in what I
believed in. However, after living in an international boarding school, I was
exposed to a plethora of information and knowledge, the more knowledge I
started to acquire, the more I started to question my beliefs. I kept
questioning my beliefs until I was convinced by reasoning and justification
that what I believed in is wrong. Now, the more knowledge I receive reassure me
that the decision I have taken is the right decision.
However, at the same time many people might
argue that the more knowledge we acquire the more melodious questions are imposed
on us. So, the relation between Knowledge and doubt is linear in which when
knowledge increases, doubt increases. For example, the more knowledge that I
have gained made me more doubtful rather than confident of my beliefs. For
example, I have learned that the origin of man is apes which made me question
the origin of apes. I learned that apes evolved from amphibians which evolved
from a cell which evolved from polymers which was created from dust, but then I
asked myself where did dust came from? It came from the universe, but then where
did the universe come from? A question that I could not find an answer for. I
was not convinced with this answer and made me think that there must have been
supernatural powers that made this universe, but I was not able to prove that
this is right. So, in this case the increasing knowledge that I have gained
lead me to more doubt.
Thus, at the end I have come to a conclusion
that more knowledge will definitely lead to more doubt. However, whether this
doubt will lead to a certainty or not depends on the nature of the knowledge
and the questions that we are dealing with.
Knowledge is a valuable thing that shapes our
understanding of the world, and it is vital to understand the sources of this
knowledge and how we came to know this knowledge. We as human beings always seek better
understanding of everything around us, and this curiosity has made us develop
and evolve to reach the current globalized world with immense amount of
information. We do not know everything in the world, but we know that, with the
help of science and inductive reasoning, the knowledge we currently have is
true and justified beliefs. We will always discover new information because we
will always doubt, question and research, but this increasing knowledge will
make us more confidence of the knowledge we have. No wonder, that doubt will
make us feel confused and uncertain but it will eventually make us realize that
the knowledge we have, supported by evidences, will make us more certain than
1 “Theory Of Knowledge » The Tripartite
Theory Of Knowledge”. 2018. Theoryofknowledge.Info. Accessed
January 25 2018. http://www.theoryofknowledge.info/what-is-knowledge/the-tripartite-theory-of-knowledge/.
2 “Certainty”. 2018. Importanceofphilosophy.Com.
Accessed January 25 2018. http://www.importanceofphilosophy.com/Epistemology_Certainty.html.
3 “The Importance Of Doubt, Asking
Questions And Not Knowing”. 2012. Singularity Weblog. Accessed
January 25 2018. https://www.singularityweblog.com/the-importance-of-doubt-asking-questions-and-not-knowing/.
4 Craig, Robin. 2018. “Science, Doubt, And
Certainty”. SAVVY STREET. Accessed January 25 2018. http://www.thesavvystreet.com/science-doubt-certainty/.
5 Ways of knowing, Woolman, M. (2006). Ways
of knowing. Melton, Vic.: IBID Press.
6 Ways of knowing, Woolman, M. (2006). Ways
of knowing. Melton, Vic.: IBID Press
7 “History Of The Atom”. 2018. Absorblearning.Com.
Accessed January 25 2018. https://www.absorblearning.com/chemistry/demo/units/LR301.html#JohnDalton.
8 “History Of The Atom”. 2018. Absorblearning.Com.
Accessed January 25 2018. https://www.absorblearning.com/chemistry/demo/units/LR301.html#J.J.Thomson.
9 Klein, Peter. 2001.
“Skepticism”. Plato.Stanford.Edu. Accessed January 25
10 “The Official String Theory Web
Site”. 2018. Superstringtheory.Com. Accessed January 26 2018. http://superstringtheory.com/.
11 Smith, Caspar. 2010. “Russell Stannard: We Can’t
Know Everything | My Bright Idea”. The Guardian. Accessed
January 26 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/sep/12/russell-stannard-my-bright-idea.