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“It’s better to doubt a little than believe too much!”

/Unknown older man

This is what the older man said to the young priest Bengt Pohjanen in the Orthodox Church of Christ’s Declaration Överkalix in Northern Sweden, sometime in the 70’s. One Saturday night when I waited for the news, I happened to see Bengt, who preached about doubt during the weekend Church Bell ringing session in his home commune. He said that, as a newly graduated priest “with great certainty and bushy gestures”, he proclaimed his belief to the older man and received the above quote in response. I became a little curious of this Bengt and found that he was now a writer who doubted God. I also found an interview with him from the 90’s where he, as a priest in the 70’s, told the Church chapter to wipe his ass with the napkin he had written his resignation on, and claimed that ”only he who doubts can believe in God”. Now even more curious, I read his book Himlalots (Sky pilot in English) where he writes about sex, crime, alcohol, and doubt of the religion, never before heard of in a Christian context. A true Doubter with great civil courage, but as such has paid the price of exclusion. Regardless, this is exactly what we in my company Tvivla (Doubt in English) stand for. I challenge the status quo and create discussions. Discussions that lead to insight and improvement, and only after that, a belief or not. Thank you, Bengt, for this inspiration and support of my mission. I hope it’s OK that I have taken your words straight off as my slogan. Just imagine, if more people dared to doubt like Bengt, what a wonderful world it would be.

Barbara Kruger, an American conceptual artist, and photographer summed it up well in her wall painting above. No sanity without both doubt and belief[1]. Science is grounded on this. Scientists start with a question rather than a dogmatic assertion. This question leads to an educated guess or belief. This belief is called hypothesis. The hypothesis is challenged by doubt and the result is truth, always open to change. All this doubt calls for thinking. When you hear your priests or the people you trust (you trusted me so far, right?) speaking about their ideas or stories, do you doubt, or do you believe them? I want to have profound discussions first before I believe. So, when you continue reading here, doubt a lot… I may fool you and abuse science as a way to make you believe…

“I might use scientific terminology without bothering much about what the words mean.

I might import scientific concepts without giving them the slightest empirical or conceptual justification.

I might throw around scientific terms where they are irrelevant.

I might be intoxicated with words.” [2]

But my intentions are good, and I hope I can inspire you for the good of Psychological Safety. One part in this book is a big fat lie, just to keep you on your toes, but I think you can figure out which part if you are a true Doubter, which I believe you are. And beware of the Zebra

This is a part of the book Psychological UNsafety from the trenches you can order or read more about here.


[2]Quote Inspired by Sokal, A. and Bricmont, J. (1998), Intellectual Impostures: Postmodern Philosophers’ Abuse of Science