Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

An Important Question to Ask

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Several weeks ago two men faced off to try to answer a question. The question related to the beginning of everything. The snow. The trees. The dirt. Clouds and rain. Coffee and chocolate. Ladybugs and lions. You and me.

I avoid controversies and hot topics. I never find such things encouraging. They never help me live a better story.

But I did scour the internet briefly after the debate over the origins of the universe between Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” and Ken Hamm, founder and curator of the creation museum.

And one man’s response caught my attention.

Questions and Answers

To this one man the debate, and the question it sought to answer, was of immense consequence. This is how he described it.

Bill Nye and Ken Hamm squared off in a true debate over one of the most important questions that the human mind can contemplate.

I won’t tell you who said it. The name of the person doesn’t matter and if I told you it would likely stimulate more debating and arguing. And the point would be missed.

I will tell you that he is very smart. Probably smarter than all of us. He has read more than all of us combined. He was gifted with the ability to think. He is a leader of the evangelical church, and he influences how millions respond.

But when I read his take on the debate, I believe that in all of his elaborate thinking he has lost something important.

Two Types of Questions

Why do we have questions?

One obvious answer is that we do not know or understand something. Either it is something new we have never encountered or it is an old idea that our minds are unable to grasp.

One reason to ask a question is ignorance.

Another reason is to experience change in our lives. To see the world differently. To pause and reflect with the purpose of evaluating the direction our life is headed and to consider taking it in a different one.

To help us make a decision.

A second reason to ask a question is to grow. To learn. To become.

And the more we ask these types of question, the better our story will be. To me, these types of questions are the most important ones that a human mind can contemplate.

Your Beliefs Do Not Change You

I understand why so many think the question at the center of the debate is so important. I understand why this one man believes is is one of the most important questions you can ask.

But I don’t think how you choose to answer this question matters at all.

The main reason that I don’t think it matters is that I don’t think how you choose to answer will ever change you.

I have never seen the answer to this question lead to anything but the answer. A belief. And then disagreement. And perhaps a debate.

Giving this question such importance implies that who we are is based on what we believe. That by believing one thing or another we become a different person.

But in my opinion, our beliefs, in and of themselves, do not change us.

I have never seen a belief create something valuable in this world.

What Question Does Matter?

Most of our beliefs do not matter. They do not change our lives. They don’t help us become.

But a belief that causes our hearts to move and our ears to listen and our legs to take steps does matter. A question that changes our direction can form us into a new person.

There is one question that will always do this in you. To me, it is one of the most important questions the human mind can contemplate.

It is worth asking every day in every situation about every person.

What does love require of me?

When we honesty ask ourselves and honestly seek out the answer, the choices we makes will change dramatically. And if we choose to live in love, then our actions will be altered. And the lives of those we comes across will be affected as well.

It is easier to contemplate the origins of the universe than it is to answer this question. Bill Nye and Ken Hamm walked away from their debate as the same men they were when they walked in. So did all who listened.

But the answer to this question could potentially be devastating.

The answer might demand all that you have. The answer might demand all that you are. The answer might cause you to lose your life.

What questions are you asking?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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6 Replies

  1. Bunny

    Jeremy, yours is a profound question. I recently read a definition of love: love is seeking the highest good for another. Imagine if we all lived our lives asking “what does love require of me in this place, in this situation?” And then did what love requires….

  2. Katina Vaselopulos

    Great post, Jeremy! You are right. When a question is based on belief, no one backs away; no one listens to the others. No one learns anything or changes anything.

    Your question is great! It’s the key to wind the individual and the whole world to sing and danse a perfect tune.

    For years I was struggling with religion. Is it about myths we believe and perpetuate? Is it brainwashing? Do we need it? Is “good” good in itself or is it good because God says it is? …Until I stopped asking and debating the above and other questions.

    Finally I came to realize that there is great stuff in Scriptures, church going, religious ceremonies and catechism. Love, ideals, and virtues are taught and ispired in so many ways. The question should be not on its validity and necessity but rather on “How do I apply all the wornderful, inspiring, and encouraging words/commands to be a better person who lives, loves, and connects to self, others, and the Divine? What can I use from the bible or church service to contribute to a better worild?”

    And this, as you said, does take a lot of efford and giving, but it also fills and refills!

    Blessings and light!
    (Sorry I don’t visit you often enough.)

    1. What I wrote comes from similar frustrations. But I have hope too that there is good in these things, sometimes in spite of the beliefs.

  3. Karen

    For the first time I don’t entirely agree with you! I just have to say that I do believe that our beliefs change us. Our beliefs can change us entirely. Our beliefs are our foundation. They often determine what we think and what we do. It is due to the belief’s of people like Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King that they made such a difference in our world – for the better. If they believed differently about what is right, about what they could do …… Of course I also believe we should be considerate and respectful about other peoples beliefs but stand strong on what we believe in and hopefully make a difference in this world – just like you are doing (probably because of your beliefs).

    1. I’m glad somebody disagreed with me. To say beliefs don’t matter is quite a statement.

      I do think beliefs matter, but I’m speaking more out of the idea that far too often beliefs do not translate. I know people that I would say have good foundational beliefs but it does them no good. And I know others who I think have poor foundational beliefs, but do incredible things.

      Many have shared the beliefs that Mother Teresa and Martin Luther had, but few did anything about it. Their beliefs didn’t change them. MT and MLK made a difference because of what they did.

  4. Bunny

    believing and DOING…acting on the beliefs make a difference. we can say we believe anything but do we really believe if we are not acting on the belief? Lots of people blather about a lot of things but it seems only some have the strength of their convictions by putting effort and action behind it. I worked with a guy once who was appalled that a homeless person was digging through his trash barrel in his back yard and he believed that was just not right. I asked him if he thought to offer the man something to eat. but, alas, he only believed it was not right and did nothing to correct the wrong.

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