There are a vast number of spectra that we can be classified under: extrovert to introvert, creative to logical, right wing to left wing (or liberal), and so on.
There is another major spectrum which has gone, as yet, un-defined. Yet it is one that increasingly shapes our world, and it looks set to become only more influential as the 21st century progresses. This is the spectrum between certainty and faith, or The Faith/Certainty Spectrum.
This spectrum requires the ‘un-definition’ of certain concepts.
The concepts of Religion and Faith have, over time, become confused. The two terms are often used interchangeably. Yet in The Faith/Certainty Spectrum, religion can often exist closer to the Certainty end of the spectrum than the Faith end.
Certainty has traditionally tended to be seen as a positive thing, whose opposite is ‘uncertainty’, a negative thing. However, deeper reflection on the idea of ‘certainty’ may see it differently. Certainty is what an individual expresses when (s)he has made and empirical judgement that something is absolutely true or false.
The opposite of certainty is not uncertainty. It is faith, which is what an individual expresses when (s)he has made a subjective judgement as to whether something is true or false, which they acknowledge to be subjective.
As it is with polar opposites, so it is with Faith and Certainty. They cannot co-exist. They are the antithesis of one another.
Someone who believes something in faith is not necessarily any less sure of it than someone who believes it in certainty. The difference is about their distinct perspective on their beliefs, and – critically – their distinct perspective on those who do not share their beliefs.
The faith / certainty spectrum would place Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion), Pastor Terry Jones (of threat-to-burn-a-Koran infamy) and Osama Bin Laden in roughly the same place.
In the coming years, all people will need to decide whether they are people of faith or people of certainty. As long as they sit on the fence or opt out, their world will increasingly be domineered by those imposing their certainty on it.