Doubt Can Unite Us
Last night PBS aired the two-hour NOVA special “Darwin’s Darkest Hour,” about Charles Darwin’s struggle to finally decide to complete and publish On the Origin of Species. Part of his struggle was trying avoid running afoul of his wife Emma’s faith in God. In an early letter to Darwin, Emma wrote, “My reason tells me that honest & conscientious doubts cannot be a sin.”
My wife, who was believer when we met, expressed a similar sentiment about my agnosticism.
Respect for honest doubt would go a long way towards mending the huge rifts among the two main bicycling “camps.”
Bikeway proponents must respect the doubts of vehicular cycling proponents about the benefits of facilities, because there is significant objective evidence to support that doubt. Since decisions about bikeways are done by governments, objectivity is essential.
Vehicular cycling proponents must respect the doubt of others about the effectiveness of vehicular cycling. While vehicular cycling can also be measured objectively, it is experienced subjectively. There is significant subjective evidence to support that doubt; those many personal experiences in traffic which reinforce our culture’s taboo about cycling. Since cycling itself is done by individuals, many of whom are not trained, comfortable with, or prone towards objectivity, we vehicular cycling proponents must take a softer, subjective approach.
Respect and caring are the foundation.
“Certainty divides us; doubt unites us.”
– Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, The Laughing Jesus