Daily Reflection
April 15th, 2008

Isabelle Cherney

Department of Psychology
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Today’s gospel takes us back to the winter celebration of the feast of the Dedication, the 80-day festival of lights. Jesus is surrounded by skeptics who demand a clear answer: “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” He responds “I told you and you do not believe the works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.”

Skepticism is part of the human condition. As an educator and researcher, I am often confronted with it. Students often expect black and white answers to their questions, despite the fact that the field of psychology rarely deals with the absolute. Human behavior is very complex and influenced by a multitude of factors that operate at different levels. There are no clear answers and this uncertainty makes students uncomfortable. It is my job to accompany them through the uncertainties of the human mind and behaviors. It is my goal to open their minds and hearts to the beauty of the incomplete and to foster their critical thinking skills. After all, it is individual differences and diversity that make my field so fascinating. On the other hand, my job also requires me to be skeptical.

As a researcher I use the scientific method to further our knowledge about human cognition. My training is to probe the human capacity for thought and belief. As a scientist I want to know the answer to my question; I want to have evidence. When considering research hypotheses, I become like the skeptics in today’s gospel. I want to know beyond a doubt that He is Christ, that He and the Father are one. Just as my students want to have a clear answer about human behavior, I yearn for a clear answer about the existence of God. It is during those times that I am reminded that there is “no burden of proof” for faith, belief, or trust.

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