I was raised in an era where questioning things was not actively encouraged. In fact, it was sometimes perceived as being outright rebellious. Authority figures were to be obeyed; experts were to be trusted; scientific theories were to be believed; facts were to be learned. Yet as I get older, I realize how vitally important questions are to progressing in various spheres of life.
In education: Traditional learning methods have emphasized the memorization of facts and formulas. While this approach is certainly valuable in gaining a foundational understanding of some subject, it falls short in many ways. Sometimes the facts to learn seem irrelevant to the student, other than to solicit a good mark on the test. Yet when a child has a question, an inquiry, a real-life problem to solve, he is motivated to research, learn, and find the answer to his question. In the process, he gains independence and a feeling of accomplishment. This is far superior to simply memorizing some tidbit of knowledge that the teacher gave him.
In faith: It is through the preaching of the gospel that a hearer can understand that Jesus is the Savior and can then place their faith in Christ. It is through the teaching of biblical doctrine that a new believer can come to understand who God is, what he has done for them, and how to grow in their relationship with God. Both of these are essential to passing on the Christian faith to others. However, it is a healthy process to question what is being taught. If everything taught is blindly believed, how can one safeguard against false doctrine? Even if the teaching is biblically correct, there is great value in asking questions to discover what people have understood from the teaching, what they believe, and how to apply God’s word in their lives. It is often in discussion that beliefs are solidified, hearts are encouraged, misunderstandings corrected, and inspiration given. Preaching and teaching are wonderful gifts, but discussion enables people with different gifts to have a positive impact on one another as well.
In science: The very basis of scientific investigation is testing a hypothesis, or question. Scientific theories attempt to explain observable data, but a theory is not an irrefutable fact. Further questioning and research will bring us more reliable explanations of why things happen. We live in an era when honest questioning and independent research is sometimes suppressed and even punished by governmental agencies or large companies that don’t want some scientific studies to be made known. They prefer that people believe in their propaganda and policies instead. It appears that honest questioning of the safety of vaccines or the efficacy of traditional approaches to cancer, for example, are too much of a threat to allow. Much progress could be made in these fields if questioning and research were not ridiculed and opposed.
In relationships: Questions are of great benefit in relationships, as well. It is in asking questions of a person that we get to discover what they really think; how they feel; what their goals, joys, and sorrows are. It is in getting to know a person that we can develop a more loving, satisfying relationship with them. Here are some questions that can be asked with the goal of getting to know them better. Communication is a two-way street, and some people are more reluctant to express what is going on in their hearts. But an appropriate question could possibly open new avenues of understanding and intimacy.
So, don’t be afraid of questions. They are invaluable! “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7