Why is it important to question your beliefs?
This might sound like 'dangerous talk' but really, questions are the foundation of reasonable existence. Questions allow for individuality, progress and personal fulfillment. They allow us greater autonomy and have led to every amazing thing we know right now about the physical universe. Why should we stop questioning when we come to sacred ground? Why should we not demand a deity who stands up to scrutiny? Why should we be spoon fed an institutions steak seasoning of choice?
The following points may come under the heading of 'common sense'. I will point out the obvious in the hopes that to some, it might not be so obvious. My focus is to show how skepticism in everything from religion to where you're food came from can be of great benefit to you and the society in which you live. That questions are a powerful tool to learn what is true in life and what doesn't hold up so well to scrutiny. Isn't it true the last thing you want is to lead your life on the basis of a mistaken belief?
Questions are the foundation of Discovery!
What makes sun rise and set? What can I do to make this steak taste better? How do I maintain a healthy diet without steak? These are examples of questions we are all pretty certain have answers.
The point is though; if we didn't ask why the sun moves around the earth, we would have never discovered that instead, the earth moves around the sun! If you didn't want to know what made steak taste better, you would have to rely on chance to be introduced to the amazing world of sauces and gravies. If you never asked where your steak came from you might never have made the reasonable decision to stop eating steak. If we didn't ask questions we might never have known that vegetarians can substitute leafy greens and legumes for meat in their diet.
What is worse, if you don't rely on questions to get information, you can be led into awful misconceptions, you could be told that indeed the sun moves around the earth, that hot sauce is the only good thing to put on a steak. You could be encouraged to eat meat when the source of such sustenance is inhumanely produced.
If we never challenged authority through questioning then we would have never had any revolutions, peaceful or otherwise. If we did not challenge what others in power have said we would have been in danger of allowing war crimes and atrocities to go unpunished. For the sake of civility and servitude we still allow dangerous and ugly things to happen. If scientists didn't question their own work, we would have no scientific method. No cars, iPads, electric lights. Not even candles. We would be a subservient mass or worse – still animals.
Maybe you think I am overstating the importance of questions? If you do, I would say you haven't asked too many questions before. Challenge authority you say? I am only one person – no president or teacher or parent is really going to take it seriously when I ask them to explain themselves, they are knowledgeable and their answers make enough sense. I will go with those. That is where it becomes important that you know;
Questions help you to affirm things for yourself.
I think I tried five or six different sauces and gravies over my steak at various meals until I was served pepper gravy and decided 'yes, this one is definitely my favourite' I was given an in depth run down of the arguments for a singular omnipotent, omnipresent and wholly good being (according to Swinburne) before I decided that 'no, those don't quite make so much sense'. On the internet, in books, out in your own experience there are a number of different sources for the foundation of answers. They are all accessible to you once you begin to ask questions.
Most atheists will be able to give you substantial arguments for why they don't follow religion. Most of those will be able to explain how morality can be derived from something other than religion. Others will be able to give you a very thorough run down on why it isn't depressing that this life is all you have. Nearly all of them will be able to clearly tell you the merits of their favourite steak or salad dressing. Why? Because questions are the beginning of their understanding. Every atheist who believes this will never demand of you that you simply 'submit to hot sauce as the ideal steak topping' Unfortunately they will say that a great amount of legwork is up to you, as an individual and intelligent human being, to decide for yourself once you have done the appropriate thought experiments.
But isn't this responsibility important? Doesn't this opportunity for deciding things for yourself allow great freedom in the individual? How many different things about your identity would be taken away if you didn't question or learn or enjoy the results of this labour? Why is it so easy to say that 'its alright to question one thing, but there are other things that should not be questioned'? To what extent do we withhold our questions as followers of religion? To what extent are we liberated once we begin to ask?
Perhaps your questioning will give you greater meaning in your faith, perhaps it will lead you to a different faith. Perhaps you will discover that the elegant simplicity of a steak without seasoning is tastier than the cheese sauce. You wont know the answers unless you ask.
'That in order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of our life, to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.' Descartes – The Selections from the Principles of Philosophy