Saturday, March 28, 2009

Truth

"What is truth?"  This is the question that Pilate asks of Jesus as recorded in John 18:38.  

I think that we live in a world that swings between relativism (everyone's divergent beliefs are fine as long as they don't hurt anyone else) and groups of people that all "know" that they are right and all of the other people that don't agree with them are wrong.  Rather than look at things objectively, positions are based on slogans and rabid ideologies.  It leads to a point where "truth" becomes majority opinion, and whoever fights long enough, loud enough, and has the most standing at the end "wins".  This problem comes back to a Cartesian principle: "I think, therefore I am." My thought becomes the center of my universe.  Reality is what I perceive it to be.  Therefore, it becomes impossible to judge what is true or if there is truth.

I see it differently.  Because I exist, I am able to think.  I am able to explore the world around me and discover what it has to show me.  There are many realities that are larger than my perception of them.  I cannot change them to fit my view, I can only change my view to fit reality.  

I recently ran into the analogy of the courtroom when we are looking at the case for truth.  As the jury, we are required to be impartial.  We have to listen to what both sides of an issue are telling us.  We have to use our intellect and the resources available to us to cut through the obvious biases of the prosecution and the defense.  At the beginning, we have to be open minded to either outcome of innocence or guilt.  However, we cannot remain open minded forever.  Eventually we have to weigh the evidence that is placed before us and decide one way or the other.  Then the case is closed.  If there is new, compelling evidence that is presented the case may be re-opened, but this is the exception rather than the norm.  

All this to say that there is truth.  It can be found.  Rather than striving to be so open minded that we have no convictions, we should strive to know the reasons why we believe as we do.  We should not shy away from differences in opinion, but be ready to listen to other evidence that is presented.  Then we need to use the brains we've been given to make a decision.


1 comment:

  1. Hi CM,

    I've been reading your most recent posts and they are quietly simmering away in my brain, so hopefully I will reply to them soon. Meanwhile I am looking through your archives to get to know you a bit. This post really hits with me, because I really struggle with this for certain issues. What is truth? Is there an objective truth? Is it true for all times or does it change depending on circumstances?

    In this age of political correctness, it seems that truth shifts around and is different for person to person. Yet I don't think that is right - it seems to me that there must be a Truth that exists.

    Some of the most difficult issues are in the gray zone for me, while the truth is obvious for others. Examples include abortion (I have recently come to feel that life begins at conception and no person has the right to end another person's life - but it took me a long time to get here - my mom is definitely pro-choice, and has many good reasons for being so) and homosexuality (here I am not yet sure, although I believe that Jesus has some direct statements about it ... but I don't believe he rejects anyone or treats them hatefully. Some truly wonderful people that I know are homosexual and in relationships. How do I love the person yet hate the sin? How to accept them but not their lifestyle? And is it my business to do so ?? this is really a tough one for me).

    Anyway I appreciate your analogy to a courtroom. Maybe that will help me find "the Truth" for some of these issues!

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