So Where Were You When God Called You into the Belief-I mean Truth?
"I don't know anything that gives me greater pleasure, or profit either, than talking or listening to philosophy. But when it comes to ordinary conversation, such as the stuff you talk about financiers and the money market, well, I find it pretty tiresome personally, and I feel sorry that my friends should think they're being very busy when they're really doing absolutely nothing. Of course, I know your idea of me: you think I'm just a poor unfortunate, and I shouldn't wonder if your right. But then I don't THINK that you're unfortunate - I know you are."
"The difference between a man who is led by opinion or emotion and one who is led by reason. The former, whether he will or not, performs things of which he is entirely ignorant; the latter is subordinate to no one, and only does those things which he knows to be of primary importance in his life, and which on that account he desires the most; and therefore I call the former a slave, but the latter free."
( , 1737)
What happens when one is faced with the reality that ones truth is not really true? What do Christians, of all types, do when their truth turns out to be merely a belief that has been found wanting?
Years ago I gave a sermon using the then new and fascinating 3D art form where one had to practically go into a trance, release the fixation on the wavy pattern of nonsensical forms and let the mind sense another way of looking before one could see that, indeed, there was a 3D picture of ships and sharks staring you right in the face. I had this picture on a tripod by the lectern during the sermon which was on "Can you see it?" I suppose the point at the time was seeing the truth etc. What was fascinating was the crowd that gathered around the picture after the sermon to try and see what I saw and indeed, was there to be seen.
Some saw it right away and gave themselves a big pat on the back and acted like it was no big deal. They became the instant experts at helping others "see" it too. They pontificated on how to look, how to stand, how to relax ones eyes etc, and to their dismay, most could not do it with the pressure they were putting on them to "see it." The one or two who did received a great congratulations which was really the zealot congratulating himself for being such a good teacher.
Others were quiet, not needing help, nor wanting it. They would figure it out. Some quietly did and some did not and just wandered away perhaps feeling a bit dumb for not being able to see it or wondering if everyone that did see it was nuts. Some rejoiced when they finally could see the ships and sharks and some got mad when they couldn't and never did. It was fascinating and I learned more about how we see the truth of something after the sermon than I did in giving the sermon.
The fact is that a belief is just that and not necessarily a truth or the truth. We all have believed many things that turned out not to be so true from the not so reality of Santa Claus to the idea that perhaps I was not a part of the one really really true, only and exclusive . But belief goes further than that and mere belief in something does not make it truth by any means, or there would not be so much disagreement, for example on the doctrines, history, meaning and intent of God, the Prophets, Jesus, the Disciples, Paul, and all the so called "early Church (which Church?) Fathers.
Other impediments to the truth are the following beliefs. It should not be such a threat to question these core beliefs, but in fact, one might never come to see anymore truth if one gets stuck in these erroneous beliefs.
The Bible says it, I believe it, that does it for me"
To which we might add. "Darwin said it, I believe it, that settles it." If you think this is a silly reason for accepting evolution, you know why "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" is a silly reason for accepting Creationism. But the evolution side does not use that argument: the Theory of Evolution is based on evidence, not Darwin's authority.
The Bible is literally true
To which we might add...There are many things in the Bible that are not literally true or did not literally happen. Yet to even hint at this is to raise the ire of fundamentalists. Joshua did not really raise his arms and stop the earth from rotating which is what stopping the sun from going down for "about a whole day" really is all about. Yet we struggle with thinking we simply have to believe that is literally true or God will be angry at us and label us as weak in the faith. Ok, well it won't really be God letting you know that, but it might be your Pastor.
The Bible says it is true
To Which we might add the Bible also calls a bat a bird which we know is not true or that snakes and donkeys can talk at times and do. It tells us humans can survive ovens, Fiery Chariots pick up the good guys so they can skip death, iron floats, fish deliver loose change and hundreds of other things that it is not my intention to remind us of, but you know them well. It also says women come from men and not men from women and I KNOW you don't believe that..at least not literally.
Prophecies prove the accuracy of the Bible.
To Which we might add that both Ezekiel and Isaiah prophesied different fates for the City of Tyre and neither one of them came true and Tyre stands to this day. Prophecies about Egypt also failed to materialize and adjustments to reality are obvious in much of what Ezekiel writes about. The idea that many "prophecies" in Daniel are so accurate because they were written after the fact never crosses the readers mind and enrages the fundamentalist and apologist.
The Bible must be accurate because archaeology supports it.
To which we might add that archaeology also does not verify Biblical stories as well. No evidence has ever been found in the Sinai of millions of people having passed through specific places in the wilderness, not with ground nor satellite surveys. And many never think that real place names can be used to tell stories that are not literally true as well. The literally true place name does not make the story true. The Angel Moroni gave the Gold Plates, now conveniently unavailable, to start the Mormon faith at Hill Comorah in NY. I have been to the literally real Smith farm in NY and grew up where this literally false story took place and on which millions of Mormons base their literal beliefs.
Bible's accuracy on other scientific points shows overall accuracy.
To which we can add that the Bible makes some very big blunders in scientific observation. The sun does not rise in the east nor really go down in the west as we know even though a modern apologist would insist that is only an explanation of an apparent truth just as we today know it is the earth that rotates. Well, the inspired Bible did not know that back then. To the bible characters, the earth was indeed flat. The "circle of the earth" was not a ball, it was their idea of a round plate 360 degrees around them, not a sphere. Its what they saw when they turned in a circle , not what they knew was beneath their feet. Satan could show Jesus all the Kingdoms of earth because the earth was flat and they could be "seen" from a "high mountain."
The 29,000 feet high Himalayas were not covered by flood waters and did exist a mere 4000 years ago no matter what apologetic geo-creationists come up with. That much water would drain no where and only penguins and polar bears would survive the adventure on the ark if they could breath.
The Bible is harmonious in it's presentation
To which we could say it absolutely is not. I challenge anyone to sit down with the Gospels and try to put together a coherent account of what happened at Jesus birth or death from the "harmony of the Gospels." If you think it will be easy, or can be done with the proper approach, you are kidding yourself. If you think you can explain why Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple at the beginning of his ministry in John but at the end of his ministry everywhere else, go ahead. You'd have to say he did it twice. If you think you can reconcile Luke's account of Paul's conversion in Acts, and Paul's account in Galatians, go for it. You won't the first nor come up with a satisfactory solution. Of course, some, who need the belief of inerrancy to be true will satisfy themselves but it still will not be true.
It is not my purpose to prove these points one way or the other. It is merely my point to show how these ideas are what hold a belief in place that perhaps is not, in fact, the truth of the matter. There are hundreds of sites dedicated to both the defense of the Bible as literally true and sites showing how this is not really the case. I happen to be of the "not really the case" persuasion after spending decades sincerely developing a belief that I thought was true and was found wanting...for me. In reality, I consider it neither my business nor responsibility to any longer convince anyone of anything they simply are neither willing to consider nor able to "see."
For me, the joy is in the search for meaning and, yes, I still want to know the truth as it really is. That path has never changed in me and it began when I was a very young and precocious kid.
... it's quite true that the best of the philosophers are of no use to their fellows; but that he should blame, not the philosophers, but those who fail to make use of them. (Plato, 380BC)
And isn't it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are. (Plato)
A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein)
'... I have a right to ask for a rational explanation of religious faith.' (Cicero)
So, how's the journey going for you personally in looking for "the truth." Is it not like that 3D confused patterned art in which someone managed to place a beautiful picture if only one could see it . Some will insist there is only that one true and obvious confused picture and there is nothing more to understand about it. Some will catch a glimpse only to have it fade and never be able to see it again. Some will see past the pattern to the 3D picture that really really is there and be amazed they didn't see it before. And of course some will just get angry and stay mad that they can't see it and that you and I are idiots for thinking we do.
Never confuse mere belief in ideas for the truth of the matter....
This is a lifelong process and we are all here to learn.