Category Archives: Truth

what is truth?

what is truth?

is truth knowable?

at what point is one satisfied that they have arrived at it?

do we start with falsehood and whittle away until only truth is left?

do we start with truth and add our own beliefs to it, diluting it?

do we do both?

are we capable of holding conflicting beliefs?

do we ever act NOT according to our actual beliefs?

it seems to me that that which is true would be true no matter what i think about it — or even if i think about it at all.

if my beliefs line up with what actually is, then so much the better for me.

i also think, somewhat, that people’s actual beliefs can be inferred from their behavior, though i think socialization comes to play, and limits/enhances somethings, so that we are coerced into doing that which we would not otherwise do — allowing belief that the consequences of not doing x would be worse than following what we really believe about y.

iow: a behavior do show our true beliefs, but one’s true beliefs and behaviors are to complex to for another to really infer much out of it.

Palin’s Deceptions: The Nail in the Coffin

This position splintered this controversy into two prongs: one focusing on Bristol Palin, and a second focusing on Sarah Palin. It was always been the goal of the McCain campaign that the focus be on Bristol, in spite of their pious protestations that “children of candidates should be off limits,” because framing this story to be about Bristol as much as possible would keep attention off of where it belonged, on her mother. Not one shred of concrete evidence has ever been released to demonstrate that Sarah Palin is Trig’s biological mother. We have received one incredibly suspect letter from her physician (which among other things did not even get all of the birth years of the four older Palin children correct.) It does not state explicitly where Trig Palin was born (though it helpfully tells us where he could have been born), when he was born (well, actually, it says 2008), or who actually delivered him.

Palin’s Deceptions: The Nail in the Coffin

Hillary uses the N word

ha:

The best you could say is that this reference makes Hillary look really, really old — like old enough to have been alive during a time when the word “Negro” was considered acceptable. Yeah, she’s the candidate for “change,” all right. Christ. I bet even McCain never used the word “Negro,” and he was born in the late 1800s.

Hillary uses the N word

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fairness is in our genes

there has been a lot said about the article i am going to quote later in this post, but none of it that i’ve seen calls out the glaringly obvious point that i’m seeing in this:

Consider one more experimental example to prove the point: the ultimatum game. You are given $100 to split between yourself and your game partner. Whatever division of the money you propose, if your partner accepts it, you each get to keep your share. If, however, your partner rejects it, neither of you gets any money.

How much should you offer? Why not suggest a $90-$10 split? If your game partner is a rational, self-interested money-maximizer — the very embodiment of Homo economicus — he isn’t going to turn down a free 10 bucks, is he? He is. Research shows that proposals that offer much less than a $70-$30 split are usually rejected.

Why? Because they aren’t fair. Says who? Says the moral emotion of “reciprocal altruism,” which evolved over the Paleolithic eons to demand fairness on the part of our potential exchange partners. “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” only works if I know you will respond with something approaching parity. The moral sense of fairness is hard-wired into our brains and is an emotion shared by most people and primates tested for it, including people from non-Western cultures and those living close to how our Paleolithic ancestors lived.

the idea that most people react this way is something in our selves so deep that it is something we share with other primates.

when we share so much DNA with monkeys, apes, and lemurs, and yet so many people deny that we come from common ancestors, it just seems dishonest to me.

intellectually at best, and plain-old lyin’ at worst.

as i get further and further away, as the months tick by, from my old christian self, i have trouble even remembering how it is i ignored so much evidence for evolution and spent so much time researching “science” that “disproved” it.

how was i able to accept as fact then what is so clearly horse-pooey?

this article explains it, in some small sense.

Why people believe weird things about money – Los Angeles Times:

altruism and evolution

First, a bit of background, from John Crane’s post entitled “Who Really Believes in the Virgin Birth”

Who really believes in the virgin birth?

A recent survey by the Barna Research Group, asked adults what they believed about the virgin birth of Jesus—Was this story literally true or not? Across all demographic spectrums most adults said they did believe in the truth of that biblical story. In fact, 3 out of 4 (75%) of all adults said they believe that Jesus was born to the virgin, Mary.

So

I have been intending to post something about this research myself, and John’s post gives me a good place to start. Both because his always well-written and well-thought-out posts are a very good summary of the Christian worldview (like there’s “a” christian worldview…) but also because he consistently (though never maliciously) misunderstands the agnostic/atheist outlook of the universe.
Now, I don’t begrudge him this. I myself totally misunderstood what the universe must look like to those who do not believe in god, before I came to not believe in god myself. It is one of those “walk a mile in their shoes” kinda things — until you really experience life from this side of the belief fence, you can only take mad stabs at what unbelief is really like.
And, as usual, John makes some gross simplifications about how an atheist or agnostic will or won’t think about the world.
I would like to clear up some of those misconceptions here, because I believe they are common ones.
Let us get started, shall we?

John goes on…

As one might expect, a large majority of those who do not profess religious faith or belief in God did not believe the story to be true.

Here we agree. I also think that we can expect a large majority of those who do not profess religious faith to believe in a virgin birth. In fact, I think we can be downright suprised that there are any, but then, human beings have an incredible capacity to holding conflicting beliefs. In another recent survey it was shown that twenty-five percent of Americans believe both that the Earth is around 10,000 years old and that evolution is true.
That warrents a repeat: they believed both to be true, at the same time.
No, really.
So we need not be all together surprised when we find that:

Only 15% of atheists/agnostics said they believe in the virgin birth as a literal story.

John then goes on to state:

But that is what is so particularly surprising, not so much because of the agnostic responses. One can understand a varying set of beliefs based on their “I’m not sure” agnostic perspective. But it was more specifically the responses of the atheists which caught my attention. Shouldn’t the percentage of atheists who believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ be?

Again, this surprises me as well, but do we have a breakdown of what percentage of atheists believe this versus the agnistics answering the question?
My conjecture is that few-to-none of the atheists expressed a positive belief in the virgin birth, while agnostics could have, and both are lumped together in the research.
*shrug*
Back to John:

I hesitate to conjecture too much about this,

…but I’m going to anyway:

but this inconsistency seems to indicate a desire to “have your cake and eat it too” as it were. I’ve talked about this in the past as it relates to morality in particular, that those who don’t believe in God (and who interpret the world through the lens of evolution) then want to embrace aspects of the world that are desirable, yet inconsistent, with their belief system (e.g. the notion of altruism—that noble idea that one sacrifices him/herself without expecting anything in return).

Here’s where John’s conjecturing has led him down the wrong path. He has picked up the ball on the 20 yard line and run the wrong way back towards his own endzone.
He shows a simplistic understanding of evolution in general and in survival of the fittest specifically, and this has brought him to the wrong conclusion.
Altruism is a great concept for a sentient species to develop, and it is one of the main attributes humans display that has helped us survive and adapt and, yes, evolve, to be the species we are today.
Without altruism, and the ability to sacrifice one’s self for others, we as individuals would be so selfish that we would consistently make decisions that are ultimately harmful to the species as a whole.
Self-sacrifice helps humans get a next generation born and raised. Of course, if we all sacrificed our very lives, the specieis would eventually die out. But there’s plenty of evidence that humanity is not in any danger of becoming too willing to die for one’s friends.

The inherently Christian idea of sacrificial love for others…

Sacrificial love for others is an older idea than Christianity is. It was co-opted, not created, by Christians.

…(as epitomized in the death of Christianity’s founder, Jesus)…

It was Paul of Tarsus that founded Christianity, not Jesus of Nazereth. It happened almost a full two generations after Jesus suposed ressurection, of which Paul states clearly he did not witness himself.
The organization that eventually became known as the Christian Church would be wholly unreckognizable to Jesus, whom John sets up as its founder.
Anyway, John’s still talking about sacrificial love for others….

..is certainly desirable and should be lauded in our society. And indeed it is, by Christians and non-religious people alike.

Agreed.

But I still haven’t been able to figure out in my own mind how one can embrace this noble idea of sacrifice for the welfare of others while holding to the theory of evolution for the explanation of the world—a worldview which is inherently built on the guiding principle of self-preservation above all else.

This last sentence of his is the major telling factor.
I know of no human being who believes in “self-preservation above all else”.
Every human being has an amazing drive to keep on living, just like every other living thing in the univsere that we have yet encountered.
But above all else?
Beleiving in evolution is like some magickal potion, in John’s view, that suddenly makes one selfish to the point of completely disregarding of life and other people’s right to it.
This view is clearly not squaring with reality, where athiests, agnostics, notional christians, Hindus, Muslims, and people of every kind of faith (or non-faith) exhibit laudable attributes every single day.
Morality is possible without belief in the Christian god, and to claim otherwise is to be unwilling to face the plain facts.

5 Upcoming Comic Book Movies That Must Be Stopped – Page 4 | Cracked.com

comic books reveal how we as humans tend to really feel about god:

The origin of the comic god goes like this: The arrogant Thor needs a lesson in humility, so his father Odin, the ruler of all gods, sends him to Earth in the form of a crippled mortal to teach him to be humble. When Thor finally learns his shits do stink, his mortal form dies off and he is allowed to become himself again.

This spiritual lesson serves to confirm two things: Being handicapped is God’s way of punishing you for religious transgressions, and to the son of God, Earth is essentially a giant time-out where instead of facing a corner for five minutes you live a short, challenging life rife with confusion and pain until you are eventually allowed to die.

from 5 Upcoming Comic Book Movies That Must Be Stopped

impeach bush

He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was.

So, your sleazy sycophantic henchman Mr. Gonzales had him append an asterisk suggesting his black-and-white answer wasn’t black-and-white, that there might have been a quasi-legal way of torturing people, maybe with an absolute time limit and a physician entitled to stop it, maybe, if your administration had ever bothered to set any rules or any guidelines.

And then when your people realized that even that was too dangerous, Daniel Levin was branded “too independent” and “someone who could (not) be counted on.”

In other words, Mr. Bush, somebody you couldn’t count on to lie for you.

So, Levin was fired.

Because if it ever got out what he’d concluded, and the lengths to which he went to validate that conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned waterboarding and who-knows-what-else on anybody, you yourself, you would have been screwed.

And screwed you are.

AlterNet: Blogs: Video: Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on Waterboarding and Torture

Is Rob Bell a Godless Man, Condemned by God?

This is a bold charge against Rob Bell and other voices in the Emerging Church movement.People reading that should hear alarms sounding. MacArthur is purposely saying that Bell is a heretic—advocating a hazy, indistinct conception of truth that comes from an insidious desire to advocate worldly lifestyles, unholy minds, and ungodly behaviors.

rob bell is one of the best speakers i’ve ever heard, and i like both what he says and how he says it

Vanguard Church: Is Rob Bell a Godless Man, Condemned by God?

plankeye, followup

there’s been some contention as to my post on “plankeye”

i will concede that we are indeed to “make judgement” — even about people and what they are up to.

but the context of the verse you pulled out shows the difference between what jesus was referring to in john 7 and what he is teaching about in the sermon on the mount:

14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

both of these passages speak to not judging —- and both infer that in order to make wise decisions about how to treat people one needs to be in a place of humility before god, and seeking the true good of the other person.

the original thought behind the plankeye post was a friend pointing out how those who claim to follow christ’s teachings are often those who are most guilty of being judgmental — and unfairly judgmental at that, often with yucky results in the life of those being judged.

i was obviously, in my first post on this topic, not saying that one is never to decide whether something is right or wrong.

clearly to follow christ is to believe there IS a right.

but judging and condemning people is the wrong way to go about getting them to change their behavior, while encouraging and asking is the right way.

in fact, to do so is to make a right judgement: to “hold back” on force-feeding your “pearls” of “rightness” to those who are not able to digest them, and instead love and encourage and simply ask them to consider a better way.

so, i stand by my statement:

judging IS the plank in our eye.

and i’ll say it again using a different word, by way of expounding:

condemning IS the plank in our eye.

romans 14:13:

Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.

condemnation and judging puts a HUGE stumbling block in the way of those who would otherwise be attracted to the kingdom.

we who claim to live in the kingdom behave in unattractive ways, in ways that make people feel rejected, not loved, and so they turn and attack us.

just like jesus says they will in the passage i quoted above.

but if we simply ask people, without condemnation, they are more apt to find our message acceptable.

seven views of truth

tonight, whilst doing some “light” reading, i came across these seven things that people tend to mean when they speak of “truth”:

1. Reality – Sometimes, we use truth to mean “what’s out there,” or “what’s really, really, real.”

2. A human perception of reality – Sometimes we use the term to mean how an individual human or group of humans perceive what’s really out there. For example, in court, when a person swears to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, we understand only God could fulfill that promise, unless we defined truth to mean “an honest and full accounting of what you perceived.”

3. Knowledge about reality – Clearly, there’s always some degree of difference between #2 and #1 above, and when we weave our perceptions into coherent, conscious generalizations and call those generalizations knowledge, the difference isn’t erased. In other words, reality as seen and known by our infinite and wonderful God is always fuller and to some degree different than reality as seen and known by limited, situated humans. Scripture affirms this, reminding us that we know only in part.

4. Statements or propositions about reality – When we take our knowledge, which arises in the context of our imperfect perceptions about what’s really out there, and then we share that knowledge with others in statements, we have to admit we add new layers of imprecision – through the wonderful but sometimes imprecise interplay of encoded, sent, received, and interpreted symbols we call language. Human statements clearly do some justice to the realities they describe, but if even half of my critique of your column (an attempt to make true statements about reality, I don’t doubt) is valid, you have to admit that our very best attempts to make true statements about reality still aren’t perfect. For example, do you believe, looking back, that all the statements in your column were perfectly, completely, absolutely, objectively true? If you give anything less than an unqualified “yes,” you are being sensitive to the same concerns postmodern people have about these matters.

5. Moral or ethical judgments – The situation becomes even more complex when our statements are judgments about moral or ethical behavior. Even for those of use who claim to know God and have faith in the Bible: we need to look back over our own history and realize that just as there are disastrous consequences to claiming there is no such thing as legitimate moral judgment, there are also disastrous consequences to claiming that we have unquestionably legitimate moral judgment. Our ancestors judged slavery as morally justified, and brought in Scripture to enforce their point; we now judge slavery wrong, also using Scripture. Are we so naïve to think that all our judgments are finally right, just because we quote the Bible?

6. A belief system or world view – I think that the concept of world view is very powerful. And for that reason, it can be very dangerous. For example, I suspect that for many religious broadcasters and writers, “The Christian World View” means “The Modern Western Christian World View” or “The Calvinist Systematic Theology” or “A Syncretism of Christian Theology and Conservative Republican Politics,” but neither they nor their listeners realize it. Anyway, there’s a lot of mystique and fog around the term. Adding the words “The” and “Christian” in front of a worldview doesn’t guarantee this worldview is now 100% in synch with #1 above, but it sure can give that impression to unreflective people reading a column in Christianity Today, especially if they’re already feeling intimidated and afraid by all the changes in our world, and are hoping for reassurance.

7. A feeling of certainty – When some people use the word truth, I think they mean a feeling of certainty, security, and rest that means they no longer have to think or ask questions. In other words, truth means “case closed.” This exemption from further thought is something we all desire at times, I think, especially after a long hard day of reading a column in CT and criticizing it (and then criticizing the critique). But one only has to talk to a person hospitalized for psychosis to realize that a feeling of certainty can have very little in common with #1 above!

all truth is god’s truth

all truth is god’s truth.

i love this part of acts:

17:22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

here we have paul quoting pagan poets to make points about god.

what i like about it:

it shows that paul was familiar enough with their poets to quote them.

and he was astute enough to realize when they speak truth.

everything that is true is so because god said it ought be thus.