Welcome to the second part of this post. This one is a little lengthier but please stay with me ;).
If you do a search on this topic you very quickly realize how hot the debate is. And it’s not a contemporary topic either, this has been raging on and on for ages. Nothing surprising there as we all want the truth (or is it love we want? I get confused). A lot of the conflict is semantic – due to the interchangeable use of truths, facts, knowledge, etc. In that sense then it is necessary for me to clarify what the chap and I were yapping on and on about.
First off, if you walk off a cliff you are going down. The rate at which you will descend to meet whatever is on the other side can be calculated and determined pretty easily. You don’t need to believe it. It is what it is. So is that the truth? Are things like gravity the truth? The objective immutable laws that govern the universe and are independent of the frame of reference? In some sense, they are. You can hardly ascribe falsehood to those laws or facts. They also do not require belief to access – just knowledge. Ignorance of them doesn’t change their veracity, disbelief doesn’t reduce their potency. Some call these objective truths. Objective truths are easy, they are convenient, and generally don’t lead to wars and conflicts. This is why some have called for nothing else to be considered as true if it is not objective.
Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday singing, “yes, gravity is real! We will have faith! I will be strong!I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down. Amen!” – Dan Barker
Now, most of the people I roll with won’t find that statement above funny. At all. I get that, and I can relate even though I admit that this guy has a point. Imagine if your pilot came on the PA and told y’all to have faith, and hold hands, and believe that the plane will stay in the sky… Yeah? Stampede your way out of that thing if you want to see another day. Objective truths have their place -crystallized, black and white. There’s no fuzziness required, none allowed. Alas, not so with humans. There is another part to us, and it is one that should not be discounted merely because it is not objective. There are aspects of being that are not covered by the sciences. But they are as important – they are integral to being human.
The kind of truth I refer to when I said “nothing” is of the subjective type, the fuzzier one, the interesting one, the one that can cause wars and dispute. You see, subjective suggests dependence on the subject (you or me) and once we come into the picture then things kinda flip to a new dimension. This is the kind of truth that requires belief, or faith, or acceptance to come to life. This is the truth in religion, creed, culture. Because of it’s subjectivity, it is also very emotional and derives a lot of power from this. Look at this picture from last post.
We are all pretty much familiar with this scenario. And the person you side with depends on how you lean naturally. Everyone in this image is convinced they are right. But they all can’t be, can they? This is essentially the nature of truth that led me to the conclusion that it doesn’t it exist – at least not in the absolute way that we refer to it. You see, this truth relies on belief, but belief is personal, and it is shaped by so many factors that we generally may not have control over e.g. where and when you were born, parents, experiences, predispositions, genes etc. These differences color our vision and prejudice our perception – but that’s not a bad thing at all, as long as we understand and accept this as an inevitable consequence of our differences. This is what I explained to my friend during our conversation.
So what is the point of this post? It is a call to the appreciation of individuality and the understanding that once we veer away from the facts (i.e. objective and empirically verifiable matters) we are in a whole new world of infinite nuance and flavor. It can be, should be, a beautiful world – but only if we let it be and right now it is not. Certainly it will be a much peaceful world if we all believed the same things, but I dare say it will be boring to death and a lot less progressive. We all feel compelled to convert people to our viewpoint, some religions even demand it. For sure; discuss and converse, engage and debate – let’s cross-pollinate ideas and perspectives but never loose sight that we will never all agree. But we don’t need to. That’s the truth.
Just in case you are wondering, I’m a believer. A Christian. I’m also a scientist and accept evidence and plausible explanations – natural selection, evolution, relativity. My objectiveness does not preclude or excuse me from belief, after all:
“If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe.” – Soren Kierkegaard
I share my faith and make no apologies for it. But because it’s faith, I do not enforce it or proselytize. Not because I wouldn’t want more people to share it, not at all. But I’ve decided to follow this charge –
“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” ― St. Francis of Assisi
- Chale, tell me the truth! – Pt 1 (agbolohun.com)