Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How do we know if something true or a lie?

Thanks to Roxanne Richle, who's asked "How do you tell if something is true or a lie. How do you know who to believe?" ... I did some mental gymnastics.

We usually say something is true when a statement or notion corresponds to reality or fact. The difficulty comes from not having a good enough perspective or place to stand to see reality or have insight on "brute facts". And this causes confusion. As such, many people doubt the knowability of truth. This is an issue of epistemology, (how we know what what we know). So how can we know reality? As Christians, we turn to God to help us understand reality. God's message to us starts by talking about the creation of an objective reality...the visible universe. But he also reveals to us the invisible or unseen reality which because of our faith, we believe is true. And then of course, because God created the objective reality, we believe that observing the universe (the domain of science) can tell us a lot of about truth (of course imperfectly) because God created universe around us and so what we see speaks of a true reality. We postulate that what we see is connected to reality and then spend a life time confirming that postulate. So God's revelation through his word and his revelation through his creation, help us to know and understand reality. And thus we can discern what is true. Now, another rub comes, when we try to communicate to people who don't believe neither in God nor the knowabliltiy or existence of reality or nature of reality. Many people believe that each of us creates our own reality. Thus we each have our own version of the truth. And while this has some validity, we can never be so arrogant to say the we create our own reality. And thus, each person cannot have their private truth. Daniel Patrick Moynahan once said, 'Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Only God is entitled to his own facts. And the more we seek the facts of God, the better we are at determining truth.

Having said all that...knowing what is true and what is not true, takes a lot of sweat and time. Reality (like time and Ogres) is like an onion... it has layers.

Then, once we have a handle on truth, then we can start deciding who to believe. But, again, that takes sweat and time...which most of us don't really want to give. And therefore, we must be content to not always knowing the truth nor who to believe. That is whether living "tentatively" in faith is really helpful.

My father in law once said, "Most people don't know what they're talkng about." A great truth!

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