My Advice: Don’t Get Sucked in by “The Truth”.

It happens thousands of times, or maybe millions, everyday.  Someone says he/she knows the truth about religion and everyone who believes something else is wrong.

There are many forms of this.  When a human being’s life begins is one of them. Who the “real” god is and where the universe came from are others.

It’s almost embarassing to read or hear someone’s confident assertion he/she knows the truth when it is so obvious there is no scientific, rational or historical basis for the conclusion. I was in a fast food place yesterday getting some coffee when a gentleman introduced himself then started in lecturing me on my mistaken views.  He, a conservative man of the Jewish faith, sited as his authority a Jewish national talk show host whom I have visited with personally.  I find the talk show guy an air head, but his fan finds the truth.

I would guess if you polled Christians in the U. S. and asked them if the gods of other faith are real or fake, the majority would say fake.  If you asked people of other faiths, they would say the Christian god is fake.

A few years ago, a young Hindu science professor spoke to our freethinker group.  He explained that the Hindu faith, unlike the Christian, had been tested for authenticity.  No other religion, he said, was based on such truth.

The attached link explains why yoga is part of the “demonic Hindu faith.”  Ignore “truths” based this hooky thinking.

Instead live with unanswered questions.  That way you can keep on learning.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/20/yoga-demonic-john-brown-university_n_4993864.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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39 Responses to My Advice: Don’t Get Sucked in by “The Truth”.

  1. Michael Ross says:

    “Instead live with unanswered questions. That way you can keep on learning.”

    “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7)

  2. Nancy says:

    All I know is that I am not arrogant enough to believe that I know “the truth” about much of anything. I know that my cat goes ballistic when we take the green yarn out to play before bedtime. But then again, who can quantify the word “ballistic” in a way that everyone agrees upon?

    I’ve said before on my few posts here that I am a Christian and believe in Christian doctrine. However, when I say the creed in church I don’t say it exactly as it’s printed in our Book of Worship…because I wouldn’t be professing my faith truthfully. It may be a tiny difference but it is a difference that is important to me and what I believe the words mean. That said, just because I profess my faith a certain way doesn’t make me want to take on the ELCA to change that one little line back to the way it used to be. But if you want to use that new line, I have no bones to pick with you about it. Who knows? Maybe I’M the one who’s got it all wrong?

    I have a good friend who is Jewish. Do I sit her down and try to convert her? I know what the Bible says about spreading the Good News but I am also not the “in your face” type. And other religions: Hinduism, Buddhism…how many are there? How on Earth do ANY of us have the arrogance to say that “we” are right and EVERYONE ELSE is wrong?

    Though you’re not going to bring me over to “your” side, Jon, I think what most people are doing is just seeking is the truth, whatever that is for us. I do it my way, you do it yours, people half way across the world do it theirs. I know people who are arrogant enough to believe they are right and everyone else is wrong (mentioned one in one of my replies a while back) and they strike me to be SO judgmental and demeaning to others. Speaking from my own realm, if more Christians actually LIVE what they profess to believe, the world would be a much more forgiving place instead of the scary one I think it is becoming (just an opinion…again I am not arrogant enough to think that my belief is the only correct belief…I just call it as I see it from my corner of the world).

    Again, my point is just that in our world I don’t think any “one” person or group of people can have ALL the correct answers. Now, God may strike me dead in my sleep tonight for professing all this but I believe I’m just like everyone else…I’m searching for the truth for me…what works for me in my head and heart. As are you, Jon. Why does everyone have to get so damn persnickety with each other about it?

    Granted, I have been rather frustrated with the Freethinkers in the past but I will admit I am impressed with your blog here, Jon. You are steadfast in your beliefs but you are also, from what little I’ve seen, willing to let others voice theirs and you are respectful of that (this is high praise coming from me, by the way). That is what has kept me curious to check your latest blog every once in a while when in the past I never looked (you really hit a nerve that first time I entered the conversation).

    So, similar to the words my veterinarian cousin uses when a dog or cat is adopted from her shelter….Go…live your lives little ones. Believe and let believe. Just try not to let the persnickety people get to you.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      I really enjoyed reading your post the last day or so. Really amazing view points. You had me guessing whether you were Christian or not. Not that my opinion means anything, but, based on the little I’ve seen of your writings most christians would reject you. You are not “Hot” / on fire for God and therefore will be spewed out of his mouth as someone that is against him. (Revelations). Something I’ve heard many times throughout my life. If you’re not spending every minute of everyday trying to convert people and living passionately for God dropping everything for him, you’re against him. However, Football is in 10 minutes, so we’ll be cutting the sermon on being on fire for God short today… ;)

      I was embarassed and ashamed to be associated with Christians hense, I’ve taken on a more agnostic view of God. He may be a supreme being or a race of supreme beings that have intellect way beyond our own, that may exist beyond the boundaries of time and a single universe. Who knows. Who’s to say there’s anything out there. I choose to hope there’s something, that humanity isn’t alone. But, for a race that’s so social and hates being isolated/ alone, our little planet in the middle of nowhere in the universe is really alone and isolated from any other life… (If there is any).
      Seems odd we’d be created this way by design… I’m going to make you lonely and then leave you to figure out life.

      I don’t have any of the answers. I believe there’s two black and white truths and they are mutually exclusive. I believe there is something out there that is alive int he universe or in another universe, OR there is nothing and our civilization is an anomaly.

      Based on scientific evidence thus far. There’s a 50/50 chance of either one being right.

      If there is something, then, there’s so much more to discuss, if there’s nothing, not much else to discuss. I choose to believe there’s something. I hope it’s passionately caring for us, as “Christians” would have us believe. I hope we’re not in the middle of some cosmic war and “God” is the losing side trying to win through positive thinking. Declaring that “we’ve won” doesn’t make one win…

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Nancy 6:19 Thank you for taking time to write a wonderful essay. You are a gem here on the board.

      “Pernickety”, what a wonderful word–all of us here are pernickety about one thing or another but we never thought of using that word–thank you!

    • Michael Ross says:

      “I know people who are arrogant enough to believe they are right and everyone else is wrong (mentioned one in one of my replies a while back) and they strike me to be SO judgmental and demeaning to others. ”

      Nancy, I believe we can be confident in knowing the Truth an not being arrogant about it. The Truth is a Person and as a Christian you know His name. As a person you relate to Him person to Person. If you are looking for a concept or a doctrine you will not come to know Him. True, there are doctrines concerning our relationship to Him but that is not where we start. Think of the thief on the cross. In that moment he recognized Jesus for who He is. “Do you not even fear God”, he said to the other criminal. He didn’t blame others for his predicament and acknowledged his own sinfulness and Jesus’ righteousness: “We are getting what we deserve for our crimes, but this innocent Man has done nothing wrong”. He then turned to the Truth hanging next to him and could only say “remember me”. God the Father in heaven heard that and said (not recorded in the Bible) “that’s good enough for Me, your in.” Speaking through His dying Son He said” Today you will be with Me in paradise”. In his most humble state he knew the truth. That is the key. Knowing the truth is not arrogance as you suggest. It is humility. Thankfully most of us do not have to suffer the most torturous, humiliating death ever devised by depraved man to come to that point. The Truth suffered that for us. Best wishes in your search to know Him.

      • Avatar of realist realist says:

        “Knowing the truth is not arrogance….”

        It is the very definition of arrogance. You only think you know the truth. If what you believe happens to be true, that’s one thing, but making assumptions that what you believe is in fact true is quite another. It’s arrogance. Do you honestly not get that?

      • entech says:

        Michael, you cannot know the truth as you claim. You have a set of books which say certain things and make certain claims. From these writings you accept the existence of a being called Jesus of who m you believe certain things.
        There is no way to verify that the books are true in every detail as you appear to believe is impossible to prove. The Jesus you believe in comes from these same books and hence cannot be used to verify the existence of Jesus without some egregious question begging and a descent into circular argument.

        Having said that I am in a similar position if I want to categorically deny that what you say is true, the best I can say is that the possibility becomes increasingly small the more you read and think.
        The other thing is that I find it so difficult to believe that i have come to accept the ‘title’ atheist even though I have yet to hear anyone here define the word, and allowing the variety of meanings that or equivalent terms have had for longer than the Christian religion has existed

        • Henry says:

          entech:“There is no way to verify that the books are true in every detail as you appear to believe is impossible to prove.”
          There are quite a few non-biblical sources that testify to Christ, many of them hostile.

          • entech says:

            Henry, you bring this up quite often. There are many writers that attest to a Jesus movement that evolved into Christianity, that is true. How many refer to Jesus as the son of God as the founder or first cause of that movement, how many wrote that there was this Jesus and this Jesus was the son of God and part of a trinity which included the holy ghost and did not become believers or more likely already were believers. Even the doubtful words of Josephus only say “whom they called the Messiah” and he wrote of many characters called Yeshua or Joseph or whatever variants there may be of a very common name of the period.
            If it makes you feel good, carry on, but that does not make it convincing.

          • Henry says:

            Many witnesses. You even have the apostolic fathers and their works, not part of the Bible.

          • entech says:

            Henry, the Apostolic Fathers were instrumental in deciding and developing what went into the Bible, they can not under any of your more imaginative flights of fancy be called independent.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 12:47 Henry’s post “..they cannot under any of your more imaginative flights of fancy be called independent.”

            That was one of Henry’s longest stretches.

          • Henry says:

            The original demand from entech:“How many refer to Jesus as the son of God as the founder or first cause of that movement, how many wrote that there was this Jesus and this Jesus was the son of God and part of a trinity which included the holy ghost and did not become believers or more likely already were believers.”

            I cited the apostolic fathers, who not only had many of their own works not included in the canon, but had the ability to discuss the concerns of entech stated in his 4:53. Now when the demand is met, the goalpost is pushed back further with a new criteria. For the atheist entech of “logic” and “reason”, this level of intellectual dishonesty is very normal.

          • entech says:

            how many wrote that … did not become believers or more likely already were believers.
            Henry you quote me on this and then accuse me of moving goalposts????????????

            In what alternate universe could it be said of apostolic fathers that they “already were believers” was not a true statement. Do you really, really and truly believe that the founders and early leaders of a religious movement did not believe what they said. This is frequently the case with the modern Church, judging by those that live in huge mansions and have private jets, break all their vows and then say I am sorry I was wrong and then are allowed to start a new Church, Ted Haggard anyone?.

            I am afraid the dishonesty is all on your part. It comes from an ego that will not permit itself to be questioned or denied and goes with a need to be a special part of a special creation. Just admit that you can be wrong, I do and in fact have even apologised to you more than once

          • Henry says:

            Not hardly. You moved the goalposts. Your new criteria in your 12:47 was the requirement of independence. Of course, maybe this is a good thing. That would mean we will have to throw out your and Jon’s past reliance on Bart Ehrman the agnostic. He is not independent in any way, shape, or form in his study of scripture.

            The same could be said of atheist scientific evolutionists. They are neither independent either, inserting their beliefs into the formation of scientific theory. We will have to throw their work out in any discussion of evolution.

            Let’s accept your use of your logical fallacy in this circumstance. It will be beneficial.

          • entech says:

            My give up.

          • Henry says:

            Ok. Let me archive this one for future use.

  3. Fr. James says:

    So Jon says there is no truth. Interesting. Jon thinks he knows the truth and everything else is wrong. Is his statement a “truth?” What scientific basis does he have for his assertion that there is no truth? Beware of those who tell you there is no truth and that they know that for a fact. Usually that masks a wide variety of truth statements. It is also handy for those who wish to dodge inconvenient truths. Disagreement about truth doesn’t mean there is no truth.

    • Wolfy32 says:

      It’s not that there is no truth. I disagree with Jon on that if that’s what he said. We don’t know what the truth is. Do you know what’s at the edge of the universe? I didn’t think so, If you do you should go have a talk with NASA so we can get some of our tax dollars back!!

      You don’t have a clue what the truth is! Nor do I claim to, Jon and Entec don’t know what it is either. Others, think they know the truth, you think you know the truth, but no one can answer me what is the rest of the universe for, if we’re it…. Can you tell me what’s in the universe? What’s beyond the universe? Why are there 9 planets in our solar system? Why are there thousands or more of other galaxies?

      Nah, you can’t answer it anymore than anyone else. I’m sure there’s a truth other there, whether it’s random or purposeful or something else maybe we’ll know someday maybe not!

      • Fr. James says:

        Jon is saying that it is absolutely true that there is no truth.

        But let’s take your contention. There is truth, but we don’t or can’t know it. It is not a matter of asking me questions, such as on natural science, that at this point no one can answer. The issue is can we know the truth and if so then how. Here we are looking more at moral truth.

        Where does this truth originate? Who decided or invented it? How did it come to be? Start there.

        We claim that the truth originates in God and that we can know this truth. Often it is only understood over time. We can know the truth that is in the human heart. We don’t always obey it and sometimes we obscure it, but it is there.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Fr. James 5:25 As Wolfy32 pointed out, we don’t know what the truth is. That makes people better and life more interesting because we move forward trying to find it.

          I understand you are done searching, knowing you have found it. Some of us go on looking.

          • Henry says:

            Jon:“Some of us go on looking.”

            That is contrary to the position a skeptic would take. Which way do you want it, Jon? Are you really looking, or are you in a mode of skepticism–waiting for propositions to come to you to be knocked down? It probably sounds better to say you are looking even though reality may be telling a different story.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          One’s heart is based on experiences not on a truth. Following one’s heart has led many people astray thinking that their heart was right.

          We have a nature, that nature is to care about others. Some people have that part of them broken others do not… A conscience exists independant of a God. Or we’d all be killing each other at age 5…..

          A new form of survival of the fittest.

          • Fr. James says:

            I didn’t say “experience.” I am not a relativist. Instead in our nature we can know certain truths. For example you say it is in our nature to care for each other. Exactly. It was placed there because we are in the image and likeness of God. It is atheism that touts survival of the fittest not Christianity.

        • Fr. James says:

          Jon, The statement “we don’t know what the truth is” is a truth statement. So how can you be sure that your statement is true, if you can’t know for sure? Why bother to find it if you can’t find it. We believe if you look you can find it.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Fr. James 9:20 “We believe if you look you can find it.”

            And, where might one look? In the Bible? We don’t know who the identity of the Bible’s many authors. Every part was copied and recopied many times. Many hand written versions have survived. No two are exactly alike. So, I will not be wasting my time looking to the “truth” in a book written by unknown goat herders.

            Religous people find their gods in their minds, so far as anyone can tell. If the “truth” lies in one’s mind, I guess that is where to look.

          • Henry says:

            Jon:“No two are exactly alike.”

            Handwriting style different?

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 12:57 “Handwriting style different?”

            According to people who can read the language, everyone has at least small changes in words. Some changes are significant, others not. Some changes look to be due to loss of consentration.

          • Fr. James says:

            Jon, many have found it in the Bible. Not knowing who the author is doesn’t make it less true. In fact the MSS are remarkably consistent. More so then any other ancient document. But I don’t think that is your real beef.

            The goat herder comment is most revealing. It shows an utter contempt for religious people that lurks beneath the facade of your platitudes. You won’t waste your time because of fear. You don’t want it to be true. I think finding the truth scares the hell out of you, so you prefer not to look and simply deny it exists.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Fr. James 4:17 “It shows an utter contempt for religious people that lurks beneath the facade of your platitudes.”

            Acutally, my reference to goat herders is for dramtic effect, probably not factual. Since illiteracy was the norm of the time, perhaps less than five percent could read and fewer write, those who could write were among the wealthy elite. They owned goats and slaves herded them.

            Since literature was read aloud to people, the writing was revised over time to make for better oral flow. You can see this in the Book of John, which was written a long time after the other gosples and after experience reading out loud. Today, John is quoted more than the others.

            I don’t claim to know a lot about the Bible, but I do read a lot of material by those who read the Bible as literature instead of as a religious tome. They see a different “truth” in the Bible than believers who read it for religious purposes. Their version of “truth” is much more like what we all practice in everyday life, comparing appoaches to ideas and using evidence gleened to determine the intent of the writing.

          • Fr. James says:

            Jon, dramatic effect? No, I think more of a Freudian slip. Hebrew society was more literate then most in the ancient world, which is why we have so many manuscripts. All of the gospels were written in the 1st century. The redaction of John does not mean that the truth was altered. We have a very complex understanding of the literary genre of the gospel. Likewise our methods of interpretation are quite sophisticated. Catholics believe that the magisterium is the arbiter of the proper interpretation. Start with the Vatican II document Dei Verbum.

            Atheists tend to see all Christians as the same. This is lazy and false. Catholics are not fundamentalist Baptists. There is a difference between being literal and literalist.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Fr. James 7:33 “Likewise our methods of interpretation are quite sophisticated.

            I wish there was agreement on that outside the Catholic community.

          • Fr. James says:

            Jon, I do too. That’s one reason I became Catholic.

    • entech says:

      Fr. James says: March 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm
      So Jon says there is no truth. Where, when does Jon say this?
      As I can see no where that he has made that as a definitive statement renderers the rest of your post irrelevant and wrong, in the straw man category.
      In fact most of the rest of your post shadow boxing, the last two sentences are good:
      It is also handy for those who wish to dodge inconvenient truths. this is how I read most of what you say!
      Disagreement about truth doesn’t mean there is no truth. Now that is true, it does not carry any extra meaning about which if any is correct and which is false.

      Wolfy32 at 4:54 pm You almost disapointed me for a moment, then i noticed that you said “if that’s what he said”. When you say you are sure there is a truth about the universe and everything it is hard to disagree, some aspects are well understood and deserve the description of “true to the best of our current knowledge” The qualification is almost always needed, The philosophical problem of induction would say always needed.

      Fr. James says: March 21, 2014 at 5:27 pm
      Jon is saying that it is absolutely true that there is no truth. No he is not, if you want to make that contention show us where.
      But let’s take your contention. There is truth, but we don’t or can’t know it. Perhaps you could reconcile this with your categorical statement that Jon says “there is no truth”.
      You then go on about your favourite theme, God gives truth and morality – stating this as absolutely true (not so much here but the sum of you statements allows this conclusion).

      Jon at 5:41 pm Disapointing Jon, here would have been your chance to declare loud and clear that there is NO truth as the good father claims. Instead we get a limp response, we don’t know but we are still looking.

      Wolfy32 at 7:16 pm that nature is to care about others. While I can’t verify that evolution is a true and factual account I do believe it is “the best explanation we have at the moment”, caring for others, loving your neighbour and reciprocity are about all the explanation needed.

      Fr. James at 9:22 pm
      I am not a relativist. Certainly not or are an absolutist. You give an absolute version of the survival of the fittest it does not mean “the strongest, the strong shall dominate the weak”, but in most cases you will find that
      as Wolfy says We have a nature, that nature is to care about others. and that nature and conscience exists independently of any God or gods.
      You are saying this is because we are in the image and likeness of God, referring again to the moral law giver and you are aware of my position on that entity as a moral example.
      9:20 pm “we don’t know what the truth is” is a truth statement. I do think you are being deliberately restrictive here, an attempt to bolster a weak case. In context this means we look at the statement taking into account the word “the”, and that it is true on the question at hand, we cannot know “the” absolute truth about Gods and Devils.

      Jon at 10:52 pm Good question Jon. Where is one to look in a collection of old stories, of myth, magic and some dubious history; or, perhaps, in what heart and should and the desires of wishful thinking?

      There are also a couple of Henry interjections :)

      • Wolfy32 says:

        Good summary entech! And yes, I’m open to the truth and being “unbound from my binding” (in a tribute to Henry).

        In Christianity’s defense, we have a long ways to go scientifically before we have scientific proof of a lot of things. We know a lot, but the sum of our provable knowledge is pretty slim considering the universe of possibilities out there.

      • Fr. James says:

        entech, he does deny there is truth or that we can find it. He just did it again in the above post. No shadows, he is rather clear.

        So where exactly do you get your idea of absolute moral truth?

        Where does this nature of ours come from? Why are we different from other animals?

        What is conscience? Where did it come from?

        • entech says:

          7:33 pm Atheists tend to see all Christians as the same. This is lazy and false. Catholics are not fundamentalist Baptists. There is a difference between being literal and literalist.
          That is a good one, I know of fundamentalist Baptists who tell me that Catholics are not Christians. So what defines a Christian, what dominant theme, do they have to be Trinitarians, are Orthodox and Catholic both Christians? what’s in a word? as Shakespeare said.
          If all Christians are different which ones are correct? Don’t tell me, let me guess, could be your kind are right and the rest are wrong but still Christian, how different are you allowed to be?
          Bring back execution for heresy that is what I say.

          4:21 entech, he does deny there is truth or that we can find it. He just did it again in the above post. No shadows, he is rather clear.
          Show me where he says that truth does not exists ! you are a little extreme here saying ‘or we can’t find it’ . It would seem obvious if there is no truth it cannot be found. Your problem is that neither he nor I nor many others do not accept that what you proclaim as truth is quite simply not “The Truth”.

          So where exactly do you get your idea of absolute moral truth?
          I am not sure that there is such a thing, there are things that are generally held to be wrong in most societies, hurting children to see them cry would be one. Objective implies that something exists wether people believe it or not, something that exists outside of them, this all leads towards a moral law giver, a god, and naturally it is “your god” not someone else’s.
          In one group of Islands in Melanesia they have a very formal system of relationships, much giving of valuable presents, the giving sets up mutual obligations which hold them all together, the gift will circulate and eventually return to the original owner. As part of keeping the whole together, ensuring mutual ownership of all the available space (difficult on a collection of small islands) marriage is an organised business, everyone is every child’s aunt or uncle, and this is much closer than many western relationships. But with marriage being largely formal it is often the case that a woman will take a lover, this is open and accepted, the main difference here is that the lover is expected to give the woman presents, for the husband! if this does not happen the woman is considered immoral. Thousands of years a system of peace and tranquillity, even the rare occasion where battles occur they are hugely ceremonial with one champion from each side doing the actual fighting and the fight ends with first blood, honour is satisfied and back to normal. Thousands of years until the London Missionary Society showed up and told them they were wrong and what they really needed was God and Merchant Banking.
          I do not think you can claim absolute moral truth/law/value or whatever you want to call it from you god. As the old thing goes is it moral because god says it is, or, does he say it is moral because it is – in the first case we get genocide and worse could be moral, in the second who needs him.

          Where does this nature of ours come from? Why are we different from other animals?
          What is conscience? Where did it come from?

          I don’t know. I only know I don’t find your explanations convincing.

        • Fr. James says:

          entech, you prove my point. There ARE differences. You can’t conflate Amish and Catholics as if they are the same. There are ways to find the apostolic faith and determine the truth. What defines a Christian? Baptism by water using the Trinitarian formula and profession of the Creed.

          Jon is the one who started a thread saying there is no absolute truth. I am responding to it. If you have a problem with Jon’s assertion then question him about it.

          So you deny there is absolute moral truth, although you immediately point out that virtually all societies seem to follow one. For example not hurting children. A bit contradictory. As soon as you make a moral claim that is universal you fall into our side of the argument. For example if you agree that torturing innocent children to death for fun is always and everywhere wrong regardless of circumstances, then you agree with us. It also means you have to explain WHY this is wrong and WHERE this rule came from. Unless of course you think there are times that torturing children to death is fine…

          You don’t know where conscience comes from? Yet you think we have one. And you don’t have a cogent alternative explanation. Mine has stood good stead.

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