Is it possible to have a dialogue about "the Truth"

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Abogado del Diablo, Aug 6, 2006.

  1. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Use whatever vehicle you want. Just understand it's only a vehicle and not the destination.
     
  2. cyberpi

    cyberpi Interfaith Forums

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    The truth in Islam, the religion of truth, is about the way you use your vehicle, not its destination. The destination back to Allah (swt) is a given... everyone dies. (the flesh)

    I have my understanding of what truth is... that truth is a symmetry. A lie is an anti-symmetry. Ignorance is neither. I can speak or share a truth, I can truly worship, I can confess or repent a truth, I can make a truth daily. I don't understand these other definitions of truth presented though, so I have a few questions:

    Can people explain what a lie, or a falsehood is?
    Is a lie the opposite of a truth?
    If there is one truth then is there one lie? If there are multiple truths are there multiple lies?
    Can people explain what a secret is? Or ignorance? Is that a lack of truth?
    If there is one truth then can it be portioned into partial truths? If I know that I don't know something, then do I have a portion of the truth?
    If a truth is mixed with lies do you get something new? Is the truth corrupted and no longer the truth?
    Can the truth be duplicated? Can a lie be duplicated? Can ignorance be duplicated?
    How is a truth removed? How is a lie removed? How is ignorance removed?

    For those who say there is One Truth, are you reconciling that a lie is also a truth? That ignorance or a secret is also a truth? Or, are you trying to keep it clean from everything else, like separating water from the contaminants that swim in it. I can reconcile the former and say there is one truth, but I suspect that most people are still thinking the latter when they say there is one. This thread bears witness to that.
     
  3. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Excellent questions! Seems like as good a time as any to bring up the Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant:

    Thoughts?
     
  4. jiii

    jiii ...

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    A very appropriate story toward the discussion, I think. The Buddha's example clearly illustrates a scenario in which it is seen that all concepts considered "true" are inevitably only partly true. That is, each blind man argued correctly based upon what he felt of the elephant. The blind man that felt the head to be like a pot was certainly correct! But, he was mistaken in that he assumed that because he felt the head alone, that MUST be all that there was to the elephant.

    It seems that many people, even those that spend a good deal of time examining and philosophizing upon the subtleties of life, fail to realize what Socrates meant when he said "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." This, I think, is a sentiment widely misunderstood or hastily-rejected nowadays. Though, it might surprise some that Socrates made this statement in response to the famed Oracle at Delphi calling him "the wisest man in the land"...an amazingly rare title. This put him in the astounding position of being almost universally justified in accepting the claim and building a life of grandeur from there on. Yet he denied the claim, and went on to say that if he were the wisest man, it was only because he knew how little he really knew.
     
  5. kenod

    kenod "to live is Christ"

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    So, the truth is that no one knows the Truth ... is that the truth? ;)
     
  6. kenod

    kenod "to live is Christ"

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    And, if no one knows the Truth, how can anyone know that no one knows the Truth! :confused:
     
  7. kenod

    kenod "to live is Christ"

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    It seems to me that "no one knows the Truth" is an article of faith, no different to a denominational creed.

    The best anyone can do is to say "I do not know the Truth".
     
  8. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Correct. That is the best anyone can say.
     
  9. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Kenod:

    Help me discover the truth then. Do you know that Jesus Christ became incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
     
  10. kenod

    kenod "to live is Christ"

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    Well, I know that Jesus Christ was God incarnate.

    Faith is how we know the unknown and the unprovable. Faith, like love, cannot be fully appreciated and understood until it is personally experienced. It is a sixth sense, just as real as the other five, by which we contact the supernatural.

    The natural world presents us with absolute truth … so why not the supernatural world? Instead of a dichotomy, why not a continuum between the natural and supernatural. If one operates according to inviolable rules, why not the other?

    Cosmology traces the birth of the universe back to the big bang, where science merges with faith.
    The investigation of sub-atomic particles takes physics into the realms of philosophy.
    And most of us have probably had experiences which blur the distinction between normal and paranormal, such as ESP, or dreams that have foretold the future.

    The unseen world blends with the natural world in an harmonious continuum. So it would seem that both operate according to fixed principles, which represent the absolute Truth.


    While we can speak of The Truth as a global concept, in reality we can only experience aspects of the Truth. As Paul said:

    “For now we see through a glass, darkly;
    but then face to face:
    now I know in part;
    but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor 13:12).

    On a daily basis we face moral dilemmas which we resolve according to our beliefs. A person can feel certain they are right in one situation, and uncertain in another: I believe that murder is wrong, but should I support the fighting in Iraq? I believe that children should be protected, but what about abortion? And if I believe abortion is wrong, do I believe it is wrong in every instance (eg, pregnancy resulting from rape)?

    Recognition of the absolute Truth, in both the natural and supernatural world, is entirely consistent with an integrated view of life. We can posit that no person knows the whole Truth, but that is different from saying that there is no absolute Truth.

    The most common protest against a belief in absolute Truth is that it leads to disharmony and conflict. Conflict occurs when not everyone understands or obeys the road rules - and yet there is still only one set of road rules. Conflict only occurs when the Truth is misunderstood or abused.
     
  11. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    That wasn't my question though.
     
  12. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    I have a question that might be pertinent here.
    If we can agree that there is in fact an absolute truth, can we discuss it or speculate about it without trying to define it? My own belief is that dialogue should be mutually edifying. Therefore we should be able to feel as if our collective consciousness has improved because of our intercourse nicht wahr?
     
  13. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    I think that's a very pertinent question. Do we start with "what is the truth?" and then justify our answers? or do we begin with "how might we know the truth" and go where it may lead us?

    I opt for the latter because I think it will result in a more productive dialogue. I could be wrong about that though.
     
  14. kenod

    kenod "to live is Christ"

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    Then you will need to help me understand your question. I rephrased it to express my understanding of what you asked. It seems I have not interpreted you correctly ... something my wife often complains of!!:)
     
  15. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    My question is "Do you know that Jesus Christ became incarnate from the Virgin Mary?" It's taken almost verbatim from the English translation of the Nicene Creed as used by Lutherans and Episcopaleans.
     
  16. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    Agreed, I feel that proceeding from the premise that an absolute truth exists is an essential direction if we are to get beyond our current state. My personal belief is that Absolute Truth is self revealing in that only outside the realms of dogma will it eventually be found and then only on an individual basis. A thousand fingers can point to the moon and I am most grateful for those sage digits, yet I alone can lift my eyes to the heavens and allow what light might be there to enter me and make itself known.
     
  17. kenod

    kenod "to live is Christ"

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    For a Christian, such as myself, the source of Truth is always God ... and as a fundamentalist Christian my authority is the Bible. However, I have tried to present arguments, apart from Scripture, why I believe there is an absolute Truth.

    Our "collective consciouness" can be helpful in trying to define what Truth is in the moral sphere. That is a daunting task but an important one, I believe.
     
  18. kenod

    kenod "to live is Christ"

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    I do not recognize any creeds. I am not sure what the writers of the creed intended by "from" the Virgin Mary. Ask me a question from the Bible ... I'm better at those ;)
     
  19. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    I know a delightful woman here in Colorado who has been a Buddhist nun for many years. Once when giving a Dharma talk she said: "You know, my family always hated it when I was being a Buddhist, but they love me when I am being a Buddha."
    Imagine the growth potential in having to leave behind Scriptures, books, Sutras and stories and discuss truth from the place of where we actually live, to come from a place of being. Wouldn't that encourage us to stay in touch with our own ground of being in a more mindful sense? We just might have to re establish our relationship to what we concieve truth to be. Of course this puts us on the cutting edge of our own agreement with reality, scary for some, even blasphemous to the conservative mindset, but I believe that to ever grow, to ever get beyond our childlike approach to the Absolute Reality, it is necessary.
     
  20. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Okay, I'll venture the following likelihood: Jesus of Nazareth was probably not born from a virgin named anything! I'm wracking my brain here, struggling to think logically about how that could occur, or how - even if it could - that would change things ONE WHIT from a normal, natural birth. And man, I got nuthin.

    Mary got pregnant, she had a kid. Get over it. Should we fall all over ourselves and go out of our way, walking on eggshells, while in the company of those who can't see how silly this is? Mmmmm .... no. I believe we should respect others, and that others may believe different things. But if you think the earth is flat, you aren't gonna do well in a discussion about `truth.'

    Still, I like Zeno, and I like to think about things like, if my house is pretty much a rectangle, and it's built on fairly FLAT land, and IF the contour of the land is basically FLAT (with apologies to those living in the mountains & such) ... then WHY COME if I walk long enough in a straight line, I start going around in circles? :p

    Seriously though, at what point does my house suddenly start sitting on a CURVED BALL, instead of a flat plane - you know, the plains? Ummm ... Zeno??? Help!!!

    Gravity distorts time. Gravity distorts space, whose nature is essentially curved, we should remember - NOT some kind of neat, invisible GRID where everything fits neatly into boxes (like us ... boxes, little boxes ....).

    Anyway, Jesus was God incarnate. Okay, I think that's truth. So am I. Big deal. Worship me, darnit. Ohh, Jesus incarnated MORE of God than I do. Okay, fine. At what point do I start becoming worthy of being worshipped, like Jesus? What do I have to do?

    I'm serious, actually. And I think it's worth thinking about - rhetorically, and in context, of course. Forget about me. :p

    I know several people who can walk on water. And I don't have to see them do it, to know that they can. They could also almost certainly resurrect people from the grave - even people who HAVE been clinically dead for quite some while. But WHAT does all that prove?

    It will seem absurd, or unlikely, to a lot of folks. I wonder if anyone here even believes me! But truth doesn't hinge upon what other people think - nor upon how many peole believe in a particular thing. Barking up wrong tree, there. Nor is truth determined, or defined (in its essential nature) by what some book says. ANY BOOK, written by ANY PERSON, at ANY TIME.

    What's interesting, however, is the prospect that X person might know a good deal more of the truth than I do, than we do. And let's just say that X person is also HONEST, and that we are pretty sure they would not intentionally deceive us. Now we're getting somewhere, I think, because - what if this person DID write a book, wherein it was simply stated, "This is factual, truthful information"?

    Ahhh, THEN we'd have a book worth reading, wouldn't we?

    And a zillion question will arise. What if that book told us there was no life after death, there was no God, or that religion is a waste of time. What then?

    I'd be pretty upset, rather confused, and in fact, a bit sorry I'd ever met person X. Wouldn't you? ;) :(

    So I think we ought to at least ask ourself a question or two. If there was actually a person X, or his brothers Y and Z, are we SURE we'd want to meet them, know them, read their books? Hmmmm. I don't think they say the things above, but I do think they tell us some things that contradict the various teachings of some religions. Or else they add a degree of clarity which - I've found - is really just not popular, or welcome.

    And sometimes, the Truth can change our lives or have an impact in such a way ... that things don't get easier. They can get harder, and we can even find ourselves asking more questions than ever. It's for a greater good, usually, but it may mean I have to put a good deal of effort into practicing certain techniques, or behavior, that is difficult for me, or which I'm just not used to. Am I willing? I dunno, maybe I've found ENOUGH of this truth stuff. Or is that what I was really seeking to begin with? ;)

    I think a lot of people have found something that works. Or at least they've found something that helps. And both almost certainly contain SOME truth. But there's more of it. Of that, I'm pretty sure. :)

    And even if the Holy Bible might contain "all the Wisdom fo the Universe," something tells me - that few upon this planet are even remotely capable of seeing that whole truth ... within its pages. And the funny thing is, they don't NEED to read it any more. They're a bit preoccupied trying to hold REALITY together for the rest of us right now. :eek:

    So what if Jesus wasn't born of a virgin? So what if he was God incarnate? So what if he wasn't? I think we all are. But I don't need a book to tell me that. Life itself - and what the Christian calls Holy Spirit - speaks this Truth every day. Is anyone listening?

    I think we hear what we want, and strangely, even if that guy X did write a book ... there are a whole lot of people who could pick it up, read it to cover, and NOT UNDERSTAND A WORD of it. And yes, it's in english ... and Spanish, and French, and in every language under the sun. Speaking of the sun - ahh, but all we see are fingers. :D

    I like that, Paladin. I think you've made a wonderful point. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. I can put maybe thirty, even fifity books, on someone's table, and say, "EACH of these, contains great wisdom and truth." But then it's out of my hands.

    I think when it comes to discussion, we've got to at least know what the topic is! You can't say, our topic is truth. That's a bit like saying, our topic is blue. Or worse yet, it's like saying, our topic is white! In terms of color, this isn't total lack, it's just the opposite, but if blue is abstract and difficult enough, WHAT the heck do we do with white???

    Aren't we really speaking of spiritual Truth - and within the context of religion, yet not exclusive of insights gained and presented by science, as well as philosophy? What do people think?

    taijasi
     

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