Debate 007: Jan and Blair debate ‘Pure Truth’

Jan Rebuttal #001:

I am very interested in your emphasizing “the road less traveled.” I have nothing against traveling on a different road, as long as that road doesn’t have a curve in it leading to confusion or untruth.

I beg to GREATLY differ with you that religion and science do not go hand in hand. If something is based on scientific fact, it is the truth. Just as if one is to base true, pure religious facts on the truth, that is also truth.

TRUTH, whether it be religion or science, IS TRUTH. Truth doesn’t change at the drop of a hat or because someone has a different viewpoint. TRUTH IS ALWAYS AND ALWAYS WILL BE THE TRUTH.

Please take this premise and just think about it for a moment.

Response to Jan #001:

The great thing about the “road less traveled” is that if a curve leads one to confusion, it is confusion made by one’s self and not by someone else. When I come across something that is confusing, it forces me to investigate even further.

Religion and science do not go hand-in-hand unless one makes concessions that are not scientific or religious. Science deals with “how” and religion deals with “why”. Science looks at the evidence to find the conclusion and religion looks at a conclusion and tries to find evidence to support their conclusion. Religion is completely contradictory to scientific inquiry.

Religion is not about truth. While there may be some elements of truth in the foundation of a religious belief, the belief itself, and the organization thereof, have absolutely nothing to do with the truth. We see this every day in the real world. Religion could care less about the truth – they emphasis is on faith in light of the truth. That is why so many still believe in creationism and the church still endorses the Shroud of Turin even though the Pope said it was a fraud and had a letter from the artist back in the 1200’s. Where is the truth? There is none because it is all about faith in light of the truth.

Religion may have truths in it, but it is not about the truth. Science is about the truth, even if we may never find it. Science constantly questions itself and is skeptical of its own ‘members’, if you will.

There is no religious truth. Truth is often perceptive. How many people profess that God is the truth even though they have never seen or touched God? Where is the truth in that? The ‘truth’ is an illusion. In reality, you can say that science deals not with the pursuit of truth, but the pursuit of facts, facts based on the reality that we perceive.

Truth changes all the time because our perceptions change. Zeus throwing lightning bolts from the clouds was the truth for a long time. The Sun revolving around the Earth was the truth for a long time. The difference between science and religion is that religion speaks “the truth” based on ‘why’ and science speaks “the truth” based on ‘how’.

Jan Rebuttal #002:

I thank you for your polite and honest response. We certainly have different perceptions, but I greatly disagree with you that truth is perception. Truth doesn’t change just because someone else thinks that they have found a new discovery creating a new perception. Pure truth will always be truth.

You mentioned Zeus, the sun revolving around the earth, etc. How can you say that these were true at one time? These ideas were NEVER true at any time in history. These were merely people who had misconceptions and didn’t have the technology at that time to know any different. Just because someone felt that the sun revolved around the earth, and people accepted this idea, does not make it true. It was NEVER true to begin with.

You mentioned the Pope. I cannot comment on what he says, believes, has found or feels. I do not have Catholic beliefs.

I KNOW that there is a loving God. I DO have proof, because I have FELT the spirit tell me that this is true. Why can I read the scriptures and feel so calm inside—It’s the Holy Ghost letting me know that these things are true. I have prayed to know what I should do about certain situations in my life, and the answers have come to me when I was ready to receive the answer. I could credit myself with knowing what to do (many people do that), but these thoughts and feelings are those tiny miracles in my life that lets me know that there is a God.

There is only one truth. Either there is a God or God does not, nor ever has existed. I challenge you to be a real truth seeker. You can know for yourself that God does exist. Do those things that will bring you closer to him, and you too will know the Truth. Truth is found by really wanting to know what the truth is and where to find it. Truth cannot be found by arguing, because the truth is the Holy Ghost.

Do you really want to know? Invite the spirit into your home and family. I challenge you to get down on your knees, and pray. If you REALLY want to know the answer to the question, it will be answered if only you have a particle of faith. I know this from real live experience.

You appear to be a nice guy with lovely children. How can you see them, go through life with them, and not know that there is a God?

Response to Jan #002:

JAN: “I thank you for your polite and honest response.”

I think there is a common misconception among many theists that atheists are hateful or spiteful, and while that may hold true for a few individuals (just as it does for all beliefs or lack of beliefs), I think you’ll find that most of us are rather pleasant people. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be facetious at times and often cynical, but that’s my human nature and has absolutely nothing to do with my atheism. I will do my best to continue to be polite, and more importantly, honest, as we continue this discussion.

JAN: “Truth doesn’t change just because someone else thinks that they have found a new discovery creating a new perception. Pure truth will always be truth.”

The problem is, who decides what the “pure truth” is? Each of us establishes our own truth. Even if that truth is a known falsehood, people can still embellish it. There are still people to this day that believe the Earth is the center of the Solar System and other that insist the Earth is still flat. There are others that deny the existence of dinosaurs and claim they were “put here by God to test our faith”. While we perceive those conceptions as false, they perceive them as true, and no matter how much discussion takes places, the chances are they will never see any other “truth” in the matter.

I agree, that in its ‘purest’ form, the truth is unchanging, if one goes by the inherent definition of truth in regards to the ultimate knowledge. Truth is the conformity to fact or reality, in its ‘pure’ form. The problem is that many people do not seek the truth in its inherent form, but in a sense that conforms to their perceived reality.

Perhaps we are simply playing the semantic game. For clarification, let’s differentiate the truth that many hold to be true and the inherent truth, discovered and undiscovered. When we talk about the discovered and undiscovered truth, then there is no doubt that regardless of what one feels, thinks, or wishes – the truth remained unchanged. When it comes to the perceived truth of our realities and what we want to be true, the issue takes on an entirely different hue and tone.

JAN: “You mentioned Zeus, the sun revolving around the earth, etc. How can you say that these were true at one time?”

They were true based on the realities and gained knowledge of the individuals that believed them to be true. They had no knowledge of the ultimate truth and were limited to their own reality in gaining knowledge. As human beings become more aware of the actual reality, vice the perceived reality, the knowledge of ‘pure truth’ and the ability to detect it and inquire about, become more precise, available, and ultimately, more knowledgeable. Then this knowledge becomes instrumental in dispelling myths and superstition.

JAN: “These ideas were NEVER true at any time in history.”

They were very true in history. They were not true in the ultimate scheme of things, but as history they were very true. I sense a difference in semantics while discussing this issue. I hope that my first response helped to eliminate the semantics and allow both of us to understand where each is coming from. I see two forms of truth in the world, that which we perceive as true, and that which we know as true (often the can intertwine and more than often they conflict).

JAN: “I KNOW that there is a loving God. I DO have proof, because I have FELT the spirit tell me that this is true.”

This is exactly what I am talking about. You feel that God is true because you have “felt the spirit”. Is not feeling the spirit a form of perception? You perceive God to be real because you have “felt him” – perceived him. Feeling a spirit, which medical science has researched and come up with some amazing results, is a perceptive quality and is not “pure truth”, but only perceived truth.

JAN: “Why can I read the scriptures and feel so calm inside—It’s the Holy Ghost letting me know that these things are true. I have prayed to know what I should do about certain situations in my life, and the answers have come to me when I was ready to receive the answer. I could credit myself with knowing what to do (many people do that), but these thoughts and feelings are those tiny miracles in my life that lets me know that there is a God.”

All of these are perceptions. You perceive a greater being as a guiding hand during prayer (a form of meditation). When I read the scriptures (of all religions) I get a good laugh because I see the fallibility and, often, lunacy of the texts. Each of us perceives the scriptures in a different way and each of us feels something different. If God were “pure truth” then everyone would feel as you do when they read the scriptures, pray, etc. There would only be one religion in the world instead of over 30,000. There would be one Christian denomination instead of over 3,500. Each denomination, each religion, perceives their god in a different light and some do not perceive a belief in god at all. That is because there is no God that is “pure truth”, but only a god of perceived truth.

JAN: “There is only one truth. Either there is a God or God does not, nor ever has existed.”

There are other choices, as well. You are basing that statement on your perceived truth of whatever God you have chosen to believe in and/or worship. Many people believe in a god that created the Universe then kept on walking. Their god could care less what we do and has absolutely no interest in us whatsoever. The creator cares not for his creation. There are others that believe that our gods are alien intelligence. There are others that believe in many gods. There are others that believe the Universe itself, as an energy form, is god (why they call it god is psychological – why not just call it “the energy of the Universe”?)

I personally have concluded that the defined gods of humanity definitely do not exist. It is human vanity that attributes their gods with human characteristics and it is human vanity that builds a hierarchy of ‘leaders’ to control the believers. I cannot say with 100% certainty that the deist god does not exist, but I can conclude, based on the available evidence that such a god has a 99.999% chance of not existing.

If there was a god that created the universe and could care less about us, then worship of that god is superfluous and completely irrelevant, is it not?

JAN: “Do those things that will bring you closer to him, and you too will know the Truth.”

I hope you are not assuming that I have never searched for a god or have never been a believer. What things exactly bring one to know “the truth”? Prayer? Reading the Bible? Joining the church choir? Animal sacrifices or tithes? Which God should I seek? Hindu, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Gaia, Thor, Jehovah, Yahweh, Shaman, Mother Earth, Baal, Mithras, Ra, or others? Should I seek the best representation of ‘paradise’?

JAN: “Truth cannot be found by arguing, because the truth is the Holy Ghost.”

Truth is found through search and discovery of facts and evidence. What facts and evidence support your claim that the Holy Ghost is “pure truth” and not perceived truth? Evidence of “how I feel” or “how I sense” is not fact or evidence, but perception. Others that feel that way (even I have felt it, and I know the medical reasons behind it) attribute it to different things.

JAN: “Do you really want to know? Invite the spirit into your home and family. I challenge you to get down on your knees, and pray. If you REALLY want to know the answer to the question, it will be answered if only you have a particle of faith. I know this from real live experience.”

I already do know. I used to be a Christian a long time ago before I found out the real truth instead of the perceived truth. Since I have already been on my knees and prayed, I challenge you to explore your world and discover the real truth based on facts and evidence. I challenge you to learn the history of your religious beliefs, be they Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or whatever. The key word is faith. Faith, in and of itself, is a perceived quality. Faith is the belief in something without evidence, facts, or knowledge. Faith is admitting that the “real truth” is not known and that one must have faith that what they believe is true, and not solid facts and evidence in support of pure truth.

JAN: “How can you see them, go through life with them, and not know that there is a God?”

It is not a matter of not knowing there is a god. It is a matter of knowing there is no god. Even if there were a god, I would give him a little more credit than a single father that wrote a book, killed the entire planet, and really cares about who wins football games and who wins the lottery.

I teach my children that life is precious and that we should embrace each day as a gift. That we should try our best each day to learn something new and enhance our lives in many ways. I teach my children about ALL religious beliefs. My children were ridiculed and harassed at school because they were not Christians. Is this Christian behavior supposed to bring people to the church or force them away because we see people for whom they really are? I bring my children to a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship where they will learn to use their minds, learn about all religions, and most importantly, learn that what people believe is unimportant as long as what comes out is decent behavior and kindness towards others.

Jan Rebuttal #003:

I believe that you zeroed in when you spoke of some of this discussion as semantics. I understand your definition of “perceived truth.” However, my discussion and definition of truth is “truth in its purest form.”

The sun does travel around the earth or the earth travels around the sun. Yes, at one time it was THOUGHT TO BE TRUE (perception) that the sun revolved around the earth, but never has there been a time when this has ever happened; hence, untrue. That is true with the world being flat, Zeus, etc. These are perceptions that people have had or may be still have, but this is not truth. Thinking that one knows the truth doesn’t make it true.

There is a God or there is no God. The truth is that there is a God who is our Loving Heavenly Father. He loves all of us. I am so sorry that your children are being teased by children who claim Christian beliefs. Of course this is not Christ-like behavior. As you stated earlier, there is good and bad in every walk of life. I know that Heavenly Father appreciates your doing what you feel is correct for your children. He wants us to educate our children, he wants us to be kind of others, and he wants us to make this world a better place. He doesn’t want us to belittle others, be dishonest or unkind.

I was gone for the weekend to a friend’s house. She gets a lot of different channels on her T.V. set so I was fortunate to be able to listen to the BYU channel. I thought about when I told you that pure truth is also going to go hand in hand with science. The professor (on T.V.) was explaining that he had taken a trip and was asked if DNA could be extracted from the parchment of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He thought for a moment, and then realized that the Dead Sea Scrolls were written on skins of animals. He told them that he wasn’t sure if it could be done, but he’d look into it. He returned home, and any thing in his house that was made from animal skin (wall hanging, rug, leather tennis shoes, etc.), he tested if he could extract the DNA from them.

It worked. He was given a few small pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls (that had no handwriting on them), and he was able to extract DNA from them. Hecould tell what animal was used (sheep goat, etc.) as parchment. He could use the DNA to locate which piece went with which sheet of parchment. He said that it is like trying to put a 10,000-piece jigsaw puzzle together without the picture on the box lid.

Of course the pieces do not fit together perfectly like they would in a jig saw puzzle so this is much more difficult. My point, truth in its purest scientific form goes hand and hand with the purest religious truth. This is still a work in progress, but it is happening.

I know that God lives, and that Jesus is our savior. This is not perception, but truth in its purest form.

You can know this too.

Response to Jan #003:

JAN: “I believe that you zeroed in when you spoke of some of this discussion as semantics. I understand your definition of “perceived truth.” However, my discussion and definition of truth is “truth in its purest form.””

That being said, we can never truly know if we have learned of truth in its purest form. That is what makes science better than religion. Religion assumes that it knows truth in the purest form, even when there is no evidence to back it up. Science, even with the evidence to support the truth, assumes it does not know the pure truth and continues to seek the truth. We have to assume that regardless of what we know and regardless of what evidence we have, that there is more information to either concrete the ideas we have or change the ideas we have.

JAN: “That is true with the world being flat, Zeus, etc.”

How do you know that the god you “feel” is not Zeus?

JAN: “Thinking that one knows the truth doesn’t make it true.”

Very true. Have you applied that statement to yourself and what you think is the truth?

JAN: “The truth is that there is a God who is our Loving Heavenly Father.”

How do you know that it is true? Are you sure it isn’t Allah, Zoroastrian, Mithras, or Krishna? What evidence do you have to support that God is “pure truth”?

JAN: “I am so sorry that your children are being teased by children who claim Christian beliefs. Of course this is not Christ-like behavior.”

That’s not true. Christ routinely called his enemies “Vipers” and “dogs”. He was clearly teasing and name-calling, and definitely not “loving his enemies”.

JAN: “He wants us to educate our children, he wants us to be kind of others, he wants us to make this world a better place. He doesn’t want us to belittle others, be dishonest or unkind.”

You do realize of course that these “moral standards” were established long before Christianity and Judaism, don’t you? The oldest religion in the world is Shamanism, which is 27,000-years-old. Hammurabi’s Code established this code long before the Ten Commandments were even thought of. In my view, as a humanist, I want to educate my children so they are capable citizens of humanity and can contribute to humanity. I want to be kind to others, as long as they are kind to me (revenge is necessary sometimes). I want to make this place a better world for my children, humanity, and myself. I don’t want to belittle others (even though it becomes necessary at times) and I strive to be honest, but as adults we know that dishonesty is often necessary in a society.

JAN: “My point, truth in it’s purest scientific form goes hand and hand with the purest religious truth.”

Your anecdote has absolutely nothing to do with religious beliefs. The individual used scientific methods, which “pure religion” despises, in order to devise the animals skins used to write the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a great discovery because they show that the Bible is severely flawed. The caves and Qumran near the Essenes establishment provided an in-depth look at the lives of the Essenes and they had copied a few pieces of the Torah. These copies shows several flaws in the Bible, or the Bible showed several flaws in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Either way, one or the other is not true.

Science and religion are separate. Science may be used to test religious artifacts or to test religious history, or to show that “miracles” are faked, but it cannot affirm or deny anything metaphysical. Science could care less about the metaphysical because science deals with the natural world. The Dead Sea Scrolls, regardless of the religious content, are of the natural world.

Religion uses science only when it works to support religion in one way or another. For example, when science (archaeology) found the city of Ur the religious groups congratulated science and reviled in the “relationship” between science and religion. When science said the Shroud of Turin was a fraud, religion turned its back on science and remarked that they were “biased” and “did not know God”. When evolution and creation go head-to-head, where is the hand-in-hand there? Religion and science conflict 99% of the time. That is because they address completely different issues. Religion addresses “why” and science addresses “how”. Science can address the “how” of religion and religion can address the “why” of science (such as the recent lashing out of the human genome project by religionists asking “why” about “playing god”).

JAN: “I know that God lives, and that Jesus is our savior. This is not perception, but truth in its purest form.”

How do you know that God lives? Have you seen him?

If it is not perception then you have sound scientific evidence to prove that god exists? If it is truth in its purest form then how come everyone does not see this pure truth? If truth is pure, vice perceived, then it is equal across the board and available for all. Your god is not and therefore your god is a perception and not truth.

JAN: “You can know this too.”

Again, you are still assuming that I was never religious. I felt what you do. Now I know the medical and scientific “how” of what that feeling is. There are many beliefs as to how one can “know this”. What path do you recommend that I take to know your version of god?

Jan Rebuttal #004:

From where I am coming from, I was a little lost when you discussing science and religion as not supporting each other. ANYTHING THAT IS PURE TRUTH WILL SUPPORT ANYTHING ELSE THAT IS PURE TRUTH. It only makes sense that pure scientific truth supports pure religious truth.

I do believe that the Bible is the word of God as long as it has been correctly translated. When man first began to write the Bible, I am sure that it was true. But over time and many many many years, other people have decided to make changes to the Bible. That doesn’t mean that it’s all false or all true. That isn’t truth in its purest form.

Go back and read what I learned about DNA from my last e-mail. That is science supporting religion.

Response to Jan #004:

JAN: “ANYTHING THAT IS PURE TRUTH WILL SUPPORT ANYTHING ELSE THAT IS PURE TRUTH.”

How and why? How does the “pure truth” of the Earth revolving around the Sun support the “pure truth” that the sky is not blue but every color but blue?

JAN: “It only makes sense that pure scientific truth supports pure religious truth.”

If it “only makes sense” then you should have an easy time relaying that. You have only offered perceptions and speculation. You have yet to offer any evidence, data, or anything else for that matter that backs up your claim of religious truth. You must first understand that there is no such thing as pure religious truth. There may be scientific truth within a religion, but religion, in and of itself, has no pure truth (otherwise there wouldn’t be 30,000 different religions).

JAN: “When man first began to write the Bible, I am sure that it was true.”

Your assurances do not make it “pure truth”. There are over 200,000 variants of some 5,000 manuscripts. Not a single on matches any of the other. Unfortunately, we can never know if the manuscripts were deliberately changed to “add my thoughts” or to “add missed text”. We’ll never know because there are absolutely zero originals anywhere in the world. Original manuscripts do not exist. We now know that Matthew and Luke did not write Matthew and Luke. We also know that Ezekiel, as it appears in the Bible, is a fake. Exodus was more than likely not written by Moses.

JAN: “Go back and read what I learned about DNA from my last e-mail. That is science supporting religion.”

I read your DNA story and commented on it. The story was superfluous. That was not science supporting religion. How was science “supporting” religion? That was science, using its known discoveries, testing religious artifacts to determine what animals were used to make the skins. The scrolls, while they have a religious tone about them, are archaeological artifacts first and religious artifacts second. It took many years before theologians got a hold of them. When they did they were surprised to find many contradictions. They had hoped the Dead Sea Scrolls would pour concrete into the basis of the Bible. Instead the scrolls chipped away at the foundation of the Bible.

Science can be used to test artifacts and events within religion, but it cannot be used to test religion itself. We can test aspects of it, such as the medical reason why people “feel” the Holy Spirit or why people pass out when they are “healed”. We can test artifacts, such as the Shroud of Turin or the Dead Sea Scrolls, and determine if they are faked, such as the Shroud of Turin, or how old they are, or who made them, etc. Usually the test results go against the religion but support the anthropological aspect of the religious beliefs. Many people often confuse the two aspects, but they are different.

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