Posted tagged ‘truth’

Thoughts on A Plea for Round-Table Discussion, not Debates — Follow Jesus

June 4, 2018


Larry Hurtado wrote this in his blog:

Debating is a win/lose contest, little subtlety or complexity allowed.  It doesn’t make for the sort of careful consideration of matters that is most often required. It certainly doesn’t allow for people to grow, develop/alter their understanding of matters[…]

via A Plea for Round-Table Discussion, not Debates — Larry Hurtado’s Blog

I’ve often been frustrated with debates as a tool for advancing knowledge and understanding. Many times, maybe even most often, both sides claim a victory, but wins and losses are hard measured in debates. Debates are seen as win/lose propositions, but they rarely deliver that kind of satisfaction.

Listen to any political debate, and both sides will claim victory. Listen to any debate of atheist and theist, and both sides will claim victory. The after debate responses are continuations in kind of the debate – both sides trying to convince the other and the world of their victory. The claims usually fall flat and ring hollow to anyone who makes an effort at remaining objective.

If we want to get at truth and understanding, debates are not the way to do it. Respectful discussion and dialogue are much better platforms for truth and understanding.

Since this is a faith-based blog, a little reference to Jesus is in order. Jesus didn’t debate people, ever. He often asked questions. He spoke in parables. He connected with people where they were – healing them, addressing them at a personal level, touching on their psychological, emotional and physical and spiritual issues.

Jesus treated everyone with respect, even the spiritually high-minded Pharisees. He took everyone seriously.

We can not get “inside” other people’s heads like Jesus could – knowing the thoughts and intents of their hearts – , but we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. We should attempt to be more led by the Spirit than by our capacity to debate when we engage with non-believers. Like Jesus did.

Tolkien, Lewis and True Myth

August 28, 2017

From a clip from EWTN’s “Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings:’ A Catholic Worldview”

Are myths fiction? The stories they tell aren’t true. Are they, therefore, lies? Are they worthless? Nothing but “beautiful lies”? Nothing but fairy tales?

These are the questions posed by one man playing J.R.R. Tolkien to his counterpart playing C.S. Lewis in a fictional conversation between the two men: Lewis and Tolkien Debate Myths and Lies

This interplay, while fictional, is intended to capture the essence of the relationship between Lewis and Tolkien as Lewis was transitioning from the materialism he embraced as a young man to theism. At this point, he is wrestling with doubts that were arising in his mind about the truth of that materialist  world view he had intellectually embraced.

Lewis had been raised on a diet of classical Greek and Latin literature that he learned to read in the original languages, along with Celtic, German and other literature filled with myth, allegory and symbolism that he adored as a child and young adult. His embrace of materialism was clashing with a profound undercurrent of something “real” that appealed to him in that ancient literature. The reality Lewis was confronting is no different than a love of art, beauty, poetry and love itself that the materialist enjoys in common with more metaphysically minded men.

Is materialism all that exists, threatening to undermine the sublime reality we all intuitively “know” and sense in classic, timeless literature and art?

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Reflecting Back On the Path I Have Traveled

August 1, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 160522044 Copyright: Arybickii

My thoughts today are prompted by a discussion with someone very close to me. We don’t see eye to eye on some fundamental things, though we do have many, many points of agreement.  He does not believe that Jesus lived, died on a cross, rose from the dead, was God in the flesh and offers salvation to mankind for sin and restoration of relationship with God. I could summarize his beliefs as he has explained them to me, and as I understand them to be, but that isn’t the point here.

The bottom line is that these are my beliefs, and he doesn’t agree with me. He is very forceful and strong in his disagreement with me about these things. He is an intelligent person. He has read a lot and has a lot of knowledge regarding certain things, but his arguments are not convincing to me.

In our last conversation, which got heated, he challenged me on the basis that I came to the fundamental conclusions to which I still hold (now in my 50’s) in my early twenties. He contended that I have inflexibly held to my beliefs and have spent the last thirty-some years simply confirming the position I came to long ago.

To be honest, I have to acknowledge that he is right in certain respects. I have not changed the fundamental position to which I arrived years ago. And, I have been thinking about that ever since.

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In Need of a Raja

June 28, 2017

Depositphotos Image ID: 42117413 Copyright: vverve

Most of us have heard the story about the blind men and the elephant. I heard it in a world religion class in 1978, my first year of college. The story is most often told in the context of the world religions. And, the story is most often told as an allegory suggesting that all religions are really getting at the same thing (the elephant).

If you haven’t heard the story, I will re-tell it. If you have heard the story, please bear with me because telling the story with its original conclusion is an important exercise in understanding the message.

If your antennae are up, you might have caught the hint that this story, with the original conclusion, has a twist. The story usually isn’t told with the original conclusion, so the point of the original conclusion is often “lost in the translation”. And, the original conclusion leads to a very different point than the commonly asserted message.

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Religious Pluralism Sounds Nice, but Is It True?

January 8, 2017

One expression of pluralism is the idea that all truth claims are equally valid. (Pluralism doesn’t necessarily require this.) So does that include the truth claim that all truth claims are not equally valid? Think about it. This expression of pluralism that is quite popular today is already in trouble right from the start.

Religious pluralism is “the acceptance of all religious paths as equally valid, promoting coexistence”.

Religious pluralism sounds nice, and the motives for wanting to believe in religious pluralism are largely nobles ones. The idea of religious pluralism is born out of a desire for unity, respect for others and harmony, but can we live by it?

That we want religious pluralism to be true doesn’t mean it is true. We would like for gravity not to be “true”, especially while climbing a ladder, but wishing it so does not make it so.

My thoughts today are spurred on by a presentation by Vince Vitale on religious pluralism. You might want to listen to what he has to say about it before or after considering my thoughts.[i] He addresses several bad assumptions and several good desires that lead to pluralism. I only address two of the three assumptions here.

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Myth, Appearance and Reality

February 3, 2016

Some of the great breakthrough realizations in human history are that the earth is not flat, that the earth is round and rotating, that the Sun does not revolve around the earth, that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and the earth along with other round bodies in space rotate around each other kept in correlation with each other by gravitational pull. These realities are different than the appearances.

We appear to be standing on a stationary earth that, for all we can see, is flat. The Sun appears to rise, cross the sky and set every day. It is no great leap to understand that the sun might move around the earth, though the perception of a flat earth persisted into modern times. The moon seems to move around the earth in the same way the sun seems to move around the earth, but one does move around the earth and the other doesn’t.

Although we have known the realities for centuries, we still talk in terms of the appearances. We talk about the Sun rising and setting. We describe the phenomena as sunrise and sunset. Someone unfamiliar with our colloquialisms might hear us speak and think that we are ignorant of the truth.

The appearances have a strong hold on us. So strong that they persist in our language and how we describe things on a day to day basis. Those appearances stubbornly refuse to leave our everyday speaking patterns.

What other appearances and corresponding realities exist that we have yet to debunk or lay hold of? (more…)

Editing the Right and Wrong

September 19, 2015

canstockphoto24976909


This headline reads, Fiorina Was right. The article, then, goes into details regarding how Carly Fiorina, the rising GOP star, was right about the Planned Parenthood videos. The sanguine point is not that Carly Fiorina is right about those videos, but that so many people can be so wrong.

Yes, I said it, wrong! I know it is not poplar to believe in right and wrong, but morality never won a popularity contest. Morality often goes against the popular culture.

I heard some pundit say that the Planned Parenthood videos are “heavily edited” and that Planned Parenthood does none of the things they are accused of doing in those videos. Seriously?

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