Can we really know whether anything is true? Does truth itself even exist as an Absolute? For that matter, what is truth?Is it simply a point of view held by a sufficient number of people to be widely accepted as what is so? And even in this context, does it exist only in relative terms?
The history of our species has shown us that many things we thought were undeniable and irrefutable truths have been, over the course of time, revealed to not be true at all. And I am not referring only to ancient and understandably misunderstood matters (the Earth is flat, the Sun revolves around the Earth, the idea that life could suddenly emerge from inanimate objects [spontaneous generation], the theory that light emanates from the eye, rather than being received by it [emission theory] — all of which concepts were held as true for thousands of years). I’m also referring to many contemporary notions as well (homosexuality is a deliberately chosen lifestyle having nothing to do with one’s biochemistry; modern vaccine theory is correct; jobs are a requirement for income; climate change is not real; punishment, as opposed to rehabilitation, of offenders is the highest choice of an evolved society).
All of this notwithstanding, can it serve us at some level to agree with ourselves and with each other that certain things are true? Without wanting to seem overly simplistic, I think it can. I think that is apparent. Any group or cluster of people hoping to live together in peace and harmony is going to find benefit in agreeing that certain things are true.
They may be making it all up, but Truth By Agreement — first , with oneself, then with others — can and does serve a purpose. It helps society to organize itself, it gives newcomers to that society (children growing into adults, arrivals from one culture or country entering another) a set of principles on which a particular society bases its day-to-day interactions, which those newcomers may use to their benefit in integrating into that group or cluster.
Truth By Agreement with oneself can also, in many cases, produce enormous good in an individual’s moment-to-moment experience, whether in a group or cluster or not.
All of which brings me to the idea of God.
I have observed (and personally experienced) that Truth By Agreement with oneself regarding the existence of God — to say nothing of the nature, the purpose, the function, and the desire of God — can and does have an immense impact on people’s lives.
This observation, in turn, has opened me to consider whether a theory need to have been proven — or even be provable — for it to have practical and powerful benefit. For me, the answer is no. I have therefore not limited my mind to embracing only those propositions that have been validated by scientific or clinical evidence.
Nowhere is this more useful to me than in the matter of whether or not there is a Higher Power in this Universe. I believe there is, even though there is apparently no scientific or clinical proof of it. Yet I see evidence of it every day in my life — and I have learned in my 72 years that evidence and proof are not the same thing.
I mention this here because, in the very welcome interactions I have read in the Comment String below my various columns here on the subject of God and what I perceive to be God’s message to the world, I have seen some responses that have articulated — in often wonderfully clear and imminently logical terms — an idea other than mine. The idea that there is no such thing as God.
I very much enjoy the back-and-forth on this. But I would like to invite a slight switch in focus now, away from the question of whether God exists, and to the question of whether a belief in God can be hugely transformative in an individual’s life, and in the collective experience of humans on this planet.
The answer to that question is, of course, yes. Simple observation makes that virtually inarguable. Equally inarguable is the fact that what a person or a group believes about God can be hugely detrimental to an individual’s well-being — and to the well-being of an entire species.
So, clearly, it is important what one holds as one’s truth regarding what I believe I can call — judging from my observation of global and individual outcomes — this critical topic.
Proving whether there is or is not a God is not nearly as intriguing to me as demonstrating that what a person, or a group or cluster of people, believes about God is critical to the happiness, joy, peace, and continuing higher evolution of our species.
I believe and observe that it is critical — and that’s why I’ve produced a string of books on the subject.
Now it could be argued by others that precisely because our beliefs about God are so critical, it is important that the concept of the existence of such a Supreme Being be challenged, if not debunked.
But I think that at this juncture in human history, what people believe ABOUT God is having far more of an impact on our day-to-day lives than whether people belief IN God — so this is where my priority lies.
I believe in God. The evidence of my life has convinced me of this. And I am intrigued by what a discussion of what people believe about God might produce in the Comment String below.
What if there is no “heaven”? What if there is no “hell”? What if there is no “God”? What if there is no “life” in the “hereafter”? What if there is no “hereafter” at all — no Life After Death, no one and nothing on The Other Side, no “other side” of any kind, and nothing after life on Earth but darkness, emptiness — and not even an awareness of that?
Is it the promise of “something more” after we’re “done” here on Earth that keeps many of us going? And if we think there is nothing “more,” does that affect our choices, actions, and decisions while we’re “alive”? For that matter, what does being “alive” really mean? Does it mean that we are actively functioning in the physical world? Or does it mean we are actively functioning, period — in the physical world or in another?
Are these even important questions? Does any of it matter?
I think it does. I think that what a person believes about All Of Life — what it’s about, why it exists, how it works, what (if anything) it leads to — matters enormously. Or it certainly can matter, depending upon what those beliefs are.
I could be wrong about this, of course. But I think that the decision about what we believe regarding the Meaning, the Purpose, the Function, and the Result of Life On Earth could, and does, have a powerful impact on how (and for that matter, why) we move through our days and nights.
And I think this is true even if — and perhaps especially if — we have no particular beliefs about any of that at all.
Along with countless others through the ages, I am intrigued by this. Not so much about what I believe (or think I should believe, or feel I want to believe, or hope I can believe), but by what others believe. I am curious about where I fall on the spectrum of things.
So if it feels interesting for you to do so, please share with me your beliefs about all of this — or whether you have any beliefs at all — in the Comment section below. I’m anxious to hear from you on this.