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November 14, 2006


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All that you have written is very much right. But there is a faith that lays on perception of reality Also called the Truth. The problem is that every man has personal truth. Fortunately we can increase and improve our Truth by communication.
Isn't it a wonderful God's Gift? ;).

” ‘His Majesty’s notions seem to be very peculiar,’ said the prince, ‘and, so far as I can see, they do not at all agree with mine.’”

“At that moment an attendant whom the prince had not noticed came and stood beside him. This was a broad shouldered man of cheery aspect, who carried, its hilt in his right hand, and its broad back resting on his broad arm, an enormous cimeter, the upturned edge of which was keen and bright as any razor. Holding this formidable weapon as tenderly as though it had been a sleeping infant, this man drew closer to the prince and bowed.”

” ‘Who are you?’ exclaimed his Highness, starting back at the sight of the frightful weapon.’”

” ‘I,’ said the other, with a courteous smile, ‘am the Discourager of Hesitancy. When the king makes known his wishes to any one, a subject or visitor, whose disposition in some little points may be supposed not wholly to coincide with that of his Majesty, I am appointed to attend him closely, that, should he think of pausing in the path of obedience to the royal will, he may look at me, and proceed.’”

From Frank Stockton's "The Discourager of Hesitancy"

To Gods Home:

Is "reality" a mere "perception"? I don't think so.

Is "the Truth" a mere perception? I definitely don't think so.

Can "Truth" be perceived? Hardly.

Can "Truth" be "improved"? Are you kidding?

And who says its a "Gift"? It's obviously more like a rather bad bargain (ie: birth, suffering, pain, and death), which has to be made the best of.


Good thought experiment!

As a Christian, it is my hope that, upon death, I pass through door A, and that the Ultimate Reality is much greater and wondrous than I could have comprehended.

Now, for the experiment as presented, even being a Christian, I would (mangling Pascal) 'wager, without hesitation to choose door A.' I would rather know the truth than find fleeting comfort in mere belief. Something about this thought experiment seems vaguely familiar... You weren't in The Garden all those years ago, making a similar pitch to a certain Original Couple, were you? ;)

Seriously, though, the thought experiment leads to pertinent questions and I see tao has beat me to the punch: Can Truth be perceived? A valid question. And following, can Truth ulitmately be known? Why is Truth so hard to uncover in the first place?

I don't claim to know the answers to those questions but it sure is interesting to mull over possible answers.

Once again, your website has provided a place for people of diverse beliefs (and non-beliefs) to exchange ideas and opinions, hopefully to our mutual benefit. Many thanks.


Great thought experiment. It's very interesting that I've just posted a notion that appears to be contradicted by your thoughts here. It's titled Faith, Myth and the Truth Becoming. However, I'm left wondering whether there should be another door, or whether my notion of truth manifest fits behind one of your two doors.

While I agree with your point, I see that it depends upon one's definition of “belief.” In the modern sense, “belief” is just as you used it here. The scientific method has given us the notion of “fact” which is proved true—at least until new understanding obsoletes it. Which you pointed out. We've subsequently equated “truth” with “fact,” leaving “belief” to mean” believing in the unbelievable. But “belief” originally meant much the same as “faith” which meant “to hold dear,” to “highly regard,” “to trust in.” That is, for me these days, faith and belief have more to do with potentiality than with reality.

Unfortunately, very few believers understand the limitations they place on themselves with their “just have faith.” I think you describe this limitation well enough. The usual interpretation of “belief” not only shields many from reality, it also restricts potentiality. There is reality—which I admit I'll never know—and there is potentiality.

Potentiality is the reality that can be, which is beyond reality. But of course, we must pull our heads out of the sand and drink in reality before potential has a chance.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Bill, you didn't include a link to your "Faith, Myth and the Truth Becoming" post. Here it is for those who'd like to read your take on this subject:

As you said in your comment, you and I do indeed look at reality and belief differently. I plead guilty to a "realist" frame of mind where truth can be known by those with eyes to see it.

On the other hand, you wrote "Whether it be the teachings of the Buddha, Muhammad, Moses or Jesus, or the Tao, Truth is not a scientifically verifiable fact but a truth that becomes fact when it is believed."

Well, I agree in a limited sense. Within the believer's mind, "belief" does turn into "truth" which turns into "fact." My question is: is there any validity to all this outside of that person's subjective consciousness?

I mean, I can believe in life after death so strongly that it becomes a profound reality for me, a fact that I base my life on. Yet when I actually die, will I actually live on?

To me, this is the practical difference between subjective reality and objective reality. The former dissolves when the brain believing in it does; the latter doesn't.

I've put a bit of thought into this comment. I'm fighting a bug so it might not be as clear as I would like, so bear with me.

Most schools of thought teach some form of "as above, so below"... or "thoughts are things" or "believing is half done." Our thoughts direct our experience, what we anticipate, we create.

Science is beginning to "prove" this through the crude instruments wielded in laboratories, those odd rectories for measurement worshipping priests. Two scientists peer at a subatomic particle at the same time, both come up with different measurements. The answer seems to be that the structure's perception is dependent upon the perceiver. (That's a pretty glaring red flag for the lab coats but they've ignored it rather than reexamine all their preconceptions.)

There is indeed a door before me labelled "faith" and as far as I can tell, I open it because I am honest enough with myself to admit that I fill in the blanks in my knowledge with superstitions, hopes, fears and even fantasies and rituals. I cannot possibly live without them, I have all this subconscious intention and belief that has (so far) served me fairly well. I'm pretty sure we all possess a subconscious, so denying that you have these beliefs is as pointlkess as denying your sexuality (oh yeah, reminds me of the extreme right and their anti-gay agenda being trumpeted by gays)

What makes me laugh is the people who go through the other door and tell themselves that they are the honest ones. Why? Because you keep insisting that your dogmas are "scientific rules" and that your "proof" is based on "sound scientific theory"? LOL Really, "reality" is being proven by modern quantum mechanics to resemble the ancient spiritual teachings about consciousness and the realms that coexist beyond ourt perceptions, and less and less the haphazard biologic accident that scientists demand we believe it to be. (yes yes, if I can measure a thing, then the thing is real, rulers don't lie, yes yes... it's cute but still a fairly simplistic religion, as religious dogmas go, dontcha think?)

The idea that those who proudly strut thru the "reality" door are not creating what they experience is a quaint one. I can handle the idea that my thoughts and actions draw to me the people and places and things in my life. I can handle the reality of my unconscious responsibility and the role my beliefs play in my life. But I can also understand the appeal of insisting I am living a random, pointless life -- far less accountability to be sure, but no need for self examination and certainly no need to alter my beliefs or ideas at all.

I do have a bias here, I tend to think of human personalities in terms of maturity, for lack of a better term. Look, I love kids, I adore children, but I don't want a child planning my meals for the next week. I love milkshakes and popcorn, but I need and want something with a bit more substance.


Maybe this is the question on being, after all. What is real and what is belief, but let’s look at it another way.
I read an article in the newspaper where the author is making statements about what is in a particular movie, and I am taking the information as facts. But then there’s the sentence that says, “For the record Nickelback’s current hit, “Far Away,” is a first-rate power ballad.” And now I am torn – is this fact? Which part? The description “power ballad” has meaning to me, but isn’t “first-rate” an opinion? Could the writer be wrong about the style of the song, if for instance, I don’t think the song is even really second-rate?

“This is a dragon.” “New Mexico is a state.” “God is love.” “A pint’s a pound the world around.” What do we accept as existing, as something that has being. Even the definition of “state” eventually decomposes.

In the thought experiment, I found myself wondering if there would be a difference between the two doors. We are constantly faced with these doors all the time, and I cannot tell where I stand when I choose. Do I start from where I believe I am, or where I really am? I mean, objectively. No, really, tell me.

I also can’t ignore the temporal element at work. I am choosing what I will find, but is the future real, or a creation, as benandante suggests? (The word “fact” comes from a Latin group with the meaning of “deed” “done” “do”, as in something made or created.)

Is the future to the east, where that later time is coming from, or the west, where we’ll be coming from tomorrow?


My post was written before I read yours so it really is pointing in a bit different direction. But I was intrigued by the coincidence.

The point I'm trying to make is that faith is somewhat of a verb, in that, used with eyes wide open, it brings things hoped for into being. A simple example is: believing myself capable of some accomplishment, I press on to the goal regardless of the expert opinion claiming otherwise. Human consciousness is such a powerful force that it has taken human beings to earth's moon and back several times, despite the enormous obsticles.

The point about the changed usage of "belief" I didn't make very well. My perspecitve is based on Wilfred Cantwell Smith's book "Faith and Belief: the Difference Between Them." Smith describes how the definition of "belief" has changed since the bible was first translated into English, and how our modern understanding of its use in scripture is flawed as a result.

For example, modern Evangelicals claim that "believing in Jesus" is enough to get one back in the good graces of God. But "believe" doesn't mean to assent to the existence of someone. Neither does it have anything to do with assenting that Jesus was both God and man. Believing on/in Jesus (or anyone) means to follow his teachings as one would a sovereign. "Liev," and "lieg" are similar as is "love." Alliegance comes from "lieg" as believe comes from liev, as beloved comes from "love."

The faith I'm trying to explain is closer to the faith that you have in reality. Choosing door A requires faith in reality, or in the very least, a lack of faith in "belief." I know it doesn't make much sense. But I' still trying to put into words ideas that my language is ill equipped to handle.

Why is it that so many Christians live no better lives than those they chastise as "sinners." My answer is that they don't really "believe" in the teachings they claim to live by. In fact, too many are plenty happy with the notion that they can merely "believe" in a philosphy and join a group, rather than turning their lives around and pointing them in the direction of that which they claim to have surrendered to.

Anyway, I'm not claiming that what I "believe" becomes fact. What I'm trying to say is that faith is that motivation that brings things hoped for into existence even against great odds. It is a process, a journey, and not a creed. Well, even "creed" originally meant something more like "those ideals that we hold in highest regard," rather than a list of tests for admission into a club. But we know that the creeds were actually written to define who is outside.

It's all a big mess! The language of hope and spiritual development has been coopted by politicians and charlatans for so many centuries that it's hard to use it for its original purpose.

Brian said, "Why is it that so many Christians live no better lives than those they chastise as "sinners." My answer is that they don't really "believe" in the teachings they claim to live by. In fact, too many are plenty happy with the notion that they can merely "believe" in a philosophy and join a group, rather than turning their lives around and pointing them in the direction of that which they claim to have surrendered to."

Bingo! Brian wins.

This is actually a very old problem among people of faith. Jesus referred to it when He spoke to some Pharisees (church leaders): "You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person." Matthew 15:7-11. He was not referring to badmouthing other people, he was referring to badmouthing God -- that is, failing to correctly understand and teach the truths of God.

He was quoting Isaiah, who had the same problem. "And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden." Isaiah 29:13-14. The "wonderful" things spoken of here by Isaiah involved the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which happened. The "wonderful" things that God would do was causing their "wise men" to perish, and to hide discernment from the Jewish people. In other words, their spiritual leaders got dumb as doorknobs because they were lying to themselves and to God about the truth of their situation. Those same leaders began to believe their own press, thinking that they were not sinners and that they actually knew the truth of God at the same time as they mouthed various lies of "men" (academics speaking from their human perspectives).

In other words, the hypocrisy of those who claimed to be believers led to widespread foolishness throughout society, which culminated in widespread death and destruction in that society. We are in about the same situation today as people who mistakenly call themselves Christian misunderstand the gospel of Jesus Christ in exactly the way that Brian has described above. Dietrich Bonhoffer, writing in the midst of the Third Reich (where the Christian church was having the same kinds of problems) called it "cheap grace."

It is a big mess. History is strewn with charlatans, bigots and lots of very smart people teaching falsehoods about the Bible and Christ in the name of academia. Somehow these folks are always the most popular teachers, possibly because they pander to the populist foolishness that masquerades as intelligence. But popularity does not make a thing true (usually the truth is in a more inverse ratio to popularity). The logicians trick of poisoning the well has been very successful (as witnesses this site).

And yet there has been some tremendous progress made in the past 50 years in the sense of sorting through the crap to rediscover the nuggets of gold. The mountains of crap do not discount the value of the gold. Most Christians don't understand what a resource they have at their disposal because they are hell bent on dragging people into their glorious past, which never was what they thought it was and never will be what they hope it could be because they, as Brian, Jesus and Isaiah (if I may group such an unlikely trio) have observed, they are lying to themselves. And everyone seems to know it, except them!

(Brian, don't let it go to your head that I have grouped you with Jesus and Isaiah here. It imposes more of an obligation than an honor.)

Now, I know that most you think that I belong to this cadre of deluded bigots who run around chastising sinners. But I don't think so. I don't chastise because I'm mean and nasty (although I am about to enter into my early geezerhood). Rather, I criticize (as in the application of critical thinking) what is not true according to the Bible. My purpose is to demonstrate the superiority of a consistently biblical perspective, as best I can. My purpose is to edify God's people.

Dear Mr. Ross,
I believe there are many more "very smart people teaching falsehoods about the Bible and Christ" in the plethora of numerous churches that abound than do so "in the name of academia." But I think you will agree with this assessment. After all, is it not all predestinated? (And did your father die in Spiritualism [and so go to hell already], or was he predestined to be "saved" by hearing your preaching, so as that he now is either in heaven or else on his way there?) I'm sure you have an opinion, based on your "axioms" and experiences.
Robert Paul Howard

Robert Paul,

I'll bet there are more college professors than there are Christian ministers. Does anyone know the stats? Anyway, we probably agree that most college professors are smarter than most pastors. So, the "very smart" aspect is going to tip the balance in my favor. It's just that college professors don't get to be on TV.

Would you like to talk about predestination? Do you have any particular questions?

My father died 15 or so years ago at 67 years of age. He elected to forego any treatment when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I remember him sitting in front of the TV, with his oxygen tank and the line tucked under his nose -- smoking. He said that it was his last pleasure in life. He was not afraid of death and died at home.

Is he in hell? That's not my call, nor my concern. I'm labor, not management. I believe that God is righteous in His judgments and that my father is where he belongs. And yet I suspect that God's grace and mercy far outshine ours.

Actually, I'm not concerned about heaven or hell. That's not really where biblical religion is focused. True, a lot of Christians have spent a lot time harping on those issues. But I think that such efforts are misguided. Salvation is not fire insurance. Salvation is about life, not death. It's about God's Kingdom -- Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. On earth. Here. Now.


Dear Mr. Ross,
Despite your glowing compliment to "college professors," the greatest number of them avoid the topic of "the Bible and Christ" in their classrooms. In the various different denominations of Christian churches around, however, it seems that many people - often considering themselves to be "very smart people" (even if erroneously) - are "teaching falsehoods about the Bible and Christ." I thought this would be something you would readily agree with. Is not more error "about the Bible and Christ" being taught in the numerous churches than is so being taught "in the name of academia"? I didn't think this was a question that needed to be worked around in such a way, with the reiterated allegation of greater fault still lying with the academics.
And, of course, I regret that you have so little concern with/about your father. I thought that since "[t]here is nothing wrong [sic] the Greek logic" - and you considered your "axioms" to be the unquestionable presuppositions for the application of such a logic - that it was quite clear that your father was predestined to be in ever-burning hell. But perhaps it is better not to be concerned. It's not your job. Yet the "logic" (coupled with your asserted Biblical "axioms") just seems to outweigh anything else that one might "suspect" to the contrary. That's too bad about your father, but it still seems that the "logic" holds.
Robert Paul Howard

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