From the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “Most people really don’t want the truth. They just want constant reassurance that what they believe is the truth.” (Collective Evolution) Jack went on to write – Plato (428 BCE), famous philosopher and teacher, was also a funny guy. He’s the one who said, “I’m trying to think. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” He was joking, of course. In life, we are continually asked to test the sources for our beliefs. Don’t be afraid to examine the “facts” during your search for truth. 😉 Jack
That saying goes well with another that I also picked off Jack’s blog – “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt.” (Rene Descartes)
The dictionary defines truth as:
– the quality or state of being true.
“he had to accept the truth of her accusation”
– that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.
noun: the truth
“tell me the truth”
-a fact or belief that is accepted as true.
plural noun: truths
“the emergence of scientific truths”
So it looks like the opening statement was the true after all – it’s all about what people want to believe. Some people believe that all of what they saw and heard during the moon landing in 1969 is the truth, but others believe that it was all a giant hoax and that the men never left the earth. Both groups embrace their views as “the truth.” It’s interesting, too, that all of the definitions rely on using the word true to define the truth; and some of the definitions for true also point back to beliefs.
In our everyday lives I think most people believe much of what they hear from others and accept it as the truth; however, all of us have probably known people that we just didn’t believe. Maybe they earned that distrust by repeatedly lying about things or maybe they just came across as being a bit shady, so we took everything that they said with a grain of salt. Whichever is the initial case, most people search for the truth. They are not content with just not knowing or not being sure. Maybe they are not searching for the truth so much as for that confirmation of their beliefs that we started with.
But what of Descartes’ advice? Was he advising that we doubt or beliefs in the search for truth? Yes and no. I think he was saying that one cannot go through life never questioning or doubting things that we might have been told are truths. If truth is based upon belief, then there are many truths in life than cannot be tested or proven; they just must be believed. Certainly religions have always relied on the continued acceptance and belief in things that cannot be proven.
The doubts that have cause schisms within religions seldom had to do with doubts about the basic beliefs, but rather about the dogma imposed over the top of those beliefs by men in power within the church. None of Martin Luther’s 95 theses called the faith that was the basis of the Catholic Church into question; rather he questioned the authority claimed by the Pope and the practices of the church of that day concerning the forgiveness of sins – the selling of indulgences
So the key to Descartes thought is to properly direct that doubt and not to let it degrade into cynicism. Use doubts to discard old ideas and beliefs that cannot stand inspection and to reinforce those that prove to be true after a closer look. Doubt not your faith, but perhaps those people and institutions that have codified and legislated the practice of that faith into dogma to meet their own needs.
Do you seek the truth in life or just go through life believing everything that you’ve been told is true? How do you act upon your doubts? Do you just let them gnaw away in the back of your mind or do you take some action to prove or disprove those feelings of doubt? Are your religious beliefs based upon a faith strong enough to be classified as a truth in your life? If so, do you share that truth with others through your words and deeds? Do they see that truth in you? If you live your faith then another saying will apply – “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”