31 October 2011

THT: Oh Say, What is Truth (Part II)

 A while back, I posted under this same title. It was interesting to read that now... months later. I think it shows how my thinking and thought processes are developing and how I really am trying to get at the core of things. I did not begin this post with the idea of God in mind. It was simply an investigation of truth as an idea. However, I found myself connecting the idea of truth and the idea of God together in the end. To begin, I posted a series of questions on several different facebook groups. The questions were:

How do you define "truth?"

Is it possible to recognize "truth" when you find it?

If so, how?
Here are some of the responses that resonated with me or that I found interesting/thought provoking:

"I don't know if there is absolute truth... very little it seems. Recognizing my truth = feeling peace. Anxiety and depression means I have gotten out of my truth."

"I believe in absolute truth but we haven't gotten their yet."

"Truth doesn't have a final destination and should be replaced with the pursuit of knowledge and explanations. A truth seeker should have the willingness to change his/her mind what you think, if new evidence comes to light which may contradict."

"Knowing the truth is hard. Knowing whats's not true, not so hard."

"We do not have to capture truth by quick statements. We have to test, to weigh, to reflect, to debate to and fro and pro and con, to question our own assertions. Truth does not exist as merchandise ready-made for delivery; it exists only in methodical movement, in the thoughtfulness of reason." (Jaspers, page 4)"

"I think the best epistemologically weak mortals can do is try to learn lots of different perspectives/theories, and try to apply the razors of consistency and parsimony to shave off the less likely. We're rationally limited and overwhelmingly ignorant- I think most appeals to or claims of truth are thinly founded."

"Great questions. I don't know except to say that truth should be the product of testable and repeatable inquiry."

"A statement is true when it describes fact. A theory is true when it can accurately predict outcomes. But the statement is only a perception. And the theory can hardly account for every possible variable in the physical world.

You can only achieve true statement when the universe can get no smaller and you can perceive every detail. You can only achieve true theory when the universe can get no larger, bringing in no new input. So, until we find the most minute particle and the boundaries of existence (and how can we know that there are limits in size on either end of the spectrum?!), we cannot even speculate at knowing the truth if it exists at all."

"In my opinion, the closest we could possibly get "the truth" is to find someone who perceives all things clearly. The sum of all things at once. Perfectly clear and accurate. (God?) Still, this person would not be truth, but he/she would comprehend it."

"No matter what we do or how we evolve I think we will always interpret the world through our own unique experiences and that means that none of us see the world the same way. I kind of laugh when we claim we are right or that something is true... Sure from a certain perspective things appear that way..."


One question still remains. Is truth absolute? It sounds like some people view truth as being subjective and personal and others view it as objective and universal. There are a couple who believe it is sort of a mix... that truth is both. I don't know if I agree that it can be both. I agree that if truth is absolute, humans could never truly KNOW it simply because everything we claim to "know" has been filtered through our own perceptions and experiences and the interpretation and meaning we attach to them... but that doesn't mean that truth isn't absolute.

The idea that a "truth-seeker" must by nature be willing to adapt to new evidences and information and readily change their ideas about what truth is makes a lot of sense to me. I feel like when I was active in the church and believed as I should, this idea was actually discouraged culturally even while it was taught doctrinally. In the church, we are taught to "study it out in [our] minds" along with prayer. I view prayer as a kind of meditation. It allows you a moment to reflect on your feelings/thoughts/hopes and desires. However, as an active believing member, you are pretty much taught that anything that sheds negative light on the church is "anti-mormon" and completely unfounded.

This same idea is held in classes at church. Asking probing questions or challenging questions is met with resistance. If something you are being taught doesn't resonate with you and you want to probe deeper, you are often accused of "driving out the spirit" or at least treated as if you are. Questioning the wisdom of the leaders of the church is a no-no. Now I look at those experiences and realize that those environments were actually toxic for sincere truth-seeking people. I think that is why so many church goers find themselves dissatisfied with church attendance. It is not mentally stimulating or deeply enlightening. It is repetitive and shallow. That is the end of that tangent.

Anyway, moving on. I really liked the comment about the difference between theory and truth. It is so thought provoking. I feel it actually begins to really start to explain the necessity there is for some kind of supreme being. Here's why:

If human beings are incapable of actually KNOWING truth due to the fact that everything we claim to know has been filtered through our own unique lenses of perception, can truth actually exist? I mean, if all logical beings will always be incapable of knowing it can it exist? Plato just came to mind because I am starting to realize that what I am describing is much like Plato's theory of forms. Plato argues that all that we experience are forms or shadows of truth or "ideal-ness," (yes I made it up). For example, the chair you are sitting on isn't really a true chair, it is a chair that has been made in the attempt to copy the one true, ideal chair which we are incapable of really knowing because we can only perceive it's shadow. To me, this "shadow" of the ideal represents our own perceptions which act as unique filters between our comprehension and actual truth. We then interpret those perceptions and accept them as our reality. Take this facebook comment to help explain what I am getting at: 

"Once, when I was in kindergarten, we were coloring pictures for an art show. I had chosen to color a dog. First I colored the grass green and the sun was yellow. I left coloring the doggy until last.

As I began to shade in its head with my brown crayon, the student next to me shouted: "NO! Dogs are black!" He shoved my hand to the side and tore a black line through my drawing and scribbled haphazardly over the animal's body.

I was devastated and cried for a good five minutes. Looking back, I realize that the boy probably had the perception that since (maybe) his own dog was black, all dogs were black and that- in his mind- I was acting against "truth" by coloring the dog on my paper brown."

So then here is my question Plato: If our whole world is simply a reflection of the ideal world... simply a shadow... doesn't there need to be some kind of intelligence that comprehends the ideal? Some intelligence that comprehends truth 100%? Because if no intelligence can actually comprehend it, wouldn't it be incapable of existence? I mean according to Descartes (I think, therefore I am), the proof of existence lies in awareness. Therefore, if it is impossible for any intelligent being to be aware of truth, it is impossible for absolute truth to exist.

I am by no means a philosophy junkie. I studied only the minimum that everyone studies philosophy in college... so my knowledge and understanding of all these philosophers is quite limited. However, from what I gather from what these men wrote along with my own thoughts and contemplation on the subject of truth, here is the conclusion I feel I have come to for now (which may change in the future):

If truth is absolute, God must exist. 

So... is Plato right? Is there a set truth... a perfect world out there that our world is always striving to become? One that is no respecter of persons? I feel that even atheists must believe in truth or ideal-ness. Activists and social reformists sure must believe that they are fighting for a better world... one that comes closer to real fairness and equality. So where in space and time does that ideal world that we are striving to become exist? How does it enter into our collective consciousness? Is THAT God?

For other reading see these wiki articles:

Theory of Forms
Allegory of the Cave
I think, therefore I am


17 October 2011

THT: Are You Prejudiced Against Gay People? Here's a test:

First, I have to say that this is no legitimate test... I was just thinking today and thought that this exercise would be interesting if it were actually done honestly and results were collected.

Try and answer these honestly:
  1. Would you want your child to be straight or gay? Why/ Why not?
No really. Think about it and answer.

Lots of people would say that they would want their child to be straight because being gay would be painful and cause pain and challenges that they wouldn't want their child to endure. Alright, fine. That is somewhat reasonable... but lets do this exercise again, but with a little twist:

Pretend we lived in a world where gays were treated equally. People's sexual orientation was of no interest to anyone and no one expected another person to be one way or the other and wasn't surprised or shocked one way or the other. Everyone had equal rights and equal representation. It was not a social taboo. Someone telling another person that they were gay was equivalent to telling him/her that their favorite color was green. In other words, there is no added stress or pain or discomfort to a person's life if he/she were gay.
  1. Would you want your child to be straight or gay? Why/ Why not?
Struggling on this one? With the seemingly justifiable, and even honorable (some would say) reasoning of "protecting a child from the world" taken away, all you have left is your own bias.

The world doesn't have to be a harsh place for gays. Gays don't have to have a hard time dealing with who they are. The problem isn't being gay, the problem lies in the minds of the people that make up society- you and I. So if you still would rather your son/daughter be straight... well, I hate to break it to you, but you are prejudice against homosexuals.

In reality, in either situation, the answer that a person who is truly without prejudice would give is, "It wouldn't matter to me either way. I would just want them to be happy the way they are."

Guess what... one day you may learn that your own child is gay. I hope you are not helping to create an environment where that child is fearful of what his/her orientation would mean to his familial relationships. I hope those ears won't be hearing prejudicial remarks at church, at home, and at school. That leads so the some of the greatest feelings of fear, sadness, loneliness, self-hate, hopelessness and depression that people can experience.

The time to get educated and stop the prejudice and fight for equality was yesterday. When it comes down to it, raising children isn't about getting what WE want anyway. The only thing I would want for my child would be happiness. Period.

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13 October 2011

PE: National Coming Out Day

I really loved National Coming Out Day. I loved seeing posts about hope and courage and convictions. I think it is so important for people to know that there are those that support them and are fighting for equality. I came out on facebook by saying that I am an a relationship with a person named Sean. I was already out to everyone close to me... but for me, putting it on facebook is kind of a big deal, and this is the reason:

Prejudices threaten ones ability to succeed. It is far less common for a person in a minority group to really have the same opportunities as one of the majority. So coming out on facebook is basically saying, "I am not afraid. I will not allow your prejudice to hinder my progression. I will no longer hide a vital part of who I am for your comfort and convenience."

So now old bosses, professors, friends and acquaintances, colleagues... they all know. My network of people is aware. It may cut some ties or limit the benefits I may have received from connections otherwise... but I don't care. I do not need the help of people who will judge me and treat me differently because of who I love.

I have to add that the celebration also brought some sadness. Seeing the reaction of others. "Why do you have to tell everyone. I don't care, but don't flaunt it!" These types of comments in the midst of all the Mormons doing the same thing, "I'm Mormon and I'm Christian!" This is in response to the recent media attention the church has been getting over claims that Mormons aren't Christian. So then these "Christians" share and forward and "like" statements that reaffirm how Christian they are while the same people ignore statements about supporting equality for all people. It is so backwards. In some ways I feel like the division between Mormons and myself is growing wider and wider.

It's funny. I remember all these stories about "leaving the 99 to find the 1" but I must have missed the one about how all the white sheep drive the black ones away. Gosh... why do I still get upset over this?! Why do I let it bother me? I love the people I have met. All the other "black sheep." And I'd rather spend my time with them anyway.