Dangers to finding truth

I was just doing my daily reading this morning, and I came across some interesting quotes that really got me thinking:

“Get truth and don’t ever sell it.” ~ Proverbs 23:23

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: …the feeling that everyone is wrong except for those in your own little group…” ~ Galatians 5:19-21.

These are two passages point out dangers that the person who is searching for truth will inevitably encounter. Since truth is what this website is all about, and the people who come here to read stuff care about it, I thought it would be a good idea to write about these dangers.

If I understand the first passage correctly, truth is not a commodity.  It is not to be gained for mere profit, but instead to directly enrich your life.  Playing philosophical games with concepts that have no bearing at all on actual life is one example of this.  This is exemplified in the thinking and writing of David Hume, and I think still runs rampant in academic philosophical circles today.  Putting aside how his theories were a part of the evolution of philosophical thought stemming from a battleground between enlightened philosophers from the Age of Reason and their Christian counterparts, Hume’s claim to fame was the statement that he really didn’t know if he existed or not.  Now in the world of ethereal philosophy, this may seem pretty cool and avante-garde.  In the reality of life, this is profoundly stupid and useless thinking. Obviously neither Hume or anyone who propagates this really takes it seriously at all.  Although he claimed to believe this, he lived his life with the assumption that he did exist.    Epictitus said it best – the aim of philosophy is not to win arguements with logic tricks and constructs, but to discover truth and apply it to the art of living your life.

Truth is not for winning arguments.  Truth is not for writing books to make money.  Truth is not to impress your students or colleagues.  Truth is not for writing smart crap in blogs.  The discovery of truth is for direct application in your life.  One of the reasons why I *try* to be honest and show my doubts and confusion over issues here is because I want people to see that even while I write, I am still trying to figure things out.  I don’t have all the answers to things, and I don’t want to pretend that I do.  I want anyone who might read this stuff to be encouraged to try to use truth the right way too – not for selfish motivations or personal gain, but to live life better and to help those around you.

The second verse hit me pretty hard.  I don’t know any church or religious (or non-religious) entity or group that DOESN’T do this.  Come on!  Don’t we all take pride in thinking that our way is right?  That we have all the answers?  If we get a bunch of people together that think like we do, then we will really sink on this one and succumb to group-think (that now that we believe we are right en-mass, we must really be right…)

Instead, its better to realize that you are probably wrong in most of what you believe.  At best, all you will ever do is scratch the surface.  I like Solomon’s quote:

“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.”

With wisdom, we can only scratch the surface of finding truth, and only scratching the surface is hardly satisifying at all if it is the place we look to find meaning in life (thus, its pursuit for this purpose brings grief).  If all any of us can do is scratch the surface on any area of knowledge, how can we sit around and pat each other on the back and congratulate each other for being in the “know” – the elite group among the sea of humanity that really has the corner on truth?  This is a ridiculous notion that I know I fall prey to all the time.  At the end of my life of searching for truth, it is humbling to know that I will only ever just scratch the surface.

And that is the what I walk away with today – the pursuit of truth is to improve the way I live and for the benefit of others.  It must be pursued with a humble heart.  If I don’t pursue truth with these thoughts in mind?  I will probably just find what I want to find instead of real truth…  I’ve been down that road a thousand times.  Before I die, I’ll walk that road a million times more.  Somewhere between now and then, I pray I will humbly find real truth and may it improve my life and the lives of others around me.  I wish the same for you guys too.

    2 Responses to “Dangers to finding truth”

    1. Mark

      I have to agree with you on both points, that finding truth is to improve your lives and that of others, and that most churches are a collection of people that think they are right and everyone is wrong. Though not sure what translation you are going from. In my quest for the truth I try to come to the reality of what it means for my life, and I have heard pastors say from the pulpit that “if you are going to be in our boat you can’t rock it, that you should just get in some other boat.” Most have “Unity” as their sacred calf, and have no real interest in discovering what God really expects from us.

      Reply to this comment.
    2. Jonathan
      Author Comment

      Mark!! Its great to hear from you!!

      I was quoting from the NLT – they paraphrase “factions” a lot. Yes – you and I are kindred spirits on this topic, and are quite familiar with the pain associated with it. I feel like I have more in common with Epictitus or Socrates then with “Churchianity.”

      Reply to this comment.

Leave a Reply