Your Truth and My Truth

Look at others and their truth.  Do you like a part of their truth?  Then put it in your world and make it part of your truth.  Don’t like their truth?  Say to yourself, “It’s okay for them but I want something different.”

The point here is to live YOUR life and YOUR truth the way you want to so that you wake up excited and ready for each moment of every day.

There is no right and wrong here.  YOUR truth is just as real as someone else’s truth.  We are all unique to what we desire….

Source: Beth and Lee’s Blog

Vacuous: 1. Devoid of matter; empty. 2. a. Lacking intelligence; stupid. b. Devoid of substance or meaning; inane: a vacuous comment.

The idea above is vacuous, and my main intention here really is definition 2b, although I would say as gently as possible that it fits 1 and 2a as well.  One of the strangest, goofiest, and most backward ideas that is currently accepted in mainstream thought is the notion that you can have one truth and I can have another truth, and yet our two different truths can both be true, even if they completely contradict each other.  Of course in such a strange way of thinking, that obviously false idea can be true by the simple act of my declaring it so!  The problem is that truth itself doesn’t work that way.

“There is no right and wrong here.”

If what you are talking about is actually truth, then there most certainly is a right and wrong.  By definition, truth is about what is right and what is wrong.  If I say, “I have wings and can fly to the moon,” that statement is false because the reality is that I do not have wings and therefore cannot fly anything except maybe a kite.  If I say, “I have three daughters, age 16, 14, and 13, that statement is true because the reality is that there are three girls in this world of that age, who have my last name, and half of my chromosomes.  Falsehood is that which is wrong (does not align with reality), and truth is that which is right (aligns with reality).  If I say I have wings, that is false and I am wrong.  But I am quite right in saying I have three girls – one might even say I am being truthful in making the claim.  So if one is actually talking about truth, one is by definition talking about right and wrong.

If one is not talking about right and wrong, one is not talking about truth but something entirely different, which I suspect is what Beth and Lee are actually doing in their post.

They claim, “We are all unique to what we desire.”  If what Beth and Lee are talking about is actually desire, and not truth, then there might be some small ground on which they can be correct.  Certainly we all have different desires and combinations of desires and certainly this contributes to our uniqueness.  The thing that concerns me with their statement, however, is that they have made truth equivalent to desire.

In this way of thinking, my desires are so important and so essential to who I am that they actually have power to make things true.  Can you believe that?  In their way of thinking, if I desire something badly enough, it can become reality for me.  If I desire badly enough that I should be able to drive into a wall at 70 mph and not suffer injury, then it can actually happen – that can be my truth, my reality.  If I desire badly enough that I should be able to have unprotected sex with multiple partners whenever I want and there be no physical or emotional consequences, then that can actually be the reality.

The problem with this is that consequences by definition, usually ARE reality.  Consequences are often what we encounter when we have made a decision that may be deeply rooted in desire, but is not at all rooted in reality.  The reality is that I cannot have unprotected sex with multiple partners whenever I want and have there be no physical or emotional consequences because this behavior logically and naturally brings about those very consequences.  Any attempt to say that desire is the same as truth, or that simply by desiring something we can make it true, completely misses the point of what truth actually is.

God either exists or does not exist.  The beliefs of all the worlds most strident atheists do not have any bearing whatsoever on whether or not God actually exists.  God might very well exist in spite of their belief that he does not, and their desire that he not.  Likewise the beliefs of all the world’s most ardent theists and proponents of God do not have any bearing at all on whether or not God exists.  God might very well not exist in spite of their belief that he does and their desire that he does.

We live in confusing times.  When we have lost the ability to see that truth in its very nature involves being right and being wrong, we have lost the light by which we can come to see anything clearly at all.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Source: Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in The Holy Bible, Matthew 6:22-23

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. A request for me to defend some of my comments does not obligate me to do so.

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  • Chris Peterson

    Well written post, although I’m going to take another stab at Jeff’s apologetics for Beth and Lee. Because I think part of the problem is in how terms are being defined.

    When Christians speak of truth, we typically understand that word to mean the objective reality that lies outside of ourselves. God’s reality. Non-negotiable reality.

    Now, the way that Beth and Lee are using the word truth seems fundamentally different to me. Let’s say you and I were sitting down for dinner. I order a Bud Light with my meal, and you, being a much more cultivated man than I, order a Founders Pale Ale. I remark – “I hate Founders Pale, but man, Bud Light is great!”, to which you reply – “I couldn’t disagree more! Founders makes a great pale, but Bud Light? You might as well drink water!”

    You and I have expressed a different encounter with these two objects. Neither encounter has changed the objective reality of the beers – they remain liquid, they will taste the same, they’re equally acidic, their color is the same. And our experiences were both formed by this same objective stuff. However, what has been revealed is a difference in how we engage with these things. What is true of the beer isn’t what you or I experience in its consumption. But the degree to which our experience was good or bad is a truth of experience, of ourselves, fueled by but not reflective of some initiating object.

    Now, in my mind, Beth and Lee express themselves VERY poorly by choosing to use the word truth in their blog, and indeed, such is the stuff of aspiring cultists (or trapped cult members, sadly). They’ll convince you that you can believe whatever “truth” you want, and then convince you that theirs is the one that you need. They would have a much stronger argument if they would just admit that what they are really seeking isn’t truth, but freedom – freedom to pursue pleasant experiences without condemnation or limitation. Freedom to drink the Bud Light if they want to, even if you say that’s repulsive.

    Of course, I believe part of the difficulty is that Christians often use truth incorrectly in the same way as well. Is Lutheran doctrine truth? Are papal bulls truth? Is infant baptism a true practice, or is waiting to baptize more in line with truth? I don’t know, and I’ll admit that. I’d say that even within the church, though, that the pursuit of truth is often not the primary driver for a lot of people, but that they too are simply looking for a pleasant experience. And to be consistent, if I’m not speaking out of a bag of lies, there’s no truth in that.

    God’s truth is beyond our understanding. Our experiences with God our not. The former without considering the latter is legalism. The latter without considering the former is mindless relativism/meaningless universalism.

    • Great comments, thank you!

      Beth and Lee refer on their blog to the Law of Attraction. They are apologists for it, so I know I am correctly interpreting their understanding of truth and it really is as far out as what I have said. It’s not as innocent as them having chosen the wrong word to describe their approach.

      It comes down to what you said about how they (and all who talk about completely subjective truth) should just admit they are seeking not truth but freedom (in the sense of license). That is what it is about, and nothing more, but we want to use spiritual terms for it and make unrestrained seeking after pleasure appear credible. I think you nailed it there.

      • Chris Peterson

        I didn’t mean to imply that the confusion in terms was completely, or even partially, your fault. I agree they could stand being a little more precise with their terms. I’m loosely familiar with the Law of Attraction. From what I know, I’d say it’s somewhat cultish in its construction, and I agree, not innocent at all.

        • I wasn’t thinking about fault at all, or feeling blamed for anything, just trying to show that my characterization of their use of the term was in the spirit of how they actually intended to use it.

    • The only thing I’m absolutely certain of is that whoever is drinking Bud Light is WRONG. 🙂

  • Jeff Vannest

    I read that blog very differently. I’m left with the impression that the important thing is ownership of truth, not the specific nature of truth. If your truth is to sleep around then we might agree that it’s stupid but the general rule still applies: you might as well OWN IT because it’s your choice to make.

    This is good advice to Christians: you can’t OWN Paul’s beliefs, your denomination’s beliefs, your church’s beliefs. You need to make your beliefs yours and OWN THEM. I think that sounds pretty healthy.

    • I’m glad you found some redemptive value in Beth and Lee’s post, but I think your comments miss the point I was trying to make in my post. My point was that truth actually IS something. Whatever you might call a decision to sleep around, it is not truth. Truth actually has a meaning and what they are talking about is not truth to begin with. The conversation gets muddied beyond all use when they are referring to lifestyle choices and decisions and desires as “truths.” All of those things are arbitrary, but truth, by definition, consists of things that can be shown to be true or false. This is especially difficult because of how circular it is, since ultimately people must build their lives on what is true (the thing that will lead to the fewest negative consequences in most cases). It is therefore extremely unhelpful to say that what is true is simply whatever you decide to do (which they clearly say). One can have many productive conversations about the importance of owning your convictions and taking responsibility for them, but this is a completely different conversation than whether or not they are “truths.”

      …and before you decide to own Paul’s beliefs, or those of your denomination or church, you had better put some time into deciding whether or not they are true. Two separate issues.

      • Jeff Vannest

        I understood your point quite well; it was clearly stated. 🙂

        Isn’t this really a difference of vocabulary, one which comes out of a philosophy based on objective truth and one based on subjective truth? To hold one position and say to another, “You don’t understand the definition of your words,” is to reject a position somewhat out of hand, don’t you think?

        In my opinion, facts can be shown to be true or false but truth is untestable. God is truth, for which there is no proof. Love is true, for which there is no proof. Promiscuity is neither true nor false, although you might use statistics to show that it can be detrimental given certain conditions.

        It might be interesting to look into whether truth can be separated from belief. Given my own vocabulary they cannot.

        • Theologically speaking, all that we traditionally call “sin” is falsehood. This gives added weight to Jesus’ claim to BE the truth. Thus things like promiscuity could easily be said to be false, and we can clearly observe falsehood at work in the consequences this behavior consistently brings. So I reject that truth is untestable and cannot be proven. It cannot be proven like gravity, but certainly can be proven in its own way, appropriate for what it is. Certainly the only reason you believe in love in the first place is because you have seen it, experienced it, and have enough evidence of its existence to believe in it – the same could be said for God himself.

          Willard tackles the distinction between truth and belief (and throws in profession and faith) in his latest book. It has some fantastic stuff in it (that discussion in particular is excellent), but left me a bit disappointed, as it is written for the church and uses a lot of scripture and would therefore be quickly dismissed in most intellectual circles. He is currently working on his magnum opus, called The Disappearance of Moral Knowledge, which will be that same basic book written for the university, and I eagerly await this.

    • p.s. Thanks for reading!

      • Jeff Vannest

        You’re welcome. 🙂 I typically keep my thoughts to myself since I realize that we frequently see things very differently. But I enjoy your blogs nevertheless.

        • Be sure to write in sometime and let me know when you have read a post you actually AGREE with! 🙂

          • Jeff Vannest

            Hah! I will remember to do so. I really liked http://davidkflowers.com/2009/11/04/knowing-god although I didn’t comment. I wrote a somewhat similar blog once and got trashed for it. You gotta say what you believe, right? Otherwise, what’s the point?

            • It scares, bothers, and angers me that you would get nailed for saying the things I said in that post. That’s the whole problem in the first place. I consider that post FAR from the most controversial thing I have ever written!