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Tue Dec 4, 2012, 09:38 AM

"This is the truth!" vs "Is this true?"

These two sentences encapsulate the two main approaches to religion, politics and life IMO.

The first is a bold statement. We might label the person who makes that type of statement a conservative or fundamentalist, dogmatic or just plain stubborn. This person knows what they think and what they want. They set goals and go for them and don't let anything get in the way. So far this sounds like a useful atttibute and it can lead to success.

The bold statement is something we see in self-help books, usually called an "affirmation". You set your intention and then repeat it ad nauseam until you believe it, start acting on it and hopefully make it come true. But it can lead to tunnel vision and an inability to react to changing circumstances. You might tell yourself "I'm an astronaut" and you keep repeating it and keep going towards that goal, but whatever you do, your goal just doesn't seem to get any closer.

So this is where the second sentence comes in - a question. At this point it might be worth asking "am I an astronaut?" and "could I become an astronaut, is it possible?"

The first type of person (if they're politically active) generally wants to force the rest of the world to fit into or accept their viewpoint. They say "this is what will make the world better!"

The second type of person looks at the world as it is. They ask "will this make the world better?" or "how do I make the world better?"

Of course we probably we need a combination of both approaches. The person who only asks questions and is ambivalent about everything won't get far.

But that curiosity (something which brought me to DU incidentally) will open up new avenues and ideas...

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Reply "This is the truth!" vs "Is this true?" (Original post)
CJCRANE Dec 2012 OP
Scuba Dec 2012 #1
deutsey Dec 2012 #2
rug Dec 2012 #3
CJCRANE Dec 2012 #5
cbayer Dec 2012 #4

Response to CJCRANE (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 09:42 AM

1. Put your faith in one who seeks the truth. Doubt any who claim to have found it.

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Response to CJCRANE (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 09:56 AM

2. Mark Twain quote

“In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

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Response to CJCRANE (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 10:51 AM

3. William James had some excellent thoughts on this.

“Objective evidence and certitude are doubtless very fine ideals to play with, but where on this moonlit and dream-visited planet are they found?” - The Will to Believe, 1896


http://www.mnsu.edu/philosophy/THE%20WILL%20TO%20BELIEVE%20.pdf

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Response to rug (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 11:29 AM

5. Some interesting points there...

although I think there is more osmosis between religions now than there was in his day.

However, my mind wandered and I started to think about why I admire famous Deists, atheists and blasphemers from history...and I realized that it's not about their difference in belief or lack of belief, it's about rooting for the underdog against accepted wisdom.

In the same way that I admire religious people who kept true to their beliefs under state atheism in the USSR and China.

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Response to CJCRANE (Original post)

Tue Dec 4, 2012, 11:16 AM

4. Good post and I agree with much of it.

The people that irk me the most are the ones who make the "This is the truth" statement, particularly when it comes to religion. Since, imo, no one has the truth, to insist that one does is particularly annoying. That goes for both believers and non-believers.

Then to double down by saying, well my truth is better than yours because mine is based on rationality and yours is based on fantasy, just exponentially increases my irritation and decreases my interest in discussion.

With religion, I do not agree that we need a combination of approaches, because I think the first is without merit. But I do think we need a combination of believers and non-believers working together to increase understanding and tolerance, and to build alliances.

Why stop asking questions? I think you are much more likely to go far if you keep doing so.

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