So I mentioned how I was going to start flipping through Rainn Wilson’s book called Soul Pancake and look through the different days and try and do some of the exercises/answer some of the questions posed by the author. This is the beginning of that process.
How Do You Determine Truth?
“A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals that only 25% of those who search the internet for health topics check the source and date of the information regularly to assess the quality.” Source: Does it really matter?
What is truth? Does truth evolve? What is one thing you know for sure? These are the questions posed in the very first page of Soul Pancake. Not holding back any punches, huh? This is something I honestly struggle with even how to approach the answer. The last question kind of sticks me. I’ve never been comfortable being able to say that I am 100% certain of ANYTHING. You can ask my mom, my wife, friends, anyone. It is exceedingly rare that I will admit certainty. I’m sure it’s infuriating, but I’m not just trying to be difficult (okay, maybe a little bit), but I can’t honestly say that I have zero doubts that anything WILL happen. If I sit in that chair, will it hold me? I know in my head that it will, but there is always that off-hand chance that something isn’t going right with it and it drops me on the floor. You could say I’m the victim of getting practical jokes pulled too often, but for me it’s just a natural uncertainty. Maybe I’m just prone to doubt. Any way you cut it, my understanding of the nature of truth is something I’ve honestly struggled with personally.
“Intense feeling too often obscures the truth” -Former President Harry S. Truman
“Our ability to manufacture fraud now exceeds our ability to detect it.” Viktor Taransky (played by Al Pacino), S1m0ne
So much of what we consider to be true is all to often determined by our ability to understand the world we live in and how it functions and I think that is where I struggle with my perception of truth. I doubt my ability to not only have all the necessary data (I rarely do) and to process it correctly to end at the right point. In that sense I don’t doubt that what I am saying is true. I really just doubt whether I have all the data and in that uncertainty I don’t like to state what I am thinking of as “truth”. So for me, the issue is mainly in the fact that I doubt my understanding and not the truthfulness of a particular piece of information.
“Copernicus was the first to suggest that the Earth and planets revolve around the sun–a theory supported by Galileo, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton. Copernicus, however, delayed publishing his findings so as not to incur the wrath of the Catholic Church, unlike Galileo, whose championing of the heliocentric view of the universe led to him being denounced during the Roman Inquisition.” Source: “Galileo’s Religion” by Olaf Pedersen, from The Galileo Affair: A Meeting of Faith and Science [Vatican Observatory, 1985]
Just because people didn’t like what Copernicus and Galileo didn’t have to say didn’t make it untrue (also taking in account that they thought that our little solar system was the “universe”), but truth did exist out there. Earth rotating around the Sun is true. It is not untrue. In that sense, there is definitive, measurable and understandable truth. It’s complicated because our understanding and perception of that truth is what is further unfolding. I get so hesitant around the word “truth” and our certainty about it because it is so external to us. Truth is the purest state that something can be in at its root, but the real question (and struggle) is the depth that I can come to grips with it…aye yaye aye.
So as truth unfolds to us and we gain glimpses of the truth that does in fact exist, how can we be certain and sure that what we think is true is true? Sometimes I give myself headaches just thinking about this, but I think in many ways it ends up coming to a point where we have to work with the information we have and take a step in faith. Faith that what we see is in fact true and faith that as we grow, we will receive more that either confirms or denies what we have defined as truth. And that doesn’t make my head hurt too bad. 🙂