The insistence of everyday, Part 2

January 31, 2013

in Some Things to Think About

I posted a link to Part 1, The insistence of everyday, and a good friend commented: “Interesting post Jim. May be applicable to anyone who believes in a higher power, not just Christians. You took the time to reflect, which I must confess, I don’t do nearly enough.” What struck me was his phrase “may be applicable to anyone who believes in a higher power, not just Christians.” I agree. What I call God and others call Allah or higher power doesn’t just shower Christians with hints of His presence. The Spirit pursues every human being to lure them closer. Indeed, God is the creative source of every human’s spirit (soul, life force). (There is of course a different point of view, which one might term ‘relentless secularism.’ There are no supernatural causes only natural causes. I will not debate that point of view in this post. Read my book Imagining Rama; a brief guide to exploring the universe, mystery and meaning if you want to engage in that conversation.)

What I attempted to say in Part 1 is that the literal reality of God impinges on each person’s constructed reality, whether or not they open themselves to be aware of this. This gets us into the question of truth. Is what I am saying true, or only my version of truth? That seems like an “either/or” question but is actually a “both/and question.” Let me explain.

The question of truth.

In its simplest terms, God literally can both be true (really what is) and also untrue (non-existing) for an individual who programs their constructed world to eliminate the possibility of God. This happens because God honors human freedom to the extreme of even deciding God doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t end the discussion. What happens next? Does God “walk away” from a person who chooses non-God and “wash His hands” so to speak of this person? What is true about the relationship between God and human beings? That is where Christians make a claim that, so far as I am aware, no other religion holds as true.

Christians say it very simply. “God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that  anyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16] You can see this reference plastered on public places by Christians who are trying to alert people to this reality. Unfortunately, some non-Christians take this as a threat — believe or you won’t be saved.  But you have to read the next line to get the full context and what this statement really means. “Indeed God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” [John 3:17] God isn’t in the business of giving people ultimatums. He is in the business of helping people to get out of their limited constructed realities without Him and take up their rightful place with Him as divine-like beings, created to live forever with him.” That is what Chrtistians say is true. But is it? If other religions hold that Allah or a higher power acts differently than this, what is literally true?

On one level, that of each person’s constructed mental model, there is no certain way to estabish the facts about this reality. God is beyond human comprehension and God’s ways are also impenetrable. That is why each human being engages in a “quest for truth” throughout life, to seek and hopefully find answers to such ultimate questions. Many stories have been written about this quest over thousands of years ranging from religious epics like the Bhagavad Gita, to Chretein de Troyes myth about Parsifal and the quest for the Holy Grail, to Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge. The essence of the human quest for truth is to find what is authentically true outside themselves. Out of that quest comes a sense of completion and peace. “The pursuit of truth shall set you free.” Each person recognizes when they have reached the goal of their quest, which is truth which they didn’t reason to or construct. Until they reach that point, they sense they must not cease in their quest.

The Christian claim about truth

So, how can Christians be so confident about the truth? For some, truth is simple. If the Bible says it’s true, it’s true. In reality, that is very similar to what believers in other religions also claim. “My book is right and yours isn’t.” To someone engaged in a quest for truth, simply starting to accept the Bible as the end of their quest is as difficult as accepting they know God’s reality. They are unwilling to short-circuit their quest for truth — and good on them! None of what I have said addresses, however, the Christian claim to know the actual, literal truth about God — only the everyday reality that many people won’t accept what individual Christians say as true.

Where I come out on this is that every human being (including Christians by the way) must engage in an authentic quest for the truth — about God and who they are. It is the pursuit of truth not the possession of truth that grows human beings into the divine beings we are destined to become. In these two posts I have tried to show (though some trivial examples) that opening up yourself, and admiting the hints of God into your constructed mental model is a necessary step in this quest. Unless you do that, you never find your way out of Plato’s cave — your own limited self-constructed mental model for the world. The Christian claim is that the quest is worth it — and that you are never alone when you are pursuing truth.

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