Letter to the Editor

Citizen Forum, July 12 edition

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What is truth?


Questions! I can think of many, like who is Rick Burry? Why has he chosen a small town newspaper's forum section to vent his frustration and angst on individuals of faith (such as myself) that couldn't care less what he thinks, given that the platform of his convictions is limited to his narrow, cynical perspective of reality through more arbitrary reason? After examining his diatribe, a larger question might be why should anyone believe anything at all? The answer to that inquiry must fall into one of four categories: sociological, psychological, religious, or philosophical. Mr. Burry obviously argues his position from the philosophical viewpoint so I will limit my comments to that. And in spite of his blatant factual and historical inaccuracies, he is convinced he's right. But is he?

Lest I be accused of simply being dismissive, however, let's go to what is the all-encompassing question that may be at the root of Mr. Burry's (or for that matter, anyone's) quest for veracity. It boils down to belief in absolute truth and its relationship with the law of Non-contradiction. The law simply states that either a matter is true or it is untrue, it can't be both at the same time in the same tense. If he says there is no God and I say there is, one of us IS wrong. Both of us can't be right. Either there is absolute truth or there is not. In short, contrary beliefs are possible, but contrary truths are not.

I surmise from Mr. Burry's irreconcilable rants that he would label himself an atheist. He would argue, then, that there is no absolute truth and would want others to accept that as absolute truth. So on what basis can we believe his position? His argument is self-defeating. He condescendingly implies that any faith or conviction that is variant from his own displays intolerance or ignorance. But isn't that an intolerant position? He is quick to point out his belief that inconsistencies in mortal behavior over centuries is his "factual" basis for the inexistence of God and the inviability of religion. Would he then agree that the consistency of even one man's behavior could be the exception that would factually prove the existence of God? He labels individuals of faith as merely "religionists, groveling and sniveling" in their "cultic" worship expressions. Are his characterizations and descriptions true or are these simply assumptions, given that he apparently has no experience at worship? Are we to accept his life and revelations as the standard of truth for all the rest of us? Apparently he thinks so. But is he right or is he wrong?

I recently read a book that stated this: "The truth of the matter is essentially that false ideas about truth lead to false ideas about life. In many cases, these false ideas give mistaken justification for what is really immoral behavior. For if you can kill the concept of truth, then you can kill the concept of any true religion or any true morality". i agree. Alex Huxley, a renowned atheist, stated that his philosophical positions were essentially " an instrument of liberation" from what he perceived to be potential limitations placed on his behavior by belief in deity. Any ring of truth to that, Mr. Burry?

Transcendent truth cannot be invented, only revealed. If Mr. Burry is really an intellectually honest seeker of truth, he would have to admit that he doesn't know everything that can possibly be known and thus God might be revealed just beyond the current knowledge he possesses or can perceive. I am convinced that Mr. Burry's rejection of God is not nearly so much of his mind but that of his will; not so much "I can't, but I won't". That makes his position volitional ( for whatever reasons), not factual.

Augustine said that we love the truth when it enlightens us, but we hate it when it convicts us. What is truth, Mr. Burry? Afraid of a little conviction?

Dave Schmidt