- Published on Tuesday, 29 November 2011 07:05
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 4298
Religious people often talk about truths that cannot be proved. They imply (and sometimes say straight-out) that just because something is not scientific or provable, you "know in your heart" that it is true. But is it really? What is truth? My trusty Oxford Dictionary defines "true" as "In accordance with fact or reality" so saying it is a truth is really saying it is a fact and real.
We can get into a semantic argument here but my point is that when someone says that something is "a truth" - e.g. the "love of God" - they really mean that they feel it deeply and that for them it is true. It has no scientific or factual basis, it's simply a personal feeling.
The next step people take is to argue that there are "truths" that cannot be discovered by science and that many of these are religious truths. I suppose you can define "truth" to be a strong feeling or something told to you by someone who you trust (e.g. a priest) and then for you, it is true - that is, you believe. You can in fact believe a large amount of information - even an entire religion! And you can even call these stories truths although saying it or believing it does not change reality - it either is true or it is not and your belief in it does not change the reality. Like a 4 year old child who is told that there is a Santa Claus - this is clearly a truth to the child but it does not make Santa Claus a reality - except in the child's imagination.
Of course the term "religious truth" can mean other things: for example the concept of interpreting the Bible or Qu'ran outside of a literal sense; finding the meaning that was intended behind specific stories, parables, or teachings. So in this case, truth now means "what was really meant" or the "idea behind the analogy/parable".
But for rational or scientific thinkers, truth means "fact or reality" and that in turn requires proof. Believing something does not make it true. Feelings can't be proved; it has been shown that religious stories can't be proved (you need faith!); the intention of a writer can't be deduced with any certainty. So "Religious Truths" are not truths to anyone but the person writing or talking about them - and the title "Religious Truth", is an oxymoron.
First published on this site November 2009.