On Truth: An Atheist Quotes Scripture

I am going to do some very odd for an atheist, but bear with me. I am going to quote scripture.

In John 18 Pilate is questioning Jesus who, according to the Bible, will soon be crucified.

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

Many claim to be pointing to the truth. The Christians have Jesus and the Bible. The Muslims have the Quran. Many atheists declare there is no god with at least some degree of certitude, and everyone seems to think that if everyone else followed the same thought processes that they did everyone would reach the same conclusions. When everyone doesn’t reach the same conclusions, the other group is wrong and excuses are made. In a sense, “Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Of course, we have no idea if Pilate really said this, or indeed, if this scene really took place. Still, imagine just giving up flabbergasted and retorting, “What is truth?” I’m sure most of my readers know that it was Barabbas who was released. Does the truth matter? And what do you do with truth once it is found? Do you get a gold star for finding the truth?

But there is a scarier situation. What if on the journey to find truth, all that is found is chaos and, ironically at the same time, nothingness? What if, on finding the truth, the notion of human progress seems flimsy at best. What if there are no answers on how to live a good life? What if, at base, there are no logical answers to life’s most urgent questions? Maybe you do get that damned gold star, but at what price?

I’m not saying truth is that grim, only what if? Does one live their life wearing their gold star with pride, or do they do something different?

As always, opinions welcome!




Can Comfort Ever Trump Truth?

Some of my posts have been about how the truth/falseness of belief systems is what matters most, and I stand by that. However, posting on this topic and reading some comments has made me interested in a different question. Can comfort ever trump truth?

Honestly, I know I’m, potentially, going to receive some flack, but my answer is what it is. In certain situations, yes, comfort could trump truth. Before anyone becomes unglued, think about this simple question. Would you tell someone God doesn’t exist immediately after the death of one their loved ones? I, personally, would answer in the negative. This information, no matter how eloquently presented, would more than likely do nothing besides emotional harm.

Now, imagine a possible world where everyone was diseased, but they don’t know about this, yet. There is no cure for this disease, but believing people don’t have the disease causes people less stress, and this disease acts on stress. The disease is still there even if people aren’t stressed, but knowledge of the disease makes it considerably worse. Knowledge of the disease will keep everyone from functioning in society normally. Should we tell people they are diseased, or should we keep this information hidden? (Excuse the odd thought experiment. I’m writing on the fly. Plus, I just have an affinity for strange thought experiments. Sue me.) Now from my experience, people usually try to wiggle out of possible world scenarios. Let me reiterate. There is no cure, and there never will be. In this case, I might, begrudgingly, hide the truth.

What am I getting at? There may be real world instances where comfort could trump truth, but I imagine the list of scenarios is quite low. For example, I’m sure everyone has heard stories of people that were drug addicts, but one day they accepted Jesus into their heart. Then, they immediately stopped using. Alternatively, I’m sure everyone has heard the stories of a suicidal person who is told Jesus loves them, and then, they are happy again. Now, I might be different than some, but I don’t actually doubt that these types of situations do happen. These people have psychological issues most likely; otherwise, they wouldn’t have used drugs or been suicidal. I’m not saying it would never be okay to present them with arguments against God’s existence, but a person who wants to do this should be damn sure they are emotionally healthy enough to handle it.

My point in a nutshell: If the truth could destroy someone, then maybe, in those cases, comfort does trump truth. There may be a lot of people who disagree with my analysis. Please feel free to comment. I welcome dissenting views.