Guest Author - Linda Joan Paul
What is the difference between belief and truth? And, does belief at some point become truth? Certainly, many religions and belief systems in our world claim to be based upon truth. So, isnít truth, in this case anyway, based completely upon faith and not logic? And, how much of what we believe to be true is based upon our upbringing, our culture, and our own unique life experience?
A few years ago, my youngest sons were involved in an argument over who was responsible for the lionís share of cleaning the cluttered room that they shared. They each had their own items but they also had items that were shared. Eventually, the argument turned in my direction for reconciliation. Both boys had their own version of the truth. And, both were entirely sure that their version was the correct one. In all actuality, both of them made good points. But, it was very clear that each one saw the truth from his own biased perspective. So, it really all boiled down to the fact that they were expressing opinions and not truth. The truth of the matter was that the room didnít get cleaned and they both wandered off to do something else.
Would it be a fair statement, based upon the above example, to say that truth is relative to the person who is seeking it? And, that the only complete truth is that which is based upon physical evidence. I donít know which son was telling me the truth about the messy room, but I do know for a fact that the room didnít get cleaned. So, does that mean that half of what we see as truth is actually opinion and belief?
My friend comments on the beautiful birch tree growing in my yard. I inform her that it is an oak. She insists that it is a birch. We both have our own ideas about the truth of what kind of tree is growing in my front yard. I go to my bookshelf and pick up a book about trees. I show her the pictures of both the birch and the oak, and she agrees that the tree is indeed an oak. But, it took physical proof from an expert on trees to make her change her mind.
Even scientific truth changes with the advent of new and improved techniques and devices with which to view the physical world around us. Before the earth was proven to be round, the idea that it was flat was a definite truth to those who cared to ponder the issue. It took a long time for adventurers, scientists and philosophers to convince people that the earth that they lived upon was actually an orb hanging in space.
Even in todayís technologically advanced world, well documented and even proven truths are shown to be untrue.
And, there are thousands of culturally based concepts and ideas that hold truth for one sector of the world but are seen as false by other sectors. Even in the United States there is an ongoing battle between those of various religions and beliefs who either support or deny the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lordís Prayer, and the use of the words ďIn God We TrustĒ on our currency. For hundreds of years the words to the Pledge of Allegiance and the Lordís Prayer were uttered by schoolchildren and crowds in public places. We took them as truth until one day someone stood up and said ďProve that God even exists.Ē
Belief, opinion, and faith are all pretty much mixed up and served as truth in our world. But, that is only my opinion. After all is said and done, isnít it diversity of thought and belief that really makes us who we are both individually and collectively? I think so.