BC_Blog

Science & the Truth-seeker


Posted 30 Dec 2012

Truth: some thoughts…

Today I looked at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science Facebook page. On it I saw a poster of stars in a nebula overprinted with the words “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be” a quote attributed to P. C. Hodgell. [1]
(source: http://www.facebook.com/index.php?lh=9220a569e9a3b0c2bc2e1285bcab398c&eu=pYsLGm-hgxlo0QD32DYbyw#!/)

I found myself wondering about Stephen Dawkins, humanists, philosophers, thinkers & all people in terms of their personal searches for the truth. I think pretty much everyone is trying to find out what is true in this world; what they can rely on as being true. When you are in the queue in a supermarket you may be forgiven for thinking that very few people are even thinking about truth, eternity, and the meaning of life. We imagine people are too caught up in thinking about the price of fish, & the everyday-ness of life to care much about the pursuit of truth! However, I think most people are seeking truth; trying to find out what is right, true, trustworthy, reliable, etc, in order to try to make sense of life in their own experience. Even if we are not conscious of our own pursuit of truth & understanding of this world, I think everyone wants to find something that they can rely on as being their ‘truth’, simple because that gives them a central position from which to start from: a reliable starting point from which sense can be made of the rest of this often mysterious, baffling, wonderful, scary thing we call our lives.

I realised how much I admire anyone who wants to pursue the search for the truth. I think it takes courage, determination & single-mindedness to set out on a personal search for the truth. I admire that bravery a great deal. I admire the courage it takes to seek the truth. I admire the tenacity needed to search high & low for the truth, realising that this search can often entail months or even years of fruitlessness, before we uncover the elusive reality or truth that we are seeking.
I admire anyone who is prepared to even begin their personal voyager of discovery.

Truth: some thoughts…

Today I looked at the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science Facebook page. On it I saw a poster of stars in a nebula overprinted with the words “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be” a quote attributed to P. C. Hodgell. [1]
(source: http://www.facebook.com/index.php?lh=9220a569e9a3b0c2bc2e1285bcab398c&eu=pYsLGm-hgxlo0QD32DYbyw#!/)

I found myself wondering about Stephen Dawkins, humanists, philosophers, thinkers & all people in terms of their personal searches for the truth. I think pretty much everyone is trying to find out what is true in this world; what they can rely on as being true. When you are in the queue in a supermarket you may be forgiven for thinking that very few people are even thinking about truth, eternity, and the meaning of life. We imagine people are too caught up in thinking about the price of fish, & the everyday-ness of life to care much about the pursuit of truth! However, I think most people are seeking truth; trying to find out what is right, true, trustworthy, reliable, etc, in order to try to make sense of life in their own experience. Even if we are not conscious of our own pursuit of truth & understanding of this world, I think everyone wants to find something that they can rely on as being their ‘truth’, simple because that gives them a central position from which to start from: a reliable starting point from which sense can be made of the rest of this often mysterious, baffling, wonderful, scary thing we call our lives.

I realised how much I admire anyone who wants to pursue the search for the truth. I think it takes courage, determination & single-mindedness to set out on a personal search for the truth. I admire that bravery a great deal. I admire the courage it takes to seek the truth. I admire the tenacity needed to search high & low for the truth, realising that this search can often entail months or even years of fruitlessness, before we uncover the elusive reality or truth that we are seeking.
I admire anyone who is prepared to even begin their personal voyager of discovery.

Some notes & personal observations about the purpose statement of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
The About section of the Facebook page of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science reads: ‘The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.

The first part of the statement is sound, but as a Christian I wonder about the second part, which I have italicised in the above quote, so you can see the two parts of it. I heartily agree with the purpose… ‘to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world…’ I have no problem at all with the purpose of promoting science or scientific education. I think it is vitally important that we encourage critical thinking in everyone. Of course we should be critical thinkers; wondering about the true nature of the cosmos is important. Even promoting an ‘evidence-based understanding of the natural world’ causes me no problem at all… that’s great! Anyone seeking truth in this arena is to be congratulated, as far as I am concerned.

Science, scientific education, critical thinking, evidence-based understanding, all these things are important. As I wrote earlier, I admire the search for truth & the seeker of truth. I admire anyone who wants to find out about the world, the nature of the universe, and who is willing to use rigorous, repeatable, scientific method to come to a conclusion about the nature of nature itself.

Science, scientific education, critical thinking & evidence-based understanding are all excellent tools for the human mind to begin to explore inner space (the microscopic) & outer space (the world outside of our own bodies) in an attempt to get to grips with truth, in all its forms. The Foundations purpose of wanting to use science to show or ‘prove’ what is in the physical world is to be applauded. Of course that is an excellent motive.

However, I have (currently) two reservations regarding the second part (the bit I have italicised) of the purpose statement of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science:

1) The first issue is the Foundation’s use of science.
It seems to me that the Foundation is quite rightly concentrating on the physical, provable world. Science can certainly shed some light & understanding on that… it is an excellent tool to do so. However, the Foundations purpose goes a step further than simply wanting to use science to prove what is in the physical world. The italicised, second part of the Foundation’s purpose statement reads: ’…in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.’ Immediately this second part of the purpose statement alters the first part, because it introduces a purpose, or stated reason for the science-based investigation. The reason behind the investigation of the physical world, using science & critical thinking. It seems to me that based on the second part of the purpose statement the expected outcome, or driving purpose of all the science & critical thinking, in the Foundation’s eyes, is to have something to say about the non-physical universe. Clearly religions; matters that require faith; causes & effects that are not subject to the universe’s physical laws, etc, fall outside the scope of that which science can prove or disprove.

The supernatural is, by definition, beyond the natural world.
A definition of the word supernatural (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary) is, ‘of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe;’ or (from Oxford Dictionaries), ‘(of a manifestation or event) Attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.’
Based on these definitions, there is a ‘world’ or ‘reality’ or ‘order of existence beyond the visible observable universe.’

An immediate question arises here: How can science or any other ‘tool’ which we might use to provide understanding of the physical universe, be a useful, appropriate tool to use in examining the supernatural world, which, by definition is BEYOND the visible observable universe?

Surely it must be obvious that science & scientific investigation is unable to be used to observe, & therefore comment on, anything which is outside of the visible observable universe.

Therefore, science & scientific investigation should be used to investigate the physical universe, but it is not reasonable to try to use a tool that is bound & limited to the physical realm of reality, in any pursuit or comment of that which is outside the physical universe (that which is supernatural.)

Science is the wrong ‘tool’ for that job!
We need other ‘tools’, better suited to the job of discovering truth regarding the supernatural world. Science just won’t “cut it” in that world!
Worse still, the person who tries to use science or any other ‘tool’ suited only to investigating the physical universe will get misleading results at best, or wildly erroneous & conflicting results at worst, using science-based ‘tools’ in this way. Trying to use science to comment on the metaphysical is bound to produce the wrong conclusions. It’s a recipe for disappointment, frustration & wrong conclusions!

It is important to realise that science, like every other man-made investigative ‘tool’ has limitations. Of course it does, it is a creation of human beings who are bound inside a physical, temporal universe. Science is excellent at observing & recording information in the physical, temporal universe, because it is a construction of our human brains, which are themselves bound to the physical, temporal universe.

There seems to be a trend in modern thinking to take what can be proven (through observation) & to endlessly extrapolate from the known, observable facts, into the unprovable, speculative, theoretical. On the face of it, that sounds OK. Usually a scientist has to speculate what may be found, then an experiment has to be devised which will prove or disprove the theory. So far so good. We can see speculation & theorising, which leads to solid evidence (determined by later experimentation) as being a necessary pre-requisite of gaining new facts.
The problem (as far as I am concerned) is with those people who remain in the unprovable, speculative, theoretical, but who do not report that they are doing so! Such people try to sound as if such-and-such is an indisputable fact, when, far from it, they are merely trying to propose a view, a theory, which can not be proven.

If a person accurately reported facts & accurately differentiated between what is actually known (provable) & what is as yet an unproven theory, then I would have a lot of respect for their scientific veracity. But there is an increasing trend for so called “scientists” to propose ever-increasingly outlandish theories, without the evidence to support these speculations. If there is hard evidence for a viewpoint then OK, that’s great, tell me about it. But what I dislike is someone trying to “pass off” a theory as fact. Don’t do that, it’s untruthful, dishonest & degrading to the noble sciences. Anyone who is reporting something as fact, when they know full well that it is a theory, is misusing science, as far as I can see.

I studied the Earth Sciences at degree level & have always enjoyed what the sciences can provide in terms of explanation & interpretation of the complex, mysterious, wonderful cosmos. I am convinced that the sciences are valuable, irreplaceable, excellent ‘tools’ in our human quest to understand the universe. I am a science fan!

When science is used to comment on the physical, temporal universe, there is no conflict, & no problem. But when science is used to comment or speculate on the supernatural universe (which can not be observed, detected, or in any other way related to by science), then science is being ‘pushed too far’ & errors in thinking are almost automatically the result.

My motto therefore is: Keep science for the physical, temporal universe… use it to comment on that which is observable & provable, for which science is superbly suited.

But when it comes to examining & explaining the unseen, undetectable, non-physical or metaphysical universe, my other motto regarding science is: Don’t use the wrong tool for the job!

2) The second issue is with the second part of the Foundation’s purpose statement.
I am a bit surprised by that second part of the Foundation’s purpose statement. If the purpose of the Foundation is science, scientific education, critical thinking & evidence-based understanding, then why is it necessary to have the second part of the purpose statement at all? I would expect that someone who is pursuing a personal goal of seeking out truth, & who decides that science is the best tool for that job, would be happy & contented with gathering as much information on the physical universe as they possibly can. If their goal is to uncover truth using science, then the discovery of fact, which can be repeatedly proven by experimentation (the scientific method) would surely be “goals-end” for them. I would expect a science-using seeker of truth should be abundantly happy & excited by the wealth & depth of information & insight coming from all of our scientific investigations, past, present & future. In short, I think a seeker of truth who looks for answers using science as their ‘tool’ of choice would be wise to build their understanding of the cosmos purely on the evidence that their scientific investigations produce.

Why then, would it even be necessary or desirable to try to use the information gathered by the science ‘tool’, to try to comment on the supernatural, the religious, the metaphysical, etc? What’s the point of that? Why not simply ignore that which can not be proven or dis-proven by science? Such matters are outside the scope of science, so why try to use the wrong tool for the job?! That doesn’t make sense, nor is it sensible, or useful. Nor will any useful, helpful insight possibly come from this misuse of what science has to ‘say’ about the supernatural, since science has NOTHING to say about that which it can not ‘see’!

I would imagine anyone who tries to misuse science in this way, to ‘prove a point’ will inevitably become disillusioned by the very science they are trying to use, since it can’t be used the way they want to use it! I don’t think contentment, happiness, & feelings of achievement are to be found by such misuse of the noble art of the sciences.

Again, I state that I am a great fan of the sciences & of all that the sciences can tell us about the physical, temporal universe. But please stop hi-jacking these wonderful ‘tools’ & trying to get science to ‘say’ something that it is ill-equipped to comment on.

In conclusion: I admire the first part of the Foundation’s purpose statement, which refers to science, critical thinking & the pursuit of truth. I admire that very much. But I think truths, observations & results gained from the science ‘tool’ are then bent out of shape; are misrepresented; are misused by the second part of the Foundation’s purpose statement.

Anyone… be they scientist, philosopher, atheist, secular humanist, religious adherent, or just a curious thinker (!) who sets out to discover truth is, in my book, a hero. Anyone who wants to find out the ‘truth’ & who marshals their mental & physical resources to pursue that goal, no matter what the cost & no matter where the search will take them, is applauded & ‘cheered on’ by me. Such a pursuit takes courage & backbone. Anyone who wants to find ‘truth’ in its pure, unadulterated form, without motive or intent to try to use it to further their own agenda is a true truth-seeker. Good on them!

My expectation about truth is this: Pure truth should be able to ‘stand on its own two feet’. It should be pure, clear, untainted, irreducible & consistent through-and-through. If someone is seeking truth simply to be better informed, to be more enlightened, to be better equiped to manage life, then I believe these are pure-hearted motives, which illustrate the true seeker of truth. Discovering ‘truth’, wherever it lies is the goal of the truth-seeker. The motivation is enlightenment for its own sake.

a note on excitement about discovering truth
Naturally, if we discover a ‘truth’ which excites us, fires up our imagination & helps us to make more sense of the universe, then we may well want to share our newly discovered truth with anyone who will listen! Excitement at the point of truth-discovery ought to be expected, & encouraged. It is wonderful to see someone discover a truth they have not known before.

a note about ulterior motives in truth-seeking
However, I think that anyone who has an ulterior motive behind their search for ‘truth’ is not really seeking ‘truth’ at all. If there is an ulterior motive that drives the search for truth, then that seeker may not really be in search of the pure, unadulterated ‘truth’ in the first place. An ulterior motive illustrates the true purpose of that seekers’ work: an attempt to force the ‘truth’ they have discovered onto another person. Someone who deliberately wants to “make” everyone else see their ‘truth’ is a bore! Worse, they are manipulators, of other people, & of the ‘truth’ they say they are searching for.

This is a tricky area to write about, since someone who discovers a ‘truth’ without manipulative ulterior motives & excitedly wants to inform anyone who will listen about it, may look like & behave like, someone who uses the “truths” they have discovered to try to “make” other people believe what they themselves have come to believe.
The difference between the two people may not be obvious to a third person, since it is one of motivation. The former simply wants to express their joy & excitement at discovering a new truth, they have no interest in “making” anyone else “see their truth”. There is great nobility in this excited reporting on a newly discovered truth. The latter is set on changing what other people believe… that’s manipulation through-and-through. There is nothing noble, or even ‘true’ about that sort of person.

In regard to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science; if the Foundation’s purpose statement read: ‘The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world.’ Then I would see no ulterior motivation within it at all. That sounds like truth-seeking in it’s purest form to me, which I applaud unreservedly.

However… the second part of the statement ’…in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.’ gives the purpose behind the scientific investigation & critical thinking. The purpose is to change someone else’s mind, under the guise of science, which, as stated earlier, has no ability to inform that mind about anything beyond the scope of the observable universe.

Why is it necessary to try to change someone else’s religious views? Surely everyone has the “right” to believe what they want to believe, don’t they? If someone wants to believe in a religious viewpoint (which can not be proven or disproved by science), why should science be manipulated & ‘bent out of shape’ with the express ulterior motivation of trying to “make” someone believe something else?

I doubt whether superstition can be driven out of people by using scientific reasoning either. We believe what we choose to believe, often regardless of observable evidence to the contrary! But so what?! If someone wants to believe in a superstition (& it seems rational to do so to them) what’s the problem? Why has the Richard Dawkins Foundation made it part of its purpose to rid the world of superstition?

It’s interesting that …religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering. are included in the same sentence. It’s almost as if the one inevitably leads to the other! Perhaps in the Foundations adherents’ eyes this is true!
Of course intolerance & suffering should be challenged & overcome if possible. No one wants anyone to suffer, after all. But the foundation seem to be putting religious viewpoints in the same league as superstition, intolerance and suffering, which is surely a step too far.

These are my ideas regarding the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science Facebook page in any case.

But the ‘story’ didn’t end there!…

What I read on the Richard Dawkins Facebook page, & the poster quote got me thinking about truth & truth seekers. I found myself wondering about truth: what it is, where it is to be found, & the nature of fact & truth.

What is truth, what is the nature of truth?
Proposition: Whatever is true (the truth) is something which is irreducible. Truth is always true, no matter what “angle” we view it from. Truth is something which is simple, & self-evident, although it may not be obvious. Truth is something that is not merely a matter of opinion, or a matter of interpretation. That which is true, must be true at all times, in all places, & in all conditions in which we see or view it. That which is true must remain true even if it is unobserved or undiscovered (yet!)
Truth is true regardless of the condition, disposition, beliefs, or biases of the observer.

Question: Can something be true even if it can not be proven beyond reasonable doubt to be true?
This is where God & religion lie, since the supreme being can not be proven to exist nor can he be proven not to exist. Certainly science can never prove or disprove the existence of God, for the reasons outlined above.
Since the Christian proposition includes that God created the universe & everything in it, including human minds, then it follows that nothing within the cosmos can be used to prove the existence (or non-existence) of anything outside of that cosmos. An observer wishing to have a definitive answer would have to exist outside the cosmos in order to be have the objective viewpoint needed to prove or disprove anything else outside of the cosmos, such as God. Human beings do not have that viewpoint, therefore it is impossible for a human being to prove or disprove the existence of God. It is also impossible for a construction of man’s mind (science) to prove or disprove the existence of God, since science is similarly limited & bound to the physical, temporal cosmos.

Interestingly, the Holy Bible never presents any ‘evidence’ to try to prove the existence of God. The Bible assumes the existence of the supreme being. That’s sensible, for the reasons outlined above!

Equally interestingly, the Bible book Ecclesiasties (written by Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived) also never attempts to prove the existence of God… wisdom indeed!

Fortunately, for the religious adherent, there is no need to prove the existence of God, since His existence is a matter of faith. And foolish indeed is the religious adherent who tries to prove the existence of a supreme being who can never be proven to exist!

a note about being a seeker of truth
To be a seeker of truth, we have to be open-minded enough to seek truth where ever the search for truth takes us. If we are not comfortable to seek truth where ever the search takes us, then surely we are not really seeking ALL truth, in all places, regardless of what that truth might reveal.

To be an honest seeker of truth, we must be prepared to view everything, to see everything which can be seen & to hear all that there is for us to hear. If we seek to find the truth in all its forms, then we must be prepared to view what we think is the truth, what we hope is the truth, what we suspect is the truth. Equally, we may sometimes have to view unsavory things, visit places or situations that we suspect may not be “true”, if only to satisfy our seeker’s heart that in that place (where ever it may be) we definitely will not find truth! It’s no good thinking that we won’t find truth in any given situation of place, unless we are willing to look there & find out for sure. We must be wiling to seek truth everywhere, after all it is possible that we will be surprised & we may find a truth in the most unlikely place: somewhere we never expected to find it. We must have an open mind & an open heart, whilst we are seeking truth in all its forms.

I think a truth-seeker simply wants to know what is true. A curiosity exists within a truth-seeker, to uncover the truth, wherever it may be found. I don’t think anyone who is genuinely seeking after truth is interested in ‘forcing’ their truth on anyone else, however, they may be excited by their personal discoveries & keen to share them with anyone who WANTS to hear about them, their search & their discoveries of truth. The bore is someone who ‘forces’ someone else to hear about their truth. If you insist on being heard, & ‘force’ the other person to hear your point of view, then you are in danger of becoming that bore!

What “tools” do we need, in order to become a seeker of truth?
We have mentioned needing an open mind & an open heart: to allow everything to be seen & to dismiss nothing “out of hand”, for fear of missing an element or form of truth which we might otherwise overlook. Surely to be a truth seeker is to want to find every form of truth, rather than merely that form which is palatable to us, in our current world-view?

Apart from an open mind & heart, what else might be necessary to allow us to embark on a voyage for the truth? What emotions, or states of mind would be useful, in a deliberate decision to seek after truth, wherever we look for it?

Honesty, integrity & courage.
Honesty & integrity within ourselves is needed, if we are to seek truth out. If we are not honest, then how can we know the truth when we encounter it? It takes determination & resilience though, to seek truth that may be unpalatable to us. That’s why we need honesty & integrity, to seek after truth that may not be to our liking, or which suits our previously established mind sets. That is why I admire truth-seekers, be they atheists, secular humanists, religious adherents, philosophers or whatever. Provided someone genuinely wants to find truth, then I’m all for them & they have my admiration! That’s why scientists who stick to recordable, repeatable experimentation (the scientific method) get a “thumbs up” from me.
What I dislike is anyone (scientists included) who steps outside of recordable, repeatable experimentation (true, fact-based science) & goes into the un-recordable, un-repeatable speculative (read “fantasy”!) realm of unprovable pseudo-science. Such people debase the noble sciences with their imaginings, speculations & unprovable theories.

It takes courage to be a truth-seeker. It requires courage (a very courageous person) to deliberately look at that which might disturb our carefully crafted assumptions & models of the “real world” which may or may not be true. Such deliberate deconstruction of what we thought was previously true must surely make us feel less certain, more uncertain; less confident, more unconfident. To deliberately place yourself in a situation or condition where you feel less certain, more vulnerable, as you seek truth, requires courage & determination. That, in my book, is also admirable.

Honesty is needed as we seek truth, honesty with ourselves, so that we are certain that we will seek truth, wherever it may be found.

Proposition: That the search for truth may take us out of any comfortable mind-sets, philosophies or mental concepts that we may have created, accepted or actively taken into ourselves, & agreed as being “true”.

If we know (or at least suspect) that the search for truth will carry us into unfamiliar “landscapes” (mind-scapes, concepts, philosophies or ideas as places we may not have been to before), & that this search or quest will probably make us feel destabilized & vulnerable (at least fro a time), we can see why it takes courage & determination to deliberately choose to do this, rather than simply remain in our comfortable assumptions… even if we suspect that our “world view” may not be entirely true… or at least ALL that is true.

Having a questioning mind
Questioning our own pre-conceived ideas of what is “true” will inevitably make us feel uncertain, unsure & lead to feelings of insecurity. Having a questioning mind & heart is also a necessary element of our truth-seeking natures. But these very characteristics are what have enabled the great scientists of the past & present make their amazing discoveries.

Realising that we need courage, determination & internal honesty with ourselves, in order to successfully navigate the unfamiliar, the uncertain, the “rocky road on the way to truth” we will come to 1 of 2 conclusions:

1) I can do this – I have enough courage, determination & internal honesty to begin my search for the truth.

2) I can not do this – I do not have enough courage, determination & internal honesty to begin my search for the truth.

Depending on which conclusion we come to, regarding our own nature, character & abilities, will determine whether or not we even begin the search for truth. If we conclude that we do not “have what it takes”, then we will not even begin our search for truth. If, on the other hand, we conclude that we do have courage, determination & anything else we may need to seek the truth, regardless of the obstacles, then we will begin our search.

Or perhaps the quest for “the truth” will simply grow & grow inside of us until it is SO imperative, so vital, so unavoidable, that we simply MUST begin that search.

What can we expect on our journey towards truth?
In order to choose to seek truth, wherever we may find it, requires that we stir any courage that we have, within ourselves. Truth-seeking may not make us feel better, in fact, it may make us feel uncertain, unsure, and destabilized. We all have a world-view: a concept of the world & our place in it. This is created by facts, opinions, ideas & things which we are exposed to. Eventually we form a harmonized view of the world, based on all these bits of information. So far so good! But what happens if, whilst we are seeking after additional truth, we find a truth that is at odds with our world view? Clearly the new information “doesn’t fit” into our view of the world, & so we have a mismatch. What do we do? There are 3 possibilities:
1) We discard the new “truth” & maintain our existing world view.
2) We discard our “old” world view, & adopt the new “truth” as our sole version of truth.
3) We try to absorb the new “truth” into our existing world view, if we can get it to fit in!

All of these possibilities are likely to cause us doubt, uncertainty, discomfort, etc, at least until we come down on one side or the other!

I think this is one interpretation of P. C. Hodgell’s comment: “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be”, seen at the beginning of this epic write! If the “truth” we have successfully internalised doesn’t stand up to the addition of newly discovered “truth”, then surely there is a mis-match somewhere. Truth ought to be harmonious, since it is true! If a fact, opinion, idea, etc is at odds with another piece of information, then surely we must conclude that one or other (or both!) must be wrong. In that case we owe it to ourselves (& in order to get a good night’s sleep!) to sift through the “old” & “new” truth & to find out just exactly where they all fit together.

It is quite possible that either the “new” truth, or the “old” truth (world view) will need modification, or complete abandonment, if we finally conclude that this is the best course of action. The more firmly held our existing world view, the more likely this analysis might cause us temporary uneasiness, doubt, discomfort, etc. But this is where we need that courage that I mentioned earlier. Not everyone has enough courage to examine a new philosophy or idea & it certain takes a lot of courage to admit to ourselves that we have been in error in our world view & to abandon it, in favour of a new truth that we have discovered. Clearly we would need a degree of confidence & certainty in the new truth, in order to do that. Personal courage, determination & a dogged striving for the truth is needed through the truth seeking process.

So, in discovering a “new” (to us) truth, we might find that it is at odds with previously held “truth” within our own minds & world-view. If a “new” truth is at odds with, or contradicts, a previously believed “truth”, then it is obvious that our world-view (previously harmonious & soothing to us) will be disturbed, fragmented, even destroyed, by this new information. Perhaps that is an expected (or unexpected!) facet of truth-seeking… that we may become destabilized, for a time, as we consider the validity of any new truth we discover.

What is important is the constant searching for truth. We must find out what is true.

That sudden upheaval of our world-view can make us feel very vulnerable & uncertain. This may (temporarily) overcome our inner courage, & send us scurrying from the truth-seeking arena, back to the “safe” (but not wholly “true”) haven of our previously maintained mental concept. Whether we remain in our original world-view (that soothing mental concept we have constructed), or whether we venture out once more onto the “rocky road” that seeks truth is determined by our levels of internal courage, & our need or desire to seek that truth, even if that process of truth-seeking (temporarily) makes us feel uncomfortable.

Our behaviour & actions reveal what we truly believe about ourselves & the necessity of seeking that truth. For the person who is determined to find the truth at any cost, nothing “in front of them” will be insurmountable. No feelings within them, no obstacle or difficulty en route, will be able to prevent them from finding the truth.

Proposition: We are unstoppable, if we believe we are unstoppable.
Converse proposition: We are stopped in our journey towards the truth, if we believe we are not capable of overcoming whatever obstacle “stands in our way”.

To deliberately put yourself on that “rocky road”, looking for truth, requires courage & determination. It is important to relies that the benefits of truth MAY NOT include our own feelings of certainty, security & the assumption that we will feel alright, at least whilst we are on the “road”. The benefits of truth, once that truth has been successfully integrated into our world view (or mental concept) of the world may very well be many & varied, & will certainly include a more complete sense of security, certainty & hopefulness. But it is important to note that the acquisition of “new” truth, especially truth which is at odds to previously held “truth” will inevitably make us feel uncertain & insecure, until such time as we can harmonies these disparate truths into a new, holistic world view. We might have a rude awakening if we believe that discovering any & all “new” truth will automatically & instantly make us feel secure, enlightened or complete! The truth is, it may take us some (considerable) time to harmonize our thoughts.

Once truth has been discovered, it should generate feelings of certainty, security & well-being, since we have agreed that truth is true no matter what “angle” we view it from. The very nature of that which is true; that which is irreducibly true, must generate feelings of certainty, since certainty comes from knowing that we have discovered that which is true; that which is not in error.

What might “stand in the way” of us going further on our “rocky road” towards truth?
Assumptions & pre-conceived ideas may stand in the way of us making a “break through” & discovering a previously unknown truth. If we have come to a conclusion about something which later we discover not to be true, then that thing may well distract us, or cause us to assume something which is wrong. For example, if we believe that there is not truth to be discovered in x,y,z place, then we will not look there, with the consequence that we may well overlook a truth “buried” in that very place. Perhaps it is wiser to assume nothing & to investigate everything, with a clear minded detachment, in order to maximise our chances of discovering all truth, in all places.

A “blind spot” is an unchallenged assumption, within our own mind (our thinking) which may be warping, distorting or changing the truth we see, into something which is less than true, a half-truth, or a distorted truth. We often have “blind spots” about ourselves, or about other people (prejudices) which will mean that we distort the nature of observable reality.

Conclusions
1) Hopefully you will realise that I am not a Luddite, calling for a return to pre-industrialised society!

2) Hopefully you will realise that I like science & that I admire truth-seekers who accurately use the sciences to uncover provable, repeatable truth about the physical, temporal cosmos. Science is not the problem… mis-use of science is.

3) I dislike anyone who hijacks science & tries to make it “say” something that it is ill-equipped to comment on.

4) Similarly, I REALLY dislike anyone who tries to propose a theory & get it accepted as a fact, when they know it is not. That is science dishonesty, a very ignoble thing in my book!

5) I admire all truth-seekers, what ever ‘tools’ they use. The search for truth, & the uncovering of truth is a very noble pursuit.

6) It takes courage, determination, honesty & integrity to even begin the journey of truth-seeking. I admire these qualities in anyone.

NOTE:
[1] Patricia “Pat” Christine Hodgell (b. March 16, 1951) is an American fantasy writer, artist and professor.



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