Sunday, June 25, 2006

A debate challenge on absolute truth

I respond here to an email discussing truth and nihilism.


Dear BH,

Thanks for writing. You write:

I don't suppose you will give this email more than a cursory glance given the number of Christians who must launch their far ranging views at you but I hope you do that at least.
Actually, I try to read all emails sent to me. I enjoy reading views that differ with mine. I am glad for any feedback.

My son has done the same as you. He describes with remarkable similarity the sense of freedom from the 'rules and regulations' of the belief system to which he once adhered. Knowing what he understood I guess anything outside of that would be liberating. Its amazing how he is doing the exact opposite of what he once genuinely believed and condemned. Yes there is freedom in not believing anything and it is liberating to allow one's nature full reign to do what it likes. I know because half my life was as an unbeliever. Interestingly my son who is a deep thinker has started to come to the place where he is starting to question what he calls 'the shallow futility' of his new lifestyle.
Based on this paragraph, it would appear to me that your son has experienced something far different from what I have experienced. You speak of his shallow futility and his lack of belief in anything. This definitely does not describe me. I have discovered a new way of looking at life, a rich and full way of understanding and loving life. I am sorry that your son has experienced a shallow futility and no longer believes anything. Perhaps your son could learn from my website.

The bottom line as far as I can tell and what I would like to suggest to you my friend (if I may have the honor of calling you that) is that there still remains Absolute Truth. By Absolute Truth I mean only one set of facts about who we are, why we are here, where we are going, what happens when we die, and how this world and the known universe came into existence. That A T remains A T whether you or I believe it or not. It is unchanging; absolute. Now, if you can accept that premise I would like to challenge you to a discussion of how we can establish exactly what that truth is. If you don't accept that premise then I will be forced to leave you to choose whatever you want to believe. What do you say Merle?
I agree with you that there is a truth about the universe. Am I absolutely certain of that? Well, no, I cannot be absolutely certain. What if my senses are deceiving me? What if I wake up some day to find the entire universe was something I dreamed up? But assuming my senses have not invented the universe--and that does seem to me like a reasonable assumption--then there is indeed an objective universe with objective truth out there.

You have challenged me to a discussion of how we can establish that truth. I accept. I have written an email accepting the challenge and asking how you want to carry out the debate. You have not responded yet. If you are interested in discussing this, you could add your comments here, or you could write to me and let me know how you would like to continue.


PS. I have written BH informing him of this posting at my blog.

Friday, June 23, 2006

That lingering fear of hell.

A reader writes:

I've been reading your stuff online and it really sums up my feelings over the last few years. When everything about a person can be explained physically, what remains to be called a soul?...I too was raised a Christian and was rather obnoxious about it back in my 20's with all my bumper stickers etc. If people back then could see me now! If God exists why would he punish me for using my brain which he created? I think what most people call faith is really superstition. Its not that they believe but that they're afraid not to believe...Hey, do you sometimes still get a little nervous about going the other direction? I mean can a person ever escape early life (sunday school days) indoctrination? I'm still worried about hell on some level that I don't think I'll ever shake. I envy people who'll on their death beds have no fear of hell because they never went to church or believed. I think every Christian fears death and even hell!

I understand your fears, but I can truthfully say that, if you continue your course, I expect those fears will disappear. You will become like the people you say you envy, a person who could face death without the terror of hell.

Though the question of what hell would be like is something I sometimes think about, it is not something I fear. Although the fear of hell once dominated my life, that fear is now gone. And others have told me the same thing. When one first begins to doubt the faith of his youth, he will naturally have such fears. But it is my experience that the fear goes away after time.

I have often considered the possibility that I might be wrong. Suppose I wake up after death and find to my surprise that I must now face a judgement. Then what? Well, if we wake to find ourselves in an afterlife, then I think none of us could be so arrogant to say we know for sure what will happen next. We don't. Such an experience is so far from any data that we now have available that we would all be uncertain at that point. Now my best guess is that, if I should find myself alive in the afterworld, I will be glad that I did exactly what I did, that I honestly admitted my doubts, and willingly helped people to use their own minds to escape beyond the bondage of religious fear and start living.

Although I have been taught to fear hell from childhood, I would be very surprised if the fear of hell would come back to me at death's door. I have thought about that moment so many times in my life that I think I would be prepared. I expect for me that death will be like going to sleep. It will be like realizing that the consciousness that I call "Me" is going to sleep, never to wake.

If you fear hell, I would ask you to face that fear boldly. Think about it. Read the evidence that death ends all. Read about the lack of evidence of the need to maintain certain beliefs to escape hell. Think about what is important to you in life, and what actions in life will make you the most confident when you face the end of life.

Face the fears boldy, and then move on. Live life to the fullest. For it is life that matters, not death. And it is up to each of us to make the most of this life.

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Debate on Salvation

Previously I responded to some questions about my born-again experience here on the blog. That led to some interesting discussion. I have continued that discussion on my website.