Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Passion for Truth

"The passion for truth is silenced by answers which have the weight of undisputed authority"
Paul Tillich

The passion for truth, what is it?  Simply put, it is an insatiable, never-ending search for meaning and reality.  It is that part of us, each of us, that longs to be more than the sum total of (what I have been told is)  a few bucks of chemicals.  It is a hunger to know why that particular collection of chemicals has come together as it has-- in short, Why are we? or, more personally, Who am I?

The passion for truth recognizes this search as a work always in progress.  It admits to its own ignorance and inadequacy to the task.  Those who seek for truth with passion know that the book is never closed, there is always more.  Always.  Such seekers recognize that there are many "truths" in the world.  Our truth is conditioned by our desire, our education, our culture, and our dispositions.  A passion for truth demands that we admit the (very high) possibility that it is highly unlikely that on a planet of about six billion folks, we are the only ones to get it right.  Passion for truth rightly sees such hubris for the arrogance that it is.

Truth is always viewed from a perspective.  My perspective may not match yours.  Not even when we are supposedly examining the same truth proposition.  We all hear it with slightly different ears.  It is doubtful that any of us ever really hears the stories of the Bible in exactly the same way.

That being the case, the greatest disservice a religious institution can perform for an adherent is to "close down" the search.  When that happens, where else do we go?  We have nowhere to turn.  We must believe, even if we cannot.  Since faith is a matter of certitude more than certainty (as Gordon Allport might say), when religious leaders stop all debate, they stop spiritual progress as well.

So, don't get boxed in.  The truth is a many faceted jewel.  Passion for the truth is as precious as the truth itself.  Own the passion.  Don't buy somebody else's answers.

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