Discussion in 'Religion' started by ThazzarBaal, Feb 7, 2023.
How do we know, religiously speaking, the difference between truth and error?
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Obviously a "discerning" supernatural religion wouldn't want to make claims that can be disproven by empirical method or science.
But even if adjusting and protecting itself from that, it's thereby limited to a self-referring axiomatic approach to truth, with its "just-so" propositions at the base.
If later treatises contain elements that are inconsistent with [or can't be derived from] the axioms of that "religion" or ideology, then they're in error.
If the foundational dogma itself conflicts with itself, then the whole shebang is incoherent from the outset. (I.e., internal contradiction brings to ruin even a view about "truth" that is maxim-dependent.)
So, in other words, a good foundation would be based on truth, which makes that religion able to stand firm even with the changing nature of understanding. A change based platform, which caters to both truth and change, truth being the fundamental goal of said religion sounds like a winner to me.
Notice the qualifier in your question, for starters. The basic question is: how do we know the difference between truth and error, for anything? Lots of answers to that one. But then you throw the spanner of religion into the works by qualifying the question with "how do we know, religiously speaking ..."
What does that mean? I assume it means that you're going to look into what you (or other people) regards as the tenets or core texts or core beliefs of your religion in order to try to sort the truth from the error. But will that get you to the truth, or just to the truth as conceptualised in that particular religious context?
Suppose, for instance, that your particular religion holds that blood transfusions are wrong, because of something God supposedly said in a Holy Book. How do you find this out? You read your religious texts, or commentaries on them. You read the works of and/or listen to your religious leaders. You trust what these sources tell you. You conclude that you shouldn't have a blood transfusion, and that you should dissuade members of your family, your friends and others from having them too, because that's the right thing to do.
Is this the truth, or an error, religiously speaking?
The best answer that I'm personally aware of is the Buddha's in the famous Kalama Sutta from the Anguttara nikaya of the Pali canon (An 3.56).
The Buddha is approached by a group of people called the Kalamas in the sutta. They tell the Buddha that their village has been visited by a succession of religious holy men, all teaching something different, and all insisting that the way they teach is the truth and all the other ways are false. So the Kalamas ask the Buddha essentially the question you asked. How can they distinguish true religious teachings from false?
The Buddha replied (in modern translation):
"Please, Kalamas, don't go by oral transmission, don't go by lineage, don't go by testament, don't go by canonical authority, don't rely on logic, don't rely on inference, don't go by reasoned contemplation, don't go by the acceptance of a view after consideration, don't go by the appearance of competence, and don't think 'The ascetic is our respected teacher.' But when you know for yourselves: 'These things are skillful, blameless, praised by sensible people, and when you undertake them, they lead to welfare and happiness', then you should acquire them and keep them."
It's a radical answer, especially given its time and place.
Oral transmission and lineage, testament and canonical authority, appearance of competence or loyalty to one's teacher basically rule out trust in religious authority, whether that's the various teaching lineages such as the Brahmins, the Jains, or even the Buddhists! It rules out revealed scriptures such as the Vedas (and arguably the Pali canon itself!). Today in the (ostensibly) modern West, we have little difficulty dismissing these sorts of religious authorities. (Atheists make it their stock-in-trade to try to do exactly that.)
The next bit is more counter to modern ways of thinking. Don't rely on logic, inference, reasoned contemplation or the acceptance of a view after consideration. In other words, religious truth isn't something that one arrives at through philosophy (or through science). It isn't an inference arrived at by logical thinking.
The Buddha's answer is exceedingly empirical (if we broaden the scope of empiricism beyond sensory experience to all experience.) The key is to actually know for yourself, to actually experience the result of the religious practice. In Buddhism the goal is the elimination of suffering (in a very broad particularly Buddhist sense). The Buddhist practitioner will know that he or she is no longer suffering when he or she is no longer suffering. It's a psychological state and self-confirming in that way. You know it when you experience it, and not before (whether by authority or inference).
So Buddhists aren't the faithful in any Christian sort of sense. They do need something like faith, but it's only the confidence that the Buddhist path is worth following and might conceivably end up where they want to go. But they can't be said to actually know that until they experience it for themselves.
In today's terms, I guess that you can call it a form of religious pragmatism, in the sense you know that it's true if it works.
Subjective truth as it resonates to an individual is part of Christianity also, but it also considers objective truth. I'm not suggesting Buddhism doesn't do the same. I think both are important. I might contest the easily dismissed part of your reply.
Blood types and compatibility would certainly be a concern. I don't hold that these types of transfusions are erroneous, but rather that they can be beneficial when done correctly. People donate blood and others benefit from these donations. That's true. The only error I might find in doing so is in lack of quality control. That would be a major concern for recipients and the doctors performing them.
Some people might pickup the Quran and read it all(sometimes not) and declare it as true. A common thing in religion, it's all subjective.
Truth is a word, something to aspire to, a bit like the word "perfect".
I was thinking truths can be verified, whether objectively or subjectively. Personal experience counts no matter where you're standing, and our shared objective truths help us along the way.
Perfect I would think is a subjective thing. My idea of perfect very likely wouldn't be what you would view to be perfect.
If something is true it's true ... No matter the source. If it isn't, it's error.
Like I say, a Muslim believes their religion is true. So the truth, in a religious context, is subjective so discernment is exclusive to the reader/believer. I was reading a verse from Proverbs in the bible the other day and it rung true to me and a friend, but it doesn't mean it's true.
Religious truths aren't always subjective truths. There's a balance between subjective and objective with most religious teachings. If they can be verified with some substance or evidence, then they are typically true if only subjectively. At least this is true with my own religious leanings. If not, I typically view them as erroneous until proven otherwise.
Your religious beliefs leans you to accept, proverbs as truth, if you're a Christian. This is how a proverb goes with an atheist:
Proverbs 2:10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Atheist: Well the soul doesn't exist so this verse is false.
I suppose the atheist might understand that knowledge and wisdom is pleasant to people, even if the truth hurts, it's still a better guide than misinformation and error.
What's a soul anyway?
In religious circles, it is the eternal aspect of your being. The scientific community have found virtually no evidence of its existence except that when you die you lose 21g in weight, everyone does.
This is apocryphal. There was an experiment done in 1907 that weighed people as they died, and one of six appeared to lose that amount of weight. The others didn't. But this one result (out of six) seems to have taken on a life of its own, so to speak. Two of the six were rejected for various reasons, and some of the others lost a measurable amount of weight, then either lost some more or gained it back. I.e. very little consistency. But, for whatever reason, people stick with the 21 grams. The actual study has been discredited by the scientific community as flawed, and I'm not sure any subsequent studies have supported this original.
So, unless you have any other evidence to support the idea that everyone loses 21g when they die...?
If what is supposedly leaving the body at the time of death is the "spirit" or "life force" or "soul" or something like that, then would we really expect it to possess physical mass?
And how long after death were these weight measurements made? I'd expect that gradual decomposition might alter the mass of a corpse. The body might dry out and/or leak fluids as cells break down. So was the total mass both of the corpse and all of its fluid and gaseous discharges measured?
Upon a little bit more digging I found it was a hoax.
I would suggest that we are souls. I suppose the term is used to identify things that live and die.
So we are immortal?
I don't use it for this.
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