Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Feed The Desire To Know Truth

Man hungers after truth in such a way that it is greater than a desire for mere abstract intellectual knowledge yet at the same time we seem to reduce it to such a thing. Our drive for inquisitive curiosity into the questions of purpose and meaning seems tantamount to something more satisfying than the abstract. I propose that our desire for answers is not satisfied by intellectual propositions, but only by tangible relational experience with the embodied Answer.


We have all encountered factual answers to our questions whether we see those presentations of facts as valid or not. We experience it only with our minds. What if it were possible, as C.S. Lewis aptly illustrates, metaphorically, to “taste it like honey and be embraced by it as by a bridegroom?”


In C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce he tells a fanciful supposal story of a journey towards heaven. In one of the scenes a person of intellect is talking to a person who has already experienced heaven. The person of intellect is explaining his journey of inquiry and his desire to always have inquiry for he believed the journey better than the satisfaction. He asks the heavenly person if he would still be free for the pursuit of inquiry to which the person responds, “Free, as a man is free to drink while he is drinking. He is still not free to be dry.” Then he elaborates, “Thirst was made for water; inquiry for truth.” The man who was from heaven was trying to show the man still earthly minded that his hope for answers could find ultimate fulfillment in a greater fashion than only factuality, but the Great Answer Himself. Despite the offer the man of intellect went away satisfied to be pursing without ever finding that which invoked his pursuit.


Are we truly satisfied with factual knowledge? Or is there something deeper, grander, more spectacular that is at the heart of our desire to know? Do we want to know just to know more facts in our minds? Or do we want to touch the Answer? Do we want to taste the satisfaction of something eternal or are we doomed to contentment of abstract systems of intellectual propositions true or otherwise. I think the pursuit for intellectual knowledge is noble and has great merit, but if it stops there I think it is lacking something vitally fundamental. In the depths of our being we yearn for knowledge, understanding, truth, answers, purpose, meaning, unity in diversity, community etc. These left divorced from their eternal nature are unsatisfied and hopeless. There is nothing of substance in these desires unless they are properly married to the eternal One.


People think that they will find satisfaction in wealth and then upon attaining it they find there is no satisfaction to be found there. Some think vows of poverty will bring satisfaction to the soul and yet they don’t find it there either. Some think being academically knowledgeable is the key to fulfillment and yet it leaves them discontent. Others think if only they could be the best at their career, or have the best family, or the be the champion in their field of sports, and yet when the day is over they experience the same yearning for something beyond that they just can’t put their finger on. I propose to you that we are all searching whether we do it with a pursuit of knowledge or a pursuit of wealth we are looking for the eternal satisfaction. If we follow that desire and seek the truth, I do not refer to intellectual facts, but the Truth that satisfies the soul we will find the Truth.


In saying this, I am not diminishing the importance of thinking, of reason, of logic, of intellectual knowledge. Obviously if there is a Truth like that of which I speak it would need to be one in which satisfies on that level as well as on the spiritual eternal level. It wouldn’t make much sense as truth if it violated epistemology so damagingly. Logic, reason, thinking, desire, all of these things are tools to attaining the Truth, thus Truth will not violate them. It may violate the way we currently think these tools work depending on how far off our thinking is to reality, but it won’t violate logic and reason itself. It won’t violate nature; it will affirm the natural world. It will complete the picture, not destroy the picture. We live in the real world so certainly the Truth about the real world will make what we may see in black and white come into full HD color. Follow your desire for Truth and you will find something more magnificent than you thought possible.

25 comments:

cl said...

"I propose that our desire for answers is not satisfied by intellectual propositions, but only by tangible relational experience with the embodied Answer."

That goes right along with what Mike said in the other thread about knowing by experience.

Karla said...

Indeed.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I propose that our desire for answers is not satisfied by intellectual propositions, but only by tangible relational experience with the embodied Answer.

You're *really* going to have to 'unpack' that statement because I have no idea what you mean.

karla said: Do we want to know just to know more facts in our minds? Or do we want to touch the Answer?

I like that [laughs] The *Answer*... You mean God right? You have already made your conclusion, your mind is already made up - it colours everything you say.

karla said: Do we want to taste the satisfaction of something eternal or are we doomed to contentment of abstract systems of intellectual propositions true or otherwise.

Facts are pretty good too actually... and I wouldn't call scientific knowledge of the universe being 'doomed' to contentment. You make it sound like such a bad thing!

karla said: In the depths of our being we yearn for knowledge, understanding, truth, answers, purpose, meaning, unity in diversity, community etc.

Actually a large percentage of people yearn for enough food and a safe place to live.... It's really only us in the West that have time for such navel gazing...

karla said: I propose to you that we are all searching whether we do it with a pursuit of knowledge or a pursuit of wealth we are looking for the eternal satisfaction.

[laughs] I'm not looking for 'eternal satisfaction'. I try to limit my impossible desires as much as possible actually.

karla said: Logic, reason, thinking, desire, all of these things are tools to attaining the Truth, thus Truth will not violate them.

I think that you have shown the opposite many times if what you are putting forward is regarded as Truth. It certainly violates *my* idea of reason and logic.

Anonymous said...

karla said: Do we want to taste the satisfaction of something eternal or are we doomed to contentment of abstract systems of intellectual propositions true or otherwise.

ck: Facts are pretty good too actually... and I wouldn't call scientific knowledge of the universe being 'doomed' to contentment. You make it sound like such a bad thing!

Indeed. Scientific knowledge is not any sort of doom. It's relying on "goddidit" that dooms one to contentment. Science is how we actually learn about the world. We haven't learned anything about the world from religion. (BTW, I'm still waiting for anyone to tell me anything we've learned from religion!)

Karla said...

I am not discounting facts or saying we don't need them. Certainly facts are important. I am not proposing they be abandoned. I am saying that we desire more than facts when we are looking for answers. The human soul longs for more than factual answers. For instance, a grieving widow doesn't just want to know the facts of her husbands death she wants to know the purpose even if there is none in her mind she desires there to be one and she wants more than the factual knowledge of some kind of purpose she wants something beyond that, something that comforts the soul.

We want to experience Truth not just attain a series of facts about the world. I can be given all kinds of true facts about George Washington and yet never know him because I don't have relationship with him. Most, if not all, don't marry someone after receiving a report of facts about who that person is, they want to know that person relationally and that is what satisfies.

This is what I speak of, having a relationship with Truth and not just knowing facts. Certainly the facts ought to point to what is true, but if all they are are intellectual system of statements about the truth they don't satisfy that need for relationship with the Truth. Yes, The Answer, The Truth, I am talking about is indeed God.

Maybe you guys don't have such desires, but I haven't met many without them if they are really honest about why they desire after knowledge. Would knowing all the facts in the world of every discipline satisfy? Or is there something more in which we seek? Don't need to answer that just consider it in your own heart and mind.

Anonymous said...

"For instance, a grieving widow doesn't just want to know the facts of her husbands death she wants to know the purpose even if there is none in her mind she desires there to be one and she wants more than the factual knowledge of some kind of purpose she wants something beyond that, something that comforts the soul."

Simply because someone wants comfort doesn't mean that god exists.

Karla said...

No, of course it doesn't. I used it as an analogy of wanting more than just the bare facts to help unpack my statement as Cyber asked.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: I am saying that we desire more than facts when we are looking for answers.

Surely that would depend on the answers we were looking for?

karla said: The human soul longs for more than factual answers.

Well, as I don't belive in souls I would have to disagree.

karla said: she wants more than the factual knowledge of some kind of purpose she wants something beyond that, something that comforts the soul.

Again, that would surely depend on the widow, would it not? Our attitude to death - even of our loved ones is culturally determined afterall. So wanting 'comfort for the soul' might apply to all widows in your mind but it doesn't. Funeral/grieving ceremonies are as diverse as wedding ceremonies.

karla said: We want to experience Truth not just attain a series of facts about the world.

What do you mean by 'Truth'..? That's the important question in this context... and you have to remember that your idea of Truth is not everyone's idea of it.

karla said: This is what I speak of, having a relationship with Truth and not just knowing facts.

Can I see the word 'God' hiding behind your use of the word 'Truth' by any chance?

karla said: Yes, The Answer, The Truth, I am talking about is indeed God.

[laughs] I knew it - even before I got to that bit! You're not talking about Truth here - you're talking about your *beliefs*, which I'm afraid are not one and the same thing.

karla said: Maybe you guys don't have such desires, but I haven't met many without them if they are really honest about why they desire after knowledge.

So are you saying that we're dishonest? Or that we really don't want 'true' knowledge? That's rather insulting don't you think?

karla said: Would knowing all the facts in the world of every discipline satisfy?

Apart from that such a thing is impossible... 'satisfy' *what* exactly?

karla said: Don't need to answer that just consider it in your own heart and mind.

The heart is a muscle and can consider nothing. My mind however still fails to understand what you mean by 'more' in the context of your argument. What if this is all that there is - that there is nothing 'more'? That's pretty much my 'take' on things.

Anonymous said...

"No, of course it doesn't. I used it as an analogy of wanting more than just the bare facts to help unpack my statement as Cyber asked."

Then, this really boils down to an emotional appeal and a fallacious one at that. Just give evidence for this "Truth" and/or a soul and maybe we can talk.

Karla said...

"What do you mean by 'Truth'..? That's the important question in this context... and you have to remember that your idea of Truth is not everyone's idea of it."


Truth is that which is. The real. The reality. I don't have a monopoly on truth. It is what it is regardless of my belief or anyone elses belief in the matter. Truth remains true irrespective of how many people believe it.

When I am speaking of Truth in this context I am not only talking about a system of facts about the world, but a living Truth that can be entered into not only intellectually but relationally.

Anonymous said...

I'm still confused.

"Truth remains true irrespective of how many people believe it."

Here, you are speaking of objective or absolute truth - objective facts, etc. What is true for me is definitely true for you.

"...Truth that can be entered into not only intellectually but relationally."

It seems to me that once you start talking about "relationally" "entering into truth" you get into the realm of "What is true for me may not be true for you." This seems contradictory to your previous comments that supported objective and/or absolute truth claims.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Truth remains true irrespective of how many people believe it.

Agreed.

karla said: When I am speaking of Truth in this context I am not only talking about a system of facts about the world, but a living Truth that can be entered into not only intellectually but relationally.

Do you mean God here, yes? If so then your idea of Truth is simply not my idea of Truth. How do we proceed with such a *radical* disagreement on what Truth actually is? That's the question I'm trying to get you to think about.

I don't think that when you talk about Truth you're actually talking about what you think you're talking about. When you talk about Truth you are in fact talking about God - which at least from my perspective are definitely *not* the same thing.

Karla said...

Cyber said:
"Do you mean God here, yes? If so then your idea of Truth is simply not my idea of Truth."

Yes, when capitalized I am. But I think we already agreed that what is true is true regardless of who believes it, as you responded "agreed." So the truthfulness of what I have said about Truth lies not in my belief, but in whether or not it really is in line with what is.


Cyber said "How do we proceed with such a *radical* disagreement on what Truth actually is? That's the question I'm trying to get you to think about."

That is a good question. Obviously we have two very different perspectives. And logically God cannot both exist and not exist. So there really isn't any middle ground on that point. I've been trying to paint a picture of the totality of the Christian worldview, of all the things that make a difference if God exist and inversely if He does not.

It's not solely one piece of evidence or another for God's existence, but the whole package of whether that view of reality in light of His existence or without His existence makes sense of the world. And in connection to that there is the relational aspect of knowing Him and not just knowing more facts about the world. Thus, experiencing Truth not just learning about it.

Karla said...

Anon said "Here, you are speaking of objective or absolute truth - objective facts, etc. What is true for me is definitely true for you."

Yes. Do you concur on that point?


"It seems to me that once you start talking about "relationally" "entering into truth" you get into the realm of "What is true for me may not be true for you." This seems contradictory to your previous comments that supported objective and/or absolute truth claims."

Nope. I haven't. Our emotional or spiritual experiences with God will be unique and subjective. That doesn't make the factuality of truth subjective. We are talking about two different dimensions of knowing. One is knowing in the concrete objective sense whether or not that knowledge is a part of the whole or not. Then you have knowing relationally. Getting to know someone's being, personality, love, character etc. For example of the former, knowing God loves you in the factual sense. For example of the latter, experiencing the love of God relationally. One is a truism. The other is a relational experience, but no less true, and does not alter the factual.

I used "God's love" as an illustrative example. I know you don't accept that as fact. Replace God with someone else's name that you know loves you and the example still works to illustrate the difference between knowing facts and knowing relationally.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: So the truthfulness of what I have said about Truth lies not in my belief, but in whether or not it really is in line with what is.

But we are not debating the Truth here. We are debating our beliefs about the Truth. You believe that the Truth *is* God. I do not believe that. You are right when you say that our beliefs have no impact on what the Truth actually *is*. The problem (for this discussion) though is that we do not agree on the reality that you say Truth needs to be line with. Your reality includes God, whereas mine does not.

karla said: It's not solely one piece of evidence or another for God's existence, but the whole package of whether that view of reality in light of His existence or without His existence makes sense of the world.

Personally I think that the world makes far more sense without God than with Him. But again, when we look at the same things we actually see different things - because of our beliefs. Which is why agreeing with the position of the other person is virtually impossible. In order to agree with you I'd already have to agree with you - and probably vice versa.

karla said: And in connection to that there is the relational aspect of knowing Him and not just knowing more facts about the world. Thus, experiencing Truth not just learning about it.

Again, that's your *belief* talking. It's your belief in God that colours this debate. You say that God is Truth - but as an Atheist I believe that you're simply talking nonsense.

Karla said...

Cyber do you think it impossible to find what is true? Is the best we can hope for just believing or can our believing connect with the real?

We do have consensus on several points.

1) We agree that truth is what is real.
2) We agree that believing something doesn't make it true.
3) We agree we have two different beliefs about what is real/truth.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Cyber do you think it impossible to find what is true?

That depends on what you mean by 'true' - it's also interesting that you've dropped the capital T.

karla said: Is the best we can hope for just believing or can our believing connect with the real?

We can have knowledge of what is real, yes - though such knowledge may be imperfect. Perfect knowledge is probably impossible though. Knowledge eliminates the need for belief. The less perfect the degree of knowledge on any subject gives room for more and more beliefs. When you have a high degree of knowledge about a subject then belief becomes redundant.

karla said: We agree that truth is what is real.

I agree that truth and reality are probably very closely associated, yes.

karla said: We agree that believing something doesn't make it true.

Yes. Though the Placebo Effect is very interesting....

karla said: We agree we have two different beliefs about what is real/truth.

Very different , yes. Almost polar opposites actually....

Anonymous said...

"Do you concur on that point?"

Yes. What is objectively true or absolutely true is true for all.

"Nope. I haven't. Our emotional or spiritual experiences with God will be unique and subjective."

You're not talking about experiencing truth, so much as having experiences. What you are saying boils down to a rather innocuous statement. We desire to know facts and have experiences.

Karla said...

Cyber I switched to lowercase for your sake to speak of factual truth of what is which I believe includes the Being of Truth that can be known not only factually but relationally. (ie including God exists or does not exists as two possibilities of what is true of reality) I apologize if I caused confusion of my meaning.

I agree no one can have perfect knowledge all we know is partial. The way I see it only God can have perfect knowledge. Only He has the birds eye view in time and place. I don't think we need to know perfectly to know authentically. Meaning I don't need to have perfect knowledge of my husband to know that he is and to know a great deal about who he is.

Karla said...

Anon wrote :
"Yes. What is objectively true or absolutely true is true for all."

And just to clarify are you agreeing that this is the nature of truth in reality to be objective and true for all?

Karla said "Nope. I haven't. Our emotional or spiritual experiences with God will be unique and subjective."

Anon responded "You're not talking about experiencing truth, so much as having experiences. What you are saying boils down to a rather innocuous statement. We desire to know facts and have experiences."

I am talking about experiencing the Being of Truth that gives the anchor for all facts of truth.

CyberKitten said...

karla said: Cyber I switched to lowercase for your sake to speak of factual truth of what is which I believe includes the Being of Truth that can be known not only factually but relationally.

Erm.... "Being of Truth"...?

Karla said...

Cyber said, "Erm.... "Being of Truth"...?

Yes. Questions of His existence aside for a moment, God is a Being not just an abstract fact. He is the fullness of the Real . . . the True. Jesus said of himself that He is the Truth. Therefore if Truth is not just a fact or a system of facts, but is codified or personified in an Eternal Being then Truth can be known relationally and not only as intellectual knowledge. The difference between knowing a bunch of facts about a person and knowing the person in relationship. I am proposing that our desire to attain knowledge is not only to gain a lot of facts about the world, but to have union with the Truth. To have a relationship with Truth. Because that Truth exist as a Being and not an abstract thing like Plato suggested we can "know" the Truth. We can have that relational knowledge and union with eternal Truth. God is offering us union with Himself.

When Christians say "we have the truth" or some similar statement we are not saying we have all the answers and know all about the world perfectly or absolutely. We certainly don't. I'm sure you can meet many people Christians or not that think they do, but in reality Christians are saying we have relational connection to the one who is the Answer the one who is the Truth and we want to point beyond our limited knowledge to His infinite Being.

Anonymous said...

"I am talking about experiencing the Being of Truth that gives the anchor for all facts of truth."

No, you are talking about having experiences, period. One can not "experience" truth. Let's say that gravity is true. How do you experience it? You can experience the effects of it, but not gravity itself. It's nonsense to talk about experiencing the truth of gravity just as it's nonsense to speak of experiencing "Truth." If god exists, it is not nonsense to speak of experiencing god or having experiences or relations with god, but it would be still be nonsense to speak of experiencing "Truth." I say it is nonsense, because it is non-sensical.

And, I fail to see the point behind any of this. This neither makes an argument for god nor for anything else.

CyberKitten said...

Karla, that's all very nice & poetic and everything - but you're using the word Truth and God interchangably.

It would be easier on everyone if when you mean God you simply say God.

Unfortunately (for you) your statement - from my PoV at least - is completely meaningless. It certainly doesn't clarify things for me.

Karla said...

I am discussing a very specific aspect of God's nature . . . Let me think on another way to put it.