Alethiology – How to Know the Truth?
I posted this originally as a comment on a blog post over at Times & Seasons, by David Earl Bohn. I thought I’d share it here:
I understand David Bohn. Scholarship in general does not represent an unassailable uncontested platonic absolute truth, no matter the source from whence it comes. It may be trying to get at the truth, from many different angles, but it can’t quite reach the destination, ever. How close it gets is entirely subjective in each person absorbing it, depending on their experience and resulting perspective.
Truth is like an opaque cloth bag with an object inside, but no opening. You can poke, prod, twist, squeeze, kick, hike, spin, sit on, stretch, slam, or feel it through the bag for eternity, but you won’t know for certain what is inside that bag until you take it out, or ask who put it in there (which still involves some doubt, because now you must judge that individual). You may have an excellent idea, but no certainty. What is its color, for example? No one will ever know, while its still inside the bag.
In terms of religion, I would argue that God is inside the bag, and in Mormon-speak that bag’s the veil. He may also have been the one that put Himself there, or know who did. And this for a reason, perhaps only He knows (another bag). Some day the veil will drop, and we will Know Him.
Alethiology, or the study of the nature of truth (related to epistemology, the study of knowledge its acquisition), would be a good topic to bring up in these discussions. How do we come to a knowledge of truth, in whatever degree? Scholarship certainly helps, but is not an end all. It provides evidence, up for the taking in a never-ending discussion and debate to determine its truthfulness.
Of course, some “truth” is more “simple” than other truth. The fact that I drove a car to work today is pretty incontestable, you’d think. But was it really a “car”? Did I really “drive” it, or can my Utah driving even be considered by that term? Was it even in the past tense, “drove” (to God it was likely the present)? Can a rusted out 1993 Honda Civic with malfunctioning speedometer, odometer, A/C, radio, steering fuel leak, and tail lights still be considered an automobile? Is what I do at “work” really work, or is it unrelated blogging on an online Mormon forum?
This is part of the reason I’ve stopped blogging, as of recent. Too distracting from the truth in my work, but often worth it for the truth in the subject matter. Which is more true? Which should be true? Which would I like to be true?
Back to work…
I need a sabbatical all of the sudden. I feel completely overcome (literally trembling right now) by the creative muse which seems to have engulfed me. I don’t know where it is coming from, but this isn’t standard Bryce. And I’m not talking only about what’s been happening in this Maxwell Institute debate. It’s flowing like a fire hose into all areas of my every day life, from my work, to my home life, my children, my hobbies, my calling, my wife, my language. Where is it coming from? I feel incredibly sharp, and quick. Words are coming to me that I haven’t ever before envisioned or had slip from my tongue. It’s an amazingly transcendent feeling, which I can’t fully explain. Maybe I can, but maybe not right now.
Another time when I felt so inspired was when I spouted a sonnet, “A Reply to Sonnet 18.” I don’t write sonnets folks. I leave that up to my wife! See also my post on the hymn “Oh Say, What is Truth?”
The Creative gift, where does it go?
From the mountains on down, through the rivers flow
Flow through my head, without end
Out of my fingers, without pen
I don’t know, and can’t explain
That which so engulfs me again
The Spirit bloweth where it listeth
To and fro, it won’t ceaseth
Overcome with thought, I imagine
I’ve been here before, my King!