Two truths

Can two truths coexist?

Many Christians would say no. No-one can come to the Father except through me. Many atheists would say no, too, because the concept of God is as unlikely as that of a teapot orbiting Jupiter. To me, though, it is possible for someone to be atheist for good reason, and another to be religious for good reason, and for the good reasons of one not to apply to the other. That I do not choose your atheism does not mean that I do not respect it. Christians should know that I know in part; your part may seem inconsistent, because we do not see the whole. And I am irked enough by atheist Quakers saying “When you are as spiritually mature as me you will be non-theist too” to not say something similar.

It is like Athenian v Spartan, Apollo v Dionysus, Enlightenment v Romanticism, the language of a scientific paper v lyric and metaphor. We think differently. That is our strength. Coming to respect and appreciate the other’s way of thinking and expressing thought enriches both.

Or, her experience of Christianity is oppressive, and in liberating herself she has left it, but in mine I have felt the oppression but have also found liberation, so have stayed. For me the liberation is real.

Here is a dispute. I could go through it, showing at every point how I was right- it is tempting. Violet II asked Violet I why she referred us to lessons on communication. Well, if Violet II had taken an atheist stance and I had said the physical evidence of Noah’s Flood is overwhelming and “scientists” who deny it are entrapped by Satan, we would be unlikely to come to concord, or even courteous, respectful disagreement; but here we started with friendly intent, and it would be sad to lose that through misunderstanding.

Though I still assert that being able to respect a way of thought which is not my own is essential to such friendly dialogue.

Violet I referred us to this post on respectful communication. Oh God, not Elevatorgate again? [He was an Asshole! Picking her up in the LIFT? WT-


What it misses out is that we can both be right. Scientific consensus moves on when one expert in a narrow field produces an explanation of evidence which convinces the others. This does not apply to internet debate, where we dialogue through comment boxes rather than peer-reviewed journal articles.

Elevatorgate might be a good illustration, though. It is not strictly a dispute between all men and all women, but between high and low sex drives, or beliefs about casual sex. In the Tube, I saw an advert for holidays in Las Vegas: Come to a place where your accent is an aphrodisiac. Or- Las Vegas! You know about the drink and gambling, but have you heard of the no-strings casual sex!!? I was disgusted, but not everyone will be. Onywye. Elevatorgate.

-He meant well.
-She was repulsed.

He did not force himself on her, but made a proposal. There are arguments why he should not have done so, but feminist objections to slut-shaming make them more difficult to put consistently as absolute objections.

How would I put this as a seventh rule for pretentious ape?

Accept that the other’s contrary belief does not threaten your own. I do not have to convince thetruthisstrangerthanfiction that Noah’s Flood is just a story, to be certain of that myself. That is not quite it:

Accept that a belief you do not share may have value. At least sometimes. Try to find that value??

Or something. You may have better words for it, so do comment.

Guercino, Hersilia Separating Romulus and Tatius

20 thoughts on “Two truths

  1. “Well we could spend the day throwing stones at one-another,
    Because I don’t think, nor wear my hair, the way you do.
    Well I may be common people, but I’m you brother,
    and when strike out and try to hurt me, it’s a-hurting you.”
    (Joe South, “Walk a Mile in my Shoes”)

    I think this is very well said, Clare. For my money, I would have used a different title, stealing a line from someone who allegedly used the words about this time of year, around 2000 years ago, “What is truth?” My truth is not your truth, and yours is not mine, and the next person’s is neither the truth of either of us.

    I was going to respond to this but it was turning into a whole new blog, which I will write under that title – “What is truth?”

    Mine will make no mention of Elevatorgate – it is way past time that died, and if some radfems and some men (not looking in any particular direction – Thunderf00t) shut up about it, then it would.

    Suffice to say that as an atheist, my way is to live and let live. 95% of the world’s population believe in God. If we atheists intend to live in the peace and harmony so many preach, then we have to debate theists calmly and intelligently – and realise that there are indeed truths within many faiths, otherwise we are just tilting at windmills.

    “People walkin’ up to ya,
    singing “Glory, hallelujah.”
    Gonna try and sock it too ya,
    in the name of the Lord.
    Gonna teach ya how to live and pray;
    read your horoscope; cheat your fate.
    And further more to Hell with hate,
    Come on and get on board.”
    (Joe South, “Games People Play”)


    Xandra xxxx


    • I look forward to your post.

      The Dance
      Oriah Mountain Dreamer

      Tell me a story of who you are,
      and see who I am in the stories I am living.
      And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.

      Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be…someday.
      Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
      truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment,
      and again in the next and the next and the next…

      Take me to the places on earth that teach you how to dance,
      the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart,
      and I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet
      and the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again.

      Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
      knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging.
      Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
      holding neither against me at the end of the day.

      And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
      intentions has died away on the wind,
      dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
      of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
      not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.

      Don’t say, “Yes!”
      Just take my hand and dance with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Clare, we may not on the main agree on matters religion but that is a small part of life, at least in my view.
    On truth, I don’t know, if all of us have our truth, what does it say about truth? And I would ask, just as in the bible narrative, we have Pilate asking what is truth? That question I don’t think has ever been conclusively answered


        • A quote on Truth, from an email I got today:

          STEPHEN W. HAWKING: Although I’m regarded as a dangerous radical by particle physicists for proposing that there may be loss of quantum coherence, I’m definitely a conservative compared to Roger. I take the positivist viewpoint that a physical theory is just a mathematical model and that it is meaningless to ask whether it corresponds to reality. All that one can ask is that its predictions should be in agreement with observation. I think Roger is a Platonist at heart but he must answer for himself. [pp.3-4]
          ROGER PENROSE: At the beginning of this debate Stephen said that he thinks that he is a positivist, whereas I am a Platonist. I am happy with him being a positivist, but I think that the crucial point here is, rather, that I am a realist. Also, if one compares this debate with the famous debate of Bohr and Einstein, some seventy years ago, I should think that Stephen plays the role of Bohr, whereas I play Einstein’ s role! For Einstein argued that there should exist something like a real world, not necessarily represented by a wave function, whereas Bohr stressed that the wave function doesn’t describe a “real” microworld but only “knowledge” that is useful for making predictions. [pp.134-135]

          Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time [Princeton University Press, 1996]

          Liked by 1 person

            • Truth has traditionally been understood – at least in western philosophy – to be that which corresponds with reality. A statement is true if accords with reality.

              QM and certain experiments done tend to question that understanding by questioning whether a reality exists outside of our perception and in what way it would exist. Einstein and 2 other scientists whose last names started with P and R respectiviely developed a paradox called the EPR paradox. They were realists – at least Einstein was. That is he thought the moon on other physical things were really there even when weren’t looking. Some testing that was done after the EPR paper was published tends to make the case for this reality tougher.


              I admit I do not have a handle on this very well at all. But I intend at some point in my life to get a better handle on the nature of Bells inequalities and what conclusions follow from the experiments concerning it.

              In the end I do agree with you. It’s hard to know what the take away is or could be. In the meantime I am not sure we can really draw other conclusions beside the realist one, without falling into incoherence.


            • I don’t know much of the philosophical questions, but I understand that is the point of je pense donc je suis: Descartes knows he exists, but is unsure of anything else. Cartesian dualism does not necessarily follow from that.

              What I take from the philosophy is that I know in part, and I prophesy in part. I have always to be ready to change my understandings, in order to respond to the world as it is. Everything is contingent. And I cling to the idea of a Truth in the mind of God, to which I might approximate- but that might just be a comfort blanket which I should let go.


          • My first post on my blog was to give my understanding of truth.

            I do not know enough about QM to really address the concerns raised in that field, but there are other reasons to accept Einstein’s realist view even if certain experiments seem not to support it. But I suppose reality might not be at all what we think. This is something that philosophers had considered for centuries.


  3. Clare, it is providential that you posted this blog today! I spent the day on an airplane yesterday reading a book that I want to send to you. If you’ll provide an address I’ll do that. The book was called, “Jesus Unmasked.” I have been a believer in Jesus the Christ for fifty years (since His Spirit called me when I was a just a seven year old child). I know Jesus well, but this author’s skillful examine showed me so much more of Him. And I want to share this with you. Certainly you and I disagree on issues, but we both claim to follow the same Lord. I consider you to be my brother in Christ (nonspecific gender term of endearment), thus I am excited to also share this find with you. I hope to hear from you soon. I hope you are having a wonderful Easter! (my e-mail is susan…[Edited])


  4. Pingback: What is truth? | Xandra

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