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What’s Truth Got to Do With It?

Imagine a man who lived some time ago.*  From an early age, he was drawn to religion.  He went to the formal service every week, sometimes even taking notes.  He believed everything his church taught him, never felt a need to challenge the teachings, and tried to live as he was told he should.  He took his church’s teachings literally: God rewarded or punished us for how we had lived on earth, by assigning us to an eternal heaven or hell after we died.  He internalized these teachings until he didn’t even have to think about them; they became part of his nature. This man took tremendous comfort in knowing that he would spend eternity with God, and kept that thought in mind when making hard ethical or moral decisions.  He made and kept friends easily: perhaps because he forgave easily, as he had been taught at church, and looked for the good in everyone he met.  The man married, was a good provider, a good and faithful husband, and helped his wife in raising two happy and healthy children, as well as a third child who was troubled and troubling almost from birth.  He gave generously of his time for what he saw as healthy civic causes, and was in all ways a good citizen who seemed to bless his world as he passed through it.  He lived to see several of his grandchildren come of age, grieved deeply over one killed in the war-du-jour. Several years later, he passed away peacefully in his sleep.  Everyone in the town came to his memorial service, and many of them spoke of the ways in which his kindness had touched them.  Some of their stories could move anyone to tears of gratitude for this man’s life. Two weeks after he died, it was suddenly proven beyond all doubt that almost everything the church had taught him was wrong: there was no God, nor any afterlife with rewards or punishments.  So: we can say the man’s beliefs were false.  But can we say his life was false?  If not, what does truth really have to do with living a fulfilling life?  How would we judge whether someone’s beliefs are good?  If metaphorical trees are known by their fruits, then religious beliefs must be judged by our behaviors, especially toward the weaker and those who don’t share our beliefs. It’s no coincidence that this has been the message of history’s best prophets and sages, nor the fact that it has always been – and will continue to be – the broad path: the path that Jesus and most other sages and prophets have preached against for millennia. * Adapted and expanded from a story by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

Something is Very Wrong with the Bin Laden Kill Story

Bin Laden “was used in the same way that 9/11 was used to mobilize the emotions and feelings of the American people in order to go to a war that had to be justified through a narrative that Bush junior created and Cheney created about the world of terrorism.” — Dr. Steve R. Pieczenik With […] Read More..

America’s God

As even ancient theologians could have seen, the U.S. worships at the altar of Pluto: the god of riches and death.  Our Plutocracy has become desperate in its end stages.  The gap between the rich and the rest is now bigger than it was during the Great Depression 80 years ago. Robert Reich reports that […] Read More..

Who Will Bribe History for Us?

Two days before Christmas, the Associated Press wrote of Halliburton’s generous gift of $250 million to Nigerian officials, to bribe their government into dropping the criminal bribery charges against former Halliburton CEO and former U.S.  Vice President Dick Cheney.  Former President George G. W. Bush and former Secretary of State James Baker reportedly also made […] Read More..

Truth Seeks Light; Evil Loves the Dark

Reposted from Firedoglake. It’s hard for an American to admit that we have become a country whose President now claims the power to arrest and detain indefinitely – or even order the assassination of — any American citizen that the President – without official charges, trial and conviction – sees as some sort of threat. […] Read More..

A Moral Argument for Abortion

In the game-changing 1973 Roe v. Wade case, abortion was framed as an issue of women’s rights.   The women’s movement was in full swing, and it was easy to see why women would believe they should have the right to abort an unwanted fetus.   But the “rights” frame proved to be an easy […] Read More..