Truth

	Endless invention, endless experiment, 
	Brings knowledge of motion but not of stillness ...
	Where is the life we have lost in living?
	Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
						-- T S Eliot

The week before I read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown I attended the evening service at St Peter's. The topic was God, a series of talks on God. Sadly I was unable to hear the rest of the series.

We were told by the speaker that there is no such thing as relative truth, we can only have absolute truth. How wrong could the speaker be, we can only ever have relative truth, our 'truth' is determined by our limited knowledge and experience of the world around us.

To be all knowing to understand absolute truth would be to elevate ourselves to the status of God.

Newton proposed what at the time seemed to be the preposterous notion, that bodies once set in motion continue on their course until stopped or are deflected by another force. This runs counter to our everyday experience, and yet is now accepted as a universal truth.

Galileo proposed the earth was a minor planet which revolved around around the sun. He was forced to recant under threat of torture by the Roman Catholic Church as it challenged their accepted doctrine, that the earth was at the centre of the universe, at the centre of earth was man, and at the centre of man, the Roman Catholic Church.

We think of world around us as solid. Descend into the molecular or atomic or subatomic realm and we find it is anything but solid. Similarly if we look at the Universe, we find it is nothing but empty space. Our world, the everyday world we inhabit, is determined by the limited information of our five senses. But bang your head into a brick wall and it seems solid enough.

What we perceive as the reality around us, is just a convenience. Look down from an aircraft several miles in the sky, and our reality, our human-scale world, no longer exists.

What we perceive as 'self' is our projection of reality. It is a convenience that helps us navigate the 'reality' of the world around us which we have created.

Where once we had the certainty of Rene Descartes or Isaac Newton, enter the inner world of the atom, the world of quantum mechanics, and you learn nothing is certain. Not only that, everything that happens in this inner world is governed by what happens in the universe, including the behaviour of the observer.

Newton's laws of motion seem certain and precise, a very simple mathematical equation. Accelerate to very high velocities approaching the speed of light, and Newton's laws of motion no longer apply, they were merely a crude approximation, relative truth masquerading as absolute truth.

Only in the field of mathematics or formal logic, do we have anything approaching absolute truth, and only then, because we can artificially construct our universe and predetermine the rules.

In arithmetic 1 and 1 add up to 2. A universal truth? Not in formal logic, where 1 and 1 gives 1.

In the world of Euclidean Geometry we can construct a series of proofs, each support and validate the other, we have internal consistency, always necessary if the truth is to prevail.

The sum of the angles of a triangle add up to 180 degrees. We can draw an infinite series of triangles, measure the angles, and find the sum is indeed 180 degrees. We can construct proofs that the sum of the angles is 180 degrees.

I can easily construct a triangle that proves otherwise!

Draw two lines radiating from the North Pole, their angle of separation precisely 90 degrees. They each intersect the Equator at 90 degrees. I have just constructed a triangle that has three angles, each of 90 degrees. Impossible!

Euclidean Geometry only applies to a flat plane. Truth is relative.

A girl's flowering vagina resembles a blossoming rose. Which is the true rose? Which gives more pleasure?

I hear the truth when I listen to the Era trilogy by Eric Levi, written to commemorate the massacre of Cathars at Montsegur, when I listen to the music of Hildegard von Bingen, who thought of herself as 'a feather on the breath of God', who received her music as visions from God.

The Holy Bible is a sacred text. In the New Testament there are many layers of meaning. A poor translation, one false word, and the truth is lost.

The Bible was not sent by e-mail from God, it is the work of men.

There are many Gospels that could have made it into the New Testament, only four made it. The Gospel of Thomas is fairly innocuous, the unadulterated sayings of Jesus Christ. But it is not part of the 'official' New Testament. Mention the Gospel of Thomas to some in the Church, even those who are otherwise of liberal persuasion, and you will will get a reaction of horror, probably less of a reaction than if you said you engaged in Satanic worship with naked virgins everyday.

When new texts were discovered, the Church should have been delighted. Here was original source material that shed new light on the early days of Christianity, that added greatly to our understanding. But that was the problem. The Church was anything but delighted at new light being shed on a 2,000 year old religion. It challenged accepted doctrine.

When discoveries are made in biology or paleontology, the text books are rewritten. If new discoveries are made that shed a new light on Ancient Egypt we are delighted. Where a creed is built on faith and belief, the truth does not get a look in. That is the difference between science and religion. Not that science is not based on belief, one theory is believed over another, we prefer the planets revolve around the sun, rather than the celestial orbs in the sky are carried on their paths by angels.

History is always written by the victor. The Church decided what shall and what shall not be accepted text. In part the Crusades were a search and destroy mission, to root out and destroy heretical texts.

Dan Brown's controversial novel The Da Vinci Code is set around the war between two competing Christian ideologies the Christianity of the Roman Catholic Church, the male dominated authoritarian Church and a more feminine Christianity that gives centre place to Mary Magdalene and has its roots in much earlier religions.

Look at Leonardo Da Vinci's painting The Last Supper. How many disciples? All men? Look again. Without looking at the painting, answer the question: how many glasses of wine on the table? Then look again at the painting.

Truth is not what we think it is. We see what we want to see.

How many Christians on their way to church question why, as an outgrowth of a Jewish sect, they worship on a Sunday, not on a Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath? How many know that their day of worship was chosen for them by a pagan Roman Emperor, the day of worship of the Roman Sun God? That many of the dates of their most important religious festivities were chosen to tally with the dates of pagan festivities.

Many churches, at least the very old ones, are built on very old spiritual sites, points of localised spiritual energy. Many are located on ley lines. The current location of Salisbury Cathedral was given in a vision. From Old Sarum, looking across the valley, to the far away hills, the Cathedral lines up exactly with a notch on the far away hills. The line itself is a ley line.

We have lost the ability to comprehend what our ancient ancestors once possessed.

Writing from opposite poles of the Christian spectrum, Philip Yancey and Nicky Gumbel write of truth. Gumbel (see Alpha) writes of absolute truth, distorts Scripture to suit his own political agenda, displays an appalling arrogance. Yancey (see What's So Amazing About Grace or Soul Survivor or Rumours of Another World) on the other hand writes with humility, displays more honesty and integrity, admits we do not know all the answers, recognises that truth is relative and ones concept of truth changes with perspective.

We have recently passed through the Age of Pisces and are now in the Age of Aquarius. Each age is two millennia. The Age of Pisces started with the birth of Jesus and ended in the year 2000. The exact dates are not known as we use a calender imposed by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Age of Pisces was an age when Man does as he is told, an age ideally suited to the Roman Catholic Church. The image for the age was a fish, the same sign used by early Christians.

The Age of Aquarius is an age of free thinking. An anathema to the Roman Catholic Church.

The transition between two ages is an era of turmoil, as we are indeed seeing today. Into this void steps Gumbel and his camp followers with their New Age Alpha course lifestyle distortion of Scripture. The vulnerable are there to be exploited.

The Church is no exception to the turmoil of the transition from one age to another, it too is in turmoil, and the likes of Gumbel, if not stopped, will exploit that turmoil for their own political ends. We are seeing a Second Reformation under way within the Church. There are those within the Church who recognise it has lost its way, probably within a few centuries of the founding of the Church. They are looking to the early Christians, to the religions that preceded Christianity. A more feminine, balanced, organic, holistic church may emerge to replace the authoritarian, male dominated church of the last 2,000 years. A church that does not require a masculine dominated hierarchy to intercede with God.

The speaker at St Peter's was right on one crucial point. We have no proof of God. All we get are hints, shadows projected across the transition zone. God leaves no footprints in the sand.

And yet God has achieved what Deepak Chopra describes as a truly amazing feat (see How to Know God):

God has managed the amazing feat of being worshipped and invisible at the same time.

If God made himself known, could we cope?

LSD expands the mind, it unblocks the filters that limit what we see of the world. But we do not reach enlightenment, we go mad!

Occasionally we get hints of another world, an invisible world that breaks through into our world angels, miracles, prophesies, visions. How else do we explain what is inexplicable in our reality unless we invoke the presence of another world?

Hildegard von Bingen drew all her inspiration of the world around her from her visions.

The fourteenth century mystic Dame Julian of Norwich asked God why he created the world. The reply came back in ecstatic whispers:

You want to know your lord's meaning in what I have done? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For love.

William James (see The Varieties of Religious Experience) made a lifelong study of religious experience. He came to the conclusion that an unseen spiritual world has a direct effect on our material world. Personally he did not know if there was a world beyond this one, that no proof could be offered as to the existence of God, nevertheless, he believed that built into human nature was a 'will to believe' in God or some higher power, and that we would be lesser human beings if that belief was stripped from us. As an agnostic, he could not believe in this spiritual world. As a scientist, he had to accept the evidence before his eyes. He concluded: 'God is real since he produces real effects.'

What we perceive as God, is not as God is. It is just the way we see God. In the same way we do not 'see' what happens in the subatomic world. All we have are shadows on the wall.

further reading

David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge, 1980

Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code, Corgi, 2003

Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, Flamingo, 1983

Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life, HarperCollins, 1996

Deepak Chopra, How to Know God, Rider, 2000

Paul Davies, God and the New Physics, Penguin, 1984

Paul Davies, The Mind of God, Simon and Schuster, 1992

Paul Davies, The Edge of Infinity, Penguin, 1994

Stevan Davies, The Gospel of Thomas, Darton, Longman and Todd, 2003

Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar, Abacus, 1994

John Gribbin, In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, Black Swan, 1984

William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, Modern Library, 1936

Keith Parkins, Synchronicity, June 2004

Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind, Vintage, 1990

Roger Penrose, Shadows of the Mind, Vintage, 1995

Robert M Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Corgi, 1974

George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time, Abacus, 1995

Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing About Grace, Zondervan, 1997

Philip Yancey, Soul Survivor, Hodder & Stoughton, 2001, 2003

Philip Yancey, Rumours of Another World, Zondervan, 2003

Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Rider, 1979


Books Worth Reading
(c) Keith Parkins 2004 -- June 2004 rev 1