by Don Ingwerson
“What is truth?” asked Pilate during the trial of Jesus before his tragically unjust crucifixion.
Jesus was subsequently put to death – not because Pilate found fault with Jesus’ answer, but because the public were stirred into rejecting what Jesus understood to be true.
Today, climate change, health care, and evolution are just a few of the topics that stir impassioned arguments about what is or isn’t true. As leaders share their vision for the future, they try to convince members of the public to share their perception of truth, often illustrating the huge gaps that exist between individuals and groups in what they hold to be true and in what data they use to justify their position.
Meanwhile, in everyday life the rest of us try to hold on to our most cherished ideas, and the longer an idea is held at the core of a person’s belief system, the more it becomes the truth to him. These beliefs about what is truth are becoming more important to our existence as these beliefs shape how we behave and solve issues. Outlining what is truth based on incomplete data is of limited value today and tomorrow.
So answering the question of “what is truth?” continues to be more than just an academic exercise. Each of us, as individuals, constantly need to judge between competing views of truth that can meet the test of reality – even when the results of this truth are not physically seen.
Academics have certainly taken on this subject. William James, MD, and former President of Harvard University, defined truth as whatever works. Dr. Irving Oyle, in his article “A Medical Doctor Diagnoses Reality,” shares the idea that what you think creates your world. And UC Berkeley’s Ian L. Mitroff has stated, “Reality used to be nothing but all the hard stuff in the outside world that we bumped up against every day of our lives. And, truth was nothing more than all the true facts that were known about the external world. We don’t live in this simple world any more. Reality and truth are more complicated than ever.”
But is the complication caused by where we look for truth? Could the problem be that we are trying to find truth in what we see, hear, touch, taste, and feel, when it is actually something more profound?
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, thought so. She was a deep spiritual thinker who came to understand that divine consciousness – our connection to God – was what defined reality. She based her conclusions on a premise that God created all and made all good, which she demonstrated in a healing practice that drew from the example of Jesus and echoed his early followers. Building from this spiritual basis, Eddy concluded that reality is the infinite manifestation of infinite Mind (another name for God).
That might seem like revolutionary thinking. However, the present advanced scientific theories are also discovering reality is more metaphysical than physical. Which begs the question, is truth itself changing or is our view changing?
Comments from Dr. Laurance Doyle, quantum physics professor, point to the latter.
“Material medicine claims to be scientific, but the premises upon which it builds are actually outdated in terms of the modern foundations of current scientific thinking. It may come as a bit of a surprise, but current scientific thinking about the nature of matter, consciousness, and reality have been migrating closer and closer toward the premises already laid down in the teachings of Christian Science,” he said in his “Revelation, Reason, and Demonstration” talk held in 2015 in Ohio.
Over the years I’ve found that striving to understand and live in the light of this view of spiritual reality brings consciousness into a healthier sphere, leading to tangible healing. The inner battle to perceive what’s spiritually true has very practical consequences.
So what answer would you give today, if a modern-day Pilate asked you, “What is truth?”