Weighing the Truth
Over time, if one pays attention to this sort of thing, one gets to see or hear a variety of different “reasons” for claiming something as truth. One can also see or hear many different ideas as to how these “truths” were determined to be “true” or not. This is something about which we must be very careful.
Many people have probably heard or read about the Mormons’ “burning in the bosom” as being a method by which they validate truth claims. While many would strongly disregard this as a valid test of veracity, there are other equally invalid ways to “prove” something is true.
I have heard people cite examples such as, “I was just thinking about my friends from years ago the other day and then, suddenly, I just got a phone call from them last night!” In some cases, people will claim that this is evidence for the existence of God. Others might assert something more like what can be found in U. S. Andersen’s “Three Magic Words” and attribute it to some sort of “universal subconscious mind.”
Whatever this “proves,” we must be a bit more careful with our concept of what constitutes “proof” or “validation” for a given belief. This is similar to the idea in a previous post about whether we can accept something is true based on whether or not we like it.
Perhaps a good litmus test for whether or not a given occurrence is a valid way to “prove” something is to take a look at whether that occurrence is subjective or objective. In other words, if it is based on an experience that you my have encountered (e.g. burning in the bosom, voices in your head, coincidental phone call or e-mail from a long lost friend or relative, etc.), then you may want to find something a bit more solid to base your truth-claim on.
For example, if you were to make the claim that “Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion,” then you should probably have something better than just, “because it’s really important to me that He did that” as the basis for your claim. Fortunately, with something like this, we have other reasons to believe such things, though some dismiss this evidence (which is the same idea, only for an opposite claim).
If you are currently in a position where you do not have much better reason than “I hope it’s true” or “I want it to be true” or “My parents always taught me it was true” then I would hope that you’d start working on finding better reasons to believe in your faith. And, when doing so, I would caution that you don’t just base your conclusions on only one side of the issue.
Check out what the opponents of your views are and then research how those arguments are addressed by people with a similar view. Go back and forth several times between the pro and con camps and include your own thinking and your own intuitions about things. I would also point out that prayer is a factor hear as you pray that you would search out the truth in honesty.
The caveat here, of course, is that if you are incorporating prayer, you may fall victim to researching in a way that is going to give an unfair advantage to your current beliefs. Read the article from C. Michael Patton (from the link above) as he has an excellent way of explaining how to be honest and non-prejudicial in your search for truth. While I’m not sure that anyone can be 100% objective, without in some small way trying to confirm our own conclusions, the more one can do this, the better chance you have of coming to find out the actual truth.
I really hate to do this because it just seems a bit cheesy, but I can’t resist the urge to quote the tag line from the old X-Files show: “The truth is out there.”
Grace, love and peace.