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Truth and Belief

A few days ago while driving, I decided to listen to 99.5 and caught the middle of the Alistair Begg Truth For Life broadcast. Usually I listen to KCSN or KCRW, but I have been missing my daily dose with Dr. Charles Stanley since I can no longer get the instant download on my iPhone, so I thought I'd listen to whomever was preaching. One part of his sermon really intrigued me, and it was this line to the best of my recollection, " Belief does not create Truth, but rather Truth is the foundation of belief." Say Whaat? I had to really consider that. I've always wondered that if Truth can result in beliefs, can it go the other way, so that beliefs can result in Truth, like the book The Secret claims? Let's investigate.

I thought that the example Alistair gave in his sermon was a tangible one. He used this illustration: Let's say you lived near a lake and it was wintertime. The lake had frozen but just to a thickness of 1/16th of an inch. If you were a 200 pound man, no matter how much you believed that you could walk on the ice with and not fall through, it would not make this belief a true one. The truth of the matter is that the ice freeze was not thick enough to support your weight, and you would surely fall through the ice and into the freezing water.

Conversely, let's say that the ice had frozen to a thickness of 2 1/2 feet but you believed that if you walked onto the ice you would surely fall through. No matter how much you believed this, it would not be true. You could drive your Hummer over it and still not fall through.

Therefore truth forms the foundation for beliefs, not the other way around. It works in one direction, not a two way street. Kind of like the concept of cooking an egg. Once you cook it, you cannot uncook it. Even if you believed you could uncook that egg and turn it back into liquid form, and put it back into its shell- this is just not possible, even if you really believed you could do it and had faith that it could be done.

So this leads me to believe that first there is truth, and then we form beliefs. But this concept gives me brain cramps because if I believe that beliefs come from truth how can I verify this? I guess this might be where faith comes in. But is not faith yet another perhaps more specialized term for belief including the concepts of trust and confidence that something will come to pass but not based on fact, which is in fact truth? I swear I have not been hitting the pomegranate liqueur. I just love to muse on these concepts.

So if truth is actuality and conforms with facts and reality then we as reasoning beings can empirically observe these truths, and then form our beliefs about them. For example, if you left a glass of milk on your nightstand in 100 degree weather for a certain length of time, and when you picked it up and discovered that it had soured, you might form a belief about leaving milk out in warm weather, and thus learn from that experience not to do that in the future. You might feel pretty confident in this knowledge, and pass it along to another individual who had not experienced this empirical demonstration, so that they could avoid the unpleasant consequences. And so it would seem that beliefs are based on truths and passed along from person to person.

And yet beliefs can become corrupted. Recollections can become hazy, and facts can be remembered incorrectly, and thus tainted beliefs can be formed and then passed on from person to person thus perpetuating the untruth. But again the conundrum presents- if one person believes that another person's belief is untrue- it is an even argument unless the facts can speak for themselves. This is the beauty of having easy access to the internet through our portable electronics. A disagreement can present, and before it blossoms into a battle of ideologies, the facts can be researched and presented, and the person who held the erroneous belief then has the opportunity to change their prior belief in order to more closely resemble something that substantiates the facts. This is how we learn and progress.

A wonderful quote by Leo Tolstoy sums it up beautifully:

"The most dificult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him."

Now I believe his words to be true though factual backup might prove tricky. Let's use another illustration. You and a friend are discussing the best way to bathe a cat. Your position is that the best way is to take a warm washcloth and gently wipe the cat's fur with it. Your friend is of the belief that the best way is to fill the sink up with warm water and place the cat in the sink and shampoo the animal. Who is right? Well there are far too many variables to consider including the temperament of the cat, the degree of grooming needed, the length of the fur, the type of soil needing to be cleansed, for example sticky oil verses plain old garden dirt, etc. So what can be true for one person in one set of circumstances can be completely untrue for another person in another set of circumstances. Each can hold true to their beliefs based upon their prior experience and thus not be open to the suggestion of the other, who has an entirely different belief based upon their prior experience. The argument can escalate into a battle of wills but to what value? Both methods can in fact be true, and at the same time false depending upon the context.

This is where reasoning, which is the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises, comes in. If the belief is based on good sound reasoning, instead of reasons that sound good, the belief will prove true. Conversely, if a belief or judgment is based on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty, it is merely an opinion which can be either correct or incorrect. In fact, many believe that we do not see the world as it is, but rather as we are. I believe this thought is attributed to Anais Nin and I would have to agree, though it would be difficult to prove this concept.

But consider this for a moment. You and a friend are trying to select a restaurant for lunch, and you only have 30 minutes, so must act quickly and make a nearby selection. You are in the mood for a salad, but your friend wants a burger. You go round and round on the restaurant selections and are unsuccessful in locating one restaurant nearby which offers both menu items. You end up at Umami Burger which is purportedly home of the world's best burger complete with caramelized onions and truffle cheese. Your friend is thrilled and believes that the lunch is the best ever. You, on the other hand, were not impressed because no matter how good that burger was, if it was a salad you had in mind, and you really were not open to suggestion, even an Umami burger could disappoint you. And this would be true for you as the experience could be assessed by actual factual experience. So this leads me to believe that beliefs can indeed affect the truth. But only the truth of your opinion.

So to conclude this meandering blog, I believe that truth forms the foundation for beliefs, and that beliefs can affect our personal truth, but it doesn't mean you can uncook an egg. So ultimately, you can choose to believe what you like, but truth will always prevail as summed up in this verse from the Bible, " And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (Gospel of John 8:32)

Happy and healthy Labor day From Jewel

I was going to share my simple recipe for quick Swordfish burritos but I it got trumped by:

Taylor's Macaroni and Cheese Casserole:

Ingredients

1 tablespoon salt, plus more for pasta water
1 pound large elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white Cheddar, shredded
4 ounces Romano, shredded
4 ounces Asiago, shredded
2 cups bread crumbs (suggested: panko (Japanese) available at most markets)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In large pot filled with water add 3 pinches of salt and the macaroni and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and let cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter. Sprinkle flour over butter and cook 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat, whisking until a roux or paste forms. Add cold milk and whisk vigorously until dissolved. Cook sauce on medium-low heat until thick and bubbly. Add heavy cream, all cheeses, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Cook until cheeses are fully melted, stirring occasionally.

Add cooked macaroni to cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. Place macaroni mixture in a 13 by 9 baking dish and top with bread crumbs. Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Top with fresh parsley and serve.

For variations, add cooked lobster meat, truffle oil, bacon and/or garden fresh vegetables.

And be sure to make two pans for large gatherings :-)

More Quotes:

Our mental make-up is suited to a life of very severe physical labor
~ Bertrand Russell

***

A bad day at work is better than a good day in hell.
~ Scott Johnson

***

Constant labor of one uniform kind destroys the intensity and flow of a man's animal spirits, which find recreation and delight in mere change of activity.
~ Karl Marx

***

The highest pleasure to be got out of freedom, and having nothing to do, is labor.
~ Mark Twain

***

We all labor against our own cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.
~ Thomas Browne, Sr.

***

Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.
~ Bible

***

One cannot properly appreciate the human realities so long as one labors under the adolescent delusion that people get the fates they deserve.
~ Nicholas Rescher

***

A single idea, if it is right, saves us the labor of an infinity of experiences.
~ Jacques Maritain

***

For the folk-community does not exist on the fictitious value of money but on the results of productive labor, which is what gives money its value.
~ Adolf Hitler

***

Such labored nothings, in so strange a style, Amaze the' unlearned, and make the learned smile.
~ Alexander Pope

***

My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.
~ Indira Gandhi

***

Men are made stronger on realization that the helping hand they need is at the end of their own right arm.
~ Sidney J. Phillips

***

I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
~ Thomas Jefferson

***

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
~ Martin Luther King Jr

***

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
~ Confucius

***

The man who rolls up his shirt sleeves is rarely in danger of losing his shirt.
~ Anonymous

***

No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level–I mean the wages of decent living.
~Franklin D. Roosevelt

***

Work is no disgrace; the disgrace is idleness.
~ Greek proverb

***

Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, some done,
Has earned a night’s repose.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

***

No great achievement is possible without persistent work.
~ Bertrand Russell

***

There is no substitute for hard work.
~ Thomas Edison

***

A man is not paid for having a head and hands, but for using them.
~ Elbert Hubbard

***

I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
~ John D. Rockefeller

***

Under the spreading chestnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith a mighty man is he
With large and sinewy hands.
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
He earns whatever he can,
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

***

Before the reward there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy.
~ Ralph Ransom

***

Next Post date: October 1, 2012
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September 3, 2012

Quotes:

Heaven is blessed with perfect rest but the blessing of earth is toil. ~Henry van Dyke

***

God sells us all things at the price of labor. ~Leonardo da Vinci

***

Work isn't to make money; you work to justify life. ~Marc Chagall

***

Without labor nothing prospers. ~Sophocles

***

Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased. ~Adam Smith

***

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. ~Ovid

***

Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another. ~Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard

***

A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity. ~Thomas Jefferson

***

God give me work, till my life shall end
And life, till my work is done.
~Epitaph of Winifred Holtby

***

Sometimes it's important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it's essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow. ~Douglas Pagels, These Are the Gifts I'd Like to Give to You

***

The only liberty an inferior man really cherishes is the liberty to quit work, stretch out in the sun, and scratch himself. ~H.L. Mencken

***

There is precious little hope to be got out of whatever keeps us industrious, but there is a chance for us whenever we cease work and become stargazers. ~H.M. Tomlinson

***

The end of labor is to gain leisure. ~Aristotle

***

It is labour indeed that puts the difference on everything. ~John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690

***

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend. ~Doug Larson

***

Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken. ~Bill Dodds

***

Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.
~ Albert Einstein

***

Celibacy, like the fly in the heart of an apple, dwells in perpetual sweetness, but sits alone, and is confined and dies in singularity; but marriage, like the useful bee, builds a house, and gathers sweetness from every flower, and labors and unites.
~ Jeremy Taylor

***

Business, labor and civil society organizations have skills and resources that are vital in helping to build a more robust global community.
~ Kofi Annan

***

The mountains will be in labor, and a ridiculous mouse will be born.
~ Horace

***

You must often make erasures if you mean to write what is worthy of being read a second time; and don't labor for the admiration of the crowd, but be content with a few choice readers.
~ Horace

***

We should so live and labor in our times that what came to us as seed may go to the next generation as blossom, and what came to us as blossom may go to them as fruit. This expresses the true spirit in the love of mankind.
~ Henry Ward Beecher

***

If we could all live solitary and without labor, we could all enjoy this ecstasy of independence; since we cannot, its delights are only available to madmen and dictators
~ Bertrand Russell

***

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