The Truth Is Out There

Jen at Et-Tu has an impeccably logical post about people who say they are "open-minded" in their religious beliefs. I've highlighted some key points in bold print.

If being in a state of open-mindedness means that you're asking questions, seeking knowledge, and attempting to fairly evaluate data without bias, it seems that that should be a transitory state -- at some point, you find the answers. And once you've found the answers to your questions, you're no longer open to the alternatives (unless you get some new data) because you've already evaluated them and rejected them as untrue.

Yet I rarely hear open-mindedness about religion described this way. It's usually described as a long-term plan, a way of life, e.g. "It's important to us to raise our children to be open-minded about religion." It seems to me that if you intentionally plan to stay in that state indefinitely, then what you're really saying is that you believe that objective truth about spiritual matters cannot be known. And if that's the case, then you're taking an active stance against the three major monotheistic belief systems (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) that teach that objective truth does exist and can be known. And if you've closed your mind to that, the religions to which a large majority of believers in the world belong, then you're not very open-minded. (Which is fine -- I don't mean that as a derogatory statement.)

Some wise person, I think maybe G.K. Chesterton, once advised "Don't open your mind so far that your brain falls out." Read the rest of Jen's post and pay attention to the comments after it, too.

Certainly many people spend years, decades even, searching for Truth and considering different alternatives. That's fine. At some point, however, you have to either a) accept something as Truth, or b) take the position that Truth cannot be known. I personally find the latter alternative rather depressing, but many people choose to adopt it. I'm not sure why.

Christ Himself told us: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." It's there right in front of us. Yet for some reason, it often takes us a long time to see.


Kevin Jones said...

"Some wise person, I think maybe G.K. Chesterton, once advised "Don't open your mind so far that your brain falls out.""

GKC's actual words are a bit different:

The object of opening the mind is like that of opening of the mouth: to close it on something solid.

Patrick said...

Excellent, thanks. I knew some Chesterton expert out there would set me straight.

Jennifer F. said...