instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, January 12, 2004

Truth, for its own sake

I've been in several conversations over the past few weeks that, taken together, suggest a fundamental difference between me and many others:
  • Someone said, "It doesn't matter what religion you are as long as you're a good person."
  • Someone recommended the work of Marcus Borg as interesting and worthwhile.
  • Someone defended a supplication for the soul of a deceased pet during the Prayer of the Faitful with the argument, "What does it hurt?"
  • Someone commented, "Actually I was thinking that you should start a blog that specialized in giving satisfying answers to people, regardless of the Truth." (This one, at least, was a joke.)
What I have come to realize is that, for a lot of people in a lot of circumstances, the answer to the question, "But is it true?" is of no interest whatever.

Having put it into words, this fact is so obvious that the only way I could have overlooked it before is because I really want people to care whether something is true.

I recall that, after the very first Lay Dominican chapter meeting I attended as an inquirer, I mentioned to someone that the meeting had featured a talk by a Dominican friar about how science, though useful, wasn't true. The person I was talking to said, "That sounds like a Dominican, always talking about 'Truth.'" She said "Truth" with a quaver in her voice, like you'd use if you were saying, "What, you're afraid of the 'bogeyman'?" Like it was ridiculous that some people took it seriously.

And even though I thought at the time the friar had mischaracterized science (now I suspect I had mischaracterized the friar), I was dumbfounded by the idea that truth wasn't something to be valued.