Would You Like To Know The Truth

This morning two smartly dressed gentlemen knocked on my door and with smiles handed me a pamphlet entitled 'Would You Like to Know the Truth'. Although I accepted it graciously, my immediate thought was 'the recycle bin'. However, seeing that on the back cover there was a picture of a western man teaching this 'truth' to another man dressed in traditional Hindu dress, I thought 'well if we're their target audience, might as well read it', and so I did.

The leaflet attempts to answer six questions which might be on the minds of those who are feeling uncared for or troubled by suffering, wars and the prospect of death. More than often these are the general questions that come to mind for many people, who might embark on a spiritual quest. However, although the questions may be great, the answers seem to have very little substance.

In brief:

On the point of what the truth is, well yes you are correct in assuming: it's the bible. The main reason it is recognised as 'truth' is because a person called John said that a person called Jesus said God's word is true. Although I do believe there is great wisdom in the bible, establishing it as truth (or your interpretation of it) based upon a second person saying so, is not tremendously convincing. It's a bit like trusting that a second hand car is truly worth it's advertised price because the salesman told me the boss said so. If that is the simple criteria for determining 'truth' i.e. that someone said that someone said it is (and don't forget both of them are trying to sell it) then if a Hindu says that the Bhagavad Gita is 'truth' because Arjuna said that Krishna said it was, then we have equally established the Gita as 'Truth'. The same can be done for the Koran, Torah, Veda, Guru Granth, Tipitaka and so on.

So what makes the bible any more of a truth than other scriptural writings, or anything that two people may say is the truth?

Q. Does God really care about us?

Obviously a question with limited appeal to some theists. The writer challenges 'many religions teach that our sufferings are God's will'. Excuse me but that's what the bible says about it. Just read Jeremiah 30, where God says 'I have done these things to you' and why? Because of your 'many sins'. The writer clearly avoids answering the challenge by simply quoting the bible saying that God is neither 'unjust' nor 'wicked', but he doesn't say who causes the suffering, neither does he get God off the hook and he also presumes that the source of all suffering (whomever or whatever it may be) must be wicked and unjust. Is all suffering unjust? Should we just open the prisons and let the prisoners go? Should we now just never correct our kids when they do wrong and just give them everything they want? Again, this response to a good question is a failure to answer it.

Q. Will war and suffering end?

In the answer we are provided with a promise that there will be peace on earth under heavenly management; this statement being made over two thousand years ago by Isaiah. Well it's not going to be in any of our lives and neither was Christ able to establish such worldly peace in his. So if this was to have been my question then what relevance does the answer have to me. It's clearly a post dated cheque which will never clear in our lifetime, therefore the honest answer to this question should have been 'not in your lifetime mate'.

Q, What Happens to us when we die?

And the inspired answer is 'Nothing', you will be completely 'unconscious'.

Well isn't that something for us all to look forward to. No soul, no constant us that goes on after death. That really makes a life of self restraint and devotion worth while!

Unfortunately, I have lost the enthusiasm to even read the rest of this leaflet and I find it truly disappointing that while targeting other religious traditions and ridiculing their beliefs the writers offer such feeble arguments or alternatives. In my mind this attitude is what causes suffering, wars and turns people away from God. It has the stench of intolerance, lack of rational sense and religious fanaticism!

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