I was thinking about the idea of truth today and somehow Mr Heckles from Friends popped into my head. Remember him? He was the strange old man who lived below Monica and Rachel and always complained about the noise. His lies were so blatant and funny that I would often find myself waiting in anticipation to see what he would come up with next. This video shows a few examples, the last of which changed the lives of Chandler and Joey forever.

WHEN LIES BECOME TRUTH

In Friends, Mr Heckles’ lies are hilarious. But in 2020, lies have had serious consequences: literally costing people their lives in some cases. ‘Fake news’, ‘alternative facts’, and conspiracy theories have been responsible for people harming themselves and others in all sorts of ways, including refusing to wear masks, drinking hand sanitiser, and ignoring social distancing guidelines.

What is even more disturbing is the way in which powerful people use fake news for their own benefit. Donald Trump, for example, is on record as telling at least 25,000 lies in his four years as President of the United States. Clearly, Trump gambled on people believing him regardless of whether he spoke the truth or not. And, judging by the results of the recent election, he was right.

WHAT IS TRUTH?

What we believe to be true shapes everything about our lives, from whether we listen to scientists about health guidelines to the people we allow into our circle of friends. When it comes to spirituality, the question of truth becomes even more complicated. For many Christian believers, the Bible is claimed to be the standard of truth. Biblical ‘truth’ is often used to judge scientific information, perpetuate gender and racial stereotypes, protect economic systems, and defend deceitful politicians. Which raises the question of what truth actually is.

What we believe to be true shapes everything about our lives, from whether we listen to scientists about health guidelines to the people we allow into our circle of friends. Click To Tweet

Most of us think of truth as information that is factual. In the case of medical advice, scientific discoveries, or proclamations by politicians about the state of the world, truth claims do need to align with verifiable facts. But we get into trouble when we confuse metaphor, mythology, and meaning with fact. To question verified insights of the sciences because they ‘contradict’ what the Bible says is to violate the purpose of Scripture. It is also to set ourselves up for suffering when we disregard science as a result. I am reminded, for example, of a child who nearly died because the parents refused to allow medical staff to administer a blood transfusion.

Read the other posts in this Science and Spirituality series.

NOT ALL TRUTH IS FACTUAL

When we enter the realm of spirituality, it is important that we honour and are guided by those who do the difficult and important work of verifying and reporting facts: journalists, medical practitioners, and scientists, among others. But it is also important that we realise that there are truths that have nothing to do with facts.

It is important that we realise that there are truths that have nothing to do with facts. Click To Tweet

We live truly in the sense that an arrow that hits its target has flown truly. A true life is not one built on facts, necessarily. Rather it is one of integrity. We live truly when our words, actions, attitudes, beliefs, and thinking all align with one another. In this sense, someone who conforms to all social norms and dictates, but secretly acts and thinks in antisocial ways, is not living truly. But someone who is committed to justice and participates in social disobedience is living truly even if they are legally considered to be a criminal.

And this is the kind of truth we find in sacred texts and rituals. The Bible is not a book of facts, but a book of truth—the truth of myth, metaphor, and meaning. It is a book that speaks truth about how to live a meaningful, fulfilling, compassion, and connected life. For a more focussed discussion on the relationship between the Bible and science, see my post, Why The Bible Is Not A Magic Book.

The Bible is not a book of facts, but a book of truth—the truth of myth, metaphor, and meaning. It is a book that speaks truth about how to live a meaningful, fulfilling, compassion, and connected life. Click To Tweet
LIVING TRULY

An authentic spirituality is essentially about learning to be the most compassionate, connected, and contributing people we can be. And, it is also about learning to live a life we consider to be meaningful and fulfilling. Facts are not nearly sufficient to show us how to find these qualities in our lives. We need stories, myths, and metaphors that reflect on what is truly meaningful and what really contributes to the common good. And we need rituals and practices that train us in the habits of living truly. And that is why we need intentional spiritual practice in our lives.

We need stories, myths, and metaphors that reflect on what is truly meaningful and what really contributes to the common good. And we need rituals and practices that train us in the habits of living truly. Click To Tweet

There are many different ways we can engage in spiritual practices to develop a life that is true. I would suggest though, that whatever the details of your practice may be, it will be most effective if it includes the following elements:

  • We are challenged to speak truth to ourselves about our motives, desires, actions, and the effect they have on other people and our world.
  • We are challenged to speak truth to those in power in some way, even if it is simply to opt out of unjust systems and ways of living.
  • We are drawn to explore and shape our lives around questions of ultimate meaning and importance, including the great global issues of our time.
  • We are taught practical ways to express kindness and compassion, to experience our connectedness with others, and to make some contribution to help our society become more just and loving.
SPEAK YOUR TRUTH

What would you add to this list? How do you work with truth in your own life? Please share your stories and experiences in the comments. Speak your truth and let’s learn to live more truly together.


Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on social media so you don’t miss out on any of the new happenings here at EvoFaith.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO JOIN THIS NEW EVOLUTION OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY, HEAD ACROSS TO THE EVOFAITH TRIBE AND SEND A US REQUEST


Discussion, robust debate, and respectful disagreement are encouraged. However, shaming, attacking, and trolling are not. Please keep the comments on topic, and kind. Any comments that violate this ethos will be removed.

If you enjoyed this article, why not join our EvoChat mailing list so you never miss a post?
You will also receive a download link for our free spiritual practice guide:
LIVE FOR A CHANGE -  An Easter Journey.

PLEASE NOTE: You will receive a confirmation email after you submit your form. Please confirm your subscription by clicking the confirmation button in that email, or we will not be able to send you emails from EvoFaith.
We respect your privacy.
EvoFaith is an online community rooted in evolutionary spirituality.
To support this new evolution of spiritual community and to enjoy exclusive resources and offers, consider becoming a patron.