Last night I had a discussion with a friend on the possibility of reaching objective truth without it being tainted with subjective emotions. This afternoon, I sparred with another friend on whether an objective assessment of reality is possible. And just an hour ago I received a comment from a gentleman named Dave on this same topic in a response to my post Reasons For My Deconversion.
I responded to Dave’s comment and decided to post both of our comments in this separate post.
Many things in your story resonate with aspects of my life. I also think your critique on the major brand of christanity is justified. It is quite clear to me that the problems in mainstream christanity are of a psychological nature and probably won’t be resolved any time soon. In saying that I know a great deal of christains whom do not prescribe to a fundamentalist approach, have a great knowledge in areas of psychology, science and philosophy, and still believe in the authority of scripture. Perhaps the God that you were taught about was a terrible misrepresentation of the real Christian God.
I’m just wondering whether the emotional critique that you have landen on certain parts of the church has some relevance for your current position. That is, our movements between believing in higher powers or no higher powers all are part influenced by our emotional states.
Great point. Emotions very much tend to distort objective truth. For this reason, for anyone who has made a commitment to finding objective truth must make their assessments in a state of mind that is as far from subjectivity as possible.
This is not an easy task. It is not a “natural” state of mind for humans. It requires acquiring knowledge in logic and critical thinking, then subsequent training and practice to distance the mind from its emotional inclinations.
However, to say it is difficult is not to say that is is impossible, nor something we should leave to others. Approximating an objective state of mind well within the grasp of anyone willing to make the effort.
This trained objective mindset is imperative for anyone in honest search for truth. They have committed themselves to the possibility that objective truth may not correspond to happiness. Truth-seeking turkeys on a turkey farm a week before Thanksgiving are in for a disappointing revelation. We must also be willing to accept a dismal truth. If there is not this willingness, the mind is not yet prepared to objectively assess truth.
However, minds most often are found to belong to humans. Humans have an emotional nature that does not need to be taught, and is able to take the cold objective truths that it uncovered though a different (objective) mindset, and subjectively (emotionally) assign “meaning” to that cold objective truth. This meaning exists only subjectively.
I assess truth objectively.
I assign meaning to that objective truth subjectively.
While I have dug beneath the muddy soil of my emotions to uncover the cold, hard, and colorless objective clay, I then prefer to cover it back up and plant subjective flowers, vines and berries. And this subjective project I can tend to more efficiently and enjoy more fully since I continually know the nature of the foundation.
Only after objectively assessing the foundation of one’s life can a mind then most happily construct personal meaning.
After objectively assessing the truth value of religion, I do find myself now subjectively annoyed and angry at the lies/falsehoods I was told. However, this subjective anger was not prior to my assessment, but emergent of it.
There are many more things to be said about our varied emotions and how they affect our thoughts and lives.
[ More of Phil’s posts on objective truth and emotions ]