Truth, Faith and why all roads cannot lead to heaven
by Michael Edwards
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Is Truth Important to You?
• If you were dying of a deadly but curable disease, would you want the right medication to survive?
• Would you want to know the truth about the risks before investing your life savings?
• Do you want your family and friends to tell you the truth once in a while, or all of the time?
• If you were charged with a murder you did not commit, would you want the truth to come out?
If you want truth in these areas, it appears that truth really is important to you. So what’s on the other side of death? If God exists and your destination after physical death is based on the choices you make in this life, would the truth about eternity be important?
What is Objective Truth?
• It relates to the object referred to.
• It corresponds with reality.
• It is telling it like it is.
• It is true even if no one believes it.
• Jesus and the Bible claim to be objective truths.
“Truth is true—even if no one knows it. Truth is true—even if no one admits it. Truth is true—even if no one agrees what it is. Truth is true—even if no one follows it. Truth is true—even if no one but God grasps it fully.” Paul Copan, Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University, author, True For You But Not For Me.
“Truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but, in the end, there it is.” Sir Winston Churchill, www.quotations.about.com
What is The Law of Non-Contradiction?
The law of non-contradiction is our built-in lie detector to help us find truth. It is a fundamental principle of thought which clearly tells us that opposite ideas cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. For example, it cannot be possible that both the earth is flat and the earth is round. This law is self-evident and undeniable. Knowledge of this law is crucial to understanding that truth does exist and its opposite is always false.
It’s true that you are reading this book right now. You are the object in this statement. So it’s true for everybody, everywhere that you are reading this book right now. It’s a contradiction, or false, that you are not reading it. Since it’s true that Washington D.C. is the capitol of the United States of America, any other belief, even the next closest city geographically, is contradictory and false. You have particular first and last names that are true, while any other names are false. We all took multiple choice tests in school; one answer was true while the rest were false, no matter how close to the truth they came. Truth is always narrow and exclusive, excluding its opposites.
Contradictions in a statement render the claim false. For example: “I have a gift for you and a list of work you need to do to get it.” You know right away that my statement does not make sense because a gift that requires work is not a gift. Some have said to me that “truth does not exist” but in doing so, they claim it is true that truth does not exist. These statements are contradictory and thus false.
Conclusion – Truth exists, it’s important, and its contradictions are always false.
What is The Best Way to Find Truth?
I am sure you will agree that a person can stumble into truth. We all guessed correctly on a few school tests. But guessing or hoping to find the truth by mere accident is obviously not the best way to make an important decision. The following are three popular ways people use to come to a conclusion that something is true. Which one would you pick to make a decision where truth is vital?
1. My feelings—it feels right, it gives me purpose, hope and peace of mind, so I believe it’s the truth.
2. My family or someone I trust believes it, so I do.
3. Evidence, consistency, best fit to the evidence.
Approximately 95 percent of the hundreds of people I have asked this specific question pick the third option right away. But a strange thing happens when I ask the same people if they believe in God. Now the same people who just told me truth was very important and evidence was the best way to find it suddenly say their beliefs about God are not founded on the evidence, but on feelings or on what someone else believes. Therefore, it’s likely that your current belief about God is not based on evidence, either. The problem is that there are sincere followers in every belief who claim to have found the truth. So is one belief correct and the only way to God, or do all roads lead to heaven? Does God exist at all? If we base our search solely on subjective evidence like feelings and personal experience, it’s confusing because every belief has followers who will attest to both. If we decide to believe something because someone else does, how do we know for sure that they have found the truth? Did they examine the evidence, or are they just following their feelings or a crowd?
The only legitimate way to be reasonably sure our faith is placed in the truth is to examine the objective evidence ourselves, as we would with any major decisions. Objective evidence can be examined by everyone and does not change due to emotions, feelings or personal experience. An example of objective evidence would be scientific and historical facts.
I am not suggesting that you completely ignore your feelings, as they can be helpful when you have verifiable facts and more than one solid option. So keep your feelings handy, but I urge you to not place them above the facts. Finding the truth about God is very important, since every belief includes views about salvation and eternity. Making a wise decision based on the objective evidence is only sensible.
Conclusion – The best way to discover truth is by examining the objective evidence.
Can Sincere Faith Make a Belief True?
Many people think that faith is about believing something strongly enough (especially about God) so it will come true. They believe faith is more important than what they place their faith in, but they are mistaken.
The truth is—the object of a person’s faith is much more important than the faith itself.
Here is an example. We are going skydiving and I offer you a parachute or a contraption I made in my garage last night. Which one would you pick? I would hope you’d pick the parachute, because there is no evidence that my contraption works. Faith based on evidence is reasonable faith. In this example, the parachute and my contraption are the objects. If faith is more important than the object, you could strap anything on your back and jump out of the plane, but that’s not realistic. For faith to ultimately work, it must be placed in truth. To find which option has the highest probability of being true, we need evidence. If you had picked my contraption, you would be exercising blind faith.
So why would we rely on blind faith to make one of the most important decisions in our lives—God’s existence, identity and our eternity? It only makes sense to check out the facts to see if our belief is supported by evidence. When you consider a detective who solves mysteries for a living, it’s clear that if he never examines the facts, or if he files criminal charges based on feelings or what someone else believes, he would come to faulty conclusions.
To give you a mental picture of what we will be doing, let’s imagine that you wanted to walk across the ice to the other side of a frozen lake. Before you placed your faith in the ice, you would want some evidence that it would support you, because thin ice could lead to death. You might ask questions of the locals and look to see if anyone was out on the ice. You might cut a hole in the ice and check the thickness. But since it’s not possible to be one hundred percent certain the ice will support you all the way across the lake, there would come a point where you would need to exercise faith—making a decision based upon what you did know—if you ever hoped to get to the other side. In our investigation, we will follow the evidence as far as it will take us; faith will be required to make the rest of the journey. That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines faith as “A firm belief in something for which there is no proof” but it does not say “for which there is no evidence.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/faith
Faith is very important and it is required for any decision where we do not have one hundred percent proof; therefore it is essential to Christianity. The Bible states that faith connects us to the salvation God is offering through grace. Therefore, without faith it is impossible to be saved. But the Bible is speaking about faith placed in the truth, which it claims to be. Even the most sincere faith will not make my contraption perform like a parachute or make the ice thicker. It cannot change history (if Jesus did not rise from the dead, even sincere faith will not change that fact) and it definitely will not make a false belief about God true. While I know we could find adults who believe in the Greek gods Zeus and Apollo, if they aren’t real, not even sincere faith will make them true.
Conclusion – The object of faith is more important than faith. If the object is false, even the most sincere faith will not make it true.
True for You But Not for Me
The statement true for you but not for me has a long list of problems that tell us it is false. I bring it up because people sometimes claim that “Christianity is true for you but not for me.” People who make this statement have confused belief with truth. But belief alone does not guarantee that the matter at hand is true. Truth, on the other hand, is not a respecter of any belief that contradicts it. Truth conforms to reality and the object being referred to. The title of this book is a contradiction on purpose to get your attention: Gravity—True For You But Not For Me. It suggests that an objective truth like gravity does not apply to a person who does not believe in it. But since this is simply not how truth works, the title of this book is just as self-defeating as the claim, “The Bible is true for you but something else is true for me.” The following quote reveals an easy way to prove this for yourself:
“True for you but not for me is a self-defeating and therefore false statement. You can prove this one conclusively to yourself today, just drive 90 in a 55 and when the cop stops you for speeding, just say, “That’s true for you but not for me.” and speed off. Since it’s not true for you he can’t give you a ticket, right?” Dr. Frank Turek
author and speaker, www.Crossexamined.org
True for you but not for me also claims that everything is true as long as someone believes it. If that’s the case, we should have all received perfect grades in school. Every answer I gave was true—for me.
It can be argued that true for you but not for me is even false when it comes to flavors of ice cream or the temperature in a room, because truth applies to its object. For example: you like vanilla, I like chocolate and we are in the same room and you feel cold and I feel warm. Referring to you as the object of the statement, it’s true for everyone everywhere that you like vanilla and feel cold. Referring to me as the object of the statement, it’s true for everyone everywhere that I like chocolate and feel warm. Here is a verse from a rap song that adds more clarity to the contradictory nature of our topic.
“If what's true for you is true for you and what's true for me is true for me, what if my truth says yours is a lie? Is it still true?” Lecrae, Rebel Album.
In opposition to how things really work, the true for you but not for me argument comes from a flawed understanding of how truth works and leads to the faulty conclusion, “What I believe about God is true just because I believe it.” Ironically, it’s a way people play god, by imagining God doesn’t exist or by creating a god who works for them.
In my opinion, true for you but not for me is really an attempt to escape the truth by denying or ignoring it. While it may work for a while, in the end the truth we have been avoiding must still be dealt with, and usually the longer we wait the higher the cost. Just ask any alcoholic, drug addict or over-spender how well denial worked for them after reality hits. Truth always surfaces and the truth about God is no exception. It’s always better to face truth early, accept it and deal with it.
“It is utterly wrongheaded to say that something is true for you but not for me. For example, what if I think fascism is true and you think liberal democracy is equally true? Should the fascist’s repression be tolerated by the believer in liberal democracy? If not, on what grounds? Why not permit Stalinism or Satanism or Nazism? Without criteria to determine truth, this relativism fails miserably.” Allister McGrath Professor of Theology Kings College, taken from Paul Copan’s book, “True For You, But Not For Me”.
Conclusion – True for you but not for me is self-defeating and false. If the Bible is really true, it is true for everyone, everywhere, whether they believe it or not.
Why Everyone’s Belief About God Cannot Be True
Many sincere and good people who have varying beliefs about God have the right to believe whatever they want. However, everyone’s belief cannot be true when it comes to God’s existence and identity. This is not uncaring or intolerant; it’s simply how truth works. If truth could contradict itself, a Christian and an atheist would both be correct about God’s existence; we know this is impossible.
Suppose you were a detective and six people showed up (an atheist, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Mormon, a Hindu and a Christian) with different stories, all claiming to be the sole heir of a tremendous fortune. Could they all be telling the truth? No, you would immediately recognize the obvious problem. Six people claiming to be the sole heir is a contradiction and could not possibly be true. Therefore, you would check out their stories and follow the evidence to uncover the truth. At some point, their explanations would be contradictory to the facts in your investigation. Once you discover who the actual heir is, you would know for certain that the other five claims were false, no matter how close to the truth they appeared.
When it comes to God, we have a similar situation. Many people have shown up who claim to know the truth about God. On the surface it may seem as if most of them are headed in the same direction. But when we look closely, we see that they all contradict each other when it comes to the most important points, like salvation. For example, Christianity is the sole belief that teaches salvation by God’s grace, through faith alone. The others teach works (good deeds) and specific conditions as a necessity.
Contradictory Claims About Jesus, Salvation and Eternity
1. Evangelical Christians – One God, Jesus the Son is God in the flesh; salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus alone; heaven for believers; non-believers end up in hell. An evangelical Christian is a believer who holds to the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture over any other teaching or tradition, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith alone.
2. Traditional Roman Catholicism – One God, Jesus the Son is God in the flesh; salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus plus works, sacraments and penance here and in purgatory; heaven is the end result for true believers; non-believers in hell; claims to be the only true church.
3. Judaism – One God; beliefs about Jesus vary from great moral teacher, idol or a false prophet; just a man not the Messiah/Savior they believe is still to come; Jewish believers can sanctify their lives and draw closer to God by obeying divine commandments and good works; God will reward the good and punish the wicked; the dead will be resurrected; extreme evildoers like Hitler to eternal punishment.
4. Islam – Jesus was a prophet; salvation by belief in Allah, Mohammad and good works; true believers go to heaven; non-Muslims in hell.
5. Hinduism – Jesus was a prophet; millions of gods; salvation through good works and overcoming karma; reincarnation.
6. Buddhism – Jesus was an enlightened man; salvation by the cessation of desire through eight-fold path and works; extinguish the ego to enter nirvana, a form of heaven. Buddha was a raised Hindu and rejected Hinduism because of the caste system. He was actually and atheist but there are various forms of Buddhism.
7. Higher Power – Whatever anyone believes about Jesus, salvation and eternity is true. Every belief about God is true as long as someone believes it.
8. New Age – Jesus was an enlightened man/god; salvation not needed because we are all gods like Jesus, but don’t realize it; reincarnation in new life based on works; contradictions among adherents embraced so beliefs can vary widely.
9. Mormonism – Jesus, spirit brother of satan was once a man like all men; one of their doctrines is God was once a man like us; salvation by faith in their Jesus, being obedient to Mormonism and good works; non-Mormons get second chance after death to convert; best Mormons get their own universe and become its god; worst of the worst are cast into eternal darkness; claims to be the only true church. aka: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or LDS.
10. Jehovah’s Witnesses – Jesus is the archangel Michael; salvation by faith in Jesus plus works and obedience to JW teaching; most believers live eternally on a renewed Earth since they believe heaven is full; non-believers die, cease to exist; claims to be the only true church.
11. Atheism/Humanism – Jesus just a man; no afterlife; die, buried.
Our list indicates that New Age believers, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in Jesus, but their versions of Jesus contradict the Bible and each other. Muslims say that Jesus existed, but he did not die on the cross and rise again. Most religions say that Jesus was just a man. The Bible says that Jesus is God in the flesh and the only way to heaven. Not everyone can be correct. To come to a version of Jesus which is contrary to the Bible, people arbitrarily reject parts of the Bible they do not like and build their own Jesus. Then they add other books with teachings that contradict what Jesus taught, and with no evidence they claim that these are correct and the Bible is false. Although this list is obviously not all-inclusive, the contradictions are even more abundant when you add others.
If the evidence shows us that God does exist, we will be utilizing the law of non-contradiction, defined on page five, to eliminate those beliefs that contradict the truth. I want to reiterate that we should respect others and co-exist with them. Every person has the right to believe whatever they want, and no one has the right to force their beliefs on anyone. But the truth of the matter is simply stated in the following quote:
“Contrary beliefs can exist but contrary truths cannot.” Dr. Frank Turek, author, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.
Narrow-Minded and Intolerant Christians
Christianity is often considered intolerant and is frequently rejected for pointing out that Jesus claimed, in John 14:6, to be the only way to heaven. But as you can see from the list on page 13 and 14, when it comes to salvation and eternity, most beliefs are exclusive. While anyone who claims that everyone’s belief is true is actually saying that truth can contradict itself, which we know is impossible. Therefore the question remains: who has the truth?
It’s Not Their Fault
People often have a hard time with a belief that claims to be the only way. They point out that many people believe what they do simply because of their country of birth, so it’s not their fault if they are not Christians. If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you would probably be Muslim. While I agree with this statement, it does not mean their belief is true. Using this logic, we would need to say that people raised in Germany under Nazism or in the South under the Ku Klux Klan were correct, too—it’s not their fault. The reality is, the origin or sincerity of one’s belief does not prove that it is true or false. Only evidence can do that. This fact is supported around the world by those who have converted from their country’s primary belief to Christianity, estimated at 63 million in the Philippines, 70 million in China and 38 million in Nigeria.
Conclusion – Truth never contradicts itself, thus all the beliefs about God cannot be true.
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