The truth

Not something to die for

Tijn Touber | September 2005 issue

Recently, Ervin Laszlo, the Hungarian systems philosopher, said The British Library’s collection included the unpublished spiritual works of Isaac Newton. According to Laszlo, Newton didn’t dare go public with this material following the success of his work on the mechanical universe. As a result, the world was deprived of Newton’s feeling for nuance and a larger context. Instead, his one-dimensional theories about the universe as a machine became labelled “reality.”
Charles Darwin also was not the hard-liner he was later portrayed to be. Apparently, somewhere along the way he became convinced “love” was ultimately stronger than “survival.” But this isn’t what we learn in school. Louis Pasteur taught us that bacteria and viruses make us sick. It’s inconvenient for the billion-dollar industry developed to wipe out these pathogens that Pasteur came to the conclusion at the end of his life that “the pathogen itself is nothing.” According to the elder Pasteur, the terrain is everything.
There is a joke about a man staying in a monastery where the monks do nothing but copy religious works. After observing this process for several days, the man approaches the abbot and says: “I see that the copies are getting worse and worse; wouldn’t it be a good idea to go back to the originals and copy them?” The abbot thinks it’s a great idea and disappears into the basement to get the originals. A day later he still hasn’t returned so the man decides to go look for him. In one of the underground rooms, the abbot is sitting with a large book on his lap, crying softly. “What’s wrong?” the man asks. With a grief-stricken expression, the abbot points to a passage in the book: “It says here celebrate, not celibate.”
So it goes: Someone says something, it sounds reasonable and we believe it. Before you know it, it has become the “truth.” Then that truth must be defended by fire and sword. Which is strange, because no one should have to defend the truth. The truth can do that very well all by itself. The truth proves itself, whether we like it or not. Anyone who thinks he needs to defend the truth is not living from truth but from dogma.
The pinnacle of dogmatic thought comes from people who claim they are acting in the name of God. Their acts are not just based on “the truth” but on the “the holy truth,” Because of this they believe they have the right to impose their opinions on others. Some even believe they can kill in the name of God. How far removed from the truth can you be?
John Lennon once sang: nothing to kill or die for. Anyone who is prepared to kill or die for the truth has not understood what truth is.
 

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The truth

Not something to die for

Tijn Touber | September 2005 issue

Recently, Ervin Laszlo, the Hungarian systems philosopher, said The British Library’s collection included the unpublished spiritual works of Isaac Newton. According to Laszlo, Newton didn’t dare go public with this material following the success of his work on the mechanical universe. As a result, the world was deprived of Newton’s feeling for nuance and a larger context. Instead, his one-dimensional theories about the universe as a machine became labelled “reality.”
Charles Darwin also was not the hard-liner he was later portrayed to be. Apparently, somewhere along the way he became convinced “love” was ultimately stronger than “survival.” But this isn’t what we learn in school. Louis Pasteur taught us that bacteria and viruses make us sick. It’s inconvenient for the billion-dollar industry developed to wipe out these pathogens that Pasteur came to the conclusion at the end of his life that “the pathogen itself is nothing.” According to the elder Pasteur, the terrain is everything.
There is a joke about a man staying in a monastery where the monks do nothing but copy religious works. After observing this process for several days, the man approaches the abbot and says: “I see that the copies are getting worse and worse; wouldn’t it be a good idea to go back to the originals and copy them?” The abbot thinks it’s a great idea and disappears into the basement to get the originals. A day later he still hasn’t returned so the man decides to go look for him. In one of the underground rooms, the abbot is sitting with a large book on his lap, crying softly. “What’s wrong?” the man asks. With a grief-stricken expression, the abbot points to a passage in the book: “It says here celebrate, not celibate.”
So it goes: Someone says something, it sounds reasonable and we believe it. Before you know it, it has become the “truth.” Then that truth must be defended by fire and sword. Which is strange, because no one should have to defend the truth. The truth can do that very well all by itself. The truth proves itself, whether we like it or not. Anyone who thinks he needs to defend the truth is not living from truth but from dogma.
The pinnacle of dogmatic thought comes from people who claim they are acting in the name of God. Their acts are not just based on “the truth” but on the “the holy truth,” Because of this they believe they have the right to impose their opinions on others. Some even believe they can kill in the name of God. How far removed from the truth can you be?
John Lennon once sang: nothing to kill or die for. Anyone who is prepared to kill or die for the truth has not understood what truth is.
 

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