For Christians, God’s words are truth. That’s why they will frequently quote the Bible when discussing things. If it says it in the Bible (God’s word) then it must be true is their basic stance and that’s all well and good. However, that is definitely not the right way to go about discussing spiritual matters with someone who has not got to the stage of accepting that what the Bible says is true in the first place.
After such acceptance, then it is a different matter, but before reaching that stage, another approach is necessary after all, most people these days don’t even believe in God, let alone the concept of divine revelation. So how can we go about discussing spiritual matters with people who do not accept the authority of scripture? That’s certainly a very good question and it’s what I would like to address in this post.
As others have said before me, probably the best question in the entire Bible was the one that Pilate asked Jesus, “what is truth?” It is something that philosophers have considered over the millennia and it is something that we still struggle to properly define today. However, that’s not really any kind of obstacle because there are many other things we also struggle to define; art for example.
The fact that we cannot adequately define truth does not mean that truth does not exist and, of course, exactly the same is true of art. Is Tracey Emin’s Unmade Bed a work of art or not? There must be a true answer to that question. It’s simple enough, but if you ever discuss this topic with anyone (by the way, not recommended see here ;)) you will get some idea of how people tend to think about the concept of truth.
Although there will certainly be people who will take a definite stance on the Unmade bed question, one way or the other, many people won’t. Instead, they will prefer to say something like, ‘it depends on what you mean by art’. Personally, I would not disagree with that answer, but it raises another problem now doesn’t it? You need to define what you mean by the art concept. Again, it’s not easy.
Anyway the point is that art exists even though many people disagree about how to define it and, similarly, truth exists even though we may be unable to define it too. Now that’s a truth (see how easy it is to get circular in this stuff) that we just need to fundamentally accept. And if we do, that must change the way we speak to other people who have a different view of what truth is. What we need to do is to engage with people in their own language.
Curiously, when people want to speak about spiritual matters, I find that they usually wish to use logic, analysis and reasoning to approach the subject. But, by its very nature, when discussing the subject of God, we are dealing with a subject that is beyond logic. So our difficulty is in how to discuss matters logically and analytically when dealing with spiritual matters. It is not impossible to do so and, I would venture to suggest that such an approach is the right one when you consider the point we made above concerning the nature of truth.
When we turn an analytical eye to what some of the most eminent atheists of our day have to say about the subject of God, we find that their logical arguments are just not sound. For example, the central argument in Richard Dawkins’ best-selling book The God Delusion is pitifully inept and personally, I think if that’s the best that atheists can come up with, then they deserve to have the power of logic correctly applied to their analysis.