Saturday, July 6, 2013

Truth, Fact, Perception

It was recently when I had the pleasure of meeting some new individuals at a random event at a local park.  The nature of the event brought at all the neighborhood children and their parents in attendance.  In a few short minutes the city in which I lived kicked off the evenings swaray and soon all the children were having fun with my tax dollars well spent on bounce castles and cheap carnival games hosted by teens serving their community service for petty crimes.  Due to the intensity of the sun parents fled to the outer ring of the events to hide in the limited shade of the young trees.  In the poor shelter a yearling tree could provide against the sun of a late June is where I was met with strange presentation of ideas and thoughts not fully accounted for and present.
We had caught up with another group of people that my lovely wife had arranged earlier to meet up with so that our kids and theirs could have ample play mates and potential new friends to enjoy the bounce castle and other games with.
Not being one for groups of strangers and not being overly excited by the fact of making new friends myself.  I did the natural thing and begin to talk to other members of the group.  Starting with small talk about the weather and so on.  I did really wish that the evening would end up with no more than a “Next time”, or “Our kids loved it”.  What did happen is that some of the group know me as a little bit of buzz kill when it comes to new or strange ideas.  So invariably one member of the group would ask me, “Well, what do you think of this....?”  With my long suffering wife rolling her eyes at me and knowing full well that I cannot leave sleeping dogs alone; I jumped.
For most of my life I have found the plane and easy explanations of how the world works around us as humanity a little hard to swallow.  Being from a religious background, Christian in my case, the Bible served as the launching pad and landing platform of any discussion of the natural world and all the mysteries that lie around and within it.  For a person with a hungry mind these convenient tomes left me wanting and to be fair to the Bible, those trying to teach or use the Bible in this way did not do it any favors, age has taught me that they were doing the best they can with what they knew how to teach and do.  I do not fault them as teachers or as good and honorable people.  I do fault the logic, I do fault the absence of fact.
“But what of faith, surely one must have faith and faith is the concept of belief and faith cannot be proven or tested in the sense of measurement and repeat-ability.” (To be honest, I paraphrase this idea to make a single sentence instead of the five minutes I heard originally.)
I have heard this so many times in my life and I used to rely upon it when I could not find a suitable stance to further explain the complexities of my heart, mind and soul responding to information from any source.  I simply chalk up the lack of knowledge on my part as to an act of faith that the missing bits either were not needed or not necessary in order to have a full comprehension of the ideas or concepts being propounded.  In other words, I used it as a shield, a way to deflect the burden of knowledge to God.  Or a better way of stating it. A really great way to have an excuse to ignore any information that doesn't agree with the ethos that I have chosen.
In the world of man ( I use this word on purpose ) all things are up for change and deliberation if all Ideas and facts are present and accounted for.  Acts or duties based upon faith are not predicated upon the mysteries elude understanding, placing God or deity just outside our collective realm of knowledge turns God into a shrinking deity.  That is not acts of faith, that is a great act of ignorance and incompetence on the part of any follower of any deity or ethos.
Faith in facts unknown or unknowable does not mean truth...  “It must have an effect...”  “Better to believe than to be sorry when the day of judgement comes....”  Oh the list is almost endless (Depends if I want to jump languages and religions to get more).  Faith can be misleading for many and varied reasons and allowing faith to mislead is not an act of piety or devotion.
When presented with the Idea that Alchemy and its practices of making tinctures and spherics by process of chemical manipulation with assistance and prescribe attention to moon phases and time.  These liquids can somehow heal, cure, change any number of maladies or issues.  It surprised me that the practice of Alchemy was still an active endeavor for some people, but when asked “How moons gravity could not have an effect on the spherics, it must.”  I must have smiled when the fellow stated this to me, for he frowned and he was bracing himself for a barrage of hate or Christian malaise that he was apparently used to.  Instead I asked.  “If the moon does have an effect, then the whole point of doing the weird set up and waiting was mute for all the chemicals meant to be affected have already been affected by being on earth in the first place and simply putting them together in a jar could do little to change that relationship with itself.”  Undeterred and sensing that him hurt from my comment, I added. “More likely turning to process in which ceremony and religion takes a central role in the making adds a built in quality control.  The practitioner has faith to act upon to make sure that perfection is only the first step to being good.”
The conversation continued me unconvinced with any of the new age stuff that he prescribes and him nowhere near believing that fact should rule debate and not feelings and experiences.  As valid as feelings and experiences are in making decisions about ones life, I find them to be flawed.  I find that my feelings and experiences are slanted they way that I perceive the world around me as do everyone else.  So the basic conclusion is that Truth is Perception.
There is only Fact, how that fact is perceived is what we as humanity interpret as truth.  Truth is misleading in its own right.  Truth and Lie could in effect both be accurate about the same perceived item or event.  Truth is a comforting word, it brings a world of clean and total control to any idea or event that has happened or proposed.  I find that it successfully lairs on a veneer over people and allows for perception to take hold and make liars out of the rest depending on what Truth holds more popularity over the others at the time.
I propose that there is only Fact, all else is perception.  Fact can be tested and retested and conclusion would come out to be the same (in the condition of which fact is to lead the theory and not theory to lead fact).  Perception can change to fit fact or make fact seemingly disappear completely for the sake of continuity.
When stopped by the group and asked how to prove such an idea, I did as follows.  I pointed to yearling tree next to us. “Fact, this tree stands here.  There is a tree.  Any of you deny this or wish to prove for themselves.”  All agreed that the tree stood before us.  “Perception is how I would describe the this tree to you.  Or how you see the tree different from me not just the detail of what the eye can see but how this tree alters the field of view beyond it and around it also changes for each of us.  We can debate this for eternity about how this tree changes depending on what angle and what time of day it is observed, but one constant remains and will remain is the fact that the tree stands here.”
Quickly I was ask how then the fact that the moon being in orbit to the earth could not have an effect on the Spherics.  I did smile this time and told the man that he ask me to prove him wrong.  That such a line of questioning or bold statement making does not prove fact, it only proves the perception or observation and in this case believe.  He was taken aback by my words and ask me to clarify.  I did apologize for being coarse and rough around the edges of my statement, but I do not engage in back and forth when one side uses this tactic.
My response came in two phases.
First, I asked him to prove to me a negative.  Any negative.  His eyes went wide with searching.  He shrugged his shoulders knowing that I had already thought this through.  I said to him, “With any negative you would have approached me with, I could deflect with simplistic answers that only prove perception and ring with truth.  That proving that we fall away from earth could be an easy thing to do, all I had to do is say the earth is Hollow and we are attracted to it by another force other than gravity.”  His eyes widen (no I haven’t read that book but dear lord come to me with ideas present and accounted for not the rantings of conspiracy theories) because I had just asked him to prove that the earth was not hollow and that gravity was a great illusion.
Second, to follow up upon this idea I used a line I have heard many times from atheist trying to mock religious types but I feel that they again do a disservice to their fellows for such behavior and vice versa.  “There is a teapot that orbits the sun, it is so small that telescopes cannot detect it.  So the absence of any real proof means that there is a teapot that orbits the sun that is so small that telescopes cannot detect it.  Because the facts supposedly being presented for consideration are not testable or observable in any real way.  Someone could come up with another reason for the teapot or more likely there was never any teapot.”  We continued for another hour or so along this line.  I never once told him that he was a fool to believe or have faith in what he desired the universe to be.  I actually told him that faith and believe drive humanity to have a better relationship with others and the natural world around us.  That this is the key, is that though truth can be a lie while being correct at the same time.  The relationships that we make as individuals is what we chose them to be.  That understanding that this key of relationship has no basis in fact or truth means that appreciating it is all in the eye of the beholder and respecting that key aspect with others means for deep clear understanding and how their slant of the facts affect their truth.
Facts can be tested, truths can only be told.  
He for his part tried to convince me to go to a Alchemical society to hear lectures on the practice.  I politely declined.
Personally I could see no real benefit for my attendance beside my presence taking away from others.  I find that fact is far more fascinating than practices of perception and that relationships between the individual and their environment do matter.