Truth Is Its Own Excuse For Being
By Farell Till
(The Skeptical Review: Volume Three, Number Four)
In the summer edition, we published Bill Lockwood's response to the problem of Sarah's seminal emission that was raised by a Greek expression used in Hebrews 11:11. Another exchange on this subject begins on page 9 of this issue. In his original rebuttal, Lockwood urged the editor "to open the scope of his paper to defend his ONLY recourse after he rejects the Bible--agnosticism." "Let his readers see," Lockwood continued, "what he offers in return."
To say the least, we found this to be a perplexing statement. Why, for example, would agnosticism be the only recourse to someone who rejects the Bible? Couldn't one reject the Bible to embrace the Koran or the Avesta or Buddhism or New Age philosophy? We won't deny that agnosticism is an appropriate and logical alternative to the Bible, but it is certainly not the ONLY recourse that one has after rejecting the Bible. Apparently, Mr. Lockwood didn't think this statement through before he passed it along to us.
The intent of the statement, however, was to challenge us to defend agnosticism by offering our readers something to replace what we urge them to abandon, and he is not the first to present this challenge. Many others have written to say that we have a duty to offer our readers a better alternative than belief in the divine inspiration of the Bible. The challenge implies that the iconoclast has some kind of moral responsibility to formulate an alternative philosophical system that is superior to the one that he has proven false.
What these critics and challengers don't seem to understand is that the exposure of error inherently leaves a superior alternative in its wake. That superior alternative is truth, because it is always better to be right than wrong, to believe a truth than to believe a falsehood. On this and related issues, H. L. Mencken. the American critic and satirist, once said this:
I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind--that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overborne by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the human race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious....
I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence for witches, and deserves no more respect.... I believe in complete freedom of thought and speech, alike for the humblest to the mightiest, and in the utmost freedom of conduct that is consistent with living in an organized society.
But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than to be ignorant.
The transcendentalist poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his poem "The Rhodora" that "if eyes were made for seeing then beauty is its own excuse for being." We believe that the same principle applies to truth. The truth needs nothing to justify it existence. Although falsehood may be infinitely more appealing and comforting than the truth, falsehood is never better than truth.
We believe, then, that we have met Mr. Lockwood's challenge. We have told him and our other readers the truth about the Bible, and no matter how destructive to cherished beliefs that truth may be, it is far better than the falsehood that deludes people into believing that the Bible is a divine book that was given to guide man into an eternal paradise. After all, what could be more cruel than to live a life of expectation only to have that expectation prove false? The fact that the expecter may never know that the expectation was false changes nothing. He still lived a life that was based on lies. How could that possibly be better than the truth?
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