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Sunday, 8 September 2013



According to Greek philosopher, Democritus, “Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.” Actually this statement itself is an opinion.
People may agree or disagree on various subjects due to their perception of reality. Whatever we believe about ourselves and the world has enormous implications for how we live our lives and the choices we make. As we really believe, so we really are. An example of this is certain radical Muslim fundamentalists who really believe that westerners are infidels. No one doubts that they really believe this, but the average westerner has a view of reality which dismisses it as untrue. Why do we believe what we believe and what is the source of our belief? Many of our beliefs are tied up with the culture we live in, where and how we were brought up, education, family, past experiences, our own individuality, biases etc. all sorts of influences have shaped our thought patterns and worldview. The big question is: What has shaped or continues to shape our view of reality which is not actually true or reliable, and how can we tell what is genuine reality? Is there a benchmark, an acid test to define and show us such a thing?
The anti-realism view states that there is no objective reality i.e. that there is no reality beyond the perceptions or beliefs we each have about reality. However the very statement that there is no absolute reality is itself an absolute ‘truth’ and therefore it is a contradiction in terms - what they call a self refuting statement.
Some claim that reality is subjective and that we can create our own reality through various reprogramming techniques to alleviate certain painful emotions. Old negative unhelpful beliefs (or feelings) like fear and guilt are substituted with new beliefs which supposedly cause new positive thinking patterns. These new patterns eventually replace the old ones so that a person will react and think positively rather than negatively when unpleasant and painful situations arise. It is all about feeling better about yourself and coping with the world around you on a subjective level. This method recognises some of the problems of the human condition and attempts to heal the brokenness many people feel, but it only deals with them at a certain level.
People seem to go round and round on the merry go round of life, trying this and that, looking for happiness, pleasure, contentment and peace. King Solomon with all his wealth and splendour tried everything he could think of - pleasure seeking, drinking wine, building houses and vineyards, making and planting gardens and parks, he had possessions, slaves, silver and gold, he concluded: And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2/10-11)
There is a persistent emptiness that many people feel despite material wealth and situation. For some this emptiness becomes so acute that it brings on serious depression. Interestingly despite many theories about the cause of depression none have been conclusive in their findings. Major depression is the number one psychological disorder in the western world. It is a growing problem in all age groups, and it affects every community. Depression is an epidemic, it will be the second most disabling condition in the world after heart disease by 2020. There is some excellent advice out there, but we can end up looking in the wrong places for healing, a bit like the Prodigal son. We can find relief or distraction for a while which gratify to a point, but then we are missing out on the real issue behind what is really wrong. The fact is that relapse is very common and many people do revert back into depression. The unwanted thoughts and feelings return and it seems hopeless – but is it?
Anything we can say about reality is in fact opinion since it falls within the context of flawed human understanding – no one is able to encapsulate reality since no one is perfect. How we deal with what portrays itself as reality is probably more critical than any of us realise. It would be a hopeless effort to define reality if it were not for one thing, that is to see that reality must be outside the human sphere and comes from what is perfect, totally unbiased and true.

Reality refers to what is real or true rather than what is false or delusional; in other words, truth and reality are synonymous.  The extraordinary claim of the Bible is that objective truth is actually a Person - Jesus Christ:  I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14/6)

There is much more against us which prevents our apprehension of reality than we may be aware of.  The Bible says that there is a spiritual element involved.  We humans have an inbuilt resistance and hostility to God that we may not even consciously realise.  The fact that reality came to us here on earth in the Person of Jesus Christ is resisted by many due to spiritual blindness and self-deception.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  (Jeremiah 17/9)

The human condition is all twists and turns at every level.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!  Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!  (Isaiah 5/20-24)

Furthermore the Bible tells us that we have a formidable enemy - the devil, who is a liar, deceitful and evil to the very core and whose aim is to destroy human beings and keep us in unreality.  The "god of this world" i.e. the devil, is holding people captive in their minds to prevent them from knowing the truth (2 Timothy 2/6; Ephesians 2/2)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.(2 Corinthians 4/4) The whole world lies under the power of the evil one (1 John 5/19)

He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  (John 8/44) 

Pilate asked Jesus - "What is truth?"  He did not get an answer.  Some people ask the question but do not want an answer.  Jesus spoke about those who ask, those who seek, and those who find.  For those who really want an answer, there is an answer and there is freedom.  It is possible to know objective reality, but more than that, it is possible to know Jesus Christ subjectively person to person.  We can apprehend the awesome concept of a personal relationship with the creator of the universe through what He has done for us at Calvary.

Jesus Christ said:  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.  (Luke 4/19)

Jesus Christ gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age. (Galatians 1/4)  

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.  (John 8/32)

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