The Truth about Elephants

The Truth about Elephants

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Above Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Six old wise blind men were directed into the middle of a large field. In the middle of this large field was an elephant. Each of the wise men were positioned at a different part of the elephant and asked to touch it and tell what they believed was in the middle of the field with them.

-The first touched the tusk and announced it was a spear.
-The second felt the trunk and after a moment exclaimed it was a large snake.
-The third man slowly walked around one of the legs, feeling his way along, and claimed it was a tree.
-The fourth man had been holding the tail and he shared that it was a rope.
-The fifth man had been reaching up feeling the elephant’s ear and said he had found a large fan.
-The sixth and final man had been positioned at the side of the elephant; after running his hands over the elephant’s side he announced to everyone that it was a wall in the middle of the field.

elephant

Each of these old men represent a world religion. Each one ‘thinks’ they understand and know what is in the field, and each comes to a different conclusion. In college, students may be taught that each man has his own interpretation, and that no one has the truth.

This has been a popular illustration with some college professors over the years to demonstrate to students how each religion has its own perspective of a truth. Some may use this illustration to teach you that each religion may claim to know the truth, but in reality they don’t know. Or students may be told that each religion only offers a path, one of many, to the truth. Everyone can choose their own path, their own walk, and we should not be judgmental of others and their world religion. Ironically, after a moment’s consideration, there is a truth to this parable – the one telling the parable knows it is an elephant.

The problem with this view is that when we consider several of the major world religions, they don’t come to the same conclusion. We are told that there may be many different paths, none of them are right and none of them are wrong because each of the paths lead to the mountain top, but what is discovered at the top is quite different with each religion. A Christian would find Jesus. A Hindu would find Vishnu with thousands of other gods. A Buddhist would discover he is god. What would an atheist find? I am not sure. Himself?

With the exception of religion and morality, we demand truth in our lives. We hope and expect truth when we visit the doctor or dentist so we know best how to deal with illness, disease, or cracked tooth. We hope and expect truth in our courts of law hoping and expecting that only those guilty will be punished. We hope and expect car manufactures to deliver the product that will function as advertised, (less the female draped over the car). We hope and expect the cashier to hand us back the exact change when we make a purchase. Although sadly, few actually count it back to you any more, or even know how. Most just count out what the cash register says into their own hand and then drop it into your hand.

When it comes to religion or morality, you may be taught that truth is subjective, not objective. What exactly is subjective truth? Subjective truth is a truth that is true for you, but may not be true for me. For example, I may believe pralines and cream is the best ice-cream in the world. That is true for me, but may not be true for you. You may think banana blue-berry ice-cream is the best ice-cream in the world. Simply put, a subjective truth is an opinion. Greg Koukl explained it this way, “Subjective truth is always ‘neither true or false’, while objective truth is always ‘either true or false’.” 1

An objective truth is true for all people, in all places, and at all times. For example gravity is true for you and true for me. Norman Geisler put it this way, “Truth is also unchanging even though our beliefs about truth change. When we began to believe the earth was round instead of flat, the truth about the earth did not change, only our belief about the earth changed.” 2

Truth is not invented, it is discovered. Recognition plays no part in truth. Every man, woman, and child on this earth could deny the existence of gravity, but that would not make the actuality or existence of gravity vanish. For example, if God does exist, the disbelief of everyone on earth would be irrelevant. He would still be there. No matter how many people believed the earth was flat, it was still round.

Some may say, “That is your religion, your opinion. Christianity works for you, but not for me.” Sadly, many Christians are comfortable with that. Some Christians, when asked why they are Christians, may say, “Christianity works for me; it has helped me get through some tough times.” As if it is some brand of cough medicine, or new diet. If Christianity is true, it is true for everyone, Muslim, Hindu, or atheist.

This week my class earned a movie day with me and we watched The Day After Tomorrow. About ½ way through the movie, one of the main characters was trying to convince everyone to stay put in the public library where they could stay warm, (Global Warming triggered a Global Ice Age, but it made for a fun flick). He was pleading with them not to go out in the storm because he was sure they were going to freeze to death. He knew the storm was going to get worse and their chances of survival were slim to none. As they filed by him, ignoring his pleas and warnings, you had a sense that he was speaking truth. Not subjective truth, as if he was trying to convince them pralines and cream was the best ice-cream, but an objective truth which had grave consequences if ignored. Objective truths are like that. Often, if ignored, a penalty is paid by those choosing to ignore it.

In America today we are taught to be tolerant, and the foundation of the tolerant movement is the idea that truth, all truth, is subjective. If all truth is subjective, then it would make sense to be tolerant of one another. If no religions have the truth, or each religion is just a different path to the same result, then why would anyone want to push their religion on someone else? It would be silly to risk offending someone when we all end up in heaven anyway. If all life styles are just different flavors of ice-cream, to each his own. Why worry about the consequences of the choices people make?

We are told to be tolerant of other religions, and other lifestyle choices. If we offer opinions counter to the world’s view, we are labeled as intolerant. Or if we say, as Christians, our view is correct and all others are wrong, we are intolerant. Tolerance use to mean putting up with views that were counter to your own. Tolerance is tolerating something that you may not like or agree with. Now tolerance means accepting other views as true, or at least considering them just another ice-cream flavor. Your view is no better or no worse, no more right or wrong than any other view or religion.

Recently, Donald Sterling was banned for life from basketball for making racist comments. Not only that, he was spanked with a 2.5 million dollar fine and may be forced to sell his team. 3 I don’t condone his racist remarks or other questionable behavior he has been accused of, but the intolerance of the tolerant is obvious if you stop and consider it for a moment.

In another example, a talk show host walked off the set because she could not express her opinion about being uncomfortable with Michael Sam’s kiss with his boyfriend. Or more accurately, she caught some flak for expressing her opinion. 4 It was obvious to me that she was uncomfortable with the gay life-style, but was not about to openly state it for fear of the “tolerant”. It is just another daily example of how the tolerant expect the intolerant to behave, and if they don’t agree, it is obvious the intolerant should not be tolerated.

Peter Boghossian said in his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, “Few things are more dangerous than people who think they’re in possession of absolute truth.” He also said, “Our epistemic, [validating knowledge] problems have begun the moment we’re convinced we’ve latched onto an eternal, timeless truth.” 5 My question to him, or anyone else that states truth is dangerous, truth causes problems, or nothing can be true would be, “Do you believe that to be a true statement?” If so, it’s dangerous, causes problems, and can’t be true. It is a self-defeating statement.

Examples of self defeating statements would be when someone says in English, “I don’t speak a word of English.” Or when we knock on Winne the Pooh’s door and he says, “No one is home!” The classic example is when someone says, “There is no such thing as absolute truth.” You ask them if they know that absolutely.

The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.” – St. Augustine
If the truth offends, then let it offend.” – Pastor Steve Peters

 

Sources:

1. Koukl, Gregory. Tactics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. Print
2. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway, 2004. Print.
3. Silverman, Robert. “The NBA’s War With Donald Sterling Is Just Getting Started.” The Daily Beast. Thedailybeast.com, 29 April, 2014. Web. 13 May, 2014.
4. Darcy, Oliver. “I’m Done!: Talk show host storms off set after heated discussion over Michael Sam’s kiss with boyfriend.” The Blaze. Theblaze.com, 14 May, 2014. Web. 13 May, 2014.
5. Boghossian, Peter. A Manual For Creating Atheists. Durham: Pitchstone Publishing, 2013. Print.

 

Creative Commons License
The Truth about Elephants by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Are You the Right Man?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicholas, one of my former students posted something on Facebook that gave me an idea for this posting.

Youngman

Too much wisdom in that to pass up, so with three lovely daughters at home, I wanted to take a moment to share a list with the young single men, what dads might be looking for in a young man who is interested in one of his daughters. I also want to offer some advice to those young men who are interested in someone’s daughter, and encourage them to move in a certain direction.

Before I get into the list, some ground work needs to be done.

Ideally, the best way to begin a relationship is as friends. It is significantly more difficult to be yourself when you are trying to impress and dazzle the girl with your wit, intelligence, physical abilities, and delightful character. Not too many relationships start out as just friends, but it is a great way get beyond the facade and see who they really are.

If you did not start your relationship as friends but as more of a dating interest, then be doubly sure to take it slow. A few suggestions to keep you out of trouble are:
-Spend time together with friends. If you do spend some time alone, do it in public.
-Talk, a lot. Ask questions of each other.
-Don’t spend all your time with the new love interest. You had other friends prior to meeting her, so keep spending time with them.
-Have her do things with you, your friends, and family.
-You like to go mountain biking? See if she will go. Do you enjoy the martial arts, hiking, backpacking, fishing, shooting? You name it, let her try it. How about reading together? (OK maybe that is the older man in me talking since both my wife and I love to read). You should introduce each other to your hobbies and see if you can form a Venn diagram of interests as time goes on. For fun, I decided to make a quick one of some of the things my wife and I enjoy doing apart, and together. It might help you see what I mean.

venn2

Just to be clear, dads have the inside track, and several yards, I mean years, of experience in dealing with the young lady, but also years of experience in dealing with other women. No doubt that the relationship the dad has with his daughter will come in to play when you start showing attention to his daughter.

Some dads are mostly absent, (physically or emotionally), or not even around. If they are around, boundaries for a healthy relationship maybe few and far between. Young women who lack a solid, healthy relationship with their dad are vulnerable in ways others are not. Many with absent dads are looking for attention and affirmation that can get you in deep water real quick. If you don’t walk into a relationship with solid boundaries, then decide on some now. In fact, decide before you get into any relationship. For those of you that understand exponential negative slopes, you will be able to picture what moving beyond holding hands, hugging, kissing, kissing passionately, etc., will mean if you can picture the two of you on top of a snowy hill sitting in a sled.
bgsled

Even if you are not a Christian, the above suggestions can apply to you. There is no question that physical affection is a natural progression for a couple. We all not only crave it, but require it. Babies who are given the necessary nutrition, but left alone, void of physical affection, do not thrive and can even die. 1 Dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin are drugs our brain naturally produce when we engage in physical intimacy, and like many drugs, they are addicting

If you are interested in a young lady whose parents do not attend any kind of church or are without any faith, then you can skip number one, but for me and my house, this is my list for a young man who is looking for attention from my girls, and for my son to follow.

A Christian in more than words
Do you actually go to church on a regular basis? Attend any Bible studies? If I talked to the pastor of your church or one of the elders, would they know who you are? If you attend a ‘mega’ church, what home group could tell me about you? No, I don’t believe you have to attend church to be a Christian, but it is a good indicator. The old saying, “action speaks louder than words” applies nicely to this kind of situation. Another favorite of mine is, “if someone accused you of being a Christian would I find enough evidence to convict you?” So many profess a belief in God, but don’t take it any further than that. Simply put, if I can’t convict you, I will set you free from my daughter.

Her needs before your needs
Before my wife and I were married, we had to attend a pre-marital class at our church. We were assigned several books to read and one of them was titled “His Needs Her Needs.” We still own it and I highly recommend it to any who have entered a serious relationship. I have told my girls more than once to look and see how a guy treats his own mother. This should give them a good idea on how he will treat them. If he does not have a good relationship with his own mother, I would want to know why. Granted, we can’t pick our own mothers, and some boys have to make lemonade out of lemons, but it is something to be aware of.

It should be obvious to me, (and others), that he cares about my daughter’s feelings and genuinely wants what is best for her. When you are in love and on cloud nine, it is easy to bend over backwards and do what the other wants. Try it after a few months when the warm fuzzies have worn off. I am not just talking about carrying her books for her, opening the door for her, helping her with the dishes and a host of other simple actions I could list, but more of the long term sacrificial efforts. If you can’t be kind and considerate in the early stages of a relationship, you will not be later down the road.

I remember reading a blog post months ago that made the Facebook circles titled, “Marriage is not for me.” In this blog post, a young man’s father pointed out to his son that marriage is not for him, but his bride. Yes, he is marrying his bride because he loves her and wants to spend the rest of his life with her, but he is also marrying her because he desires to make her happy. He places her wants and desires above his own.

Their needs before your needs
Many relationships have failed because someone just avoids doing the wrong thing, but never really does the right thing. I am not just talking about someone who just does the bare minimum to get by in life, but something more. J. Budziszewski put it this way in Ask Me Anything, “What would you think of a man who never lifted a finger to protect his wife but bragged that he had never beat her? Or a man who failed to sound the fire alarm but boasted that he hadn’t set the fire? How about a teacher who had never taught his students an important truth, but preened himself on the fact that he had never taught them a lie?” 2 Avoiding the wrong thing is not enough; you must also do the right thing. What credit is it to you to never speed, but to drive by someone in need?

Who are his friends? Who does he hangout with? There is an old Japanese saying that says if the character of a man is not clear to you, look to his friends. What kind of reputation does he have around town? If you live in a small town like I do, reputation not only carries a lot of weight, but it is easy to investigate. Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think one’s character is and the tree is the real thing.” You will notice that when in full light, the shadow of the tree is quite clear and matches the tree’s shape exactly.

Not only the reputation of the young man, but that of the parents or the family of the fellow can tell you a lot about the individual. I am not saying that someone whose parents are drug users or have been in trouble with the law should be shunned, but it is something to keep in mind if they make some poor choices, as children learn behavior mostly from their parents. It is difficult to move out of that life-style, but I have known some students over the years that have been able to do it.

There you have it. Involved and active Christian, treats her well, and treats others well. Satisfy the above three requirements and I will welcome you back anytime. 🙂

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

Here is a list of qualities, in no particular order, dads might be looking for in a young man interested in his daughter. Along with those are some questions a dad might ask about the young man. These would be good questions you should ask of yourself, and character traits you should develop.

Honesty
Purity
Strength in character
What does he fear?
Compassion
Humility
Gentlemen
Personal hygiene
A servant
A leader
What makes him angry?
Kind
Faithful
Dependable
Listens well
Who does he follow?
Generous
Sense of Humor
Has & keeps a job
Forgiving
Is Jesus first?

Sources:

1. McIlhaney, Joe S. Bush, Freda M. Hooked New Science On How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children. Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2008. Print
2. Budziszewski, J. Ask Me Anything. Colorado Springs: Navpress, 2004. Print

 

Creative Commons License
Are You the Right Man? by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

Pin It on Pinterest