God is a very mysterious entity even for those human beings who are religious or faithful. Man has always tried to understand God or His nature. Today we have so much material about God that it can perhaps fill billions of pages of written texts. Yet on deeper introspection, we feel that we hardly know Him. Both man and woman have been created by God. Then, how do we know that God is He and not She? Yet in all places God is referred to only as a masculine gender and rarely as a feminine gender. The next question that comes to our mind is: “How can we say that God is like a human being when He has created all the living and non-living beings? How can we rule out that He is not like any other living being or different from all the living beings we are capable to imagine. The third question that is hardly known to man is: “How does God think?” Here also, whatever may be the difference of opinions in different religions, yet all religions agree that God is like “good human being”. This means that God is fair, just, kind, forgiving, unchanging etc. (the qualities we attribute to an ideal king).
The fact is that if we deeply prod into any belief or concept of God, we are likely to come to the understanding that the knowledge of God has actually emerged in the human mind by visualizing His nature and actions. God may actually be quite different from what we imagine about Him. Still the fact remains that more than 95% of the humanity on the earth have either partial or complete faith in God. Only a minority of the population does not believe in God.
Though atheists are in the minority in most countries, they are relatively common in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, in former and present Communist states, and, to a lesser extent, in the United States. A 1995 survey attributed to the Encyclopedia Britannica indicates that the non-religious are about 14.7% of the world`s population, and atheists around 3.8% . A 2004 survey by the CIA in the World Fact book estimates about 12.5% of the world`s population to be non-religious, and about 2.4% as atheists . Non-religious people should not be equated with atheists as the definition of non-religious persons includes the people who are professing no religion, non-believers, agnostics, freethinkers, dereligionized secularists indifferent to all religions.
It is a surprise that even after six centuries of the exponential growth of the knowledge of science, more than 95% of the people do not deny the existence of God while almost 85% of the world population actually believes in God. It is also a fact that scientific knowledge has hardly made a dent on the popularity of the religions and faith. Even Isaac Newton, the greatest scientists of all times, believed
"As a blind man has no idea of colours, so we have no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God perceives and understands all things.” Even the greatest scientist of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein agreed that “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
Mahatma Gandhi, who was one of the greatest spiritual and political leaders of the twentieth century, identified God as Truth. He elaborates:
The word Satya (Truth) is derived from Sat, which means “being”. Nothing is or exists in reality except Truth. That is why Sat or Truth is perhaps the most important name of God. In fact it is more correct to say that Truth is God, than to say that God is Truth. But as we can’t do without a ruler or a general, such names of God as “King of Kings” or “The Almightily” are and will remain generally current. On deeper thinking, however, it will be realized, that Sat or Satya (Truth) is the only correct and fully significant name for God.
However, it is very difficult to accept that Truth is God as these two words represent totally different concepts which appear to have no common meeting ground. God is a matter of faith and He is different for each religion and indeed for every man. No two people can have identical concepts of God. No two religions have identical Gods. As a matter of fact, many religions like Hinduism have millions of Gods. People have been fighting wars in the name of religion as their Gods are different. Often the war between the followers of two religions appears to be the war between two different Gods as each side is fighting to protect his religion and uphold the prestige of their God.
Science is no different from religion as far as diversity of opinion is concerned. There are numerous theories on the reduction of body weight itself, each so different that one may wonder if they are dealing the same subject. There are contradictory views on virtually every aspect of scientific theories, be it the relationship between alcohol consumption and heart attack, or the relationship between overweight and longevity. There are few consensuses on the scientific theories just like few consensuses on the nature of God.
Truth is, however, always the same for all people for all time. We know without any doubt if something is true or not; whether someone is telling the truth or not. If understanding of truth can pave the way for the understanding God, many of us would like to know God who is as simple as Truth and not as complex as being made out by the religious leaders or ridiculed by some scientists or atheists.
What is Truth?
Though, there are many definitions of truth, which can be debated and discussed but we all know what is truth is. Truth is a fact that has been verified. Truth is “conformity to reality or actuality”. Augustine defined “Truth” to have following properties
1. Truth Exists:-It is self-defeating to deny the existence of truth. If someone claims that “Truth does not exist”, we can counter by asking if the claim is True or False. If the claim is False, then Truth Exists, and if the claim is True, then also Truth Exists.
2. Truth is Unchangeable:- It is impossible for truth to change. What is true today always has been and always will be true. All true propositions are immutable truths.
3. Truth is Eternal:- By extension of its Unchangeable nature, Truth must be Eternal. Even if every created thing ceases to exist, Truth will continue to exist.
4. Truth is Spiritual:- The existence of truth presupposes the existence of minds. Without a mind, truth could not exist. The object of knowledge is a meaningful thought which resides in one or more minds. Since Truth is not a matter of matter, time or space, it is spiritual since spirit or soul alone is beyond matter, time and space.
5. Truth is Superior to the human mind:-By its very nature, truth cannot be subjective and individualistic. Truth is immutable, but the human mind is changeable. Even though beliefs vary from one person to another, truth itself cannot change. If truth and the human mind were equal, truth could not be eternal and immutable since the human mind is finite, mutable, and subject to error. Therefore, truth must transcend human reason and must be superior to any individual human mind as well as to the sum total of human minds. From this it follows that there must be a mind higher than the human mind in which truth resides.
On the basis of the following arguments, Augustine concluded that Truth is God as only God is unchangeable, eternal, spiritual, and is superior to the human mind.
Logic Vs Truth
Augustine thus proved by the help of logic and brilliant arguments that “Truth is God”. It would, however, be futile to hope that you will now stop believing in your God and switch over to the new God i.e. “Truth”. Some of you may already have found logic to counter the logic which had earlier established that “Truth is not God”. Even if you cannot find a good logic to prove Augustine wrong, it will be nothing less than a miracle if even one person changes his concept of God merely by listening to a brilliant argument or logic. Why?
We all know from our experience that logic and reasoning cannot get into the truth. When the proceedings for impeachment of Bill Clinton was to be debated in the Congress, the two sides were represented by the best of the attorneys. One newspaper had aptly remarked that the Congress would decide who had the better attorney. What came out of the impeachment proceedings was surely not the “truth” as no one was interested in establishing the truth though each member perhaps knew the truth. As expected, each member of the Congress voted according to his/her political affiliation rather than in favour of truth.
We know that logic is a poor means for discovering the truth. Let us take an example of corruption in politics. As per the Global Corruption Barometer, 2006 released by Transparency International on the 10th December 2006, the ordinary citizens perceived political parties, on average, to be the institution most affected by corruption, followed by parliaments and legislatures and then by the business sector. Police top the chart in respondents’ own experience of bribing, though the police are perceived as the fourth most corrupt institution.
However, the result of the perception can be proven wrong within no time. Logically (and legally) no one can be said to be guilty unless proven in the court of law. By this yardstick, the politicians in India must be the most honest lot in the world as in the sixty years of its independence not a single politician has ever been convicted for corruption. Isn’t it then surprising “how people ‘know’ the truth which is contrary to logic”.
It is, therefore, a mystery for a “man of logic” how people can perceive politicians as the most corrupt when not even a single person has been found guilty in the court of law. It is because we all “know” that when logic is used as a tool for determination of truth, it is not the truth which wins but, it is the more powerful logic that wins. Thus the outcome of an argument has usually no bearing on the truth and, more often than not, the conclusions based on logic are untrue.
Let us examine another example to prove that logic alone is not sufficient to know the truth. Suppose, in a country, there are one hundred murders in a given period. The truth is that someone killed these 100 persons. Yet in the court of law, often less than 5% of the accused are finally convicted while in about 95% of the cases, no person is convicted. Does it mean that in 95% cases, there was no killer? We all know the truth that some one has killed those persons and the truth does not change whether or not it is established by the court of law.
The difference between logic and truth, therefore, is that truth is often hidden which has to be searched and discovered with personal effort. Logic, on the other side, is available everywhere like a commodity and you have to have the resources (financial or intellectual) to “find” the desired logic.
Discovery of Truth
We often confuse information with truth. We have no dearth of information today. Every day we get all types of information from the newspapers as our morning dose. Throughout the day, we get plenty of information from electronic media and other people. Internet is another source which provides almost infinite information. Thus we have too much information, yet we do not know which information is true and which is not. The problem becomes further compounded since we have the freedom to select the information. Hence, we only get the information that we want and we want information which we like, which means the information that supports our own point of view. These informations are not “Truth” but actually the seeds of “Logic” which we use to prove that we are right rather than trying to discover the truth.
Truth, unlike information, is not available in the market or media. It has to be discovered and searched with conscious effort. For example, if you want to know, if person A is corrupt or not, all you have to do is to meet some people who know him and you will know the truth. If you want to get even closer to the truth, you may interact with him and you will know the truth better. Discovering truth is far simpler and certain. Yet if you try to know the truth by proper procedures, you can never know it. Even when the Supreme Court adjudges a person innocent, how many of you really believe that he is innocent. We all intuitively know that judgements can be wrong. All of us have some unique capability to know “what is truth” and this truth is nothing but God.
Knowing the truth is not easy. It would perhaps be interesting to know how the cops catch the criminals. We keep on reading in the newspaper many reports about murders and theft. We also hear that the cops were able to catch the criminals after a few days of investigation. But we do not know as to how this could have been done! When a person commits a crime, he does it with a lot of caution. Often it is impossible to find a person who has witnessed the crime. When an investigating officer or cop starts investigation, what he has is the evidence of crime but no evidence of the criminal. He interrogates people who may be connected with the deceased person and gradually the picture of the criminal starts getting formed in his mind. The officer cannot know what happened in the past, but gradually his intuition become stronger and suspicion becomes deeper. When he interrogates some of the suspects, he gets further clues from their behaviour during investigation. Gradually, the truth become clearer to the officer and he can identify the criminal and reconstruct the event of crime. Once he identifies the criminal, he starts collecting evidence to convince others. Thus the truth is known to him first and then the logic and arguments are made for the sake of convincing other people about the culpability of the accused.
Similarly, when a criminal case is to be decided by the court, the judge hears the arguments of both the sides. Most often the arguments of the side of the criminal are stronger as he is more resourceful and can get the services of the best of advocates. Yet a good judge is not swayed by arguments, but applies his intuition (and not mind) during the course of the trial to know the truth. Once he is convinced about the truth, he creates his own arguments and applies the case laws to justify his decisions. No judge can do any justice if he opts to decide the case purely on the merit (strength) of arguments.
How do we know the truth?
Knowing the truth is not explainable by logic. We often judge the person even before we can blink our eyes. “Truth” is known to us without effort and logic as discussed in the articles “Signatures of the Soul: Thin Slicing the Snap Judgments ” and “The Language of Unspoken Words´
The following example illustrates how one gets to know the facts (past, present and future) without any logic
(1) In a recent research conducted at Princeton University, it has been observed that when we see a new face, we are able to know within the tenth of a second, whether the person is attractive, competent and trustworthy
(2) In one of the researches conducted by Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal the psychologists gave the students just three of a ten second videotape of a teacher with sound off. The students found no difficulty in judging the effectiveness of the teacher. When the time was reduced to five seconds and then to only two seconds, still it was found that the judgment of the students by just watching the two-second video-clip was almost as accurate as the judgment made by the students who had studied for the full semester.
(3) In the experiments conducted by the psychologist, John Gottman, he could predict whether or not a marriage would survive for another 15 years with 95% accuracy by watching the conversation of the couple for one hour on ANY SUBJECT. If he watched the tape only for 15 minutes, he could make prediction with 90% accuracy. Even by watching the tape for merely 3 minutes, he could accurately predict the future of a marriage.
(4) In an experiment conducted by Morris, it was decided to judge the personality of eighty students on five traits not by their interview but by observing their dorm rooms. He first called the close friends of the students and they were asked to rate the students on these five attributes. Thereafter, he called a few total strangers who had never met these students. The strangers were asked to see their dorm rooms and given fifteen minutes to give their assessment of these five attributes based on their observation of the room and their own intuition. The study revealed that the strangers were able to predict the five important traits of the personalities of the students better than their friends, simply by observing their bedrooms.
When something is wrong with our body, our mind knows it as the signal of pain is received by it. Even the problems of the unseen and unknown organs are known to us. However, can we know the pain, if it is in the body of another person? We can experience the pain and the pleasure only if it is within our own body. Then why do we feel happy when we see a smiling face of another person and why we get depressed when we see a child crying due to hunger? Why do we cry when we see another person’s body being pierced by an injection? All these signals of pain and pleasure cannot happen to us unless the other beings are somehow connected to us by some common thread even if we can’t see any such connection by our senses.
The very evidence that we can understand another person and know his mind without hearing a word from him establishes that we all are connected to each other by a common thread which in Indian philosophy is known as the Paramaatman (Universal Soul). This establishes that “God is in everything and everything is in God”.
Discussions and Conclusions
One question that has always haunted the believers of all religions is “why there are so many Gods?”. Which religion has the best (vision of) God? Our commonsense tells us that there must be only one God as God cannot change even if you change your religion just like Truth cannot change irrespective of your faith or beliefs. Yet not only have we multiplicity of Gods but we also find that most of the religious people of the humanity are fighting with each other in the name of God.
This can perhaps be best explained by the story of five blind men mentioned in an ancient text “Panchtantra”:
Five blind men were asked to identify an object (elephant). One blind man touched the leg of the elephant and confidently replied that it was a pillar. Another person touched the body of the elephant and said that the object was a wall. The third man touched his tail and concluded that it was a broom. The fourth man could touch his ear and concluded that it was a hand fan. Finally, the fifth man touched the trunk of the elephant and stated that it was the trunk of the banana tree.
All the five men were confident that their description of the object was right as they had felt the object by their own hand. However, they were all wrong since they could not see the whole truth due to limitation of their vision and experience. None of them was deliberately telling any lie since they all stated what they really experienced.
The truth could only be known if all the five men discussed with each other what they felt of the object (without distrusting each other) and then tried to search the “whole truth” by the synthesis of all their knowledge. This process can be called the “Unity in Diversity” as the Truth can be known only by the synthesis of all knowledge which the humanity is in possession of.
Man may be the most superior animal on the earth yet it has limitation of sensory perception and intelligence. We can see only a “very small” spectrum of the electromagnetic waver (wavelengths in the range of 4000 A to 7800 A) and listen only a limited range of frequency (20 Hz to 20000 Hz). We also have a very small lifespan (100 years) as compared to the life of universe (around 14 billion years). We are too small compared to the universe (which is around 14 billion light years long), yet too big to even imagine the smallest cell of our own body (there are many billion cells in a human body).
The multiplicity of God appears to have arisen due to our limited understanding of the Truth. The same is true for science or any other branch of knowledge, all of which seek to discover the Truth. As Einstein has rightly stated “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree”.
Once it is understood that the quest of all branches of knowledge is “Truth” and Truth alone is God, the conflict between different branches of knowledge would disappear. Freeman Dyson has wisely explained the connection between science and religion in following words:
“Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows give different views, but both look out at the same universe. Both the views are one-sided, neither is complete. Both leave out essential features of the real world. Yet both are worthy of respect.”
The search of Truth had always been the greatest quest of mankind. He always preyed God to take from Untruth to Truth, from Darkness to Light and from Mortality to Immortality (Astoma Sad Gamaya, Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya, Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya) as all the paths leads to Him only.