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12th December, 2008

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Billions of thoughts, never a contradiction

The capacity for individuals to hold contradictory ideas or attitudes in their own thinking seems virtually universal. None of us is willing to admit it of himself, of course; every man is rational and consistent in his own eyes. But do you get mad at Brazilian peasants for setting fire to the Amazon jungle to grow crops while you yourself drive a gas-guzzling SUV? Do you consider animal sacrifice in ancient Israel barbaric yet eat meat yourself? Thomas Jefferson considered slavery immoral, yet owned many of them. I would love to see planes and cars banned, yet I drive and fly. I'm reminded of a flyer I saw recently which said, "Come to the National Tolerance Day BBQ. Everybody welcome except the intolerant." Preachers are often informed by astute listeners that they contradicted themselves in a sermon.

Unless we are scrupulously vigilant with our own thinking, subjecting our thoughts to careful analysis, comparing thought with thought, idea with idea, and rejecting one thought or another when we find a clash, we will be guilty of incoherence, otherwise known as self-contradiction. Shockingly, many people whose heads are full of clashing opinions don't have a clue as to the messy state of their own minds. Worse, some don't care. Those who worship God and Jesus Christ ought to care. Incoherence means error means failure to "have truth". Truth never contradicts itself. Those who worship God should put a premium on truth; Jesus is truth (John 14:6), and those who follow Him will cherish everything He represents. Yes, He was talking there about revealed truth rather than those truths amenable to discovery by the scientific method. Nevertheless, the point remains; revealed truth never contradicts itself any more than "natural" truth does, and both have their origins in the mind of God. Love one and you'll love the other; be careless about one and you'll do the same with the other.

But this blog is concerned with "seeing God" more than with promoting Christian living. Ponder this thought. If you could somehow throw every human thought into the one huge mind, what sort of beast would you have? One awesomely incoherent, self-contradictory, self-disputing mass of chaos and confusion. One wonders if any two human beings alive would agree fully on every issue of truth. (We are not talking here about personal preferences.) Remember, truth is scrupulously consistent. If two propositions clash, one or other or both of them must be untruthful - wrong, in other words. That's just the way

it is. The cumulative "mankind brain" would be characterized by. you guessed it. untruthfulness of staggering proportions.

Stop and think. In any given moment God thinks more thoughts than all human beings put together. Can that proposition be proven? You bet it can (if you believe the Bible). For one thing, He is monitoring every human thought (Ps. 11:4; 139:4). As He monitors our thoughts He is processing them in preparation for the day of judgment (Jer. 32:19). And as the Lord of Hosts He is communicating with untold angelic beings at the same time. You can do the arithmetic. For another thing, as the Sustainer of the entire creation He obviously is thinking almost infinite thoughts (as well as carrying out infinite acts) just to keep it all perfectly maintained. The sum of all our thoughts is small change indeed. With those brief comments in mind, notice this staggering biblical proposition:

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times (Ps. 12:6).

Words represent thoughts. God is in such perfect control of His own thoughts, He is so totally inherently "truthful", that He has never held two self-contradictory thoughts. Every thought is sound, blemish free, and in full harmony with every other. That's the essential meaning of these words.

Do you ever get depressed surfing religious blogs to see the utter confusion that marks the religious domain? We who put finger to keyboard to pontificate on issues of truth - hey, I'm one of them - contradict each other so severely that Joe Sixpack can see that the Christian body is riddled with epistemological cancer. Forget all the naive talk about agreement on "core issues" - that's a figment of the imagination. "The truth", wherever it may be, is swamped in a sea of contention. Can two contend together except at least one of them be wrong? The larger the field of contenders, the greater the number in error.

Such confusion in no way represents the God that we all claim we are worshiping. I yearn for Jesus' return. He will swiftly cut through all the confusion and lay bare for all to see the pure thoughts, "purified seven times", that come from the Originator of all truth. Truth will prevail at last.


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