Journey to Belief (Conclusion)
For the second time in my life, (the first time was, as it is for many a young person taught the Bible, young earth creationism) something that had been taught to me by people whom I loved, admired, trusted and respected turned out to be wrong. If I could not trust feelings to bring me closer to the truth, then what could I trust? What, then, was the Holy Spirit?
I realized at that point that people have had those same kinds of feelings for many a false thing. They've had much, much stronger feelings than I ever had for beliefs that completely defied logic and reality. They've martyred themselves for these false premises. And yet, the feeling, the joy that brings one to tears, is inconstant. It cannot be trusted to yield truth, only a good emotional experience.
If there was a Holy Spirit, how could I know I was learning through it, then?
These questions bounced around in my head for quite a long time, but it was only when I stopped being upset about my personal, emotional deception - when I realized that I wasn't living life at all, even though I had that life in such generous terms, that I began to understand the answer to my question.
How could I know I was learning from the Holy Ghost?
Because it will illuminate Truth.
A journey appeared in my mind then, of my own past, of instances and thoughts I'd had. These were thoughts that I had never been able to forget. They reverberated in my soul, ringing through all the years of my life. Some of these thoughts were for very specific situations and did not seem to show a big picture at all. But many thoughts were leaps of knowing where the pieces of the puzzle did not merely fit together, but the joining of it seemed to glow with rightness. All in all though, those intense experiences did not happen very often. I can count them on my fingers. But they were real.
Then another thought entered my mind:
Tread carefully. Real Truth is precious and rare. Most of the time, you can't really know a thing. Like the evolution of man, the thought continued. The theory is sound, the pieces we have fit it, but we can never call it knowledge simply because we never observed it. Should we have the chance to observe it, we'd be surprised but at the same time it would make perfect sense and fit even better into what we'd already observed.
It isn't about whether I'm right or wrong. My worth should not tied up in that. If something I've learned turns out to be wrong, even if I thought it right for 70 years, then I must let it go and I cannot tie my self identification up in it. If I don't have enough information, then I should file the subject under "need to learn more before I should have an opinion".
Yet we can't really leave our emotions completely out of the equation: that would demolish important things like compassion and love, and our plain enjoyment of this fascinating puzzle. But we must be careful of our emotion. We must evaluate not only the data, but our motives in believing the things that we do. I can experience emotion because of my beliefs, but my emotions should not be the reason for my beliefs.
It does take careful study, no matter what we think of the matter. And we should look at all sides. We can't dismiss God so easily, really, but neither can we believe in God easily. It is something that should never be taken for granted. Truth, mostly, is that we can't know a lot of things right now, but we're expected to try to learn as best we can, with our best observations, with our critical minds, and even sometimes with our hearts.