How Can We Know Truth?
by John P. Pratt
Reprinted from Meridian Magazine (1 Mar 2007).
©2007 by John P. Pratt. All rights Reserved.
Overwhelmed in this modern information explosion, how can we know the truth?
How can we know what is true? Every day we are constantly bombarded with advertising making
promising claims. Are they true? We see the news supposedly reporting objectively on reality.
But just how much is accurate, and how much is "spin" or propaganda? We hear of scientific
studies about health which apparently establish that either some vitamin is not effective or that
some new wonder drug is. But who sponsored the studies and how unbiased were the scientists
when they knew who was paying their salary? We see politicians using science to back their
claims of global warming which just happen to match their political agenda. Religious claims are
made of revelation and miraculous healings. But even in the scriptures we read that in the last days
there will be false Christs and deceivers, so how can we know just who is telling the truth? And
now we enter a period of presidential elections where we will hear the promises of politicians. But
how many of their words are true, and how many simply calculated response to polls about what
the voters want to hear? And then we realize that history books were written by the conquerors, so
we wonder just how accurate even they are? Whether it be in science, religion, politics, history,
medicine, or even hearing just one side of a friend's reasons for divorce, the question arises: How
can we know the truth?
Ask yourself, just how much truth have you learned in your life? How much are you 100% sure is
correct? What if it were announced that aliens from a much more advanced civilization had landed,
and they would now become our new source of truth? Are you well enough founded to detect
when even a more technologically advanced civilization is wrong? What if they were all atheists?
What if a friend gives you a book that was "channelled" from an "advanced spirit" through a spiritual
medium? Would you accept what it says, or do you know enough with certainty to tell when the
message is false? Can brilliant university professors be wrong? How do you feel when a media
poll announces that just about everyone else disagrees with you? What do you actually know with
certainty? Is there any truth you are willing to die for?
This article summarizes some personal lessons learned in attempting to know truth. It is an article
that was begun two years ago, but soon abandoned when no sure-fire way to recognize truth
surfaced. That is still the case, but now it seems acceptable to at least share a variety of techniques,
all of which seem to work sometimes. By applying several of the methods to a given problem, one
can hopefully have a very good chance of actually learning truth. Let's try starting from a clean
slate, knowing nothing, and go from there.
Can Aliza know truth?
1. Infant Learning
When an individual enters this plane of existence, that infant appears to know virtually nothing. It
needs to learn to focus its eyes to learn to see, to recognize sounds, and to figure out what hunger,
pain, dreams, and a host of other experiences mean. Let us try to put ourselves back into the
position of a newborn. How did we learn to know truth at that time?
First of all, most of us arrived here with several senses. These seem to be useful in learning truth,
or at least, learning how to interact with what is apparent reality. Let's review some of these to
assess their usefulness.
How many legs does this elephant have?
1.1 Five Senses
Sight is an amazing ability that most people have. By merely awakening and opening our eyes, we
can come in contact with something called "light" which brings us signals from other objects in our
universe. We can see Mommy, a baby crib, and distant stars. This ability is so useful that it leads
to proverbs like "Seeing is believing." Is sight a guaranteed source of truth? Not at all. We are all
familiar with optical illusions, and with magicians who deceive us easily into thinking we see
things that are not reality at all. Photographs and holograms can make us think we are seeing
something that is only an image of an object. Nevertheless, sight is clearly one of the best ways to
know about the world we live in.
Similar remarks could be made about hearing, smelling, tasting, and touch. These abilities along
with sight are often called the "five senses." Each is useful in a different way. Each seems reliable
in the vast majority of cases, but each can be fooled. So how can we know truth with certainty?
1.2 Multiple witnesses
This brings us to an extremely important technique which is useful from the courtroom to scientific
or religious inquiry. It has been called the "Law of Multiple Witnesses" (2 Cor. 13:1). It basically asserts that
several independent witnesses are better than only one. Let's consider the five senses. Little
children are famous for wanting to touch everything and put things in their mouth to taste. They
seem to be trying to use as many of their senses as possible to understand their new reality.
Think about a mirror. We are so used to how mirrors work that we trust our lives daily to what
see in a rear view mirror. Have you ever watched a kitten discover a mirror for the first time? At
first it thinks it sees another cat, but it learns otherwise. How does it learn that the image is not a
real cat? Is it not because it soon learns from its sense of touch that a mirror is hard and cold and
smooth, not soft and warm and fuzzy? If we had only the sense of sight, it would be much
more difficult to distinguish between a mirror and the "real thing."
Kitten using touch to learn truth.
In fact, if you want to add to
your own mirror experience, you might want to buy the "Magic Illusion" shown at right in which
the mirror image is brought out in front of the mirror. In the illustration, the little car is only an
image, and when the lady tries to pick it up, nothing is there at all. Thus, when two or more
senses disagree, we may have to choose between them, but when they agree we have a much better
chance of finding "truth."
She is trying to pick up a mirror image.
2. Elementary Learning
How does the infant continue to learn, after it is familiar with the basic skills of the five senses? If
the child has loving parents, then experiments show that it can feel their love. This seems to be
separate from the five senses of just feeling warmth, seeing smiles, etc. After one learns to hear,
usually there is a verbal language to be learned. And then the formal education begins with
whatever the parents think they have learned about life and wish to pass on, and also usually what
the state also wants to pass on.
Parents as teachers.
2.1 First Teachings
How is the child to know if it is being taught false principles? What if it is being taught to hate
children of another color? What if it is being taught a completely false doctrine? How can a little
one know the truth? Here there seems to be a nearly insurmountable problem. The child basically
has its inborn senses to recognize truth. But in many cases, these senses are not useful in knowing
about what is being taught, or the parents would have detected the falsehood themselves. Often
they are only passing on what they themselves were taught. A little child is a very believing
creature, and tends to accept whatever it is taught by parents, friends, or the TV as truth. This is a
huge responsibility for all adults interacting with children not to betray their trust.
Most people also seem to have one or more additional senses to the five described above, which
have been called intuition, a "sixth sense," or extra-sensory perception (ESP). Modern research
suggests that there is a whole host of such senses which have been named clairvoyance, remote
viewing, precognition, and mental telepathy. Many children have natural skills in several of
these areas before they learn in school that such things are impossible.
Another innate sense which even children have is an innate sense of right and wrong. The parents
teach some concepts here, but to me it appears that even very small children have some sense of
right and wrong, even if it might go against what they have been taught. This sense is commonly
called a "conscience." It appears that this is what the scriptures refer to as "the true Light, which
lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). Learning to listen to one's conscience is
an excellent way to know the truth, especially the truth about what is right and wrong, and what
we personally should do in any given situation. If we don't like what we hear and begin to view
our conscience as an enemy and repeatedly attempt to squelch it, we probably have little chance of
3. Teenage Learning
Then a wonderful thing happens when the child becomes a teenager. Something in the mind turns
on and they begin to question their parents. This is a great hope for mankind, because it might just
be that the parents have been dead wrong all along! And if the parents were right, then hopefully
the teenager will find out independently and become another witness for truth.
Parents and good teachers are again extremely important in these years. The individual has
awakened to realize the possible folly of blindly accepting statements on authority alone. They
want real (i.e. logically or scientifically convincing) answers, not a dogmatic statement whether it
be from parents or priests. They won't question the scientific answers from their teachers so much
because that is often the very kind of answers they are seeking. At first, teenagers are not rebelling
against authority as much as questioning. But if the authority figure lacks convincing answers,
then true rebellion can occur because the questioner feels he has been duped and taught nonsense.
Teenagers are, however, at a very vulnerable age. If they reject their parents teachings, the are
often wide open to be taught by forces of evil, who are all too eager to indoctrinate them with the
enslaving habits of pornography, sex, drugs and crime.
Okay, so now we are past the teenage years. You have found out that much of what you learned in
high school was just not true, and the government educational system looks even worse today.
And, having passed through the teenage years, you have learned as did Mark Twain, that your
parents got much smarter after you turned 21. So what are the methods you now use to learn the
real truth? Here are some that seem to work for me; you might have found your own.
4. Left Brain Learning
Our brain has two halves. The left half is more logical and rational and the right half is more
intuitive and emotional. The left hemisphere uses step-by-step thinking processes, whereas the
right-side tends to do "all-at-once" processing, like looking at a picture. For the purposes of
this paper, let us divide all learning and discovering truth into two such categories and look first at
left brain learning.
4.1 From Known to Unknown
One excellent method, and often the only available method is to review the "known" carefully
before branching out into the unknown. In a way that is how all learning is done. The child first
learns from his senses, then from people, and every new truth builds in some way upon earlier
ones. Sometimes a new truth is so powerful, that it is necessary to question or even replace earlier
beliefs which now no longer appear true. This is always a risky process because you might reject a
real truth for a lie. Hence this article is being written to help recognize real truth.
I used this technique constantly in math and physics classes, but it can work to solve almost any
kind of problem. When faced with a problem that just seems too difficult, simply solve an easier
but similar one instead for which you can be absolutely sure you are correct. Then gradually make
modifications until you have solved the hard problem.
Overlapping circles can help with logic.
Have you ever had a formal course in logic? When I was in elementary school, my mother gave
me her father's book on logic and to this day I credit it with helping me learn how to think
rationally. The other big help was a high school course in Euclidean geometry. These two classes
have been dropped from the curriculum of most schools, and many people have only been taught
what to think and not how to think. In fact, I still have that logic book, published in 1873, and the
author bemoaned that logic had already been dropped from school curricula. Let's consider
some simple logical methods.
Deductive Logic. One kind of logic uses "syllogisms," which usually contain three lines: a
general premise, a particular statement, and a conclusion. For example, "All dogs are mammals" is
a general statement or premise. "Rover is a dog" is cites a particular example. Then logic dictates
that the conclusion follows: "Therefore, Rover is a mammal." That syllogism is valid, meaning that
if the first two statements are true, then the third must also be true. It is "deduced" from the first
two in the sense that it subtracts out a particular truth from a larger truth. A course in logic teaches
to recognize whether syllogisms are valid or not.
Inductive Logic. The question arises how to know if the general premise of a syllogism is
true. One method is called "inductive reasoning." It deals with generalizing the big truth from
many little truths, and it is not as certain. For example, when one looks carefully at several
snowflakes, it is noticed that they all differ from each other significantly. The general principle is
induced that "Every snowflake is different." That may or may not be true because no one has
verified it by looking at every snowflake, but sometimes it is the best we can do.
Are all snowflakes different?
4.3 Question All New Premises
One way to evaluate any new general premise that you hear is simply to ask yourself, "Exactly
what does that mean?" and "Is that true?" Remember, once you accept the general premise, then
logic demands that you accept any correctly deduced conclusion. Ask, "What are this person's
qualifications to say this? Do they have a bias? Do they at least appear to be objective? Do they
discuss several sides of an issue? Can you catch them in a deliberate lie?" One useful technique
when listening to an obviously biased source, such as a salesman, is to go to a competitor and
announce that you're about to buy the other guy's product, and ask if there is any reason you
shouldn't. Then go back to the first one and tell him what you were told about the weakness of
their product. Try this and you'll be amazed that some salesman are indeed honest. Once I actually
had both men tell me the same list of strengths and weaknesses of both products.
Let's consider, for example, the proposition that "All life is of equal value." The first time you
hear such an idea, you could ask, "Do they mean all life, or perhaps just animal life? Do they mean
that each individual existence is as important as every other? If so, then is that really true? How do
they know? Was a scientific experiment done to prove it? If so, just who did it and who funded it
(possible bias)? In this case, an experiment does not seem possible, so perhaps they are quoting a
great authority. If so, who would be an authority on all life? Does this speaker have an ulterior
motive where he will get me to accept what sounds like a reasonable principle in order to deduce
something that fits his political agenda? Is this a religious belief? Or is it just a speculation that
occurred to the speaker which sounded plausible?"
Perhaps because of my scientific training, I try to question everything I read and hear. It is a highly
recommended practice. You don't have to argue with people, but this method sure helps to
understand what point is being made and just how valid you think it is. To question is not to reject.
For example, although I believe the scriptures contain words from God, I question everything I
read there because that process greatly helps me understand what is being said. Common questions
are, "Was that translated correctly? What did those words mean in the original language? Does it
refer to just this one case, or to the general case? What is the context? Are there other scriptures
which agree or disagree with this one?"
4.4 Reasoning from Extremes
One kind of reasoning can be very useful to quickly test a general premise, such as, "All birds can
fly." Test the proposition on extreme cases, such as ostriches (extremely big) or baby birds
(extremely young). If you can find even one counter example, then the proposition is not true. In
our example, "All life is of equal value" we can look at the extreme cases. Is the life of a spider as
important as man? How about a weed? Or an amoeba?
Einstein's thought experiment about gravity in elevators.
4.5 Thought Experiments
Another method that Albert Einstein popularized is the thought experiment, meaning to just think
about what would happen if you did an experiment. It is a really low-budget method that can add
tremendous insight. Let's try it on the example of evaluating that same premise, "All life is of
Suppose you were in a shopping mall when a gunman began killing everyone in sight. You are
behind him as he is reloading. Would you tackle him to try to prevent more killing? Now suppose
it happened in a pet shop, and he was shooting all the animals possible. Would you risk your life
to stop him? Suppose you discovered your neighbor hunts deer and then eats them? Suppose you
saw your neighbor setting a mousetrap with the obvious intent to kill? Suppose you saw your
neighbor spraying poison on the bugs in his garden? Suppose you saw your neighbor walking on
his lawn, mercilessly crushing and breaking blades of grass underfoot? Or worse, what if you saw
him actually eating the cooked, lifeless body of a chicken and a cob of corn at a fast food
restaurant? And finally, suppose you saw him taking an antibiotic in order to purposely kill
millions of helpless bacteria?
Note that in this example, the thought experiments are combined with the extreme reasoning
method. It was also combined with a test of "value," namely, whether you thought it was worth
risking your life or perhaps reporting your neighbor to the police. Thought experiments are not the
final word. Einstein also suggested real experiments which indeed verified those in his mind, but
he felt the thought experiments greatly helped clarify his thinking process.
4.6 Scientific Method
Before the renaissance, many scholars were content with simply reasoning about how nature
should be, without actually checking to see if they were correct. Then the scientific method was
developed which is a systemic method of seeking truth. It is very simple in principle, but even
many modern scientists overlook important steps. Basically, it is to 1) make an observation of
nature, 2) propose an explanation and then 3) use that explanation to
predict the result of a future observation. One key point is that if the prediction fails, then the
hypothesis is "falsified" meaning that is was disproved. In that case it is necessary either to 1) reject the
hypothesis entirely, 2) modify the hypothesis and try a new prediction, or sometimes 3) reject the
observation as a bad data point. The best theories are based on repeatable experiments which give
positive results time after time. A big red flag of suspicion arises if repeated failures are rejected as
bad data points, or if the scientist claims that the negative results are inconclusive and that more
research is necessary. If that is really the case, then the scientist must announce it before the
experiment is done, not after the theory is falsified. Any theory which cannot be falsified is not a
scientific theory. It might still be true, it is just not verifiable with the scientific method. It is also
important to note that no scientific experiment ever leads to knowing the absolute truth of a theory.
In principle, there could always be a new experiment which could falsify it.
Truth is like an onion.
4.7 Layers of Truth
Truth can be like an onion, with many layers. We might dig down a little with research, and find
some truth and think we have it all. Then we might dig deeper and find much more, which might
even reverse the original conclusion. And then we can dig deeper. There can be a tendency to think
we know all of the truth when we have only scratched the surface, so be ready to dig deeper.
All meaning comes from context. The letters of the words in this article only have meaning in the
context of the English language of this century. If one looks at one verse of scripture, or one
sentence out of the context in which it was written, the meaning can be reversed. Sometimes those
wishing to deceive purposely quote out of context.
Let's consider an example of both "layers of truth" and "context." Consider the phrase that we
have all heard ad nauseam as an excuse to ban religion from all public life: "Separation of Church
and State." When that phrase is quoted by itself, the implication is that it must be found in the U.S.
constitution. When we did deeper, we find that there is no such phrase there, and that for the first
hundred and fifty years of this nation, the Christian religion was enthusiastically encouraged by
government. In fact, six of the first thirteen states had a state religion when the constitution was
ratified and several states required voters to be Christian. All we find in the constitution is that
the First Amendment provided that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Then we dig deeper and find that Supreme Court
Justice Hugo Black in 1947 was the first to state that "The First Amendment has erected a wall
between church and state." Where did he get that? He was quoting Thomas Jefferson, who used
it in a letter of 1802 to the Danbury Baptists. Then we dig deeper and find the context of the letter
was that Jefferson was writing to reassure those who were afraid that the federal government might
try to interfere with the rights of freedom of religion, which they had fought so hard for. Jefferson
knew they were familiar with Roger William's allegory where the church is compared to a garden
that is protected by a wall from the surrounding wilderness. In that context he wrote that the
constitution provided that wall to separate the church (garden) from the state (savageness of the
federal government). Thus we see that by quoting the sentence out of the context, precisely the
opposite meaning is understood.
5. Right Brain Learning
There are several methods of encountering truth which rely more heavily on intuition and feeling,
and also seeing the relation between different pieces. The right brain can process many pieces of
information at once, whereas the left is best at looking at things in a series one at a time. One
important point here is that there are two kinds of "feeling" which are different and sometimes
confused. There is emotional feeling and intuitive feeling. Our emotions are our motivators. When
we feel sympathy, we may wish to help the afflicted. That is not learning truth at all; it is being
motivated. On the other hand, the intuition (or ESP) feeling refers to sensations such as, "I feel
peaceful and good about going into this business venture," or "I feel this salesman is lying. I don't
trust him." In attempting to discover truth, it is essential not to let the emotions be a factor.
Wanting something to be true does not make it true, but only clouds your perception of reality.
Now let us look at some systematic methods of right brain learning.
5.1 Draw a Picture
One method that has proven of much worth to me in solving problems is to always try to either
mentally picture it, or actually draw an illustration of it. This was especially useful when solving
(left-brain) math problems. Drawing a picture got my right brain involved and invariably helped me
understand what the meaning of the mathematical symbols was. The problem could be solved by
simply applying step-by-step procedures, but when it was finished one might have no idea what it
meant. It would be like reading the words of a book one by one but not understanding the
"Eden" in a mandala pattern in Genesis.
5.2 Pattern Matching
When you see something new that seems to fit a known pattern, it can often be very useful in
understanding it. If there are several bank robberies in a short period all by someone using similar
techniques and answering the same description, then they probably were done by the same person.
But then again, maybe is was just a chance coincidence that so many things were in common. Any
time the pattern matching method is used to prove a relationship, one must consider the probability
that the match was due to chance. Usually this is simple, because the laws of chance are fairly well
understood. But sometimes it can be very difficult to calculate. One example of this is in the so-called "Bible Codes." Hidden words were found by reading equally spaced Hebrew letters in the
Old Testament. The proposed code was a precise pattern. Were the words due to blind chance or
not? It was a sticky enough problem that a reputable statistics journal printed the paper statistically
showing that it was not due to chance, and then a later paper refuted that conclusion.
5.3 The Big Picture
When someone presents a new, somewhat isolated fact, ask, "How does that fit into my
understanding of everything? Should I change anything I do, such as how I eat, or how I treat my
fellow man? Does it require me to modify my belief system of how the universe is? If so, can I
reject the new idea as false or has my entire world view been false? If it is a true principle, can I
apply this knowledge in a different area that matches the same pattern?"
An example might be that when you see your neighbor being sued, you think he is stupid to simply
pay the money without a court battle. You are about to instruct him in the fine art of litigation,
when the Savior's words come to mind, "And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away
thy coat, let him have thy cloke also" (Mat. 5:40). Suddenly you realize that this one isolated event
did not fit into your world view, but that it should have, and so you repent and change you view to
be more like that of the Savior.
Are dreams just the result of too much pepperoni on the pizza? Many people, both ancient and
modern, looked at dreams as a method of communication from your inner self to your conscious
mind, or even as being from God (Mat. 1:20, 2:12). They often appear to contain warnings. Here
we are not talking about the more trivial dreams, which might just be sorting out yesterday's
activities to see if there are any lessons learned, but the kind of lucid dream where you wake up
saying, "That was so real!" It is hard to know how important any given dream might be, but there
is evidence that some warning dreams have been heeded and apparently saved lives. If so, then
they appear to be one method of learning the truth in time to be useful, and to actually change the
future from what might have been.
Velcro came from studying burrs. Can you see the little hooks?
5.5 Learning from Nature
One form of pattern matching which can work for the atheist and believer alike is to learn from
watching nature. One thinks he is learning the lessons from billions of years of trial and error and
the other from the mind of God, but both see wisdom. Many of our inventions from
vaccination to velcro came from having seen it first in nature. One application of this principle
is to compare even "scientific" discoveries to the higher standard of nature. For example, when
someone tells me that it has been discovered that eggs are bad to eat, I'm very skeptical when I see
every kind eaten in nature by a wide variety of animals. On the other hand, one must be cautious
here because sometimes many animals are better equipped than we are. For example, many
animals eat grass, but cows have extra stomachs to digest the cellulose which man cannot digest.
This rule must also be modified when man has changed the product. For example, all mammal
babies drink milk, but it has not been homogenized, pasteurized and filled with growth hormones.
So when chemical companies try to sell their own formula for babies' milk, it doesn't take rocket
science to know that there is no way it could be as good as breast-feeding. Our eyes have
developed perfectly to see in sunlight, so when someone tries to sell you sunglasses, claiming that
the sun is bad for your eyes, can you detect the obvious falseness of their claim? And when
doctors proudly announce that tonsils are useless, one must realize that of course that only means
they have not yet discovered their purpose. Be skeptical before paying that same doctor to remove
them as was the craze in my youth.
One more example from nature has been very important in the computer industry. When do nerve
cells send the message to the brain to get your hand off that hot stove? It turns out that the message
is not sent until several nerve cells all sense "hot" at about the same time. In other words, our
bodies seem to know that any one cell could misfire and indicate heat when there is none. This is
akin to any one sense being fooled. But the chances of that are very low because normally the cells
function correctly. The laws of probability imply that it would be rare indeed for many cells in the
same area all to misfire at the same time, so that the combined witness of many cells is almost
certainly correct. It is only then that the message of pain is sent. This is an example of the Law of
Witnesses being applied in nature. This principle is called "redundancy" in computer science and
has greatly reduced the number of errors due to any one part of a computer malfunctioning.
Good fruit comes from good trees.
5.6 By Their Fruits
One method of knowing truth is to look for the pattern of just what are the fruits of the words and
actions and deeds of those professing to know truth. The Savior was accused of doing miracles by
the power of Satan. He taught that if his listeners wanted to know if his words came from God,
then they should simply try obeying them and they would know (John 7:16-17). Good fruit comes
from good trees and bad fruit from bad trees (Mat 7:16-20). Thus, if a man claims to be a prophet,
look at the what fruits his church produces. If it is mass murder or suicide that is a big red flag that
something is amiss. If the prophet teaches to kill the innocent, then you must ask yourself if his
god is the same as your God. But if the fruits are faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience,
godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (2 Peter 1:5-7), then there was probably much truth in
This principle applies to all areas of knowledge. For example, what are the fruits of "no-fault
divorce" legislation? It was passed with the hope of liberating mistreated wives. But the fruit of
that law has been to devastate the children, who were overlooked in the original discussions.
Thus, the fruit of divorce is bitter indeed, which raises the question of why we do not reverse such
There are many areas where we tend to rely on an expert in the field because the subject is beyond
our personal experience or because we feel the authority knows more. Most of the questions at the
beginning of this article on how to know what is true are really asking whether we should believe
what authorities have told us. Here it is extremely important to pick a truly competent authority.
Several questions can be asked, such as "Why should I believe him? Does he have authentic
credentials? Does he have experience in this field? Does he have a bias which could cause him to
lie? Can I get a second opinion? Does he have a good track record of honesty and competence?
Has he actually done what he is teaching?" If the person fails this last question, it can nullify
otherwise good credentials. For example, most of the professors in universities who teach
elementary education have never taught in an elementary school. Some people who write books on
edible wild plants include many which they have never eaten themselves. Should you put your life
in their hands?
Do you know a higher authority? Do you have an accepted standard of truth in your life such as the
scriptures that you turn to for authority? If not, then ask yourself what do you consider the highest
No matter what the answers to these questions, you must make a decision whether or not to trust
this authority. If the logical approaches don't decide it, then you often must base your choice on
intuition. If you do, make sure that your "feeling" is intuitive and not emotional. If this authority is
appealing to our emotions, that is a big red flag that the facts may not back up what is being said.
Let's go back to the proposition that "all life is of equal value" from the example above. Christians
will remember that the Savior said that a man is worth many sparrows (Mat. 10:31). And he said
that not all men are of equal worth, for those who have lost their savour are "good for nothing, but
to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men" (Mat. 5:13) For me, these are more
authoritative words than from any other source. Man was created in the image of God and given
dominion over the entire animal kingdom (Gen. 1:26), which implies that man is the crowning
achievement of the creation.
So in this example, we have both (left-brain) reasoning and a trusted (right-brain) authority
agreeing that NOT all life is of equal value. When both halves of the brain come to the same
conclusion, we can have much more confidence in the correctness of the conclusion.
5.8 Emperor's New Clothes
There are a lot of times we just need to use common sense, especially the innate wisdom of a child.
Have you ever seen a painting that could have been done by a five-year-old, or perhaps was done
by a can of worms, and told that it is great art? Have you seen the first place ribbon on that
painting, and then found out that traditional beautiful paintings that took years of practice to perfect
needed skills were not even allowed into the contest? And then you were told that you just we not
educated enough to appreciate it, but that the great intellects agree that this is a masterpiece? We
too have seen such garbage masquerade as art, and we feel our five-year-old son summarized the
problem well. After looking at a painting at a university art exhibit that required less skill than he had, he exclaimed in wonder, "And they even framed it!"
In addition to intuition, conscience and dreams, there are other types of revelation which come
directly from God and can reveal truth. These may be much more rare and tend to come in
response to fervent prayer, or perhaps as a warning. These might be a simple synchronicity of
events happening apparently randomly, but seemingly in answer to your prayer. Sometimes
an audible voice is heard with distinct words, such as when Samuel thought Eli was calling him (1
Sam 3:4-10). Sometimes a vision opens up in the mind during waking hours, perhaps during a
prayer. And most rarely, sometimes one actually sees an open vision in broad daylight. In any of
these cases, there is still the possibility that the communication is from Satan, which never occurs
to many people. Many religions and cults have been founded by those who claimed to have had
revelations and their actions confirm that they indeed believe that. Some of those religions are
from God and some are from Satan.
This raises two questions. First, how can one receiving such a revelation know if it is true, and
second, how can someone else know?
The one receiving the revelation should ask if the new truths revealed are consistent with all known
truth which has been revealed formerly and already confirmed to be from God. If only one or two
minor points differ, then we should double check to make sure we are correct about the first truth,
and not just depending on someone's misunderstanding of God's word. One nice thing about the
Lord is that he is the same yesterday, today and forever (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8). Even so, he can do
different things at different times. He can command and he can revoke a commandment. But he is
extremely consistent with his doctrine and revealed truth. This is one point which has drawn me as
a scientist to God. When scientists are studying the "laws of nature," they are really studying the
laws of God. It is because those laws have been found to be obeyed in nature so consistently that
we can teach physics classes and calculate just how to put a man on the moon.
After making sure it is consistent with well-accepted truth, we should also ask if the new
knowledge is consistent with our own truths. It is my personal experience that in answer to a
prayer, it is God who always responds first. That answer invariably comes with a feeling of deep
inner peace, which I do not believe Satan can fake, and it usually comes with such a clear
knowledge that the answer is correct, that one wonders why it was not clear before, and why it
was even necessary to pray at all.
If God does not answer, it is my belief that Satan is not allowed to answer directly. By the way,
when one prays, it is always nice to include a "default clause," in which you tell Heavenly Father
what you will do in case you receive no answer. And it seems wise to have studied that choice out
clearly in your mind before having prayed. To me that just seems like common courtesy to show
our Father, not to request him to answer our every whim like a super errand boy.
It is also my experience that if someone receives an answer from God, that afterward Satan is
indeed allowed to respond with an alternate message. Sometimes this comes as doubts about the
revelation, or as fears of the consequences of following the instructions. It can even come as
another revelation of equal or greater magnitude than the first. After all, Satan loves to yell and
scream, whereas God often speaks in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12). It is part of our test here
on earth to learn to distinguish between these two voices.
How can one tell when someone else's revelation was false, or that a religion is false? To me two
good methods are to compare the teachings to known truth and to look at the fruits of that church.
Remember that there are many layers to truth. One prophet might be called in a ghetto with a
message of just stopping killing and drug dealing. Many religions such as Buddhism and Taoism
teach people to be good to each other, without mentioning Christ, at least by that name.
Christianity takes many of those basic teachings, and adds the higher knowledge and laws of Jesus
Christ. Other religions could perhaps add even more knowledge of Christ, such as adding a record
of his visit to others of his sheep besides those in Jerusalem (John 10:16). But if a so-called
"higher religion" rejects Christ or any earlier truths, whether it be preached by angels or aliens,
then it is a sure sign that it is false to those who have a sure knowledge of Christ (Gal. 1:8).
God has given us a brain with two distinct halves, the left being more logical and the right more
intuitive and emotional. Many say that science is the road to truth, which uses only the left half,
and we should ignore all intuition and revelation which is just not scientific. Others start emotional
cults, or try to keep their subjects in ignorance, declaring that science cannot be trusted. In our
quest for truth, should we listen to anyone who teaches only to use one half of our brain and
ignore the other half? To have two different perspectives, two different opinions, two different
mental processors is a great gift from God. This article has discussed several techniques for using
both witnesses to discover truth, some being more logical and others more intuitive. Nevertheless,
there are situations when we will want to rely more on one side that the other. For example, when
listening to a salesman or television commercial, knowing that marketing techniques often appeal to
emotion to distract the rational brain, one might focus on keeping a cool, logical head. On the
other hand, when deciding which of two airplane flights to choose, which look equally good
logically, one might select the one he "feels" best about, which might well turn out to be the one
that is not delayed, or on which he will meet someone important to him.
The best chance of finding actual truth, occurs when both halves of the mind agree, along with all
the senses. An example might be someone's conversion to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. On
the one hand, that experience most likely began with an emotional and/or spiritual experience. On
the other, later study of the scriptures and research into the life of Christ in the rational light of
historical, archaeological and scientific findings, one can verify (as in my writings) that Jesus is
indeed the Messiah, the son of the Living God. Many witnesses agree
that this is the truth, and when we know the truth, the truth can make us free (John 8:32).
- To my surprise, when I tried to verify my own conclusion that a kitten uses the sense of touch,
there were articles on the internet claiming that it was because they could not smell the image, or
could predict what the image would do, but none that I saw mentioned touch. Again we ask,
how can we know the truth? My answer: "Seeing is believing." Check out the video at
- This is one of the weirdest things I've ever seen. After a lifetime of experience with mirror
images always staying safely behind the mirror, this is definitely a "Through the Looking Glass"
sensation as your fingers feel nothing at all. This illusion can be purchased for as low as $11. See
- Wikipedia article on ESP.
- A friend of mine helped his son do an interesting experiment for a junior high science fair. He offered grade school children a candy bar if they could roll a certain number with dice.
He found that the older children could not beat the laws of chance, but that several in kindergarten
and first grade easily cleaned him out of candy bars, far beyond the laws of chance.
- Actually, it is my understanding that we think with our minds, which should never be confused with the brain. After people die, they can think and remember just fine, while their brain is rotting in the ground. But the mind, which is within our spirit, is closely tied to the brain while we live.
- Balme, Jaime. Balmes' Logic , trans. by James Spellissy (New York: O'Shea & Co., 1873) p. v.
- The six states were Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and
South Carolina. David Kupelian, in his wonderful book The Marketing of Evil (Nashville, TN:
WND Books, 2005) devotes an entire chapter to this issue. This list is from p. 41. It is available
from the Christian Daily news service www.worldnetdaily.com.
- Kupelian, p. 56.
- Pratt, John P., "Bible Codes: A New Approach," Meridian Magazine (25 Jan 2006) offers a mathematical
approach to verifying even short Bible Codes which form geometrical patterns.
- Benyus, Janine, Biomimicry (New York: William Morrow, 1997) is an entire book devoted to the subject of copying inventions from living things.
- Another great book is by Royston M. Roberts, Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in Science (New York: Wiley, 1989). It treats many accidental discoveries, but several are from nature. Smallpox vaccination was discovered when Dr. Edward Jenner actually listened to a milkmaid who told him she couldn't get smallpox because she had had the less dangerous cow pox (p. 20). Velcro was discovered when George deMestral looked to see why burrs stuck so tightly to his
clothing (p. 220-222).
- Pratt, John P., "Synchronicity as a Sign" Meridian Magazine (12 May 2004).
- Members of Taoism follow "The Way." Jesus Christ said, "I am The Way" (John 14:6).
- This is what has impressed me about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their Book of Mormon adds the account of the visit of the Savior to the other sheep in the Americas, while at the same time not contradicting any of the truth in the Bible. And it passes all of the tests such as looking at its fruit. For some people to classify it as non-Christian is absurd.