The Merry Catholic

"MERRY" (mer - ee) adjective: full of cheerfulness; joyous in spirit; mirthful.
"CATHOLIC" (kath - lick) noun: a believer in Christ; the Church founded by Jesus Christ in 33 A.D.

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The Merry Catholic essay: April 23, 2014:

©2014

DO SUBJECTIVE FEELINGS EQUAL OBJECTIVE TRUTH?

Three guys were in a house standing by the picture window. Suddenly, a gray furry animal ran across the lawn. The three men got only a brief glimpse of the animal as it ran by.

The first guy said, “That was a cat.”

The second guy said, “No, that was a squirrel.”

The third guy said, “No, you’re both wrong. That was a rabbit.”

By using basic logic and reason, we understand that only one of their statements can be true. Maybe none of the statements were true—the animal might have been a fox or a small dog or a mouse on steroids. The one thing we can say for sure, however, is that it is IMPOSSIBLE for all three statements to be true.

Now let’s think of another scenario. Three women were having lunch in a restaurant. The first woman ordered a side dish of broccoli, and said, “I just love the taste of broccoli.”

The second woman said, “Ugh! I hate the taste of broccoli.”

The third woman said, “Broccoli has no taste for me. It tastes like…nothing.”

Now in this case, even though the women made three very different statements, we understand that each statement is true.

Why is it with the three guys, at the most only one of them was correct, but with the three women, all of them were correct? Well, that’s easy. It’s because women are smarter than men.

No, wait, that’s not it. The difference is the type of statements being made.

The three men made statements about EXTERNAL, OBJECTIVE REALITY. They made statements about the particular species of the gray, furry animal. There is only one right answer.

The three women, on the other hand, made statements about INTERNAL, SUBJECTIVE FEELINGS. They made statements about their personal tastes concerning broccoli. There are as many right answers as there are people.

Religious doctrines are statements about external, objective reality, such as: the existence and nature of God; the identity of Jesus Christ; our destination after death; and the correct path to Heaven. (And many religions, not just Christianity, make these kind of specific external declarations.)

Our modern culture makes the mistake of classifying religious doctrines as nothing more than internal, subjective feelings, as if they were nothing more than our opinions about the taste of broccoli. A common view nowadays regarding religious beliefs is: “If it’s true for you, then it’s true.” This view may help avoid arguments, but it the most foolish, illogical statement you can make.

If God is real and some people believe God is a myth, He does not cease to exist because of those opinions. The reality about the existence and nature of God is completely indifferent to our opinions about it.

The question of whether or not we can ever know the truth about the existence and nature of God is a separate subject for another day. (Many assume it is impossible to know for sure, which is why usually rational, intelligent people take the illogical “If it’s true for you…” position. Their desire to avoid conflict causes them to make an incredibly foolish statement.)

There is a wealth of compelling evidence backing up the claims of Christianity, but before that evidence can be investigated, it is critical to understand that the core doctrines of the Faith are not internal, subjective feelings. They are bold declarations about external, objective reality.

Each person must investigate the evidence and decide whether Jesus’ statements were true or not. But please don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s nothing more than a matter of personal opinion, because that would be as foolish as saying a squirrel is a cat just because you “feel” it is.

(Note: Listen to these "Merry Catholic" essays on WJMJ, the radio station of the Archdiocese of Hartford, at 88.9 FM or by streaming audio at wjmj.org.)