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What if you could learn whether the religion you follow is true simply by pushing a button?
No more need for faith. Now you could actually know instead of just believing that you do. Would you push the button? Even if knowing the truth might make you really unhappy?
It's a fair question, considering how many religions claim to be the one true way. Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and the countless versions of each, they can't all be "true." Right?
Just to make things interesting, let's include atheists, agnostics, Satanists, pagans, cannibals and anyone who votes for Donald Trump. Everyone can know truth about their beliefs.
It comes with a fair amount of risk. Say you've based your entire life on "knowing" that Muhammed was a prophet. You push the button and bzzzzz! turns out that he was just a regular guy with an idea that took off.
Suppose you're a Jesus shouter who discovers with the touch of a finger that you should have shut up a long time ago, or you're an atheist and the push of a button proves your lack of faith is dangerously off the mark. Now what do you do?
The way I see it, your answer to the button question depends on where you are in the truth-seeking process.
First is that you want to know the truth badly enough to push the button regardless of which answer comes up. Truth is more important to you than personal comfort.
Second, you're the kind of person not willing to place what you believe in jeopardy. Ignorance is so blissful that you stay as far away as possible from the truth button lest your emotional security be undone accidentally.
Finally and most stupidly are the people who wouldn't push the button because they already "know" their religion is true.
I find myself in the first group. Pathologically I am unable to turn off my brain. It has caused me no end of trouble my entire life. So I'd push the truth button even if it also released another Kardashian. Hell, anything for a little peace and quiet about something.
I can also relate to the second group of people, those who wouldn't push the button for fear of what truth would do to their lives. This makes sense because people want to be happy.
If you're OK with the possibility of being wrong, you should stick with what gives you joy even if it means there's a possibility that you're going to hell. As long as it doesn't involve becoming a nuisance or a threat to others.
There's no relating to the last group of people, who believe their personal faith is the final word, so there's no need to investigate further.
Prayer, study, fasting and devotion proved it a long time ago never mind that this is the exact same process by which other people find the "wrong" faith.
It's also precisely the same logic by which religious dogmatism has stood in the way of scientific advancement since the dawn of time. What blind faith once did to astronomy and epidemiology it's still doing today to geology, biology and archaeology.
But the real question is what the truth would do to you. If suddenly you discovered that one of the pillars of your life was just a bag pulled over your head, would you still be you without it?
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.