This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Would You Still Know Truth Despite Your Background?

Just a scary thought i have sometimes:

i am quite convinced that several things are true. i have some rather specific and maybe even radical theological beliefs. i actually believe that they're correct, and that others who don't agree with them will suffer negative consequences as a result. Do i feel like apologizing for that? No. i don't intend to apologize for that, and i don't see why i'd need to or to think i need to change any of that.

But something my brother and i talk about every now and then is, what if we had been born into a different family that taught us differently about theological matters? Would we still have come to our same conclusions about what's true? Would we have been able to come to know the truth about x, y, or z *despite* having been raised to believe otherwise?

This question haunts me. It never moves me toward relativism. i think it may be that i would still be completely blameworthy for believing the wrong things even if i were in that situation. But it does shake my confidence a tad every time i think very long on it.

For instance, a professor of mine was ranting the other day about how Aristotle's system of ethics leaves out women, slaves, and foreigners. i think my professor's right; Aristotle was wrong about those things. But before i was willing in my mind to "rant" like my professor was, i was jarred by the thought: if i had been born in Aristotle's day, would i have thought any differently?

i think it shakes me not because i think it proves anything i believe untrue--mere doubt doesn't disprove. But it shakes me because it's a test of the foundation of that knowledge. Do i know x, y, and z to be true on some justified and objective basis? Or do i "know" x, y, and z because of the particular cultural conditioning i've experienced in life? The fact that i can't so quickly say i would still have believed the right way even if born in Aristotle's day or in a family of a different religion or whatever--that makes me unable to so *quickly* say of my beliefs that are objectively based rather than culturally based. And it's that loss of "quickness" in my answer that is a little scary i think. Sobering to say the least.

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