Conversations with God, part 1
Since we're on the subject of the power of words, I thought I'd post a review I did of a New Age book a few years ago. In this book, written by Neale Donald Walsch, he claims that we all create our own reality by the power of our thoughts, words, and deeds. It's interesting that in Bill Gothard's book, he said God could've created the universe with his thoughts, but he chose to use words, and then in NDW's book, he claims that we can all create reality with both our thoughts and our words. Gothard's book wasn't half as crazy as Walsch's book, though, as you'll see if you decide to read this whole review.
This was a long review, so we'll be on this book at least for two weeks--maybe three, depending on how much of it I decide to post each day. That works out great for me, because I'm still too busy with school to do any writing for the blog. And here we go...
How I came to read this book
I was having a discussion on a message board about the nature of truth, and the person I was talking with [who was a Unitarian Universalist in case you want to know] insisted that truth is relative, and that we each create our own reality. Since truth is relative, he argued, those who make absolute truth claims are flawed in their thinking. I pointed out what seemed to me to be a flaw in his own thinking, which is that if truth is relative, a person who makes an absolute truth claim can't be mistaken because the claim would be absolutely true for him. By saying that those who disagree with the claim that "truth is relative" are flawed in their thinking, he was assuming that his claim was absolutely true. He was contradicting himself, because the only way a person can be mistaken in their claim is if there is some objective truth. If truth is relative, then the claim itself is only true for the person who makes the claim, but the person I was talking to was working with the assumption that "truth is relative" is an absolute truth, since he argued that those who disagreed with it were flawed in their thinking. His claim was self-refuting. I tried to point out the flaw in his thinking, and that's when he directed me to this book. He told me I would just have to read it for myself.
The person who let me borrow this book [who was also a Unitarian Universalist] told me that I'd "need to suspend this everything-has-to-be-logically-consistent point of view," which for me was a red flag. If you have to abandon logical consistency in order to hear what an author is saying, then that ought to clue you in on the fact that the book is irrational nonsense. And having read the book, I have found that irrational nonsense is exactly what it is. I don't know when I've read a book so full of contradictions before. That's my major complaint about the book, so I'll spend some time in this review going over some of them. I don't think I'm being unfair in my criticism, either, because I'm using the same standards the author used to criticize other views. He criticizes Christianity for not allowing you to ask logical questions which challenge the Christian worldview (p.64), and he criticizes people in general who complain about 40,000 people dying of hunger each day while at the same time bringing 50,000 people a day into the world by saying, "It is a plan which totally lacks logic or reason" (p.49) Apparently, the author thinks there's some value in logic and reason, and since he holds other viewpoints to those standards, I think it's appropriate for me to hold Walsch's book to those same standards. Of course even here he's inconsistent. He writes, "Every heart which earnestly asks, Which is the path to God? is shown. Each is given a heartfelt truth. Come to Me along the path of your heart, not through a journey of your mind. You will never find Me in your mind. In order to truly know God, you have to be out of your mind" (p.94). So should we take a rational approach to religious subjects or not? Apparently, we shouldn't when we look at Walsch's religion, but we should when looking at every other religion. It's a double standard.
As I was reading the book, I was looking for statements or assumptions about the nature of truth and reality. There was certainly plenty in the book about us creating our own reality, but nothing at all explicit about the nature of truth—whether truth is relative or absolute. There were a few statements which vaguely implied that truth is relative (e.g. "If you want to know what's true for you about something, look to how you're feeling about it" p.3), but the vast majority of the book seemed to be working with the assumption that truth is objective and absolute (e.g. "That's the problem with truth. The truth is relentless. It won't leave you alone. It keeps creeping up on you from every side, showing you what's really so. That can be annoying" p.140). There was a particular worldview which was being expressed, and which the author obviously thought was true and that corresponded with reality. I did not get the impression that the author was merely expressing what was true from his point of view, because he even went so far as to say that those who disagree are wrong.
The author did use phrases such as "the world of the relative" and "the world of the absolute," but he did not appear to be talking about the nature of truth in those passages. The "world of the relative," according to the author, is the world in which we live. The "world of the absolute" is the world in which God lives. For anything to exist in the world of the relative, it must exist relative to its opposite. For example, for love to exist, fear must exist also, since fear is the opposite of love. There also seemed to be another sense in which this is the "world of the relative." When God says that he built relativity into the universe, I got the impression that he was talking about Einstein's general and special theories of relativity, neither of which have anything to do with the nature of truth.
to be continued...