How important is truth? Richard Dawkins tells us, “What matters is what’s true!”
Yet I would argue what matters is what’s true….as long as there is a God.
If God exists, then we exist in a reality that exists because of Him. He brought it into existence and sustains its existence. We exist because of Him. My meaning, my purpose for existence, is tied to these truths. Truth matters very much.
But what if there is no God? There universe exists for no reason. My existence is a fleeting, contingent fluke. I am the one who gives my life the meaning I want, all in the context of being the one who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong. It’s hard to see how truth always matters in this reality. It this reality, it would seem, truth can often take the back seat.
Let’s use an example from a classic movie to illustrate this point – The Matrix.
In the movie, Cipher must make a choice. Shall he choose Truth, which involves a seemingly futile fight against the machines as a hardworking, unnoticed grunt whose big thrill of the day is to eat gruel? Or, shall he choose to live a Fantasy, where he gets plugged back into the Matrix to enjoy a life of immense sensory stimulation, existing as a man with great power and wealth, adored by all? And all the time, he would believe it was all true.
If you take the theistic view, you choose Truth. Yes, my life might suck as a grunt. But if that is my purpose, my reason for being, I’ll be the best damn grunt I can be and do my best to defeat the Machines. If it’s all futile and I die, then so be it, I will have fought the good fight and dealt with things as they are. And it will all matter in the end because it all happened according to God’s will.
But if we take the atheistic view, the choice is greatly clouded.
Why should I live my life as a grunt in a big metal Hovercraft instead of living as a rich, powerful man in a little metal hibernation tube? How is brain stimulation from the atoms of the world more important than brain stimulation from the atoms of machines? My existence is fleeting in either case and it is all I have. So why choose pain, suffering, monotony, and futility just because it is part of reality? If I have the ability to escape reality in order to live a life of happiness, pleasure, and fulfillment, does it make sense to stick with reality?
As Cypher says, ” I know what you’re thinking, ’cause right now I’m thinking the same thing. Actually, I’ve been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn’t I take the BLUE pill? …… I’m tired, Trinity. Tired of this war, tired of fighting… I’m tired of the ship, being cold, eating the same goddamn goop everyday… You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? [Takes a bite of steak] Ignorance is bliss…..”