The binary logic of true/false has given way to fuzzy and multi-valued logic (many more options than true or false); science no more makes claims that they have found the final theory (theory of relativity and Quantum Physics revolutionized science); science doesn’t even say that it knows everything (neither in micro world nor in macro world); even religions and philosophers speak of mystery (taken in a positive sense) dimension of God, human beings and cosmos; stories told from the perspective of the victim and the victor are entirely different.
In the midst of high technological progress, human beings are becoming more conscious of their ‘inability to know everything’. We know many things, knowledge is increasing; still we don’t know everything.
Though we have moved from the days of black&white television to colour and HD TVs, our thinking struggles to accept the shades in between black and white, leave alone colours. Though science and religion appreciates the mystery dimension which both are trying to unravel through their own attempts, humans want to become agents of certainty and 100% surety. These over-enthusiasm for certainties leads to black&white thinking. As I know the perfect definition, I can place someone in either side of the boundary.
Addition is defined in a certain way in mathematics. We know that 5+5=10; Here the answer can only be right or wrong. There is no partially right answers. But looking for certainty in morality, human person and God is slightly problematic. They can’t be defined like a mathematical rule; they do preserve the mystery dimension. Thus employing a binary (true/false) logic in these areas is dangerous.
Animals do have methods to mark their territories. Human beings, called the rational animals by Aristotle (we don’t use this definition anymore) do build walls and boundaries to separate one country, culture, religion from others. It definitely creates two groups, in-group and out of group. You are either a friend or enemy. But many human cultures do have a respect for guests, especially those outside the in-group. And human progress over the centuries have helped us to create bigger boundaries and larger bridges. Yes, our actions are not perfectly logical. We do build the opposites.
I think boundaries point to a binary logical culture; bridges more to a culture of multi-valued logic where truth and false are obtained through dialogue and contextual sensibilities.
Does what I am proposing lead to relativism? Anything can go… Everything is ok attitude…. No, that cant be the way out….
I take the help of a philosopher called Gianni Wattimo. For him, the judging criteria on whether an action is acceptable or not is charity. [Definitely he was a Christian, and Christian emphasis on love and charity has influenced him]. Some might say charity is not defined perfectly. Yes, precisely that’s the point. If it is defined exactly, then we are falling back to the same trap of binary logic.
Yes, the life in this framework is not easy. We can’t change the world immediately from well-defined laws (through constitutions and rule-books) into such a system based on charity (or any other virtue). But, much of our personal decisions, actions and judgements could slowly move from a binary framework to an inclusive framework.
I think religion can and should play a vital role for this transformation to take place. I visualize how Christianity playing a vital role (Others could work out how each religions and culture could play similar role). We have many shining examples of self-less service and acts of love in many holy men and women. But evils like clericalism and sexual abuses have eroded the credibility of the leaders. Transforming into a more authentic Christianity (which truly follows the commandment of love) requires the leaders following the commandment from the front.
This credible church should help to form consciences of the people so that they can make decisions for their life. Discernment becomes a significant aspect of life. Then we become Christians and humans who truly follow the law of love which are etched in the hearts. [If Jesus was a black and white logician following the laws, adulterous woman and the prodigal son wouldn’t be forgiven]. We become truly humans, living the life in all abundance (fullness) which Jesus promised. We are not following the laws, but love whose inadequate expressions are the laws. [In spiritual terms, we are going beyond the images of God to God itself].