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Quote Discussion: What is truth?


Beyond the rim
A listening askes G'Kar, "What is truth, and what is God"

G'Kar replies:

"If I take a lamp, and shine it towards the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth, for understanding. Too often we assume that the light on the wall is God. But the light is not the goal of the search. It is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revalation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search, who does not bring a lantern with him, sees nothing.

"What we perceive as God, is mearly the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light, put and unblemished, not understanding that it comes from us. Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume we are the centre of the universe - God looks asstonishingly like we do. Or we turn to look at our shadow - and assume that all is darkness. If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose. Which is to use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all it's beauty and in all its flaws, and in so doing better understand the world around us".

I love this quote, I know it by heart. But what does it really mean. Is it jms talking about the vorlons and shadows? Is it really about God and Truth?

Your thoughts :)
You're not the only one who wasn't sure what to walk away with from it. I love how the Narns don't even try to think through what he says, and are only satisfied by a simple, concrete answer (truth is a river, and God is the mouth of of the river).

Delenn and Lennier use the same analogy G'Kar does (though, interestingly, in a different way -- from what I remember of that scene, God is the flashlight, and the soul is the light on the wall), when explaining their religious beliefs to Brother Edward in Season Three's "Passing Through Gesthemane."

As for G'Kar's meaning, I'm sure different people come out with different meanings, and put it into different terms. Here's my take.

When we think we see God in religious experiences, we're only seeing the ideals, desires, wisdom, etc. that came about as a result of our search for meaning. People get into trouble when their own ideas get mixed up in the God experience, and they start thinking that God is like them (and they are like God), and on their side. What we ought to do is look around ourselves for meaning, at the people and things of the only plane we can experience.

But then, I'm an atheist, so I would say that. :p

What the quote means in light of G'Kar's character and experiences is another level I haven't thought about much, but which is plenty worth discussing.
The G'Kar speech is definitely about our search for God, and how it becomes tainted by our own beliefs. as G'kar puts it:

If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose.

However, G'kar says nothing about the nature of God (thus confirming or denying his/hers/its existence. the quote isn't about God, it's the answer to the question 'What is truth?'

But I can imagine a world of different interpretations are possible.

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