This was originally written in 2006, to a website that no longer exists.
All Faith is false, all Faith is true:
Truth is the shattered mirror strown
In myriad bits; while each believes
his little bit the whole to own. – Richard Francis Burton.
When I was 14, and having recently deconverted a friend from her Baptist beliefs, I tried to comfort her by saying that absolute truth is like a stone pillar, that is kept encased in a protective brick cylinder, rather like a wick is surrounded by the wax of the candle. Every religion, I said, had managed to bore a small hole through this protective wall, and so had access to the truth, but would never be able to understand it fully.
To a certain extent this is true. Depending on where the hole has been made, a religion’s adherents has a window open only to that bit of truth. In this sense, all faith is true. Through time, and effort, the hole can be made larger, and more knowledge and insight can be gained. But ultimately, just adhering slavishly to that one hole will never give you a full grasp of the pillar in its entirety.
The problem is, everyone believes that their particular hole is the largest and that only through them do people have an opportunity to see the largest amount of the pillar. But simple sense tells you that, if everyone were to collaborate, a greater picture of the pillar could be built up. Everyone is holding their little bit of their mirror, jealously guarding it from others and trying to see as much as they can in it: if the world could share their pieces, we could all see a lot more clearly.