I sell “truth” for a living. Or, perhaps better said, I discover and then sell the “truths” people are eager to buy.
I conjecture that having access to, or good insights about, the truth is and has always been a survival trait of great value—especially among social animals. People have thus indeed a reverence for truth borne of practicality.
The problem is that most people, including most skeptics, are afraid to dip their “truths” in the acid bath of falsification. Far better (for the ego at least) to build elaborate structures of correlations and consistent-withs than to confess that you are unwise and so not fit for the role of shaman or congressman.
Accordingly a wise lawyer, knowing that he can’t change the truths to which a particular juror clings, recognizes that his juror holds to many different truths. Therefore he appeals to that held-truth most happily amenable to his argument. For example, I had a case once in which I represented a company that, like all which bought ceiling tiles in the 1950s, had asbestos on its premises in the form of acoustic tiles and was being sued by a four decade-long smoker who claimed that his 3 weeks of exposure to the ceiling tiles in the 1960s while installing a new phone system caused him to develop lung cancer decades later. I knew that we had utopian jurors; the sorts who think that all risk can be eliminated from life and that while they never impose any risk on their fellows, they are beset by evil “corporations” imposing risk on them. So what to do?
The plaintiff had raped a 12 year old girl and spent 6 years in prison. I found it out during the trial (a good paralegal is priceless) and sprang it on him (he’d lied about prior convictions in his depostion) while he was on the stand to great effect. A felony conviction within 10 years is usually admissible on the question of credibility if the perpetrator takes the stand. Such evidence didn’t have anything to do with whether a few fibers of asbestos are more significant in a small cell lung cancer case than 40 years of smoking of course. But it made all the difference in the world. Those jurors’ truth that “rapists are bad” was more important than their truth that “even one asbestos fiber will KILL!”
So it is with most “truths”.
And in my experience, among the hierarchy of “truths”, the truth about God ranks for most mortals far down the list, or makes no appearance at all, on their decision trees. Thus, most rants about believers or un-believers are as tedious as a discussion about which is better—the donut or the donut hole. And anyway, they’re both simply phenomena, clues, about the whole, as it were.