years ago, Jesus was before Pilate, who questioned him. Jesus declared,
“everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate responded
with a question, saying “what is truth?”
38 Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he
went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at
all. John 18:38
Pilate asked is still being asked today. What is truth, and does it
really matter what truth is? Today it’s popular in many universities
and schools, to teach that truth is relative, meaning, “there is
no objective Truth”.
Define the meaning of Truth:_______________________________________________________
Imagine a police car pulls you over for going
70-MPH, in 45-MPH zone. Can you then tell the officer, that his truth
is “subjective”? Arguing 70-MPH is only his truth not your truth. How
about your child lies and says he did not take a toy from a store, when
he did, do you want the “Truth” or is that also subjective? How about
your doctor, do you want him to tell you truth? Would the truth matter
if you had cancer and he did not tell you because he thought it was only
these instances, we are concerned about what corresponds to reality; did
we go 70-MPH in a 45-MPH zone? Did the child “actually or really” take
something? Do I have cancer or not? The real question we are asking,
is do these events correspond with reality? Everything can’t be
true in these real life situations, why is it any different when we
think of morality and religion? Does it matter if morality and religion
correspond to reality?
meaning of truth is precisely this; it is what corresponds to
reality, telling it like it is, as opposed to what is not. Geisler
and Turek, in their book, I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST,
six characteristics of truth:
Truth is discovered,
not invented. It exists independently of anyone’s knowledge of it.
(Gravity existed prior to Newton)
transcultural; if something is true, it is true for all people, in all
places, at all times
Truth is unchanging
even though our beliefs about truth change
(When we began to believe the earth was round instead of flat, the truth
about the earth didn’t change, only our belief about the earth changed.)
change a fact, no matter how sincerely they are held.
(Someone can sincerely believe the world is flat, but that only makes
the person sincerely mistaken.)
Truth is not
affected by the attitude on the one professing it.
(An arrogant person does not make the truth he professes false. A humble
person does not make the error he professes true.)
All truths are
absolute truths. Even truths that appear to be relative are absolute.
(For example, “I Frank Turek, feel warm on November 20th,
2003” may appear relative truth, but it is actually absolutely true for
everyone, everywhere that Frank Turek had the sensation of warmth on
statements and truth
Self Refuting Statement:
When a statement fails to satisfy itself (to
conform to its own criteria of validity or acceptability), it is
self-refuting…Consider some examples. “I cannot say a word in English”
is self-refuting when uttered in English. “I don not exist” is
self-refuting, for one must exist to utter it…. JP Morleand,
Scaling the Secular City
What is wrong with the
1. All Truth is relative:
2. There are no absolutes:
3. There is no truth:
4. You cannot know truth:
5. All statements are
blind men and the Elephant
There is a Hindu
fable often used to illustrate and prove relative truth. In this
fable six blind men are led to an elephant, by their guide Dookiram,
they in turn describe their encounter, each from their perspective.
Each of the
blind men describe the elephant, they proclaim him to be; as a great mud
wall, another says he is like a spear, a third says he is like a rope, a
fourth like serpent, the fifth like a fan and the sixth like a mighty
concluding remarks in the fable are:
Each now had his own opinion, firmly based on his own experience, of
what an elephant is really like. For after all, each had felt the
elephant for himself and knew that he was right!And so indeed he was.
For depending on how the elephant is seen, each blind man was partly
right, though all were in the wrong.
Commenting on this
fable, Geisler and Turek, make the following comments;
This may seem persuasive until you ask yourself one question: “What ‘s
the perspective of the one telling the one telling the parable...He
appears to have an objective perspective of the entire proceeding
because he can see that the blind men are mistaken. Exactly! In fact,
he wouldn’t know that the blind men were wrong unless he had an
objective perspective of what was right!
The point is an
outside observer was required to report on the six blind men, and report
they were all wrong, compared to the “Objective Truth” of what an
elephant looked like. The same goes with those, who believe truth is
The morality of humanity (choosing right from wrong), is based on the
concept of truth. When we examine the Holocaust and question
the “wrongness” and the “rightness” of the event we are confronted with
the basis of wrong and right. What makes Hitler’s Nazi Germany wrong in
wanting to conquer the world and kill innocent people in the process?
After WWII, the Nuremberg trials faced this question. Under what basis
can the world prosecute the Nazi’s for war crimes?
The basis of
truth used by Germany was the Darwinian principle of survival of the
fittest. The leaders of Germany saw their nation as a superior group a
“Stronger People” and the rest of the world as an inferior people, a
“Weaker People”. The source of truth derived from the Friedrich
Nietzsche taught that man is the source for good and evil.
there is no God to will what is good, we must will our own good. And
since there is no eternal value, we must will the eternal recurrence of
the same state of affairs.” Friedrich
Nietzsche view of truth and incorporated this in his own view of what is
truth. The Holocaust and the death of millions was the result of this
stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify
the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look
upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he
is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law did not
direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic
life would not be conceivable at all...If Nature does not wish that
weaker individuals should mate with stronger, she wishes even less that
a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such
a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to
establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered
futile. Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf
The questions faced
by Nuremburg trials, are the same questions we face today. What truth
is the basis of Moral Law? and is truth subjective or objective?
What does subjective
and objective mean?
3 a : characteristic
of or belonging to reality as perceived rather than as independent of
mind : phenomenal
of, relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the
realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers : having reality independent of the mind
Jesus claimed to be
said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
Father except through Me. John 14:6
possible to know what “Truth” is? To find truth we can begin at the
most basic premise, it is undeniable. In fact, if you are reading or
hearing this you have proved this first basic premise of truth. “Being”,
the mere fact you can question truth or yourself means you exist.
is an “Axiom” or “First Principle” according to Aristotle. First
principles are self-evident points, demonstrating their existence
without proof. For example Rene Descartes famous, “I Think therefore I
am”, proves you exist even if someone told you did not exist, you would
still have to think about your existence, therefore proving the one who
told you did not exist is wrong.
proves two points in the search for truth.
Existence (To be aware of yourself proves existence)
Reason (To think about yourself proves reason)
logically conclude we exist and we have reasoned thought
about our existence.
Aristotle notes that these first principles are necessary if there is to
be any rational thought. In fact, he listed several laws in order to
have rational, logical thought.
Law of Non-Contradiction: (A is not non-A)
Opposite truth claims cannot both be true. For example if an atheist
believes God does not exist and a theist believes God does exit, it is
impossible for both to be right. Another example of how the LNC works,
someone were to say, “There is no such thing as truth, and the LNC is
meaningless” he has done two things. First, he has assumed that his view
is true as opposed to false, and thus he uses the LNC (which of course,
implies that the LNC has meaning, because his view is assumed to be
meaningful). Second, he has violated the LNC by suggesting that there is
no such thing as truth while at the same time and in the same sense
insisting there is such a thing as truth—The truth of his own view by
doing so , he automatically validates the LNC.”
Law of Excluded Middle: (Either A or non-A)
asserts that it is either A or non-A but not both. God cannot exist and
not exist. In other words, there is no middle ground, opposites cannot
be the same, nothing can hide in the “cracks” between being and not
Law of Identity: (A is A)
law simply states that something is what we say it is: A is A. When
someone says, “I loved the book” it is understood to mean “Book”.
Without the law of identity, there would be chaos and language would be
these basic laws of rational thought, we can examine the logic of truth
claims; is truth objective or subjective? Can we find truth?
true that we exist? To think about the answer proves we exist.
Existence proves the state of reality. Moreover, to think about
yourself proves reason. These are two axioms or undeniable facts; I
exist, and I reason.
is an expression, symbol or statement that matches or corresponds to its
object or referent. Truth must correspond to reality in order to be
“Something true for all people, at all times and in all places”
Truth be relative? (Subjective)
The question, “is
morality relative?” is linked to its source of truth. If truth is
relative then morality can be relative. “Relative Truth” means that
truth is subject to the holder of truth.
A great test for
relative or subjective truth is the “Gravity Test”. To administer this
test one climbs to a high tower such as the Eiffel Tower. If the holder
of subjective truth, believes he/she can fly, and since truth is subject
to our beliefs then the person should be able to fly. Once the person
jumps away from the tower the test begins. They will fly or fall. If
they fly without aid then subjective truth is true, if they fall and
connect with the ground then objective truth is true. Those on the
ground will witnesses “Correspondence”. If the person flies then
subjective truth will correspond to reality (The flight being real). If
the person falls, objective truth will correspond to reality. (Gravity
Subjective truth is
a popular view held by many people, could all these people be wrong?
What are the main
reasons people give for holding the subjective view.
Things appear to be
true only at some times and not at others.
At one time people
believed the earth was flat but today we know it’s a sphere. Someone
might say you see truth has changed.
The world was a
sphere even when people believed it was flat. Truth did not change;
rather we changed from holding a false belief to a true belief.
Our belief now corresponds with the facts.
Things appear to be
true only for some people but not for others.
Janice Smith lives
in New York City and she feels cold at 9:00 AM Eastern Time on October
1, 2003. Oliver Jones lives in Hawaii at the same time and day but he
feels hot. Isn’t this an example of relative truth?
No, the fact is,
“Janice Smith is cold on 10/1/2003 at 9:00 AM, in New York City” is true
for Oliver Jones and for the rest of the universe. The fact stands on
it’s own it is “absolute”. One hundred years from now that fact will
still be absolute for everybody who has ever lived. Oliver feelings of
heat have nothing to do with the fact regarding Janice. They are
two separate facts.
1. Relativism is self-defeating:
believes that subjective truth is true for everyone, not just from them.
This is the one thing, they cannot believe, if they are relativist.
Therefore, if a relativist thinks it is true for everyone, then he
believes it is an absolute truth. Therefore, he is no longer a
2. Relativism is full of contradictions.
If Billy Graham
believed God exists and an Atheist believes God does not exist both
would be right. God would have to exist and not exist. If the Christian
believes Jesus died on the Cross and Muslim believes Jesus did not die
on the Cross, both would be right.
3. Relativism means no has ever been wrong.
truth, no one could ever be wrong since there is no standard for right
and wrong. As long as something is true to holder of truth, it is true
even if it is wrong for someone else.
Some reject the idea
that “Truth” is absolute because of the following arguments.
Some things are
relative to others:
Joe is 5’10 and is
short compared to Shaquille O’Neal and tall compared to Willie Shoemaker
a horse jockey. Therefore, the relativist would say truth is not
The fact is that Joe
is short, compared to O’Neal. Joe is tall, compared to Shoemaker.
Those are two absolute facts.
No new truths or
progress is possible.
If truth were
absolute then no new truth would be possible, claims the relativist.
mistake discovery with truth. The earth was a sphere even when people
believed it was flat. All we did is discover the absolute fact. We are
merely discovering an “Old” Truth.
New truth is
constantly happening. Every second new Truth is coming into existence
all over the world as the past meets the future in the present. Once it
is true, it is always for every one everywhere.
Truth changes with
our growth in knowledge.
Our understanding of
truth changes not Truth.
Absolute truth is
with facts. 4+3=7 is narrow because its not 1,2,3,4,5,6, but its fact.
Any “Truth” claim is narrow because truth by it nature means the other
option is non-truth (Law of Non-Contradiction). If that were not the
case, then no one could claim to have truth, including those believe
relativism is true.
Absolute truth is
Everyone who claims
something is true is dogmatic. The claim of truth excludes non-truth.
How can you know
something is true?
Most people who
believe in “Absolute Truth” would admit they do not have a complete
grasp on Absolute truth, but knowledge is in degrees. There are things
we can be absolute sure; I exist and I can reason. We might logically
conclude God’s existence but apart from his revelation, our knowledge of
God is limited to what we can observe.
Truth” is true regardless of what we believe and think. Absolute truth
stands on its own. Absolute truth is true no matter what evidence there
is for it. Truth is what corresponds to the facts. Truth does not
change just because we learn something about it.
This word comes from
two Greek words meaning, “A” No and “gnosis” meaning knowledge. This
word was coined by T.H. Huxley and means “no knowledge”. An agnostic is
someone who claims not to know. There two types of Agnostics “Hard”
The hard could be
labeled agnostic and the soft skeptic.
The Agnostic says,
“I can’t know” while the skeptic says, “I doubt if I can know”.
Hume The Skeptic:
Hume conceived of
philosophy as the inductive, experimental science of human nature.
Taking the scientific method of the English physicist Sir Isaac Newton,
and building on the epistemology of the English philosopher John Locke,
Hume tried to describe how the mind works in acquiring what is called
knowledge. He concluded that no theory of reality is possible; there can
be no knowledge of anything beyond experience.
David Hume wrote,
If we take in our hands any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics,
for instance; let us ask, does it contain any abstract reasoning
concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental
reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then
to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
He believed any
statement, which is not mathematical or factual is meaningless. All
statements by God would fall outside these categories. All one
experiences is just a series of separate sensations. Hume acknowledged
the logic of cause and effect. He said,
never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise
without a cause”
Hume believed there
wasn’t any way to establish the principle of the cause.
Kant, The Agnostic (1724-1804)
was based on the understanding that there was no way to get outside
one’s own being and know what reality is, therefore since we cannot know
we must be agnostic.
He believed there
was an unbridgeable gulf between knowing and being, between our
understanding and the nature of reality. What was the cause of the
cause? If everything had a cause.
There are different
forms of Agnosticism the weak form admits it is possible to know God,
and that some might know God. The strong form claims God is unknowable,
“God cannot be known”.
This leaves us with
know nothing about God…… (Agnosticism)
know everything about God…. (Dogmatism)
know something about God…..(Realism)
If one knows enough
about reality in order to affirm that nothing can be known about
reality, then one knows something about reality, he cannot affirm in the
same breath that all of reality is unknowable. So if one knows nothing
about reality then he can’t make a statement about reality. Total
agnosticism is self-refuting because it assumes some knowledge
about reality in order to deny any knowledge of reality.
that categories of thought do not apply to reality, because we can’t
know what reality is. This argument is also self-defeating for two
categories of reality corresponded to those of the mind, no statements
could be made about reality, including the very statement Kant made..
that one cannot know any more than the limits of the phenomena or
appearance is to draw an unsurpassable line for those limits. But you
cannot draw such firm limits without surpassing them. It is not possible
to contend that appearance ends here and reality beings there unless one
can see at least some distance on the other side. In other words, how
can one know the difference between appearance and reality unless he
already knows both, so as to make the comparison.
In conclusion, it is
possible to find partial “Absolute Truth” by using reason and logic.
However, to find the ultimate source for truth is beyond Man’s finite
ability. If Truth is to be found it must be revealed.
how can we respond to those believe, truth is subjective and God is
In discussing truth,
absolute and relative, (Objective and Subjective) we first need to
define the terms of what “Truth” is. Many often repeat statements
without really thinking about the implications. The reason subjective
truth is often equated as fact is because it’s so often repeated.
The repetition of a statement does not make it true. Asking questions
can help those seeking truth, find truth.
using the gravity test of truth is good way to establish the fallacy of
subjective truth. If truth were subjective, people who believed they
could fly would fly. Since this is not the case, Truth cannot be
understand that Truth is not subjective, the next question often asked
is, “How can we know what truth really is?” Most people will not deny
they exist or can reason. So since we know exist, and we are
aware of our existence, is there a logical way to find truth? Truth
corresponds with facts, we are aware of some facts such as matter and
reality. Is there a way to know the source of this reality? Since,
even the most hardened agnostic admits to the, “logic of cause and
effect” this is a logical place to start. What was the “First Cause”?
How did the Universe begin? Is God a logical concept? Without God, where
did matter come from? These are great questions to start a dialogue to
claims to be God’s (a.k.a. The First Cause)
communication with His creation. When we examine the evidence of
scripture, do facts “Correspond” with reality?
Dialogue: Between a Christian and Subjective Truth
Skeptic and Joe Christian meet again after the party to follow up on
their conversation about Morality and its source.
Mike, have you had a chance to think about our conversation?
Joe, I thought about it and I just don’t think there is anyway anybody
can know what the truth really is. There is no way; we can possibly
know who God is.
How do you know we cannot know who God is?
Joe, just look at all the religions of the world, Islam, Jewish, Hindu,
Buddhist, Atheism, Christian and a hundred more are you telling me you
can possibly know which one is true?
Mike, can they all be true?
Why not, each may have a part of truth?
Mike for example, Atheists believe there is no God and Christian’s,
Muslims and Jews believe there is God. It is not logical or possible for
both groups to be right. Would you agree?
Ok Joe, for the argument’s sake lets say there is a God out there and
the Atheists are wrong. Don’t all religions believe the same thing,
isn’t it just the matter of loving and accepting those around you,
that’s what God wants us to do.
God does want us to love people, but even if we for arguments sake admit
God exists, not all these different religions can be true. For example,
Muslims believe Jesus did not die on the cross, Christians believe he
did die on the cross. Muslims believe Jesus is just a prophet and only a
man, Christians believes Jesus is not only a man but also the Son of
God. Just looking at Islam, and Christianity we see contradictory
Jesus could not be
Die and Not Die on the Cross-, both Islam and Christianity and Islam
cannot be true.
Jesus could not be
the Son of God and Not the Son of God. It’s just not logical. With
Jesus, we have two options: He was the Son of God or He was not the Son
of God. He died on the cross or did not die on the cross. But both
Islam and Christianity cannot be right.
Joe, truth is subjective, to the Muslim’s Jesus did not die on the cross
and to the Christian’s he did die on the cross.
if truth was subjective, and you believed you could fly and you climbed
to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and really believed you could fly and
jumped, what would happen?
I would fly for about 5 seconds and probably hit the ground.
You mean you would fall for about 5 seconds, but if truth were
subjective that would mean you should fly. Truth was not subject to your
belief but you were subject to the objective truth of gravity. It did
not matter what you believed you still fell. Mike the truth is what the
facts are, if Jesus is not who he said he was he would be a liar,
wouldn’t you agree?
I would, and some people think Jesus was a liar and some do not, it is
not possible to know what the truth is until after we die.
I do not think we have to wait until death to find the truth; all we
really have to do is examine the evidence. Jesus said, “I am the way the
truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.” If
Jesus is not the Son of God, then don’t worry about it, but if He is
then he is saying he is the only way. Don’t you think eternity is worth
spending the time investigating?
Sure, I would love to know what the truth is, but How can anyone find