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What Is Truth?


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#1 de_skudd

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:19 PM

Jesus said in John 14:6 ""I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."... What did He mean He was the "Truth"? What is Truth anyway? Can we know truth? Can Truths about God be known?
When we find the truth, Can we handle it?

#1- What is Truth ? [trooth] (plural truths [troothz, trooths]) n
1. true quality: correspondence to fact or reality
2. something factual: something that corresponds to fact or reality
spoke the truth
3. true statement: a statement that corresponds to fact or reality
4. obvious fact: something that is so clearly true that it hardly needs to be stated
5. something generally believed: a statement that is generally believed to be true
a religious truth
6. honesty: honesty, sincerity, or integrity
7. descriptive accuracy: accuracy in description or portrayal
a criticism that had an element of truth in it
8. conformity: adherence to a standard or law
9. loyalty: faithfulness to a person or a cause (dated)
10. U.K. accuracy: accuracy of alignment, setting, position, or shape (dated)
[Old English trēowth “faithfulness” (source also of troth )]
Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.



In John 18:38 Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?” in what was basically a rhetorical question on his part. He then went out to the crowd to try and get Jesus released because he found “no basis for a charge against him” John 19:6 …..

[What is truth?] Among the sages of that time there were many opinions concerning truth; and some had even supposed that it was a thing utterly out of the reach of men. Pilate perhaps might have asked the question in a mocking way; and his not staying to get an answer indicated that he either despaired of getting a satisfactory one, or that he was indifferent about it. This is the case with thousands: they appear desirous of knowing the truth, but have not patience to wait in a proper way to receive an answer to their question. (from Adam Clarke Commentary 0n John 18:38)

“This question had long agitated the world. It was the great subject of inquiry in all the schools of the Greeks. Different sects of philosophers had held different opinions, and Pilate now, in derision, asked him, whom he esteemed an ignorant fanatic, whether he could solve this long-agitated question. He might have had an answer. If he had patiently waited in sincerity, Jesus would have told him what it was. Thousands ask the question in the same way. They have a fixed contempt for the Bible; they deride the instructions of religion; they are unwilling to investigate and to wait at the gates of wisdom; and hence, like Pilate, they remain ignorant of the great Source of truth, and die in darkness and in error. All might find truth if they would seek it; none ever will find it if they do not apply for it to the great source of light the God of truth, and seek it patiently in the way in which he has chosen to communicate it to mankind. How highly should we prize the Bible! And how patiently and prayerfully should we search the Scriptures, that we may not err and die forever! See the notes at” (from Barnes' Notes 0n John 18:38)

We’re going to attempt an answer of the question “What is truth” in an exhaustive manner (that is explore it from every conceivable angle) as we can in the time given, in order to gain it’s understanding.

-Some people believe we can know truth.

-Some think truth is relative to the situation.

-And then there are some who feel that “There is no such thing as truth”!


Where do you stand on this matter?
Can you defend your belief about truth, or do you follow it on faith alone?

To get a better understanding on the Biblical understanding of truth, let’s take a look at Paul’s apologetic to Festus and King Agrippa (Great Grandson of Herod the Great) in Acts 26:

Paul had appealed to Cesar, and was awaiting his trip to Rome and “A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus” (Acts 25:13). After Festus explained Paul’s case King Agrippa said “I would like to hear this man myself.” (Acts 25:22) and Festus acquiesced.

The following day Paul made his famous argument to Agrippa and Festus. Paul went on to describe how he was raised (his biography), how he had initially persecuted the followers of Jesus because he “was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”. Then during on of his “trips” Jesus miraculously opened his eyes to the truth. And during this dissertation Festus forcibly interrupted Paul (I feel Festus had a problem with truth at this point) and chastised him.

Following is an excerpt of what happened:

At this point Festus interrupted Paul's defense. "You are out of your mind, Paul!" he shouted. "Your great learning is driving you insane." "I am not insane, most excellent Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do." Acts 26:24-27

What did Paul have to be sure of when he made these bold statements?

He had to know what he was saying was true!
He had to know the King knew what he was saying was true!
He had to know that the King had more authority (and knowledge of the facts) then Festus because he appealed directly (and fearlessly) to Agrippa!

Isn’t this good evidence Paul was sure of what he was asserting?
Absolutely! He knew what he was saying was truth (because he lived it, and he knew others who lived it). He believed it so much, he was exceptionally audacious in his speech and manner……

Now back to Pilate and Jesus. Pilate didn’t wait on Jesus to respond, Instead he acted as if he had some knowledge of truth. Remember, He told the crowd “I find no fault with this man” (John 8:38). By exonerating Jesus, Pilate was making a “true statement: a statement that corresponds to fact or reality”.


#2- Can we know truth:

Here’s some truths about truth;

Truth is discovered, not invented. It exists independent of anyone’s knowledge of it. (Gravity existed prior to Newton)

Truth is Trans-cultural; if something is true, it’s true for all people, in all places, at all times (2+2=4 for everyone, everywhere at every time).

Truth is unchanging even though our beliefs about truth change ( when we finally believed the Earth was round instead of flat, the truth about the Earth didn’t change, only our belief about the Earth changed).

Beliefs cannot change a fact, no matter how sincerely they are held. (Someone can sincerely believe the world is flat, but that only makes that person sincerely wrong).

Truth is not affected by the attitude of 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 really absolute! (for example, it was 98 degrees in Aiken , South Carolina on 4 July 2007. That I felt warm there on that day may appear to be a relative truth, but it was actually absolutely true for everyone everywhere that I was warm on that day in that place).

So what do these examples of truth tell us? Simply this: that contrary beliefs are possible, but contrary truths are not. We can believe everything is true, but we cannot make everything true!
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#2 scott

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:36 PM

Thank you, this was a very informative read, and I couldn't have said it better myself. I completely agree.

#3 de_skudd

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:51 PM

What Is Truth? (Cont...)

So what about the opposite? How do we deal with the assertion that “there is no truth”!

Another simple answer: We apply the assertion back on itself (or turn the statement back on itself)! For example, If I told you that I cannot speak a word of English. Your obvious response would be “Wait a minute! Your statement must be false, because you just uttered it in English!” The statement itself was self-defeating!

A self-defeating statement is one that fails to meet it’s own criteria

So whenever we hear relativists, skeptics, atheistic and/or humanists postmodern thinkers attempt to espouse their self defeating beliefs, we reply with the rhetorical question that exposes the fallacy in their logic.

Examples of self defeating statements about truth:

Statement: There’s no such thing as truth!
Rhetorical Answer: Is that true?

Statement: There are no absolutes!
Rhetorical Question: Are you absolutely sure?

Statement: All truth is relative!
Rhetorical Question: Is that a relative truth?

Statement: You can’t know truth! (Also stated as “You can’t know anything for sure!)
Rhetorical Question: Then how do you know that? (Then how do you know that for sure?)

This is one of the best ones...

Statement: It’s true for you, but not for me!
Rhetorical Question: Is that true for everybody?

It’s a good one because you can use it comical narrative illustration:

You walk in a bank to make a withdrawal:

You: I’d like to withdraw $5,000.00 please!
Bank Teller: I’m sorry but you only have $42.50 in your account!
You: Well that’s true for you but not for me!

Are you going to get your $5,000.00? NO!

You get pulled over for speeding-

Officer: Sir, do you know why I pulled you over?
You: No, not really officer.
Officer: I clocked you doing 75mph in a 35mph zone.
What do you say? Well that’s true for you but not for me!

Are you going to get your ticket? YES!

Will any of these excuses work? ……. NO!

Because:

a- Truth is truth no matter where your are!
b- 2+2= 4 in Abu Dhabi, on the moon and everywhere in the universe
c- Truth is truth no matter where you go. There are no relative truths! All truth is absolute!


Now back to the statement “You can’t know truth”… Just by making this statement you’re saying that it’s true that you can’t know truth. But if you’re saying it’s true that you can’t know truth, then I guess you can know truth!

If it’s true, it’s true for everybody

So, therefore “Truth is Truth, and You can know it!”

#3 - Can Truths about God be known?

To answer this question, we have to ask ourselves “Can God Exist”? Because there can be no “Word of God” if “There is No God”!

Arguments for the existence of God that you don‘t even need the Bible to know are true (I’m not suggesting you don’t need the Bible. I’m saying that these truths are so self evident [or true], that they substantiate themselves):

A- The Cosmological Argument;

Stated in a logical syllogism, goes like this:

1- (major premise ) Everything that had a beginning had a cause
2- (minor premise) The universe had a beginning
3- (conclusion) Therefore the universe had a cause

Stated more simply: If the universe had a beginning then there must have been a beginner!

The current scientific evidence shows that the universe did indeed have a beginning. That the universe exploded out of nothing a finite time ago…. In fact, some call it the “Big Bang” I like to refer to it as “in the beginning God said… and “Bang” there it was! (Gen 1)

Einstein’s general theory of relativity states “Time. Space and Matter are co-relative”. In other words: You can’t have time without matter, you can’t have matter without space, and you cannot have space without time and matter. They all came into existence simultaneously and instantaneously!

Premise #1 (major premise )- Everything that had a beginning had a cause: This is known as the “Law of Causality”, which is the fundamental principle of science. Without it science is impossible.

“True knowledge is knowledge by causes” Francis Bacon…. This is what scientists do, they try to discover what caused what. And if there’s one thing we’ve observed about the universe, it’s things don’t happen without a cause. Things don’t “Just Happen” or “Pop” out of nowhere. Even skeptic Davis Hume (a devout atheist) said “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something could arise without a cause”.

As a matter of fact, if you were to make “so absurd a proposition” (As David Hume said) that you didn’t believe in the Law of Causality, I would simply apply the assertion back on itself (remember that from earlier) as ask “what caused you to come to that conclusion?” And by doing so expose the fallacy in the logic of the statement.

Summary: Since the Law of Causality is well established and undeniable Premise #1 is undeniably True.

Premise #2 (minor premise): Did the universe have a beginning? If not, then no causal explanation is needed.

Following are five (5) lines of scientific evidence that prove beyond reasonable doubt that the universe did indeed have a beginning:

1- The Second Law of Thermodynamics- This law states (among other things) that the universe is running out of usable energy. With each passing moment, the amount of usable energy is dwindling away. Leading scientists have come to the obvious conclusion will become exhausted, and the universe will die.

2- The universe is expanding- Einstein’s theory of General Relativity predicted an expanding universe. And Edwin Hubble confirmed it in the late 1920’s.

3- Radiation from the “Big Bang”- This third line of scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe was an accidental discovery made in 1965 by Arno Penzas and Robert Wilson. What they found was the residual radiation afterglow from the “Big Bang”. This cosmic background radiation is actually light and heat from the explosion.

Predictions of this radiation were made in 1948, but for some reason no one searched for it.

4- Galaxy seeds- Another prediction to corroborate the “Big Bang” was finding “temperature ripples” in the cosmic background radiation (mention in #3 above).
George Smoot, project manager of the project that discovered the ripples called this matter the “seeds” of the galaxies as they exist today. He went on to say of the ripples “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God”.

Astrophysicists Michael Turner said “The significance of this cannot be overstated. They have found the holy grail of cosmology”.

5- Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity- This theory demands an absolute beginning for time, space and matter. It shows that time, space and matter are co-relative… That they are interdependent, you can’t have one without the other.

Summary: Since science itself proves that the universe had a beginning, Premise #2 is undeniably True.

Therefore line three of the Cosmological Argument is true.

And if the universe had a beginning, it logically had to have a beginner! Who could this beginner be?

Anyway, if you attempt to assail this obvious truth you run smack against the “Law of Non-contradiction” which states “The opposite of True is False” or “Contradicting claims cannot both be true at the same time, in the same sense”.

Now we all know this law intuitively, and use it everyday. Like: Either I look both ways before I cross the street, or I run the risk of being flattened by an automobile (or something worse).

According to the law of Non-contradiction, either the universe had a beginning or it didn’t. The scientific evidence proves overwhelmingly that it did have a beginning.

So when it comes right down to it there are only to possibilities.

Either: 1- No one (or nothing) created something out of nothing!
Or: 2- Someone (something) created all of this

Aristotle said “Nothing is what sleeping rocks dream about”. So my question is this “Can nothing create something”?

And this is where you have to ask yourself “Can I handle the truth”. Can I see the logic and truth in the following syllogism:

1- (major premise ) Nothing is nothing
2- (minor premise) Nothing can do nothing
3- (conclusion) Therefore nothing can create anything

B- The Anthropic argument;

Does the universe exist primarily to serve as a home for us? This question cannot be answered with certainty. However, considerable evidence can be amassed in support of a “yes" answer. Consider the following facts.

Life is possible only because the universe is spatially flat and has been expanding and is continuing to expand at nearly the critical rate required to avoid collapse. If it had been expanding much faster, regions which had developed slightly higher than average densities would have continued to expand indefinitely and would not have formed stars and galaxies. If the universe had been expanding much slower, it would have collapsed long before the elements of life could have been generated in stars by nucleosynthesis. The numerical value of expansion rate is called the Hubble constant (H) and is currently 71 kilometers per second per megaparsec.

Life is possible only because the gravitational constant (G), the quantum of angular momentum (h), the speed of light © and the elementary unit of electrical charge (e) have the precise values required for the evolution of a very particular kind of universe. This universe contains short-lived, metal scattering blue stars and long-lived, evenly burning, slowly turning stars like the sun.

Life is possible only because of the delicate balance between the strong force that binds nuclei together and the enormous repulsive force between protons.
Life is possible only because the electromagnetic coupling constant and the ratio of
electron mass (m) to proton mass (M) are precisely what are required to allow the
formation of chemical compounds.

Life is possible only because the ratio of the strong force to the electromagnetic force has the precise value required to create a resonance between helium and beryllium nuclei allowing carbon-12 to form near the center of stars; carbon is the core element of all biochemical molecules.

Life is possible only because the weak-interaction coupling constant has precisely the proper value. If it were slightly smaller or larger, helium production would either be 100% or zero. In one case there would be no water, in the other an entirely variant stellar evolution.

Because H (Hubble constant) and c (the speed of light ) have the proper values to permit life, the characteristic length or "radius" of the universe (c/H) could not be significantly altered without precluding our existence. Also, since the universe is spatially flat, its density is essentially 3H2/8(pi)G. The quantities H (Hubble constant) and G (gravitational constant) have the correct values to permit life; therefore, the density of the universe is what is required to permit our existence. Consequently, the universe contains no wasted space or matter even if life is unique to the surface of planet earth.

This list could be continued but it is already long enough to justify a conclusion: not one of the fundamental properties of the universe could be changed significantly without eliminating the possibility of life. Could this be what the Bible refers to when it says God's eternal power and divine nature are clearly evident in the things He has made (Rom 1:20)? Did a Supreme Being deliberately create the universe in such a way that the slightest change in any one of its properties would preclude our existence?

The only serious alternative offered, to date, is based on the idea that not just one but rather an enormously large ensemble of universes exists; each member of the ensemble is self-contained and unaffected by the rest. In this ensemble of universes, only our universe and those similar to ours contain living creatures. The rest are lifeless. The ensemble concept makes our universe just one of many and thereby avoids the need for us to occupy a special place. Aside from the fact that no supporting evidence exists for the ensemble concept, is it really more difficult to believe in God than in an ensemble of universes?

C- The Moral Argument;

What is the origin of the moral law written on each of our hearts? This question presupposes that you and I have identical codes of conduct embedded deep in our subconscious minds; we can try to suppress or ignore this code but it is there nonetheless.

This deeply embedded code of conduct is the little voice inside. This little voice (our conscience) is spoken of in the Bible (Rom 1:18-20 & 2:14-15) as the truth that some suppress. The origin of the moral law cannot be determined with certainty; but, once again, the evidence points strongly in a particular direction. Three origins have been suggested:

The words “moral law" encompass certain types of behavior which have developed in us by the process of biological evolution. The details of this development process are covered by such theories as "kinship" and "reciprocation" and may even employ the principles of game theory. The types of behavior, classified as “moral law," accomplish no purpose other than to enhance the survivability of the human race.

The “moral law" is learned social behavior passed from adults to children; collective human experience has recognized that certain restrictions on social behavior result in a more pleasant society for all.
The “moral law" is really God's commandment to love your neighbor as yourself (Mat 22:36-40). This commandment embodies the sum total of the Law given to us by God (Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14). To make sure no one missed the instructions, he wrote His Law on everyone's heart (Rom 1:18-20; 2:14,15).

Which of these explanations is consistent with the facts?

Consider, for a moment, the following groups of people in our society; assume these people are institutionalized with no means of support beyond public charity:
Elderly (with no relatives) suffering from severe Alzheimer's disease
Orphan babies with AIDS
Orphan babies with Down's Syndrome \

Preserving the lives of these individuals causes a drain on the resources of society and in no way enhances the survivability of the human race. Would you like to have them killed? If a little voice inside you is saying, “These people need love and compassion," that voice does not have biological evolution as its origin. Mutation, genetic drift, migration and natural selection cannot justify giving “kindness” priority over personal well being.

Collective human experience has clearly recognized that certain restrictions on social behavior result in a more pleasant society for all; the existence of civil and criminal law reflects this recognition. However, in your daily life, cheating would often be more pleasurable than truthfulness. On those occasions when you know you won't be caught, do you really refrain from cheating because you know, in the long run, society will be a better place because of your decision? If so, you are an unusual person.

Cultures which use the “good of society" as a basis for morality are typically rife with crookedness. If confronted with opportunities to:

keep $10,000 cash you found in a wallet on the sidewalk
commit adultery while away from your spouse
conceal $15,000 of your income from the IRS

would what's “good for society" be an important consideration when making a decision? Is your innermost, secret character based on learned social behavior about what's “good for society?" There is no evidence to support such a premise.

This leaves God as the most likely source of that little voice telling you right from wrong.

4- When we find the truth, Can we handle it?:

Will we accept the truth when we see it, or will we hide from it, as Paul alludes to in Romans 1:18-20:

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse”. (NIV)

Or will you accept the truth and be made (or set) free as Jesus said in John 8:32 “
John 8:32 :

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (NIV)

Truth is Correspondence with Reality: Now that the inadequate views of the nature of truth have been examined, it remains to state an adequate view. Truth is what corresponds to what it denotes. Truth about reality is what corresponds to the way things really are. Truth is “telling it like it is.”

This correspondence applies to abstract realities as well as actual ones. There are mathematical truths. There are also truths about ideas. In each case there is a reality, and truth accurately expresses it.

Falsehood, then, is what does not correspond. Falsehood tells it “like it is not”, falsehood is misrepresenting the way things are. The intent behind the statement is irrelevant. If it lacks proper correspondence, it is false.

Either something is true… Or it’s false! (it cannot both at the same time in the same way).

Summary:

Truth may be tested in many ways but it should be understood in only one way:

1- There is one reality, to which statements or ideas must conform in order to be regarded as true.

2- There may be many different ways to defend different truth claims, but there is really only one proper way to define truth, namely, as correspondence.

3- The confusion between the nature of truth and the verification of truth is at the heart of the rejection of a correspondence view of truth.

Likewise, there is a difference between what truth is and what truth does:

a- Truth is correspondence, but truth has certain consequences.
b- Truth itself should not be confused with its results or with its application.
c- The failure to make this distinction leads to wrong views of the nature of truth.

Truth is that which corresponds to reality or to the state of affairs it purports to describe. And falsehood is what does not correspond.

Conclusion:

Truth is absolute, but our understanding of it is not. Just because there is absolute truth, it does not follow that our comprehension of it is complete and absolute. This fact in-and-of itself should cause the absolutists to temper convictions with humility. For while truth IS absolute, our understanding of absolute truth IS NOT absolute. As finite creatures, we grow in our understanding of truth (See 1st Corinthians 13:10 Thru 12).

So it is given that we find the following to be true:

We know what truth is: Because it’s actually undeniable to those with their eyes open.

We can know truth: Because of the truth we’ve experienced (we may not have experienced all truth yet, but when we do, we can know it).

We can know truths about God: Because He has revealed Himself in every possible way (short of forcing Himself on us). So those who deny Him, do so by suppressing truth, because God is truth!

We can handle truth when we find it: If we accept truth for what it is, and we accept God for who He is…. We can understand that He is the Creator of all things!
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#4 de_skudd

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:59 PM

Thank you, this was a very informative read, and I couldn't have said it better myself.  I completely agree.

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Hi Scott,

I wasn't quite fininshed yet (that 300 second wait :P ) . There is a continuation, I hope you get the time to read it...

#5 Adam Nagy

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 09:39 PM

Great post, de_skudd, a little bit of an over achiever don't you think?

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I'm just kidding. This will be great to link to for future references. Keep em comin!

#6 de_skudd

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Posted 28 December 2008 - 06:06 PM

Great post, de_skudd, a little bit of an over achiever don't you think?

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I'm just kidding. This will be great to link to for future references. Keep em comin!

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Over Achiever? No, I’ve never been accused of that one :mellow: It’s a paper I’m working on, still ironing out some wrinkles….

#7 Ron

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 09:48 AM

An interesting read indeed! :)

#8 Prototypical

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 07:23 PM

Hi de_skudd. Kudos for an excellent examination of the nature of truth.

"Statement: All truth is relative! Rhetorical Question: Is that a relative truth?"

Say for example you are travelling along at 75mph as indicated by your speedometer. I am watching you from space and see that you are travelling along at 75mph plus the speed of the rotateing earth. From your reference frame, you are moving at 75 mph. From my reference frame you are moving at 975 mph. If I could look down on the entire solar system I would see you moving at 75 mph relative to the surface of the earth, 975 mph relative to the space surrounding the earth and some other speed when taken relative to the sun. Yet another speed when taken relative to the centre of the galaxy. Which one of is the true speed?

#9 Salsa

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 12:32 AM

Which one of is the true speed?


The problem isn't the "truth" of the speed, but the lack of detail supplied in the assertion being made.

If I was to say that I was travelling at 75 mph in relation to the surface of the earth, wouldn't that be a true statement?

#10 Ron

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 05:22 PM


Hi de_skudd. Kudos for an excellent examination of the nature of truth.

"Statement: All truth is relative! Rhetorical Question: Is that a relative truth?"

Say for example you are travelling along at 75mph as indicated by your speedometer. I am watching you from space and see that you are travelling along at 75mph plus the speed of the rotateing earth. From your reference frame, you are moving at 75 mph. From my reference frame you are moving at 975 mph. If I could look down on the entire solar system I would see you moving at 75 mph relative to the surface of the earth, 975 mph relative to the space surrounding the earth and some other speed when taken relative to the sun. Yet another speed when taken relative to the centre of the galaxy. Which one of is the true speed?




If you are talking about the driver, the absolute answer is seventy-five miles per hour, regardless of your perspective. Your attempt at a “relative” answer has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the driver is cruising along at seventy-five miles per hour. In fact, the speed of the rotating Earth has absolutely nothing to do with the speed at which the driver is driving his vehicle; nor does it have anything to do with the speed at which you are traveling in space, or the speed at which the Earth is traveling around the sun.

The correct answer is; the TRUE speed the individual is driving is 75mph.

#11 Ron

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 05:27 PM


Which one of is the true speed?

The problem isn't the "truth" of the speed, but the lack of detail supplied in the assertion being made.

If I was to say that I was travelling at 75 mph in relation to the surface of the earth, wouldn't that be a true statement?


Absolutely true my friend. ABSOLUTELY! :)

#12 JayShel

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 07:45 PM

Great study into the nature of truth. Thanks for sharing.

#13 de_skudd

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:02 AM

Hi de_skudd. Kudos for an excellent examination of the nature of truth. "Statement: All truth is relative! Rhetorical Question: Is that a relative truth?" Say for example you are travelling along at 75mph as indicated by your speedometer. I am watching you from space and see that you are travelling along at 75mph plus the speed of the rotateing earth. From your reference frame, you are moving at 75 mph. From my reference frame you are moving at 975 mph. If I could look down on the entire solar system I would see you moving at 75 mph relative to the surface of the earth, 975 mph relative to the space surrounding the earth and some other speed when taken relative to the sun. Yet another speed when taken relative to the centre of the galaxy. Which one of is the true speed?


Indeed Prototypical, but this doesn't change the absoluteness of the truth in my statement. I am (as a matter of fact) traveling at 75 per hour, in my car, on the surface of the Earth. This has absolutely nothing to do with the rotation of the Earth, or the revolutions of the Earth around the Sun, OR the speed of our solar system as it moves through the galaxy. We are discussing different matters all together. Also, you neglected to deduct YOUR speed in orbit from the combination of my land-speed and the Earths rotation speed! And, you neglected to reference in what direction I was traveling. This, of course, would skew your maths. Yes, my speed is relative to my location; but that in no way affects the absoluteness of the truth of it! Just as YOUR speed being relative to YOUR location doesn't affects the absoluteness of the truth of it! But, where your analogy further fails, is when you attempt to force upon absolute truth your statement "All truth is relative". This is a fallacy that is easily crushed, For example: Does 2+2 still equal 4 where I am (traveling at 75 mph on the surface of the Earth), AND where you are (in orbit above the Earth)? Of course it does! Why, because it's a "Absolute Truth" that is NOT relative to our positions; therefore it IS NOT "relative" , so it logically follows that all truth IS NOT relative.

#14 gilbo12345

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:00 PM

I am pretty sure that "I have 2 arms and 2 legs" is a true statement... Though I could just be fooling myself with delusions of limbs.

#15 MarkForbes

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 06:36 AM

I'd say there are two types of truth.
On the one there is ontological truth, which means something is in line with the facts and reality.
On the other hand there is qualitative truth, which means that the character of a statement is truthful.

#16 Dig4gold

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:58 PM

Whenever I'm asked what is truth I always respond it is not a what but a Who. It leaves them scratching their heads and gives me a chance to explain.

#17 Teejay

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 09:26 PM

Hello all,

I'm a little simple minded, so I try and give simple answers.  I define truth as a statement of reality.  Dr. Norman Geisler says that Truth is found in correspondence. Truth is what corresponds to its object or referent, whether this object if abstract or concrete.  Truth is "telling it like it is."

Why are atheistic materialists uncomfortable with absolutes, whether they be morality, logic, truth?  I think that when they are forced to admit to absolutes, they are getting dangerously close to having to admit God exists.  Take truth for example.  Man is the only being on Planet Earth that can reason and know truth.    The computer can add faster than we can, but it does not know if the answer is true.  Only man with a reasoning mind given to him by God can reason and know truth.

If the atheist admits to an objective morality, he must then admit to a moral Authority above and outside of man.  This he can't do.  The next to fall is logic.  Because he has rejected absolute truth and morality, then logic, instead of being absolute, invariant, and universal, it becomes conventional or what is agreed upon by men or societies.  They even look to Eastern logic for rescue.  But the Hindu in India looks both ways before crossing the street, for the law of non-contradiction applies even to him.  Either a truck is coming that will run him over or a truck is not coming; but not both at the same time in the same way.  

As C. S. Lewis argued in his book Miracles, if there is any one thing that can't be explained by materialistic causes, then naturalism crumbles.  Human reasoning can't  be explained in purely materialistic terms, so naturalism crumbles.  The following I got from the internet and I had in my writings to read, but I failed to note the author. Whoever he is, I applaud his dissertation about Lewis' argument for Reason.
 

Lewis then defends his conclusion by starting with the premise that all knowledge depends on the validity of our reasoning. If reasoning does not lead us to true conclusions about the world around us, but is rather a product of feelings in our own mind, then all science and all knowledge is worthless. This, says Lewis, points out that strict materialism or physicalism is self-defeating. In other words physicalism may be true, but one cannot argue that it should be believed based on evidence or reasoning. 

Lewis then goes on to argue why it is that human reasoning cannot be explained in terms of the “whole show”. He illustrates this through the two different senses of the word "because". In the first sense because can be used to mean a cause and effect relationship ("Grandfather is ill today because he ate lobster yesterday"). In the second sense because is used in a Ground and Consequent relation, for example, "Grandfather must be ill today because he hasn’t got up yet (and we know he is an invariably early riser when he is well"). The first sense indicates a connection between a state of affairs while the second is a logical relation between beliefs that involves an act of knowing or seeing or rational insight. Another example of the second sense of because is the mathematical reasoning if A=B and B=C then A=C. 

Lewis then explains that every event in nature, including our very thoughts, must be of the first type if naturalism is true. If this is the case, then when we ask "Why do you think this?", the actual answer must always begin with a Cause-Effect style because. As a result, all of the thoughts that go into answering the question lie in a cause-effect relationship to one another including the final answer. But we know that to be caused is not to proved and so the physicalist, if he is consistent, must admit he has no way to know whether what he thinks is true. He has no way to bridge the gap between the two distinct senses of because. In fact, as Lewis notes, in argumentation people often act as if the two were unrelated so that if a person can find some bit of background about you that might indicate why you believe something (Cause-Effect) they can more easily discount your position. However, in our experience we know that not all of our thoughts are based on wholly on Cause-Effects relationships (we don’t draw all of the inferences possible from each thought). Some of our thoughts can cause other thoughts by being seen to be a ground for them (Ground-Consequent). Therefore, since some of our thoughts can be shown to be true acts of knowing or seeing that cannot be accounted for by naturalism, then naturalism is false. This then explains why all human reasoning and therefore science and knowledge must be thrown out for the physicalist since it depends on Ground-Consequent style thinking including the physicalist’s own conclusion that nature is the whole show. This is why that position is self-refuting. As Lewis conludes: 


"But this, as it seems to me, is what Natualism is bound to do. It offers what professes to be a full account of our mental behaviour; but this account, on inspection, leaves no room for the acts of knowing or insight on which the whole value of our thinking, as a means to truth, depends." 
 

He also goes on to address the naturalists claim that our reasoning is the product of natural selection and/or cultural evolution. Against natural selection as the origin he argues that natural selection can only improve man’s physical responses to the world around him and could never in principle develop a relationship between knowledge and truth since there is no connection between the two, no way to bridge the gap. Against cultural evolution or the belief that over time, men were conditioned to make inferences based on experience (where there is smoke there is fire), Lewis argues that inferences are the basis of animal, not human reasoning. The real difference between animal and human reasoning is that human reason need not appeal to experience at all. For example, our belief that A=C as above is not derived from our experience that we’ve never not know A to equal C. Rather, it is based on a real insight that "it must be so". These are the insights that a physicalist cannot explain.

TeeJay
     






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