Daily Archives: 5 November 2004
My post yesterday got some push back comments on what is
truth. While I agree that what is truth is a many sided jewel
that must be examined within its context, that is not to say
all we can ever do is sit in circles contemplating our navels
and discussing the meaning of truth. If that’s what we did we
would never progress. The reality is we make determinations
on what is truth all the time. How we reach our conclusions
may differ, but determining the truth is a common thing to
Before I get any further, let’s briefly review some of the
basics. First, my definition of truth. Truth is an accurate
description of reality.
Second, why is it important to find the truth? At the
bottom line, get the description wrong and you may die.
Hence, finding the truth is critical to our longevity.
Third, once the truth is determined, I believe it is
universal. That is, it is the same for everyone, whether they
believe the truth or not. Whether they are White, Black,
Brown or Yellow. Republican or Democrat. The truth is the
Fourth, my discussion will not end the debate on what is
truth. That debate has raged for centuries and will probably
do so for more to come. But I hope you can understand where I
am coming from, even if you don’t agree with me.
That said, to determine truth, people have used various
tools. Some look to the great philosophers. Others look to
religion. Others look to Nature to reveal her truths.
Science itself grew out of a need to create a tool to
better determine the truth. Rather than sitting on the steps
of the Parthenon discussing truth, people decided to create
theories and then to test them (see the debate between
inductive versus deductive logic). Does the Earth
circle the Sun or is it the opposite? Is disease caused by
spirits or bacteria?
Another tool for determine truth is the courts. Witnesses
testify that what they say is the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth. What is decided may or may not be
based on reality but we nonetheless must make the
determination. We cannot do otherwise. Life itself would
become a confused babel of conflicting stories if we
So what was I talking about yesterday? Let me explain what
I mean by giving you a recent example. If people say they are
concerned with traditional marriage and family values, do
these people then do everything they can to enable everyone
to have a decent place to live, food to eat, health care, and
a good school to send their children to? Do these same people
who so revere marriage also then want to make divorce
illegal? That is, if marriage is something sanctified by God,
who are they to thwart His will with a civil court proceeding
to dissolve that marriage?
In conclusion, while finding the truth may be a slippery
endeavor, not everyone has problems determining the truth.
Our founding fathers knew what the truth was. In July of 1776
they wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that
all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure
these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That
whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish
Truth that was self-evident. In other words, it was so
obvious that only those who refused to acknowledge the truth
could deny it.
We can, and must decide what is truth, test whether we are
right, and move on. Thus, one of the paradoxes of life is
that while we may never know the truth, we have to make
assumptions as to what that is, determine if it conforms with
reality, and then move on. The alternative is to have
philosophical discussions that provide much heat, but no
light and, more importantly, will surely lead to our
Have a Great Weekend, Everyone –