People have been asking the question, “What is truth?” for thousands of years. For some it’s just an interesting thing to ponder, while other folks haven’t given it a moment’s thought.
The thing is, finding truth, understanding it, and applying it to your life with wisdom is huge and will go a long way towards a contented and successful life.
Pilot asked Jesus the question at His trial:
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
As a result of seeking the answer to that question there are a bunch of silly ideas out there about truth. One of the most common out there is that truth is a matter of perspective. By that way of thinking something can be truth for you, but not truth for me.
That was the implication of Pilot’s question to Jesus.
The confusion here I think is between facts and truth. Facts often do vary by perspective. This is how come it’s not unusual for various witnesses in trials to give conflicting testimonies but still be honestly accurately describing the same events to the best of their abilities.
Assuming that none of the witnesses are lying then there is an underlying true chain of events that can deconflict those apparent inconsistencies.
The true version of what actually happened is true regardless of how it was perceived by people who were present.
It’s the misdirection of perception that enables magicians to do their tricks. Invariably the facts we perceive are not what magicians are really doing.
But the facts we see, our faulty perceptions, don’t change what is true. Truth trumps facts.
One of the reasons the idea of truth being relative, what’s true for you may not be true for me, is that it’s easier than believing that truth is absolute.
When we believe that truth is relative then we can be lazy and just believe whatever comes in our mind without making the effort to discern whether it is, in fact, true.
The understanding that truth is relative also gives some people license to hold onto ideas that are patently false and present them on the same level, with the same authority, as ideas that are actually true.
Not only that, but the idea of relative truth is often perceived as “nicer” because it removes potential conflict between ideas. Rather than people taking a stand on truth they can simply dismiss the conflict all together. “Well that’s true for you, but not for me.”
But that’s a boatload of crap.
That whole line of thought stems from a narcissistic inward searching for answers. The trouble is we’re fundamentally flawed and looking inward ultimately doesn’t work.
One of the things I learned in all my navigation training (both in merchant ships and military jets) is that in order to figure out exactly where you are you need to look to external fixed reference points. There are 2 parts to that.
First, your navigation reference points have to be external.
When people look inward for answers they end up relying wholly on their own mind, will and emotions. Trying to correct your course to get where you want to go based on an internal reference point is like trying to figure out your ship’s position by looking at the foremast. “I’m doing good. The mast is still in the front part of the ship.”
It doesn’t work because meanwhile the front part of the ship is headed towards the rocks.
The second thing needed to navigate successfully is to be sure the reference points you are using are fixed and not moving.
If you tried to take a bearing off of something that isn’t where you think it is then you’ll fix your position wrong on the chart, and then apply the wrong course to get where you want to go, with potentially very bad results.
That’s why lighthouses blink in specific patterns – so you can tell them apart and know for sure which one you are looking at.
Truth Simply Is
It’s also why the whole concept of relative truth is bunk. Truth simply is. Anything that isn’t true, by definition is false.
Just like no one can be be sorta pregnant, things can’t be “sorta” true.
Sure a statement can have bits and pieces of truth mixed in with untruths. That is where things get especially dangerous because the untruths contaminate everything they come in contact with. Jesus and Paul compared that “blending” of truth with untruth with yeast. A little bit affects the entire batch of dough.
Whatever doesn’t line up with truth is, by definition not truth. It’s a binary thing.
- Truth is true whether I believe it or not.
- Truth is true before I come to believe it.
- Truth is true even if I refuse to agree with it or acknowledge it.
- Truth is true even though I didn’t vote on it.
- Truth doesn’t need me to make it true.
- Truth is so much bigger than I thought or imagined.
The trouble comes in when people try to draw conclusions with incomplete information. Because it can be challenging at times to get to the underlying truth many people take the easy way out and choose to believe that truth is relative and we all have different truths.
Source of Truth
As a Jesus Freak, obviously I believe truth is found in the pages of the Bible. When I was searching for truth I did a reasonably thorough investigation and that’s where the evidence took me. Over the years I’ve seen the evidence continue to pile up that reinforces my belief.
The Bible is the external fixed reference point I use to guide my life.
Now you can say I’m off my nut. You could argue that the Bible is bunk and truth is found somewhere else.
But please don’t be intellectually dishonest and say that it’s true for me, but not for you. It’s either true or it’s not true — for both of us.