Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Graying of Truth

    "Truth is whatever you believe."

    "There is no absolute truth."

    "If there were such a thing as absolute truth, how could we know what it is?"

    "People who believe in absolute truth are dangerous."

You hear these things being said when talking about truth. Oddly enough, those who claim there is no such thing as absolute truth are making daily decisions based on what they think is true and false. We all do it....we turn on a light believing in the truth and the reality of electricity. We drive a car with the truth and certainty that the engine runs on gas, oil, parts, etc. If you were getting brain surgery you would definitely want the doctor's truth to be that he has a medical degree and he can do the work.
These are all truths....there is no gray area.

Steve Turner wrote a parody of this attitude in society about truth:

    I believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him.

    Reality will adapt accordingly.

    The universe will readjust. History will alter.

    I believe that there is no absolute truth excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.

Why do people run from truth? Mike Yaconelli, an American writer writes:

Because the pain of knowing who we are is so great, we spend a lifetime running from ourselves. We have become experts in dodging, avoiding, hiding, pretending, covering, running, protecting, eluding, escaping, averting, evading the real us. This 'Great Escape' from ourselves is the way most of us have chosen to live our lives, because it is the way of less pain.

There are certain truths that cannot be dulled....there is black and white and people need to start standing up for the absolute truth. Can you imagine the chaos there would be if there were no absolute truths? The law of gravity is a good example.....take a step - it's an absolute truth. If someone says there is no absolute truth ask them if they are absolutelty sure of that.

The problem with the denial of absolute truth is the fact that all humans have limited knowledge. As humans with a limited and finite mind we cannot logically make absolute negative statements. A person cannot logically say "there is no God" because they would have to have absolute knowledge of the entire universe from beginning to end to do so.

If there are no absolute standards then it is just as okay to kill who you do not like as it is not to. Or stealing is just as right as not stealing, cruelty would be equal to kindness. There has to be absolute truths to live our lives.

One person's truth..... it's the idea that is graying down our society......


Tishslp said...

There is Truth and Not Truth and I will be the first to admit, I spent (and still spend) wwaaaayyy too long in Not Truth. :(

Great post, P!

GDS said...

"Relativity applies to physics, not ethics."
-Albert Einstein

petunia said...

gds - I get your drift but this is about right and wrong and there are wrongs that people are blending into what they say is their "own truth".
If we don't have some sort of lines there will be chaos.

GDS said...

I get ya. Actually, that's kinda what I was trying to say. Ethics are not (or at least rarely) relative to the individuals. We can say with confidence that it is always ethically wrong to lie. So there is no relativity there that allows one to say that it's OK to lie in some special circumstance.

I think there's some room to say that when we find ourselves having to choose between 2 wrongs. If I have to lie or withhold information in order to protect someone I care about, I'll do so, but I must still expect some other consequences for that decision.

Anyway, it always makes me cringe when people take the concept of "perception is reality" to the next level. So instead of correcting the perception, they try to change reality to match it. It just creates more trouble.

Tishslp said...

good points, gds :)