Can truth about anything be known?

Part 1: truth vs. relativism

This blog is part of a series. You can start the series by going back in the archives to the September 1, 2014 Introduction called A Case for Christianity: Why do we need one?

Men stumble over the truth from time to time, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened
-Winston Churchill

When Christians make claims to know the truth about God, Jesus and the Bible how do people respond? Is truth about anything knowable? Many people in today’s culture will say that truth is relative. They might make a claim like: “What’s true for you is not true for me;” or “Your truth is not my truth.”

Relativism: The claim that, “there is no absolute truth and truth cannot be known.”
But isn’t that a truth statement in itself? Is the worldview of relativism claiming to have the only view that’s true?

Relativists make self-defeating statements and don’t meet their own criteria, for example they will say: (A rejoinder in bold)
• What’s true for you is not true for me. Is that true just for you and not for me?
• Your truth is not my truth. Is that true?
• There are no absolutes. Are you absolutely sure?
• There’s no such thing as right or wrong. Is that a right or a wrong statement?
• You ought not judge. Is that a judgment?

False ideas about truth lead to false ideas about life.

We demand truth in virtually every area of our lives:
• Loved ones (no one wants lies from a spouse or child)
• Doctors (we want the correct diagnosis and the right prescriptions or treatment)
• Stock brokers and Bankers (we want true information about our money)
• Courts (we want truth in justice for those who’ve been harmed)
• Employers (we want to be treated fairly and honestly)
• Public transportation (we want safety in travel and be taken to the right destination)

But what about truth in morality or religion?

• Agnosticism or skepticism becomes a self-defeating belief by making the truth claim that “truth claims cannot be made.”
• Relativists who deny that there is such a thing as real truth are like Winnie the Pooh—they answer a knock at the door by saying, “no one is home.”
• The laws of nature, mathematics and science all make and have universal and undeniable truth claims that are not relative.
• Truth can be determined using the universal, self-evident laws of logic.
• Truths can be discovered with the use of observation, induction and deduction.

Thus you can establish that truth can be known.

What is truth?
1. Truth is that which corresponds to reality (you bump into it when you realize you are wrong)
• Truth corresponds to its object
• Truth is an actual state of affairs
2. Truth is not relative but absolute (it is transcultural)
• Truth is true for all people, at all times, in all places
• Truth is absolute, narrow, and exclusive
3. Truth is discovered, not invented (it was there all along)
• Truth exists independent of anyone’s knowledge of it
• Truth is unchanging even though our beliefs or attitudes might change

…Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 (NIV)

Let me know what you think:
Why do people believe what they believe? Do most people understand the concept of truth? Is there a difference between truth and opinion?

Join us next time for Part 2: Do all religions and faiths, despite their different paths, lead to ultimate truth?

Teri Dugan

Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Christ Jesus as Lord.
1 Peter 3:15

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