Thursday, 3 September 2009

What is truth?

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"What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. John 18:38 (NIV)

I received an email from a reader of this blog a while ago, in which he posed the question, I have used as the title of this post, from the verse above I guess he isn't the only one who is asking this, seems not many things have changed from 2,000 years ago! As I reflected on his question, I also asked a few friends as to what their thoughts were, I've added both his email (not exactly in the same format I received it but without changing the meaning I hope) and the responses I received duly referenced. I'll also add my own 2 cents..so this may be a very LONG one.

Hello

I couldn't help but copy what you asked not to copy even though I didn't need it. :) Human nature I guess.... Maybe its just me anyways got a question for you.

WHAT IS TRUTH?
AND HOW DO YOU ARRIVE AT IT?
SHOULD TRUTH BE UNIVERSAL, EXPERIENTIAL, ACQUIRED OR INFERRED? (CONTINUOUSLY REFINED)


I can pretty much make out that you are a christian from your blog hmm...took some brain teasing ( laugh ** :)) seriously

IS IT REVEALED?
HOW INDIVIDUAL IS IT?


Father, help me, what is truth? The simple answer is that TRUTH IS TRUTH. That's exactly what it is, if I'm telling you the truth about something , my story never changes because truth is truth. From dictionary.com, I got some definitions of truth as

1. the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4. the state or character of being true.
5. actuality or actual existence.
6. an obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7. honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
8. (often initial capital letter) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.
9. agreement with a standard or original.
10. accuracy, as of position or adjustment.
11. Archaic. fidelity or constancy.
(dictionary.com)

Do we arrive at truth,is it revealed and how individual is it?

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". John 14:6 so Jesus is the truth.

Jesus said He is the truth, I believe this is because He SEES and KNOWS all things. You are only 100% sure of what the truth is when you can see and know all things. Remember the poem about the blind men and the elephant, it was one elephant but while their descriptions of what an elephant was could be said to be true,they all had different descriptions or truths but ONE elephant. After all, they could prove that their description was right based on the evidence before them but was their description true? No, because they couldn't see the whole picture. At the end of this story, we are told to be more tolerant of the beliefs of others because truth can be told in different ways, do I agree? Not necessarily, what about if I asked each or just one of the blind men what would be required to kill the elephant, I would have received various responses and the choice I made on what the truth was would enable me to either kill the elephant or be killed myself! Now if I asked someone who knows all things, the Creator of the elephant this question, what do you think my position would be.

In statistics (I stand to be corrected, I am not a statistician!lol!) there is something called a Type I error where we reject an answer even though it is true and a Type II where we accept an answer even though it is wrong, these errors arise from both known (systematic) and unknown or random (statistical) sources. The basic thing is that I might think that something is true based on the information (or data) that I have and make decisions based on that information but could be making a mistake because what I think is truth is not the actual truth because I don't have all the information. In taking an oath before giving evidence in court, we swear to say the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth, this is because lawyers know that sometimes leaving a phrase out of a testimony could render a true account wrong.

All your words are TRUE; all your righteous laws are eternal (Psalm 119:160)

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17)



Jesus says He is the truth, the word of God is also truth, in that respect it is universal for He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. Truth is acquired by revelation, it could also be acquired by experience and on that basis could be said to be individual for it is the truth that you know that sets you free. I think I will update this as we go along because I don't think enough justice has been done yet.


Jaycee

Truth is FACT. Fact comes in different ways: could be as a result of a proven experiment (scientific) or could be as a result of one's experiences. As a Christian, I look around me and I know for a fact that there has to be God because of the indescribable works behind the creation of living things (mountains, seas, oceans, trees, animals, human beings). From experience also, I have seen miracles done in my life as a result of praying to God (the Creator of the Universe)--and if there is evil (for instance in the occultic powers), then there has to be a God, and this has become my TRUTH. Truth is all of the above (universal, experiential, acquired or inferential) depending on what topic you're talking about. You can acquire truth from an instructor, and then a few years later experience it for yourself (which will then confirm all the truth previously acquired). Truth is universal but not everyone is knowledgeable about it and so some live their lives in ignorance, until maybe one day experience the truth
.


AA

These are my thoughts...

Truth is absolute and does not depend on geography, race, creed, economic status or religion. However, we usually perceive the truth differently based on how some of the parameters listed above affects us.It is our perception that we refer to as revealed or individual truth. The truth is like looking at a huge multicoloured ball with us standing at different areas and seeing different colours based on our positions. The fact is that we would all be correct if we insisted that the ball is colour we could see yet the truth is that we would all be wrong because the ball is more than we could see. The truth is from the perspective of the originator not how it is perceived.

This is the reason why the bible says "Let all men be liars and God alone true". We know only in parts and so we cannot claim to truly know. The truth is based on knowledge and can only be complete when knowledge is complete.... The only one who has complete knowledge is God and so he originates the truth. However he will typically reveal the knowledge and hence the truth that is required by different parts to complete their assignment.

A good check for whatever we hold to be true is to compare it to the position of the originator because whatever is revealed can only be sampled from what already is the truth. if it doesn't align then it stands no chance of being true. Secondly the seeker of truth must first seek to know its originator cos it is in the knowledge of the originator that you are able to tell if what you know as truth can truly emanate from the originator and hence really classify what you know as truth.

I hope i made some sense.


So D.S, thank you so much for your email. I don't know if your question has been answered but please this discussion is open to all for their 2 cents.

Remain blessed and highly favoured.

9 comments:

akaBagucci said...

Pretty detailed response! I have always tended towards the truth being of 'universal application' angle

Believer said...

@akaBagucci: True talk, pretty detailed because I found the question very interesting.

Kafo said...

hmmmm
this is very indepth as akaBagucci said

will come back and read the whole thing over the weekend

Mimi said...

hey hun. mine is coming soon, just been a tad busy!

Tisha said...

truth is the word of God
fact is what the world around you is saying to you
truth comes in your spirit and its permanent, fact can always change

Believer said...

@Kafo: You're welcome here anytime

@Mimi: No worries, just leave it as a comment

@Tisha; Hmm, interesting, truth is permanent. True

Remi, United Kingdom said...

Believer / Jaycee, sorry for late reply.. work, work, work, but I will still blog, blog, blog oh! :-))

Okay back to the question...
My explanation below, hope it helps.

The Father(God), the son (Jesus Christ)", the Holy Spirit, is truth. This is confirmed in God's word, and the word of God is truth.

The Father (God) is truth:
John 17:3 "And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth". NLT

The Son (Jesus Christ) is truth: John 14:6 reads Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me".NLT

The Holy Spirit is truth:
John 16:13 reads "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future".

This is the definition of what is truth from God's word. ... and about God's word I hear you ask? Well it is truth as confirmed in John 17:17b, it reads ".... teach them your word, which is truth"

Furthermore, John 1: 1-3 reads "1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God,and the Word was God.2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him."

This means that EVEN the feeling, notion or understanding (or whatever we want to describe it as),that is TRUTH is created by God. Why? Because He created ALL THINGS, EVERYTHING, and like the air we breathe, Truth does not exist, except through Him.

And we know of the truth of God because the Holy spirit is a witness, He was sent to us when Jesus went back to heaven. He was sent to teach us THE TRUTH. He REVEALS TO US WHAT TRUTH IS, THEREFORE, EXPLAINING WHAT TRUTH IS NOT. Truth is REVEALED to us by the HOLY SPIRIT. I don't believe we can ever arrive at the truth with our mere mortal, canal minds. The mind is either influenced by God or otherwise. When we are open to the teachings and directions of the Holy spirit we will know the truth, which is rooted in God. He is the truth.

God is truth and believing = eternal life.

Hope this helps.

Truth said...

Truth is constant,never changes and can not be cancel. That is my very simple definition of truth. If we are not believing lies, then truth will always surface.

The Disciple said...

Okay.

I wrote a piece about how I see the truth and for some reason . It has just disappeared. I was/am using my old man's laptop So I've had to adjust to the technological shift and the internet over here is er.. def not Ok. Anyhow here's my thoughts on it.
I have classified truth ( not the truth) into two categories.

1) Personal truth (falsifiable)
2) General truth ( not falsifiable)

first of all I should let u know I'm a christian but my view may not be entirely agreeable with everyone but follow my chain of thought. Personal truth no matter how much conviction you hold may be falsifiable. E.g consider a farmer who controls his dog by use of a dog whistle everyday. All his animals are relaxing in the field after enjoying tasty grass with fresh dew, the farmer blows the whistle and out of all the humans/animal sat taking in the beautiful morning sun the only being that springs up is the Dog. Now you will agree with me that most pls will argue that there was no whistle blown or at least that they did not hear it. Point is personal truth does have personal boundaries . It may be the truth but It will generally not be whole. Nobody is capable of the whole truth. You may find this strange but our knowledge of the truth is premised entirely on instructions ( for example if somebody were to prove to you beyond any doubt that what u believed (faith wise) was not the whole truth ) how would that affect your faith ?. My observation about Jesus's comments on the truth is he speaks of the truth as though. The truth is subject to him for example if we all know number seven comes after number 6. If Jesus were to say number 8 comes after number 6. In my mind it would mean that a new boundary would have to be established to accommodate that statement and the statement would intrinsically become an unfalsifiable fact. That brings me to the second point
2) General Truth- If we think of the truth as something on the other side of a fence and we are not able to see it. Now (our personal truth) is that we know not what it is. But we could all collectively agree on a set of philosophies/principles about what is on the other side of the fence (not describing faith/God, pls follow me gently ) Now so long as we cannot empirically establish what is on the other side we will encounter conflict in our belief of what exist on the other side. Now a point in case, the general ( "universal" may be un falsifiable as far as we can test it but that in itself may have "universal" boundaries, here's another point those "universal" boundaries may have been predetermines by "what is" on the otherside of the imaginary "universe" fence. The only authority on the truth is he who knows all "what is" or "who is". To establish general truth about a thing. I must see it from all side and if I knew the predestined purpose of a thing. Now to bring it home No human is capable of seeing or understanding anything from all all sides, even if we did the predestination question can only be answered by a higher entity. It is not enough to believe there is a God because of nature or some Huge/ unusual structure as it may one day become possible to physically recreate it, or the beautiful symmetry that exists in almost everything including our minds and even the truth. But in the belief that we are living and believing the instruction of this entity who can see us and beyond us. Our truth comes from instruction from this entity, which we are then instructed to by him to espouse. Basically the truth is not what we think know or can prove . It is whatever Jesus say it is. Finito ! On this note I rest my mind. Thank you Zoe and everyone else . Adios D.S