The Truth About Truth

My definition of truth: “Truth is.”

The expanded version: “Truth is what is.”

The abridged version: “Reality.”

God introduced himself to Moses as “I am that I am.” He is who he is, independent of any outsider’s thoughts or perceptions. Our beliefs about God can be right or wrong or any admixture of the two, but those beliefs don’t alter his essence.

So it is with truth.

Many postmoderns believe truth is subjective. Like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder. I hold that while our perception and application might be subjective, truth itself is objective. (Quantum theory has a different take on reality and the role of the observer that I won’t get into here.)

“We may not know the facts but there are facts, and they remain, regardless of what we happen to believe them to be.” – John Boykin

Being finite and fallible creatures, we should not stop searching for truth before we stop breathing. At that point we will “know fully,” according to the Apostle Paul, but till then we “know in part.”

Philosopher and psychologist William James points out two attitudes that can trip us up on our quest:

1. Mistaking the part for the whole:

“I am no lover of disorder and doubt as such. Rather do I fear to lose truth by this pretension to possess it already wholly.”

2. Misunderstanding what we know:

“There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood by those who hear it.”

We should build on what we have learned, not rest on it. The knowledge we possess today can make a good foundation for life, but it’s a lousy ceiling.


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