Thursday, August 9, 2012

In Defense of Truth

Truth is relative. This is the common assertion today. But is it correct? Does it even make sense? When I turn the key in my car's ignition, I expect it to start. If it does not happen I look for a way to fix it. I do not say, such things are relative anyway. Nobody can live for 5 seconds based on the idea that truth is relative. If truth is relative I could be in my living room typing a blog post or on Waikiki beach in Honolulu or in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives, or all three places at once. If truth is relative it is not possible to know anything.Therefore, those who hold these views end up sneaking truth in the back door. They say it does not matter what is true but only what works. But this implies that it is true that it works. It also must work to achieve something, and that thing must be true. Or we can say that what matters is what is true for me. But this implies that it is true that this is true for me. Further, without truth I cannot determine what this thing that is true for me even is. Or we can bravely face that the fact that life is absurd and has no meaning. But if life is absurd and has no meaning, what difference does it make if I face it bravely or quivering in a corner. If truth is relative, everything is meaningless including the idea that truth is relative. The fact that I am writing and you are reading this blog post proves we do not really believe it.

Why, then, do people cling to this idea that makes no sense. It is because they want to apply it selectively. They do not try to apply it in their everyday lives. But in areas like theology and morals where truth can be inconvenient they want to believe it is relative. This is true whether we want to not believe in God or morals because it cramps our style or whether we do want to believe in God and think reason shows otherwise.  If the things of everyday life are true, then it follows that ultimate things must also be true. If ordinary things exist, they must be created by God or the result of blind chance. If we are the result of blind chance, then all our thoughts are the product of blind chance. And if they are the result of blind chance, then we cannot know anything. But there is no reason for believing blind chance must be true. Science give us the general rules why nature behaves the way it does, but it cannot say if there is a God beyond nature who can intervene to suit His purposes. Therefore, relative truth and blind chance lead to the same conclusion: that we cannot know anything. Considering the consequences, I must conclude they are views to avoid.

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