What is Truth?

Today in class we were asked by Dr. Heilker to answer the questions: What is the nature of truth? What is its relationship with language? in only ten minutes. Not a practical amount of time (at all), but made me think really deep really fast.

After sitting silent and pensive, wasting the first three minutes, I began to write about absolute truth versus honesty. We may all look at one object and determine it to be different colors. Color blind people may see blue as red. But which color is it? Is it just one objective color? The color blind person would honestly believe it to be red because that is what they see. Here is the difference between honesty and Truth: honesty is something that one believes in whether it can be proven or not while Truth is something that is defined and unchanging. There is one singular Truth. I speak of truth with a capital “T” because there is only one, absolute truth.

I cannot deny my faith, so I must bring it into conversation. As a Christian, I believe that God reveals those things to man that He chooses. His ultimate truth is unchanging and set from the beginning. We may not know or understand everything, but there is ultimate truth. We as fallible humans try to explain things with honesty, but often fall short. Truth is not a subjective fact that is created by man, but something much beyond our grasp and reach as humans.

Beyond a personal perspective, we discussed the three main epistemologies of truth:

1) Romantic World View where a singular Truth exists but is beyond the human sphere that can be apprehended by man. Like an asymptotic curve, we can get really close but never get there.

2) Aristotelian World View where a singular Truth exists in the physical reality of the universe and our experience of it. It is available to anyone who perceives it in the right lenses. Language is used as a transparent, unambiguous medium for communicating this Truth.

3) Social Construction Theory where only little, endless truth exist that change over time and are bound by context. It is something that human beings create and language is the base of these truths.

(Please respond if you feel obliged as I would love to start a conversation on the topic)

5 thoughts on “What is Truth?

  1. Like I said today in our in class discussion, I found it really interesting that you and I took different paths on this. As someone who feels awkward living in the scientific world with religious values, I started analyzing the difference between truth and correctness rather than truth versus honesty/belief.

    From my perspective, I see truth somewhat in terms of the social construction theory. It seems to me that what we perceive as truth is really just in our own minds, and what allows us to understand what truth is comes from language and the ability to communicate/share truths with people and ourselves. At the same time, though, I think there is a Truth, but I would refer to it as Divinity, not Truth.

    So I guess in short, I see truth as something human-made, separate from religion, but there is something more powerful than human-made truth that can nullify the human truths we create. I’m not really sure what theory you want to call it, but that’s my take on this topic. I’d love to hear any follow up thoughts you might have :)

    • I think this is the first time I have heard someone relate Truth to Divinity. I find it interesting because I know most people view divinity as the divine, or the triune of God. So to me I feel like you say that Truth is God. Is that a correct assumption? Also, I think you are saying that truth are those things that we create and generate as a society through scientific research and analysis. I find it hard to believe science is truth considering we are human and science contradicts itself sometimes. Thoughts?

  2. One of the important things I have learned in the years of my attempts to live my Christian faith and my intellectual life is that my notion of what was truth changed. I don’t know if there is a “Truth” out there that is unchanging. But I am fairly sure that it is VERY difficult for humans to figure it out if it is there. Thus, what I was fully convinced was truth when I was 20 was not the same as what I was fully convinced was truth when I was 30, which was not the same as what I was fully convinced was truth when I was 40, …

    I am much less confident asserting what I ‘know’ to be ‘true’ because I’ve seen my ‘realities’ change a lot.

    • Dr. Papillon, I completely agree that it is hard to figure out or even prove if there is a Truth. I guess that is where my Christian faith and belief comes into play. I like your analysis of realities changing for you in life. Since I am still so young I have only seen part of what I believed to have been truth change. I can only think that life is a growing process of having our realities change so that we can discover “Truth”.

  3. Through experience and greater understanding (I won’t call it wisdom, yet) I too agree that what I believe to be True has changed over time. As we’re not all-knowing, that can only be what should happen, right? I think of faith as allowing ourselves to believe in a Truth (or a Divinity) beyond our limited understanding of the world around us, which in turn helps me to reconcile my reliance on science with my faith in a Divinity.

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