Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Nature of Truth

Read the prior message in this series: "What is Truth"

If truth is defined as conformance to reality, it assumes an objective reality "out there" with which to conform. My truth seeking adventure is all about discovering this objective reality, both the natural and supra-natural. (Methodological materialists un-necessarily rule out the supra-natural by definition. This is an arbitrary and mistaken approach to seeking Truth.)

Rene Descarte's famous cogito ergo sum ("I think, therefore I am" in Latin) expressed his methodology of following the path of doubt all the way down to the bottom. He systematically doubted everything until he got to the end of the line. The one thing he discovered he couldn't doubt was that he was doubting. After hitting this bottom he proceeded to build up an entire worldview starting from cogito ergo sum. DesCarte started from the basic axiom that he was a rational being capable of logic and perception.

Being a bit of a skeptic myself, I start here too. We can go a long way from this point on just two basic axioms. My friend Dr. Tom Pittman eloquently outlines his logical path in his essay on "What's Really Important." As Dr. Pittman points out, moral absolutes provide a compass to truth. Without such absolutes we pretty much lose hope of knowing anything at all. Perhaps this is why atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared God dead and eventually went insane. Once you give up absolutes, nihilism is the logical outcome. At least Nietzsche was being consistent with his (mistaken) beliefs. Apart from moral absolutes, life is meaningless. (Read the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes for a great treatise on the meaninglessness of life.)

Unfortunately, even if we agree on the necessity of absolutes, we run into trouble past this first step. All of us have our own perspectives and opinions. We each interpret reality through our personal experiences and beliefs. That is the best we can do alone. This is why I say the quest for Truth is not a solo venture. We must work through this interpretation of reality problem in community with other truth seekers.  We may disagree on some of the particulars, but if we have the same basic assumptions we should be able to find unity in the truth. If we agree to disagree we either have different basic assumptions, or we're not being honest.

Absolute truth is offensive to many people because tolerance has supplanted truth as the highest virtue in our post-modern society. My intent is not to offend. I hope to prove that absolutes are not only necessary, but the only rational path to discovering truthful answers on the meaning of life. I hope to persuade you to reject relativism and embrace Absolute Truth.

Read the next message in this series: "The Value of Absolutes"

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