Saturday, September 12, 2009

What is True for you is Truly True Son, enter the game, ethics party of one

I believe in absolute Truth. I take it a step further and evoke the authority of the Bible as the standard of Truth. I say the Bible is not just true about history, origins of the Universe, and spirituality, but that it is the framework from which all Truth is derived. (John 17:17, I Th 2:13).

It is important to remember a few things about Truth.

Truth is discovered not invented. One cannot invent something to be true; it is either true or it is not true. No amount of coercing or work will turn something not true into something true. But you may ask, what about the statement, “men cannot fly?” This would appear to be true in the 1800s but not after December 17, 1903 when the Wright brothers made their first sustained flight. In fact, the truth here is that even before the Wright brothers flew their plane for the first time the physics existed for them to do so. They did not invent a new truth they just hadn’t discovered it yet. The Wright brothers didn’t change any intrinsic laws of the Universe they just figured out how to use them.

Beliefs cannot change a fact. This is hard for our society today; we like to hold our truth claims because they make us feel good, make us feel like better people. Whether or not they are true doesn’t matter as long as I feel good about it. I was reading a note by Steve Saint, president of Itec. He mentioned how so many missions today trips do very little good and in fact are detrimental to the very country or people group they are going to “minister too.” See Trendy can have a Dangerous Twist” on Itec’s face book page. He argues that our Missions trips in fact are not helping anyone. They are a selfish way for us to feel about good about ourselves all the while believing we are “making a difference.” Our belief that we are making a difference does not change the fact that we are not making a difference. This is true no matter how hard you believe it.

Since Truth is only discovered and belief cannot change facts then as culture, time and language change Truth will transcend all of that. Tim Keller said that someone can reason to a point of probability, but it takes personal commitment to reach a point of certainty. The general 3 positions on God are Theist, Agnostic, and Atheist. All are faith positions.

Atheist: Assumes that if there was a God, the scientific method would reveal the existence of God. This puts the scientific method and Man’s ability to objectively observe on a very high pedestal when there is no reason it should be. The only reason we have for believing this is the consistency our 'models' have with nature. This idea assumes God is a natural product of science which to be compromises the very character and definition of God. That is why science can never reveal the existence of God. Atheist then take the next logical step and say because he is not a product of nature he does not exist.

Agnostic: Contrary to popular belief the agnostic position is also a position of faith. It assumes the Truth about God cannot be known. God may or may not exist, but we cannot know. The idea is that it is unattainable, and that both the atheist and theist are simply emotionally caught up in their belief system. Agnostics will tell you that if there is conclusive evidence they would believe one way or the other. But most of them don’t change their mind when evidence is presented. Their faith is in themselves. They trust in their own ability to decide when facts are facts. They want to be viewed as intellectually honest when really they are just being politically correct. You are considered to be more Enlightened if your view is more “all inclusive.” The more of Humanity is included in your view the more True is is.

Theist: Assumes God exists, created everything and has a plan for humanity. Theists do not assume that the scientific method could reveal God because God does not relate to his creation that way. C.S. Lewis said that God is to his creation as Shakespeare is to Hamlet. The relationship is such that Hamlet would only know of Shakespeare’s existence if Shakespeare were to write himself into the story. Hamlet could not perform any experiment that would reveal Shakespeare. This is precisely what God did in the form of the Bible and personified in the form of Jesus Christ.


あじ said...

The Logos is truth: the Logos was made flesh. Nothing that is can came into existence apart from the Logos. To elevate the written word to the same level as the incarnate Logos risks diminishing the incarnation. The scriptures are word, but not in the same sense. If Christ did not have physical life apart from his human body, likewise the scriptures do not have life apart from the body, the church.

The Thessalonians passage is referring to the apostolic message, not a written document per-se. There were many churches scattered throughout the ancient world before almost any of the New Testament was even written, and they were fully functional, even as they received new instructions from a church council (Acts 16).

I agree that Truth is not invented (though a great deal of "truth" (a second kind) is constructed, but that is a very long subject indeed). However, I disagree that Truth is discovered. To accept the idea of Truth, it must be revealed (though a third kind of truth can be "discovered" by science, mathematics, etc., that by methodological constructs) rather than discovered. This may be because I place discovered truth in the realm of empiricism, and what you are getting at doesn't go there. Discovered truth is always in some sense constructed, for we must describe our discoveries with language, i.e. using a construct to build a construct.

Even revealed truth is revealed within a construct, particularly if it is to be verbalized. The fortunate thing is, not all Truth can be verbalized. This is very hard for us to grasp.

At any rate, it's late and my head hurts.

acastro said...

Well said.

Mike said...

I agree with Andy. Well said. I Think our culture and language are a big part of the "construct" through which we perceived and communicate truth. I call it "churchiantiy" or "religious speak". Even though people in these forms or contructs are speaking the Truth: the bible, their words come across as little more than argots that the hearer has never had the chance to understand. Paul the Apostle did a great job of overcoming this when he preached on Mars hill. He quoted one of their poets and verbalized his(Paul's) acknowledgement of their panthestice world view and described it as "superstitiousness". He used that to lead into a description of the true God and his call to repentence. I think a lot Baptists fail to reach people because the call gets "dropped" before the message ever gets to the hearers. They then falsely conclude that the hearer is stubborn, rebelious, or a God hater. Some are, but most are just amazed that those who speak for Truth know nothing about effective communication between people and cultures. Evangelicals, myself included, are more like screaming monkeys with cell phones in their hands. They dont know how to use them as they were designed, so they use them as hammers instead of communication devices. All the while they sqwak more loudly about the folly of evolutionary theory and the sad state of current events. And we wonder why the world thinks we'er wierd rather than share our wonder at the matchless grace of Jesus.

Talon said...

One must also consider that truth is also known in a given context; depending on all other factors in a given situation a statement may or may not be true.

To use an example from earlier, the statement that man cannot fly. This is not true in the sense that the physics that made flight possible did indeed already exist; however human flight could only be achieved by means of tools and technology that became available at a certain date.

This is why we use notations such as "iff" (if and only if) in mathematical and scientific proofs. Statement A is true iff conditions X, Y, and Z are met.

Absolute truth, then, is a truth that exists regardless of conditions. Therefore many things in existence may be true in a given context, but not all truths are absolute.

Perhaps there is a difference, then, between "truth" and "verity."