Reader’s Prologue for the second and last part:
Does an absolute truth really exist? Does it mean something special to the life? What’s the definition of truth? Is there any absolute definition exists, and if it is, then who will justify the definition as absolute to prove the existence? What does truth really mean on the opposite of lie? Which one is come to the first in this earthly surface? If there is an absolute truth exist (in term of argument and if we agreed that somehow an absolute truth existed in the surface) then why not the absolute lie? Which one is necessary first to validate the other?
What’s the way to justify the shape of absolute truth? Is it inborn with us? Is it intuitive or perception based? Does relativism define its shape for human race? Does the validity of absolute truth (to the parallel why not the absolute lie!) depend on the existential validity of the universe? Is the belief of an absolute truth is really a plausible theorem? Is it scientific? Does the evolution of the universe support something like that? What’s the de facto to prove the absolute?
Dear readers, I just raise here the questions to read the controversies on absolute truth paradox. Anybody can raise a lot more, because truth, lie and perhaps the absolute truth… these words are simply symbolic and ethereal. We’re living on a transitional material world, where the material shape destined to obey the laws of universal nature. Everything (visible and invisible) works here according to the randomness of relation and coherence, expansion and contraction. Everything having in chance to stay on the ordered state and soon have a chance to fall in the disordered chaos.
This experimental theory of selfishness contradicts to the benevolent Master Designer of everything.
It’s not pleasant to adjust with the theorem that this universe represents the giant jigsaw puzzle, whereas the fragmented pictures look fine-tuned or symmetrical in the jigsaw, but it could be capsize by any moment. Yeah, the theorem of chance, uncertainty, chaos and the explanation about “everything is coming here from the disordered state without having any intention of order” is also a theoretical interpretation of the creation, but we have to consider this for its well-organized mathematical model to rationalize the facts of universe.
The debate on justifying the absolute truth (and be the absolute false) needed to consider the scientific notions of creation before to place any new proposition. With due respect, I’m courteously say that, the article writers (both of Mr. Matthew Hammerton and J. Warner Wallace) not considered so well the scientific evidences and logical models in their discussion. These models indicate some new arena to think about the fact that how life begun here and what are the consequences now appear on the screen after the beginning.
However, as an apologist of Christian faith, Mr. J. Warner Wallace tries to prove his argument (absolute truth is not a lie and it existed if we consider the facts rationally) by using the scientific facts (indeed very little) to an example of proving his argument. Dear readers, mind my language, I think Mr. Wallace either misunderstand the scientific notions or be misinterpreted the notions to serve his love and apologia to the absolute truth (perhaps his Christian God). Let try to focus on his argument. He treats knowledge as “properly justified true belief (PJTB)” and according to his verbal, it is:
“In other words, knowledge is belief that corresponds to reality in a way that is evidentially sufficient. Based on our discussion so far, it should be clear that (1) truth exists, and (2) truth can be sufficiently known.”
Wallace tries a lot to give the evidence in his article. He discussed on philosopher’s views about the absolute truth, quoted the religious (specially the biblical words) notation to explain the whimsical facts of absolute, and in chance also tries to pick some example from the scientific notions about life and creation. I just pick here some lines from the paragraph he tries to justify his argument by using the science as the seeker of absolute truth:
“… Many of these were true and false tests! How can you take those kinds of tests if there is no absolutely true answer? Finally, the very existence of this teacher was the result of a set of absolute truths that can be found in his DNA chain! The color of his eyes, the color of his hair, his sex and an incredible number of other absolute truths were (and still are) based on absolute truths about his DNA sequencing! If you were to ask this chap if he had ever made a mistake in his entire life, I’ll bet he would say, “of course!” but that presumes that there is a truthful measuring stick that can be compared to his behavior! If there is no truth, then no one can make a mistake!”
“See, the truth is not always as easy as 2+2=4. Sometimes it has to be uncovered and considered and discovered like e=mc2. It takes time. It takes desire, but most of all, it takes an understanding that there is a truth and it can be found. If Einstein did not truly believe this, he would have stopped thinking about the theory of relativity long before he ever got started.”
I think his mentioned quote diverted the common perception of truth to the scientific actions of human evolution. The building blocks (atomic particles) of the body are impersonal about the truth paradox. They have yet not carried any intention and scientists yet not found any particle (and the DAN Cell too) which could be carry the absolute truth feature. The perception of truth and false (so far I know) is just the true outcome of the societal evolution of human race. This perception greatly depends on the evidence of our societal and religious evolution in time.
The contradiction, controversy and lot other on truth paradox is truly relates with the evolution of class-conflicts, property-manipulation, power-hegemony and religious beliefs. The curiosity and question about the existence of “true God” certainly a philosophical notion and to the parallel science also involve itself to the question, because it carries the curiosity that “who be the first mover of the creation”, but it doesn’t mean that science is anxious to find the absolute.
The logical argumentation and metaphysics of science is always inductive in nature, where it follows and examines the previous sequential models and its mathematical correctness to move forward. Yeah, a scientist do believe in his idea (as Einstein believed that the universe have some ways to carrying the cosmological constant in an orderly state, despite the uncertain massive chaos and reduction in quantum level) to move forward, but he never waste a second to thrown the idea in garbage-box if later it proves wrong.
Recent scientific experiment and theories (in some extent) think like that the cosmological constant perhaps rule over the universe, but its truth depend on the structure of the theory as Stephen Hawking mentioned in his book “Grand Design”. A good scientific theory needed four principles and that is:
I. The theory ought to be aesthetic of imagination and mathematical model. II. It has strong predictability of its logical arguments and it could be scientific, so that none can use the model by whimsically to serve his intention. III. The theory has its own capacity to prove the strength of assumption and to assimilate or blending itself to the present or future scientific experiment. IV. It must be contained depicted picture of future-based assumption, it could be imaginary and metaphysical, but the model has to be great ability of relevance to the theories coming at future.
The working-method of science is not relative to truthfulness. Confidence that “my theory is true” and the condition of the theory (as Hawking mentioned in his book) are quite different. Scientific philosophy is impersonal to the fact, and experimental to the reality. The pragmatism of scientific theory could never work in deductive way what philosophy (and theology also) can do it in great extent.
The building blocks (atomic particles) of the body are impersonal about the truth paradox. They have yet not carried any intention and scientists yet not found any particle (and the DAN Cell too) which could be carry the absolute truth feature.
I think depended on scientific theorem to solve the “true God” equation is an uncomfortable idea. Scientific notions and the metaphysical model can help to moving forward to the idea but it can be falsify at any moment of new ideas according to the consequence. Science is not liable to tell about anything “absolute” rather to examine the claim by signet its own condition of logical thought and pragmatic experiments.
We want to relate science (in extent of truth-paradox and true God) only for three reasons: i. to know something evidential facts of the material world and the body-biology, ii. to infer the evolution process on solid ground of natural selection and genetic evolution (includes the DNA sequencing), iii. to materialize the metaphysical ideas by including the de facto approval of “what reality has to be and what it is.”
I carefully added this again, science is not the final solution-maker of our societal pragmatism (albeit I think scientist should have the morality of thinking about the societal pragmatism beyond over their scientific philosophy. I discussed it in my recent article “The perfect killing machine” in a separate context.). The belief on absolute truth could solve to consider more the anthropic principle of societal, economic, political, cultural, and obviously the theological evolution of human race. Whereas we could use the latest scientific thoughts to know the function of the body-machinery; as the genetics tells us that our gene-biology is selfish on nature, and we got the morality of altruistic love and affection by the long race of evolution from the reptile-age to the mammals-age.
This experimental theory of selfishness contradicts to the benevolent Master Designer of everything. That’s why we have to say that the true God created us as selfish and on the contrary He is selfish to his creatures. Do we agreed on that? Mr. Wallace missed the point in his apologia.
depended on scientific theorem to solve the “true God” equation is an uncomfortable idea.
Anyway, Bimal Krishna Matilal is probably realized the fact and avoids the scientific outcome carefully in his philosophical discussion. There’s lot to talk about the man but this prologue is not well-fitted to talk about him. I think the discussion of truth (and the true God) needed more space; it will happen very soon if my reading ability and curiosity permit me to do this. I request the readers to keep watch on the blog for further discussion and maybe the debate.
Is There an Absolute Truth? (Second and last part)
by J. Warner Wallace on Stand to Reason blog
Previous part link: Is There an Absolute Truth? (Part_1) by J. Warner Wallace
OK, so what kind of justification is sufficient to establish a truth as ‘properly justified’ What exactly do we need? We all want to be reasonable and rational people who hold reasonable and rational beliefs. And we all recognize that reason can lead us and connect us to truth. So, the real question is, “What is required for us to have ‘reasonable justification’?” Well, our daily life and our experience with the criminal court system in our country can help us understand the answer here. It is something that I call, “evidential sufficiency”:
Begin by understanding that every time you accept a new belief, you are going to have to jettison any old beliefs that contradict the new position. So here is the standard of ‘evidential sufficiency’ in a nutshell:
- Only accept a new belief if the evidence to support its truth far outweighs the evidence that exists to support the prior belief.
It’s really as simple as that. This is the standard that exists in the courtroom. We begin with the presumption that the accused is INNOCENT. This is the first belief that we are to hold until there is sufficient evidence to jettison that belief and find the accused GUILTY of the crime.
Sufficiency of evidence doesn’t really have much to do with the QUANTITY of the evidence offered, but instead is more concerned with the QUALITY of the evidence. So, for example, I might hold the properly justified true belief (‘PJTB’) that Paris Hilton golfed today based on a single piece of evidence: I actually golfed with her! This one piece of evidence (my eyewitness experience) would be sufficient for me to hold to this PJTB. On the other hand, I could still hold this PJTB even if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. If she was gone for three hours, came back carrying a set of golf clubs, got a phone call from the club saying that she left her sunglasses on hole number four, and presented me with her score card, I would have sufficient circumstantial evidence to hold the PJTB that she was golfing today. Sometimes one piece of direct physical evidence is enough (like my eyewitness observation) and sometimes a cumulative circumstantial case is required.
So, now that we have defined the elements of our equation, let’s revisit it one last time. Knowledge is properly justified true belief. In other words, knowledge is belief that corresponds to reality in a way that is evidentially sufficient. Based on our discussion so far, it should be clear that (1) truth exists, and (2) truth can be sufficiently known.
The Biblical Truth About Truth
Remember that unless truth exists and can be known, no statement about truth has any value. We’ve made a good philosophical case for truth, and it just so happens that Jesus himself affirmed that truth exists and that truth could be found. Let’s take a look at a few examples from the scripture:
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
God wants you to realize that people are inclined to question the truth, and even the truth about truth! God is not surprised that we do this, but he rejoices when we finally understand that there is an absolute truth about all things, including spiritual matters:
2 Timothy 4:2-5
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
3 John 1-4
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
How Do We Face A World That Denies Truth?
I can remember when I was in college and watched a teacher challenge a lone Christian in our class. The discussion on philosophy and faith systems turned to the issue of Christianity and absolute truth and the teacher began to question the Christian about his beliefs. He accused the young man of being an arrogant, judgmental bigot. How could this young man claim that HIS truth was the only truth? The teacher claimed that truth was personal and changes according to the holder.
But of course to make this very claim is a complete contradiction. When you say there is no singular absolute truth, you are making a claim of absolute truth. You are, in essence, saying “I claim absolutely that there is no absolute truth!” of course this teacher is living in a world of absolute truths, whether he wants to admit it or not! He required us to be there, sitting in his classroom, on time every day! For him, there was definitely an absolute truth about the starting time, and if you were just a little late, you would pay for it! And this same teacher required us to read a text book. Not any book, but the true book that he truly assigned! And we had to take tests. Many of these were true and false tests! How can you take those kinds of tests if there is no absolutely true answer? Finally, the very existence of this teacher was the result of a set of absolute truths that can be found in his DNA chain! The color of his eyes, the color of his hair, his sex and an incredible number of other absolute truths were (and still are) based on absolute truths about his DNA sequencing! If you were to ask this chap if he had ever made a mistake in his entire life, I’ll bet he would say, “of course!” but that presumes that there is a truthful measuring stick that can be compared to his behavior! If there is no truth, then no one can make a mistake!
This teacher would tell us that it was impossible to find and know the truth, but that was only because he really didn’t WANT to dig all that hard. See, the truth is not always as easy as 2+2=4. Sometimes it has to be uncovered and considered and discovered like e=mc2. it takes time. It takes desire, but most of all, it takes an understanding that there is a truth and it can be found. If Einstein did not truly believe this, he would have stopped thinking about the theory of relativity long before he ever got started.
The Importance of Asking the Right Questions
Sometimes the real problem is that we are asking the wrong question to begin with. That’s why we’re not able to realize and demonstrate the absolute truth. An old professor of mine told me about a dispute he was called to settle between a professor friend and a student. In an examination, the professor asked a simple question. “If I led you to a tall tower, and asked you to take a barometer to the top of the tower, how would you use the barometer to tell me how tall the tower is?” The teacher was looking for a specific answer that would utilize the barometer to measure atmospheric pressure at ground level and the top of the tower, and then develop the distance between these two points. But the student was a bit creative (and obstinate) and he gave a variety of answers that did not utilize the barometer as he had hoped. In each solution, the student used the barometer creatively as a pendulum, and object to measure gravity, as a tool for comparing shadow ratios, and as a simple bribe for someone who actually knows the height of the building! All of these ways led to the truth of the building height, but none uncovered the truth that the professor was looking for. Why? Primarily because the professor was asking the right question in the wrong way! He wasn’t SPECIFIC enough in his search for the truth from his student, and as a result, he got a number of answers to the question, without ever getting the answer he was looking for.
In a similar way, we are sometimes unspecific in our search for answers; sometimes we ask the wrong spiritual questions! If the question is simply how I can find happiness, or satisfaction, or purpose, well there are a number of ways I can do that (although most of them are very temporary). There may be many ways (many spiritual paths) that I can take in an effort to be happy or satisfied, but these goals are not specific enough. I’m asking some good questions (just like the professor) but they are not pointed enough. Happiness and satisfaction are secondary questions to a much more important question; what is the truth about the existence and nature of God? Personally, I am not interested in simple happiness and satisfaction. I am interested in the objective, absolute truth about God, because only this truth has long term significance.
A friend of mine recently purchased a new telescope in preparation for the recent location of mars in the northern hemisphere. There was a particular Wednesday when Mars was closer to earth than it had been (or will be again) for another 550 years. On that one day opportunity, he set up his telescope but discovered that he could NOT see Mars much better than he could a month prior with his old telescope! Why? Because he was wrong about the date of the sighting and was incorrect by exactly one YEAR! Holding true to the wrong information with sincerity, he made a sincere effort to see the red planet, but was sincerely wrong about the timing. All truths are not equal. Only one true Wednesday could reveal Mars in its nearest proximity. In a similar manner, the nature of truth is such that only one true notion of God will reveal Him to you and I today.
Could There Really Be Only One TRUE Way?
The reality is that the truth is not a matter of personal choice, and it’s comforting to know that what you discover is true today, will still be true tomorrow. But, there’s a reason why people want to deny there is an absolute truth…
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.
Jesus had to deal with people who did not believe there was an absolute truth. These kinds of people have existed from the beginning of time, although there are definitely more of us who embrace relativism today than in generations past! How do we answer those among us who are questioning the loving nature of God? How can he be loving yet so narrow minded as to limit us to only one way to know Him? Isn’t that unloving and unfair?
But if you look at the history of our relationship with God, you will see that he has actually given us a huge number of opportunities! Just recall the history. We rejected His gracious offer in the Garden, his Covenant agreement through Abraham, his guidance through the laws of Moses, his messages as delivered by the prophets, and then finally his own son. In light of all the ways that we have rejected him, the question should not be, “Why is there just one way?” but instead, “Why is there ANY way?”
Many of you are still battling with the idea that there could only be one true God and one way to get to him. Why do you think that is so? Is it because it doesn’t seem fair to us, in spite of the truth of our history with God? Or is it because we still want control? Let’s pray about these things and ask God to help us understand His mercy and the fact that He is so patient with us, and ask God to help us learn to trust Him for the truth.
Living Above the Lies
Now let’s go out and live our lives differently. Let’s accept the reality that there IS a singular truth about the nature of God, so we can truly begin to search for it. Then, let’s earnestly begin the search. If we are unwilling to even accept the premise that there IS an absolute truth, we will never begin the search that will eventually lead us to God. Let’s live above the lies that truth does not exist or cannot be known. Let’s begin the search for truth today.
Previous part link: Absolute Truth and the Truth Paradox (First Part) ⇒ Bloggers on debate