(English theologian, 1888-1976)
The belief in the unchanging character of truth that began with Platonism prevailed until the 19thc. During these centuries of classicism, the objective truth was looked upon as fixed and expressible in unchanging concepts outside the mind. Truth was regarded as so objective as to exist apart from any one’s possession of it. However from the 19th c. onwards, the ideas of ‘historical consciousness’ and evolution brought a different concept of truth. According to the new perspective, truth is affected by the relativity of history because truth is an affair of the human subject who is a historical being. Truth is a function of developing minds and is always marked by historicity. Human beings’ points of view, their experiences, concepts and language are constantly changing. People’s grasp of truth, therefore, changes as well. The static form of truth presented by orthodoxies and heredited traditions is a retreat from the responsability of living in history. A dynamic point of view about truth must prevail over the classical static one, inherited from the Greeks and pursued by Medieval Scholastic thought.
According to D’Arcy, many modern thinkers, obsessed in their denunciation of the static truth, exaggerate the impact of culture, society, history and subjectivity on human knowledge. D’Arcy espouses the view that there must be a way of reconciling the static and the dynamic, being and becoming, the fixity of doctrinal truth and its power to evolve, the content that remains and its expression that changes. Mankind reads and re-reads the doctrines which are stable and absolute. He quotes Newman’s famous dictum: “Change, there may be, but not of identity”.
* D’Arcy Martin, Humanism and Christianity, Meridian Books, 1970
( Contemporary British R.C. theologian)
D’Costa finds fault with the ‘classical’ threefold typology adopted by many theologians: exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism. Exclusivism is the position that only one religion is true and the others ultimately false. Pluralism is the assumption that all religions lead to the same truth, namely the transcendent divine reality. Inclusivism is the mediated position contending that one religion is definitely true but that the saving truth can be found in incomplete form in other traditions.
D’Costa ‘s thesis is that both pluralism and inclusivism are concealed forms of exclusivism. From this he concludes that only the exclusivist position on religious truth is tenable.
Inclusivism, according to him, collapses into some form of exclusivity inasmuch as it does not affirm other religions as they understand themselves but only as elements that the inclusivist tends to prize. The inclusivist is thus a disguised exclusivist.
D’Costa devotes more space to a critique of all forms of pluralism, both Western (mostly John Hick) and Eastern (Radhakrishnan). The Western type of pluralism is influenced by Enlightenment modernity which denies the possibility of God’self-revelation. For Hick all religions are salvific paths to the one divine “Real”, but since this Real is absolutely incomprehensible, the attempts to specify it in the various religions is ‘mythological’. For D’Costa, such so-called “pluralist position” amounts to an exclusivist position in which the (hidden) faith of their authors is the ontological assumptions of Enlightnement modernity. The problem is aggravated by the fact that these authors do not recognize their own exclusiveness.
Radhakrishnan offers another type of religious pluralism. He claims that humans can have an intuitive apprehension of the Absolute. The experience of this direct communion with the Absolute is the core of Advaita Vedanta which ranks supreme is the religious hierarchy. Second are the worshipers of the personal God, third come the devotees of incarnate divinities.According to Radhakrishnan, all religions are true in some way but the absolute truth belongs to Avdaita Vedanta. D’Costa maintains that Radhakrishnan’s apparent pluralism conceals a subtle but clear form of exclusivism: not the exclusivism of Elightnement modernity but the exclusivism imposed by the excellence of Advaitic philosophy.
D’Costa concludes that pluralism does not exist, being in all cases a form of exclusivism. There cannot be many religious truths but only one at the exclusion of all others.
* D’Costa, Gavin, The Meeting of Religions and the Trinity, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York,2000; Theology and Religious Pluralism, Basil Blackwell, Orford, 1986
(French physicist and philosopher of science, b. 1922)
The true being or “veiled reality” beyond the phenomena
D’Espagnat stresses the role of science in grasping empirical reality, that is, the reality of experience or observation. He goes on, however, to note that other methods of insight, including the arts, provide windows on understanding the true realities that lie behind things, what he describes as “the ground of things.” “Artistic emotions essentially imply the impression of a mysterious realm which we may merely catch a glimpse of,” he says. If science yields true knowledge, still, concerning the ground of things, science has no such privilege.
He notes that quantum physics merely predicts observational results. As far as describing reality, it suggests that not only our plain, everyday concepts of objects but also our scientific concepts refer only to phenomena – that is, to mere appearances common to all.
d’Espagnat warns that experiments often falsify theories and so there must exist, beyond mere appearances, something that resists us and lies beyond the phenomena, a “veiled reality” that science does not describe but only glimpses uncertainly. Contrary to those who claim that matter is the only reality, the possibility that other means, including spirituality, may also provide a window on ultimate reality cannot be ruled out. Although he concedes the theological implications of the term “veiled reality,” he guards against using it as justification for specific religious doctrines which can be falsified by reason and fact.
d’Espagnat says that, “the possibility that the things we observe may be tentatively interpreted as signs providing us with some perhaps not entirely misleading glimpses of a higher reality and, therefore, that higher forms of spirituality are fully compatible with what seems to emerge from contemporary physics.” He contends that “Mystery is not something negative that has to be eliminated. On the contrary, it is one of the constitutive elements of being.”
* Bernard d’Espagnat Un atome de sagesse: Propos d'un physicien sur le réel voilé. Paris: Le Seuil, 1982
(French author and philosopher, 1723-1789)
The greatest obstacles to truth: religions
When we examine the opinions of men, we find that nothing is more uncommon, than common sense; or, in other words, they lack judgment to discover plain truths, or to reject absurdities, and palpable contradictions. We have an example of this in religions, systems revered in all countries by a great number of men.
But whoever uses common sense upon religious opinions, and will bestow on this inquiry the attention that is commonly given to most subjects, will easily perceive that Religion is a mere castle in the air. Theology is ignorance of natural causes; a tissue of fallacies and contradictions. In every country, it presents romances void of probability, the hero of which is composed of impossible qualities. His name, exciting fear in all minds, is only a vague word, to which, men affix ideas or qualities, which are either contradicted by facts, or inconsistent.
The human mind, confused by theological opinions, ceases to know its own powers, mistrusts experience, fears truth and disdained reason, in order to follow authority. Man has been a mere machine in the hands of tyrants and priests. Always treated as a slave, man has contracted the vices of slavery. Ignorance and servitude are calculated to make men wicked and unhappy. zKnowledge, Reason, and Liberty, can alone reform and make men happier. But every thing conspires to blind them, and to confirm their errors. Priests cheat them, tyrants corrupt and enslave them. Tyranny ever was, and ever will be, the true cause of man's depravity, and also of his calamities.
In vain should we attempt to cure men of their vices, unless we begin by curing them of their prejudices. It is only by showing them the truth, that they will perceive their true interests, and the real motives that ought to incline them to do good. Instructors have long enough fixed men's eyes upon heaven; let them now turn them upon earth. An incomprehensible theology, ridiculous fables, impenetrable mysteries, puerile ceremonies, are to be no longer endured. Let the human mind apply itself to what is natural, to intelligible objects, truth, and useful knowledge.
To discover the true principles of Morality, men have no need of theology, of revelation, or of gods: they have need only of common sense. They have only to commune with themselves, to reflect upon their own nature, to consider the objects of society, and of the individuals, who compose it; and they will easily perceive, that virtue is advantageous, and vice disadvantageous to themselves. Let us persuade men to be just, beneficent, moderate, sociable; not because such conduct is demanded by the gods, but, because it is pleasant to men. Let us advise them to abstain from vice and crime; not because they will be punished in another world, but because they will suffer for it in this.
The way of truth is straight; that of imposture is crooked and dark. Truth, ever necessary to man, must necessarily be felt by all upright minds; the lessons of reason are to be followed by all honest men. Men are unhappy, only because they are ignorant; they are ignorant, only because every thing conspires to prevent their being enlightened; they are wicked only because their reason is not sufficiently developed.
* d’Holbach, Date and place of publication unknown. Original publication in French, 1770, as La Système de la nature, under the name of Jean Baptiste de Mirabaud.
(Indian spiritual personality, 1908-1988)
A truth is true only if it does not to hurt a single living being
People become relentless in trying to prove and adhere to their truth. Do not insist on truth. If someone questions your truth or opposes your truth then you should realize there is something wrong with your truth. What is the nature of truth? When is any truth a truth? It is not enough that we just look at the truth.
Exact truth should have four components. It should be true (satya), accepted by the others (priya), beneficial to others (hita), and short in expression (mita). When all four of these components are present then only it is called truth. If not, then the so-called truth becomes an untruth.
Firstly “naked” truth is unsuitable in worldly dealings and should be avoided as it hurts others. Naked truth means to say the truth as it is without the other three components above. It is a truth but one that will upset other people and therefore truth becomes an untruth.
Secondly truth that is spoken should be pleasant to the one who hears it. Then only he or she will accept it. If words of truth hurt the other person it becomes an untruth. Persistently hanging on to one’s truth turns it into an untruth. It is not truth when people are hanging on to its tail. Truth means that it should be acceptable and agreeable to others.
The third component of truth in spoken words is that it must be beneficial to the other. This is very important and one needs to exercise care here before expressing it, no matter how true one considers one’s truth to be. What good is it, if it is not beneficial to others?. If it is not acceptable and pleasant to the other person your truth becomes an untruth.
The fourth component of truth that is uttered is that it must be short and said in few words. Endless discourse and diatribe hanging on to your version of your truth is wrong and becomes an untruth. It makes your truth ugly. Mita means that it should be within limits. It is not considered truth if it is not said in a few words. Otherwise the other person will find it cumbersome. Insistence on any truth makes it an untruth. Speech is beyond truth and untruth. If one chooses to make it the truth he can and if he chooses to make it an untruth he can do that too. Neither can be spoken with obstinacy. It becomes poisonous if spoken with obstinacy. The writers of scriptures say that the scriptures of this world become untrue if there is insistence on their truth and they become true when there is no insistence. If you insist that truth is truth, it will become an untruth. Therefore discard all fight about truth and untruth. Truth means not to hurt a single living being through your thoughts, speech and acts. That is the final truth. This is the real truth.
*See Internet Dadashri Gnani Purush
(Contemporary Mormon theologian)
“Omniscience” is required for identifying truth
While scientific method seems at first glance able to provide truth, careful examination reveals that science is unable to positively identify truth. Both incomplete lists of possibly-consistent hypotheses and incomplete scope of evidence presently proscribe positive identification of universal truth by science. Orthodox Christianity and much religion in general also fails to provide an adequate truth criterion. But the Biblical and Book-of-Mormon “doctrine of Christ” does provide an adequate universal-truth criterion.
Adoption of science has often motivated rejection of religion. Contention between these two adversarial systems of belief is real and due to several causes. One cause of confusion and contention is the differing scopes of the two systems. Science considers only objective facts (and thus considers only the material universe). Christianity considers all facts (and thus considers the total universe, primarily nonmaterial). In the skeptical discipline of science, validity of nonobjective facts is suspect. In the comprehensive view of religion, objective facts are too restrictive to provide total-universe understanding. Because of these usually unmentioned differences in considered evidence, scientists tend to regard Christians as naïve in their acceptance of questionable facts and Christians tend to regard scientists as blinded by their narrow vision and lack of belief.
Central to method is the vital issue of truth criterion. Both scientists and orthodox Christians generally utilize an inadequate truth criterion. Invoking philosophy does not help because the problem of truth criterion is not often treated in philosophy and in the instances when it has been addressed it remains unresolved.
An adequate truth criterion was used by early Christians and is prominently mentioned in the Bible as the rock upon which Christianity was founded. But this foundation requires subjective belief in God. Moreover, this Biblical truth criterion is nearly uniformly rejected in present orthodox Christian belief and practice. As a result, as a matter of method, neither scientists nor orthodox Christians possess a reliable basis for recognizing truth and have often failed to embrace it. No wonder antagonism between scientists and religious believers and among the latter by themselves is deep, long-lived, and threatening.
The Biblical truth criterion used by early Christians, mentioned but not fully elaborated in the Bible is presented in detail in a source contemporary with the Bible: The Book of Mormon. Using this truth criterion for Christianity the methods of science and Christianity are placed on appropriate foundations. Both win in the sense that their utility and value are understood at a fundamental level so that they can be properly used, each in its own universe, without confusion. Science and religion are presented together in this book because comparison and contrast between them provide better understanding of both, understanding far beyond what is provided by the usual consideration of each one by itself.
To positively identify truth in science and in philosophy, an improved truth criterion or direct access to Omniscience is needed. Such a truth criterion is unknown in science but this capability is taught in some religious systems that generally indicate that positive identification of truth by direct access to Omniscience is only obtained following the teachings of those systems. In Christian belief, for instance, omniscience required for identifying truth resides in One who we must trust to know truth. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This principle may appear to be exclusionary; but Christ invites each person to establish a personal relationship with Him.
* Barton E. Dahneke, Define Universe and Give Two Examples: A Comparison of Scientific and Christian Belief
(Tibetan spiritual master, b. 1935)
Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, essential for human survival. To cultivate it, there is no need of temples and no need of complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple and its philosophy is kindness.
Among the many delusions of ordinary life, the sense of discrimination between oneself and others is the worst form, as it creates nothing but unpleasantness for both sides. To meditate on ultimate truth helps us to eradicate this sense of discrimination. It will help to create true love for one another. The search for ultimate truth is, therefore, vitally important.
According to the Dalai Lama, the only "definitive truth" for Buddhism is the absolute negation of any one particular view as the Definitive Truth. Therefore, Buddhism strongly discourages blind faith and the fanaticism that derives from exclusivism. It is wrong for any particular religion to consider itself as the only truth. One of the causes of conflict in the past as well as the present is the different religious traditions. Their differences are real, and even indispensable on account of the variety of mental and cultural dispositions. All the same, they all affirm the fundamental message of love and compassion.
The idea of religious pluralism, which is gaining ground in our time, has a positive and constructive value. We need to acknowledge a diversity of religious traditions which should coexist in respect of each other in their capacity to build a better world, a more compassionate and peaceful humanity.
* The Power of Compassion, A Collection of Lectures by the XIV Dalai Lama, Thorsons Element, 1995
(Contemporary American evangelical writer)
A reply to: “It Does Not Matter if Christianity is True…”
Harvard’s Pastor Walton delivered his “Freshman Sunday” sermon, in which he gave his articulation of the Epistle of James: “Faith as defined in this epistle is not a mere cognitive assent to a belief in a divine being, Nor should faith be conceived as blind allegiance to a perceived sacred yet illusive reality. No, … such conceptions of faith are as morally vacuous as they are ethically inept. Rather, James is referring to faith in a sacred reality that reveals itself in human activity.”
Belief is revealed by action, Walton claims “It does not matter if Christianity is true, but rather can we, as those informed by the teachings of Jesus, make it true.”
Here is Harvard’s minister declaring in the heart of Harvard Yard that the truth of Christianity is insignificant. He detaches Christianity from the question of truth and appears to disregard the question of truth entirely. For him the truth of Christianity is in its living out. The Christian faith, he argues. is “faith in a sacred reality,” so there is an assertion of the reality of some sacred other. This sacred reality “reveals itself in human activity,” and so “faith is not something to be professed, as talk is cheap,” but faith is instead “something primarily to be done.”
This is not necessarily the denial of truth, but is at least its displacement. It’s one thing to say that we experience the truth of God in Christ when we live the life of Christ. It’s another to say that the only “truth” that matters is found in serving others. It’s one thing to say that we come to the truth through participation in the life of Christ. It’s another to say that there is no truth of Christianity apart from what we make true. The truth is the truth, whether or not anyone believes it or acts upon it. Christians historically have understood that they make the truth known through their deeds. But they do not make the truth true through their deeds.
When Walton denigrates the importance of professing one’s faith, he’s departing not only from Christian tradition, in which the proclamation of the Word and the confession of the gospel are paramount, but he’s departing from the tradition of Christ, who spent an awful lot of time “professing” as well as “doing.” Christ’s talk was not cheap. The Word is not cheap — and the Word was true eternally, long before there were people to “make it true.”
*See Internet Dalrymple Timothy
There is No Truth in Language : Truth is in Being and Doing
It is probable that most of us have been taught to assume that truth is something that is expressed in language or in sentence. At worst, this assumption is incorrect. At best, it is deceptive. Such an assumption makes the fatal mistake of assigning truth to the disembodied realms of semiotics and linguistics, thereby creating a disconnect between truth and being or truth and doing. It is this disconnect that we must overcome.
In order to do this, we must begin by realizing that language is nothing more than the manipulation of sounds (when it is verbalized) or signs (when it is written) within the framework of previously established rules and limits. That is to say, any truth value found within language is one that we a priori and arbitrarily assign to it. In and of itself, language has no meaning and expresses no truth. Even if we find it convenient to pretend that it is meaningful or truthful, all language is actually tautological.
Let us take the statement that ’1 + 1 = 2′. What we have are signs that we have arbitrarily manipulated and slotted into a particular language game (mathematics). Within that language games those signs have a particular meaning, leading to a statement that produces a supposed truth — but, once again, that truth only has value within the boundaries of that language game and it tells us nothing (true or false) about the world outside of that game. This truth is also fiction.
We need to understand that a great deal of what goes on in scholarship — in theology, philosophy, social theory, and our so-called quest for truth — is little more than this manipulation of signs and language games in order to create systems that are, perhaps, logically rigorous or aesthetically pleasing, but whose truth values have no relationship to any reality external to the games being played by the scholars.
The point is that no essay has truth in it. All essayists are doing is manipulating signs. Therefore, what matters is not the essay but what the essayist actually does with his or her life. Consequently, truth, if it is to be something concrete, or a-thing-that-is, must be sought in being and in doing. It is the truth that is found in these things that possesses significance and meaning. The truth that is found in language is ever only fictional — truth that is sought in being and doing is historical and material.
*See Internet Dan
(Contemporary American philosopher)
Postmodernism is not a theory as much as it is a concern for revealing the manipulative institutions and social structures that are embedded in modernist practices. It is deeply involved in the analysis and criticism of that form of rationality which associates reason with an autonomous transcendental subject capable of identifying truth in ontological terms. It is not a global attack on reason itself, neither a glorification of irrationality, but the rejection of all permanent standards of rationality by which to evaluate competing truth claims. Modernity (the Enlightenment) that postmodernism repudiates had adopted a cognitive vocabulary which claimed to be true for all human beings. It offered the prospect of attaining a universal truth in science, morality and art. History was the story of the progress of reason and individual freedom. Ultimately all knowledge would be unified and a consensus on truth would be reached. This European humanism dogmatically affirmed the privilege of universal reason. In place of having God as the guarantor of truth and knowledge (Descartes and before), the Enlightenment substituted reason as the totalizing activity of rational and autonomous subjects.
But for postmodernism this picture is vitiated because the gratuitous affirmation of humanistic “truth” is possible only by assuming that the subject can adopt a stance outside the social, political and linguistic legacy in terms of which rationality is defined. Since there are no “self-evident” truths apart from a self to whom they are evident, the process by which the selves are identified becomes a central concern for postmodernists trying to understand what is at the heart to the self-authorising character of reason. We can trust ourselves not to be deluded into thinking that we are acting rationally only if there is some way to verify that either the pursuit of a rational design for humanity or the disinterested pursuit of truth can occur independently of material relation of power, exclusion and domination. The postmodernist stance is that we cannot withdraw ourselves from those relations. Self-assured and self-authorising, the perceiving subject has no privilege stance for grasping himself and the world, because the subject does not control the linguistic ands cognitive means for assimilating what it knows. Therefore truth-claims about the self or the world are nothing more than unconscious suggestions about how we might speak rather than declarations about how things are.
Structuralism was the first strategy to denounce the demise of modernity. It indicated how the self and things in the world are intelligible in terms of their place in a network or structure of relations. However structuralism endorsed the view that there is something to be represented, and that there is a right order in which to make such representations. Structuralism retained the ontological commitments of modernity. The shift from structuralism to post-structuralism is the shift from the view that the network of social, cultural and linguistic practices represents some knowable truth about the world and the conditions of right thinking to the post-modern view that such practices constitute what is represented as truth, world and thought. Structuralism indicates how intelligibility is still possible because issues of subjectivity, history and truth are understood in the background of a network of relations. They are propped on the transcendent ground of structures. Intelligibility is still possible.
Unlike structuralists, poststructuralists do more than just situate issues of subjectivity, history and truth in networks of relations. They analyse and criticize these networks to prevent moving beyond the immediacy of experience to some transcendent ground. Any theory (structuralism included) and concepts falsify the nature of lived experience because they provide an order contrary to experience. For the poststructuralist, reality is nothing more than the complex ensemble of material, bodily drives and impulses, socio-political relations, and language differentiations. Thinkers and their ideas are intelligible only as functions of psychoanalytical, ideological or discursive exchanges; authors are the products of legal and institutional systems that determine the realm of discourses. Thus it makes no sense to say that an author’s text is meaningful in virtue of what he intends to say. Central ideas of modernist thought (self, certainty, rationality) are no longer allowed in philosophic discourse without acknowledging their biological, ideological and rhetorical heritage.
Thus postmodernity undermines the fascination of truth itself. At the same time it does not offer itself as the truth. It only aims at pointing out that no interpretation occurs apart from the material, ideological and linguistic conditions in terms of which it is intelligible. As these conditions are constantly changing, all we can legitimately do is make reference to those conditions as the context in which meaning emerges.
* Daniel, Stephen H., Postmodernity, Poststructuralism and the Historiography of Modern Philosophy, in International Philosophical Quaterly, Vol. XXXV, n_3, Issue n_ 139,Sept. 1995, p. 255-267
(French R.C. theologian, 1905-1974)
History shows that truth has always been hated by the powerful and disdained by the clever. But never more than in our times has truth been less loved. For our contemporaries to affirm the existence of truth amounts to dogmatism and intolerance. This kind of damaging reaction has many causes.
1.The progress and success of science in the 19thc. had developed an overwrought confidence that science can solve the last riddles of human existence and free man from the so-called metaphysical and religious certainties of the past. This positivistic stance is still held by a few today. However the contemporary attitude, less attracted by the scientific dogmatism of positivism, is one of deep-rooted agnosticism. The provisional character of scientific systems has put an end to the days of dogmatic statements. The notion of certainty is replaced by the notion of approximation. Nothing is final, everythig is provisional.
2. For the man of today, the subjective viewpoint of sincerity is substituted to the objective viewpoint of truth. The idea of an objective morality is replaced by an individual ethics of self-realisation. In the area of religion, more importance is attached to the genuineness of religious feelings than to the content of the faith to which one adheres. It matters litttle to which religion you belong provided you are sincere in your belief.
3. The criterion of effectiveness has become the criterion of truth. People judge by practical results. Whereas action should be the fruit of truth, the primacy of action over doctrine has relegated truth in the background.
Daniélou bemoans the modern betrayal of the idea of Truth. He turns to the Bible in which truth is the acknowledgment of what is most real and the sovereignly real is God. For the majority of people today what is most real is the world of their material existence and what is most unreal is the world of spiritual values and God. In contrast to this humanist self-sufficiency, the Bible takes the religious dimension as the measure of man in what he truly is, a being essentially related to God. To accept the truth, to acknowledge what is, is tantamount to saying ‘yes’ to God. The mind that insists on being utterly self-dependent chooses to live in falsehood.
* Daniélou, J., The Scandal of Truth, Burns Oates, London, 1962
(Contemporary advocate of SSOA – the New Age “spiritual school of ascension”)
One's truth comes from within, never from a Guru: be your own Guru ! The truth of another shall never be your own truth
Inherent in the pattern of spiritual seeking is the search for a teacher or guru. The Guru or Spiritual Teacher curses all followers and takes away their spiritual information. The followers lose the unique truth and soul purpose inherent in their spiritual knowledge and also lose their power to evolve. This pattern has been played out for centuries. Now is the time for all initiates to become their own guru, become their own spiritual teacher, take back their power and information, follow their own inner guidance, and stand in their own truth.
The Guru believes that he/she knows more than his/her disciples do. In so doing, the Guru can fall into the trap of thinking they know everything and cease to evolve. Likewise, the disciple, in thinking the Guru knows more, subordinates himself or herself to the Guru's truth and also ceases to evolve. The pattern of the guru leads to death for both the guru and the disciple. Truth comes from within. Truth is unique to every initiate. Only the initiate will know what their unique truth is.
Group codependence is related to the need to either carry others who appear to be too weak to carry themselves or to place others upon a pedestal and worship them as God/Goddess. In the old paradigm of the guru, the guru is worshipped as God. In exchange, it is expected that the Guru will carry each of his disciples to enlightenment, because they are too weak to gain mastery of their own accord. This leaves neither the Guru nor the disciples capable of ascending.
In ascension, no one can ascend another. Each human must take full responsibility for transcending their own patterns and releasing their own karma. But it is human nature to follow the truth of another. It is for this reason that finding a guru or teacher in order to be on the spiritual path is often deemed necessary. Sometimes humans take it so far as to believe that they must go to the East, such as India or Tibet, to find the truth from a teacher of greater wisdom and knowledge that that which exists within the West.
Blind trust is emulated in the guru-disciple relationship. In such a relationship, the disciple blindly trusts the guru to lead him or her home. The disciple expects the guru to "do it for them", and the guru codependently takes care of the disciple. In exchange, the guru confiscates all of the disciple's spiritual knowledge, which in fact causes the disciple to lose their "truth". Neither the disciple nor the guru can ascend as a result, for ascension requires both to find their own sovereign truth and alter the biology of the form accordingly.
In ascension, trusting anything or anyone outside of oneself can pull one off track with the journey that their form and soul have devised. It is therefore advisable for all ascending masters to learn to tune into their own truth and follow it implicitly, trusting no one and cross checking all messages from guidance so that one may remain true to their journey home. The pitfalls and detours upon the spiritual path are many, and it is often through blindly trusting another that one becomes mislead and then misses their opportunity to ascend.
The truth of another shall never be one's own truth.
* See Internet SSOA Karen Danrich.
(Contemporary British artist and writer)
Art opens to many truths and thus liberates us from the dictatorship of one truth
If truth is a function of statements we make, can we apply the term ‘truth’ to art? Almost immediately we encounter a problem: to what extent can artworks (poems, artefacts, musical compositions) be considered as ‘statements’ – statements about ‘states of affairs’?
The concept of truth, particularly if defined in terms of correspondence theory, is misleading, unhelpful and possibly meaningless if we try to apply it generally to art. Our relation to artworks of any kind is primarily through feeling, sensation and interpretation. The more the artwork stirs our emotions, excites our senses and stimulates our interpretative or story-making capacities the more value we tend to place on it. In a sense we may feel let down or constrained if we encounter an artwork that has an overt ‘meaning’ or ‘story’. The imposition of meaning or truth-value, by the artist or a critic, is something we tend to resist or react against. Overly didactic or propagandist art tends not to be valued for long, precisely because it insists on itself as ‘the truth’. What we look for in artworks is, at the very least, many truths, or probably, a zone of interpretation in which ideas about truth are contested or presented in a complex way, or in which our usual notions or assumptions are challenged and our tendency towards binary judgements (true/false, right/wrong, good/bad) are suspended.
Truth, as a condition or attribute of statements or propositions, is usually seen as involving a closure or convergence of views, a settling of disputes in favour of one position or another that is seen to have predominant truth-value. Knowledge in this schema is considered as justified true belief. However there is a tension here between this sense of truth and the unsettled state of being open to multiple opinions, interpretations, imaginings and sensations that is characteristic of our engagement with artworks – and, I would argue, with the complex fluidity of everyday living. This view of art as a zone of interpretation and a nexus of possibilities is radically different to the notion of art as a zone of truth – a place, or object, in which truth resides or is revealed.
Maybe it would be best to avoid using terms like ‘truth’ in relation to the arts or to radically change our ideas about truth to take account of some of the issues I’ve raised. Perhaps truth is neither this nor that, or is this and that. Maybe it is more useful to see truth as a fulcrum – a state of dynamic equilibrium – a point of balance achieved when we laugh and play on the seesaw between opposing ideas, values and ways of doing or imagining. Wisdom can then be considered as a letting-go of dogmatic opinions, learning how to play with ideas and images, and being open to a multitude of stories and interpretations.
In our engagements with artworks we are often confronted with the presence or beingness of things – a state of actuality that is neither this nor that, yet also this and that, a coincidence of opposites in which truth is always plural, bifurcated, multi-facetted and diamond-like. Artworks are very beneficial partly because they often bring us to a mental clearing – a lightening of mind and being – in which we realise that there are no fixed essences or essential truths but only a network of interdependent possibilities and potentialities open to endless reformulation and change. We find art exciting and revitalising in so far as we become open to many equal and contradictory meanings – all and none of which are ‘true’. In being open to many truths we are liberated from the dictatorship of one truth, and are thus empowered.
* Danvers John, Between many truths: art, empowerment & letting-go, Talking Truth to Power conference at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, March 2007.
(Contemporary British Internaut)
Why truth matters
* Truth has its own virtue. Most of the time we expect and want people - including our relatives, friends, politicians, doctors and professional advisers - to tell us the truth because we believe that it is important to know the truth and honourable to express the truth.
* Only humans can discern truth. Of all life on the planet, only humankind can rise above conditioning or instinct and identify truth, so that this is in effect one of the defining characteristics of what it means to be human.
* Truth is an intrinsic part of human history and culture. All our historic and contemporary experience is based on identifying the best possible understanding of truth and building upon this to create a better understanding of our world and our universe.
* Truth is necessary for a consistent and meaningful approach to life. If we do not know whether statements are true, we cannot make reasonable decisions about our life, such as whether to marry an individual or whether to buy a particular property.
* Truth is useful because it enables one to make predictions. If we are confident that things are true, then we can make assertions about the future with equal confidence, such as that a particular design of aircraft is safe or a particular form of sex is dangerous.
* The absence of truth is positively dangerous. If truth does not matter, then we can be persuaded to do things with great personal and societal implications, such as to use an ineffective treatment for HIV/AIDS or to go to war over weapons of mass destruction that do not exist. Equally we can deny the reality of the Holocaust or the evidence of global warming.
*See Internet Darlinggton Roger
(English naturalist, 1809-1882)
The truth about the evolution of species
The evolutionist Darwin has always been clear about the distinction between fact and theory if only because he has always acknowledged how far he is from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. He continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory - natural selection - to explain the mechanism of evolution. He wrote in The Descent of Man: "I had two distinct objects in view; firstly, to show that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural selection had been the chief agent of change. . . . Hence if I have erred in . . . having exaggerated its [natural selection's] power . . . I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations."
For Darwin, explanatory theory was equally as important in scientific inquiry as fact-gathering, and the test of the truth of a theory was its ability to group facts under a single generalization. "I believe in the truth of the theory [of natural selection], because it collects under one point of view, and gives a rational explanation of, many apparently independent classes of facts. It seemed incredible, he wrote, that "a false theory would explain, as it seems to me it does explain, so many classes of facts." ... Again, following the principles of positive science, the explanation had to be within the bounds of natural causation and had to employ causes and processes known or believed on good evidence to occur. Any hypothesis that met these two criteria could be held provisionally as work went on, and then modified if necessary. ... Natural selection, he thought, met both criteria; special creation met neither. It merely verbally accounted for species; it "explained" nothing.
Darwin acknowledged the provisional nature of natural selection while affirming the fact of evolution. The fruitful theoretical debate that Darwin initiated has never ceased. Scientists regard debates on fundamental issues of theory as a sign of intellectual health and a source of excitement. Evolutionary theory is enjoying this uncommon vigor. Yet amidst all the turmoil it has originated, no biologist has been lead to doubt the fact that evolution occurred; the debate is how it happened. They are all trying to explain the same thing: the tree of evolutionary descent linking all organisms by ties of genealogy. Creationists pervert and caricature this debate by conveniently neglecting the common conviction that underlies it, and by falsely suggesting that evolutionists now doubt the very phenomenon they are struggling to understand.
Darwin suffered much at the hands of creationists, who usually, like so many of his critics, approached the Origin of species as if it were a proof of evolution, which of course it was not. Its supporters, on the other hand, commonly viewed it correctly as a hypothesis, based on plausibly ordered evidence and heuristic in purpose. In one of his letters to a correspondent, he modestly acknowledged : “Thank you heartily for what you say about my book; but you will be greatly disappointed; it will be grievously too hypothetical. It will very likely be of no other service than collocating some facts; though I myself think I see my way approximately on the origin of species. But, alas, how frequent, how almost universal it is in an author to persuade himself of the truth of his own dogmas”.
*Darwin, Charles. 1859. On the origin of species, John Murray, London. 1964 facsimile edition, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge.
(American philosopher, 1917-2003)
1. Truth is a basic and primitive concept. All theories of truth have failed to define truth because it cannot be defined. This is hardly surprising for the concept of truth is so basic that without it we might not have any concepts at all. This does not mean that Davidson is a ‘deflationist’ (ready to eliminate the concept): he takes truth to be an important, explanatory concept. It is crucial to meaning because without an idea of truth we cannot understand meaning in terms of truth conditions. Concepts like truth, knowledge, belief, etc, are the most elementary concepts we have. Why should we expect to be able to reduce these concepts to other concepts that are simpler? We should accept the fact that what makes these concepts so important must also foreclose on the possibility of finding a foundation for them. All semantic analyses presuppose a pre-analytic conception of truth. Truth is an indefinable concept but this does not imply that the concept is mysterious, ambiguous, or untrustworthy.
2. On the positive side Davidson attempts to trace the connections between the concept of truth and the human attitudes and acts that give it body. We know a great deal about how the concept of truth applies to the speech and beliefs and actions of human agents. We use it to interpret their utterances and beliefs by assigning truth conditions to them, and we judge those actions and attitudes by evaluating the likelihood of their truth.
All thought, all knowledge presupposes beliefs, and having beliefs presupposes a grasp of the concept of objective truth, which in turn depends upon interpersonal communication. Communication between speaker and interpreter depends on “an interpersonal standard of consistency and correspondence”. This interpersonal standard is an “objective” standard. The interpersonal standard of the community of minds can give us objective assurance that our view of the world must be largely correct. Most of our plainest beliefs must be true and their nature known to others because their truth conditions and therefore their meaning, is constituted by the public objects and events in the world that cause them.
Thus Davidson finds a basis for objectivity in intersubjectivity, that is, in the relations between people reacting simultaneously to each other and stimuli from a shared world. Davidson finds a middle ground between subjectivity and absolute objectivity, between matter of taste and an objectivity based on the ideal of correspondence. That middle ground, the only usable notion of ‘objectivity’ is ‘agreement’ rather than ‘mirroring’. The notion that we might aspire to an impersonal objectivity beyond the community of minds is a delusion. Thus if we want to improve our standard of objectivity, it is vital to take steps to broaden our interactions within the community of minds.
Davidson ‘s view supposes an epistemologically equal world shared by all and attempts to make rational the sense of different perspectives. Objective knowledge in terms of truth-seeking must arise from interpersonal communication. Truth interpretation is relative to our active critical dialogical practices, rather than any kind of theoretical framework (the theories of truth). Dialogue can bring out the most favourable that can be, subject to further criticism and progress.
* Davidson, D., The Folly of trying to define truth, in Lynch, M.P., The Nature of Truth, Bradford Book, Cambridge, Massachussets, 2001, 624-640
(British theologian, 1923-1999)
1. Truth exists only in living minds. The objectivity of truth does not contradict the obvious fact that truth is also and always related to the human mind. This implies that human truth is always involved in the developping process of human intelligence. Truth attained by man is conditioned by the historical process. There is a historicity of truth reflecting the historicity of man. The mind of man is an open dynamism which seeks and pursues truth by incessant questioning.
Man’s relation to the truth is one of unwearing pursuit, never of final possession. This pursuit of truth requires complete openness and absence of prejudices. The person in search of truth is capable to reach objective certainties, but these certainties are partial and perfectible. Human knowledge is necessarily perspectival and affected by the limited horizon of historical situatedness. Human truth cannot be formulated once for all in immutable concepts and irreformable dogmas.
This is not ‘subjectivism’ or ‘relativism’. The value and objectivity of human knowing is guaranteed by the questioning dynamism of man’s spirit. He is able to constantly question, review and thus perfect his limited certainties. He can at any time alter his standpoint and widen his horizon. The fact that he is capable of avoiding the imprisonment of the particular standpoint of any historical perspective is the proof that he tends towards an objective ideal.
2. Unfortunately some people are afraid of the openness that welcomes all genuine questioning. The holders of orthodoxies of any kind seek reassurance and security in the stability of the particular ‘truth’ that they want to impose on others. That security is bought at the price of checking the dynamism of the human mind with its unceasing questioning. The openness that constitutes man’s spirit is blocked.
In particular, a genuine religious faith cannot be secured by a policy of suppressing the onward drive of human questioning. To remove religious faith from questioning is to place it outside the sphere of truth, and thus destroy it. Every formulation of religious belief represents a limited understanding from a given standpoint. Statements of faith cannot be interpreted in a way that denies the historicity and consequent changeability of all human knowing. Ideologies of any kind, whether political or religious, use words as a means to preserve authority without regard for the truth. Truth is used and manipulated, not respected or sought. Truth is subordinated to authority, not authority put at the service of truth.
This is all the more damaging that truth is an absolute value that claims us unconditionally. There is no authentic human living with an unrestricted openness to truth and corresponding human love. If we consciously refuse truth in a particular instance, we corrupt our hold on truth generally, and we show that in maintaining our convictions we are not motivated by truth but by motives extraneous to the truth: fear, desire of gain, need for security. Those in authority who attempt to block the unrestrcited openness to truth by setting limits are compelling others to cut themselves off from reality and lapse into inauthenticity.
* Davis, Charles, A Question of Conscience, Herder & Stoughton, London, 1960, p.26-29, 64,74, 210-215
(Contemporary American pastor)
Facts are true, so are metaphors, symbols and myths. They just communicate truth in different ways.
“Is the Bible true or metaphorical?” It is a great question. It matters what is meant by the word “true” and what part of the Bible is being interpreted. When Jesus said he was the bread of life, he was not saying he was composed of wheat and yeast. When he said he was the door, he was not saying he was made of wood and hinges.
For me truth is seldom either/or; it is usually both/and. Facts are true. So are metaphors, symbols and myths. They just communicate truth in different ways. Does it really matter how truth is communicated? Does it matter if your dinner is served on a paper plate or fine china? I guess for some it does. But for me the food is what is important, not the delivery system.
Is history true? Yes and no. Any historian will tell you that there is no such thing as pure historical fact. It is all a matter of perspective and interpretation. The same event can be viewed from various perspectives. No one sees the same historical event exactly the same.
That is why there are four gospels in the New Testament and four different accounts of what happened at the Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. Which one is true? The church has confidently proclaimed that all four are true, even though there is no way that the details can be honestly reconciled with one another.
Myths are true. Myth is truth that cannot be stated in historical or theological terms. Allegories and metaphors are true. The Bible has both. It is just a matter of which passages you interpret historically and which you interpret symbolically and metaphorically.
In an ultimate sense all theological truth is metaphorical because all talk about God is approximation. Nothing we say about God is true in an ultimate sense. All theological language points to the God that is beyond the ability of our language to describe or our minds to comprehend. Ultimate Truth is beyond us. The best we can do is utter earthly truths that point in the direction of Ultimate Truth. Anything more is mistaking the finger pointing to the moon for the moon itself.
*See Interet Davis Marshall
(British biologist , b.1941)
Dawkins is an atheist, a strenuous and militant one. He thinks religious belief is a dangerous virus, and that it is a crime to infect the mind of a child with it. He believes that "only the willfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities in the world today." He calls religions "dangerous collective delusions," and he thinks that they are sinks of falsehood – and most of them have to be, since only one can be true.
Dawkins not only thinks religion is unalloyed nonsense but that it is an overwhelmingly pernicious, even "very evil," force in the world. His target is not so much organized religion as all religion. And within organized religion, he attacks not only extremist sects but moderate ones.
If you ask people why they are convinced of the truth of their religion, they appeal neither to heredity nor to evidence. No, they appeal to faith. Faith is the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
Dawkins' critique of religion rests on three points. First, because different faiths make very different claims about the world, they cannot all be true; and none of the claims can be scientifically verified. Second, the choice among faiths is not based on rational consideration: the vast majority of people simply practice the religion of their parents. Finally, Dawkins considers religions to be vehicles of evil because they facilitate the labelling of people as either 'us' or 'them', fostering xenophobia and its attendant horrors .
The worse type of religious attitude is the fundamentalist brand. Fundamentalists know they are right because they have read the truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will budge them from their belief. The truth of the holy book is an axiom, not the end product of a process of reasoning. The book is true, and if the evidence seems to contradict it, it is the evidence that must be thrown out, not the book. By contrast, scientists believe, not because of reading a holy book but because they have studied the evidence. In principle, any reader can go and check that evidence. When a science book is wrong, somebody eventually discovers the mistake and it is corrected in subsequent books. That conspicuously doesn’t happen with holy books.
Dawson rebuffs the argument that religion and science operate on separate dimensions and are concerned with quite separate sorts of questions. Religions, he argues, have historically always attempted to answer the questions that properly belong to science. Thus religions should not be allowed now to retreat away from the ground upon which they have traditionally attempted to fight. They do offer both a cosmology and a biology; however, in both cases it is false.
Dawkins discusses religion as practiced. Not surprisingly, he finds little good to say about it: religion for him is the root of much evil and its disappearance from the world would be an unmitigated good. Throughout “The God Delusion”, Dawkins reminds us of the horrors committed in the name of God, from outright war, through the persecution of minority sects, acts of terrorism, the closing of children's minds, and the oppression of those having unorthodox sexual lives. No decent person can fail to be repulsed by the sins committed in the name of religion.
*Dawkins Richard, The God delusion, Bantam books, 2006
(Indian Hindu reformer, founder of the Arya Sam‚j, 1824-1883)
According to Dayanand Saraswati, the founder of the neo-Hindu movement called Arya-Samaj, the Vedic revelation is the norm of universal truth. The Vedas are the sole authority for the ascertainment of truth. Man by nature is fallible and finite, unable to come to the knowledge of truth by himself. If he comes to know anything at all, it is because he has been taught by others who possessed that knowledge. All knowledge comes by tradition from the first human beings (the rishis or seers) who obtained it from the eternal source of knowledge, God. Man can know truth only if it is revealed to him by God. The Vedas are the words of God, they are “a-paurusheya”, that is, there is nothing human in them. The truth and the knowledge contained in them are perfect, eternal and infallible.
Wherever and whatever truth is to be found has proceeded from the Vedas. They contain not only religious truth, but every knowledge, every scientific truth. In modern times the scientists are simply re-discovering the scientific knowledge which is contained in the Vedas from the beginning of the world. The Vedas contain the totality of all truths: religious, moral, social, political, etc.
The Vedas alone are the supreme authority in the ascertainment of true religion. There can be only one true religion and that religion is the one based on and derived from the Vedas. Being the religion revealed by God once and for all, the Vedic religion is not the religion for Hindus only, it is the universal religion at the exclusion of all other religions. For Dayanand the fact that religions are opposed to each other is the proof that one of them can only be true and the others false. Other religions than the Vedic one are “the product of ignorance”. The salvation of the world lies in rejecting all the false religions and accepting the one true religion as revealed in the Vedas.
* Dayanand Saraswati, Satyartha Prakash, ;See Daniel, P.S., Hindu response to religious Pluralism, Kant Publications, Delhi, 2000, p. 68-88
(Maltese born psychologist, b.1933)
The importance of creativity rather than argumentation to find the truth.
One should go beyond ‘what is’ or ‘the truth’ to explore ‘what may be’, or ‘possibility’.
1. De Bono scorns the view of those who look for absolute truths and are trained to believe that there is only one truth. So much of our thinking, talking and arguing is directed to finding this one truth. The majority of people feel that all one has to know is ‘the truth’ after which all our energy is spent in defending this truth. Furthermore, if you are convinced that you have the truth, then anyone with a different version must be wrong. That attitude has been the origin of so many wars, persecutions, hatreds, etc. over the past centuries.
The traditional habits of Western thinking are inadequate, our belief in their adequacy are both limiting and dangerous. These traditional habits include: the critical search for the 'truth', argument and adversarial exploration, and all the characteristics of rock logic with its crudities and harshness. These habits of thinking, claims De Bono, were ultimately derived from the classic Greek ‘gang of three’: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, who hijacked Western thinking. So they became the established thinking of Western civilization.
Philosophers need this idea of a single, universal and permanent truth in order to play their philosophical games. Society needs this idea of truth in order to administer the legal system. In real life, however, this notion of truth is highly artificial and very limiting. De Bono suggests we strive for "proto-truths," which may be no less true, but as the term implies they are also easily discarded when better truths are discovered.
2. Rather than argumentation, argues De Bono, one should use creativity to find the 'truth'. We need to accept that there may be multiple truths - as in perception or value differences. One of the functions of creativity is to create such possible alternative truths. Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. The process of creativity helps to go beyond ‘what is’ or ‘the truth’ in order to explore ‘what may be’, or ‘possibility’. Perceptual creativity is involved with looking at things in different ways and finding values.
For De Bono, our reliance on analytical thinking may be a good way to think, but it is not enough. He describes a number of different thinking methods designed to fully explore any subject matter by thinking in parallel and ways to generate alternatives, possibilities and ideas through applying what he calls ‘lateral thinking’. This is almost the exact opposite of argument, adversarial, confrontational thinking where each party deliberately takes an opposite view. Parallel thinking goes further. In traditional thinking, if two people disagree, there is an argument in which each tries to prove the other party wrong. In parallel thinking, both views, no matter how contradictory, are put down in parallel. If, later on, it is essential to choose between the differing positions, then an attempt to choose is made at that point. If a choice cannot be made, then the design has to cover both possibilities.
*De Bono Edward, 'Parallel thinking', Viking, London and Penguin Books, London, 1994
(French historian, psychoanalyst and philosopher, 1925-1986)
Belief or coming to the the truth in relation with others
Michel de Certeau works out a critical epistemology of belief. Believing for him is not a weak modality of knowing. It is the modality of knowing by other people, a manner of relating to others. Believing can even be a strong rather than a weak way of coming to know.
His thought on the subject is not first religious but anthropological. Belief is not first or exclusively religious. He shows that man as soon as he lives cannot do without believing. Believing is not an activity that man could do without: believing is a manner of ‘being human’. Living is always living with and by the other and thus believing is always the modality of knowledge typical of the relation-to and being-with others.
Believing, he says, is the “practice of difference”, the practice of living with the others. It deals with the vital topic of the truth in relation. Man needs to practice the difference because he cannot live in any other way than to trust, even at least minimally, in the others. One would never put in doubt the word of some one who shows us the way or tells us what time it is. In all these cases trust comes before knowledge.
Believing as an act does not in the least imply that the subject controls what he believes: it establishes a relationship between the subject and what escapes him, namely ‘the other’. Believing is the ‘practice of the other’.
One cannot conceive to believe alone, because belief establishes a relation to the other and others, most of the time through the mediation of institutions. Believing is not first the object or content of the belief, but the commitment of subjects to a proposition, the act of acknowledging it and holding it as true. In other words believing must be understood as practice rather than knowledge, as an act rather than a cognitive content.
Truth is not only a matter of propositions, it is also that which warrants the possibility of living together and in society. Man must practice the ‘difference’ because he cannot not trust in the other, without verifying, without knowing if the other tells the truth or not. To want proofs for everything prevents the practice of difference involved in the relationship with others. To accept that belief cannot be reduced to knowledge, is to make place for the others in one’s life.
Believing is receiving from the other, so much so that the question ;”do I believe?” is irrelevant, for it amounts to take belief for an intellectual content independent of the act that affirms it as a relation. Belief in that case is only a saying: it ceases to be a relational commitment, it ceases to be a belief.
* de Certeau Michel, La Faiblesse de Croire. Edited by Luce Giard. Seuil. 1987.
(Belgian biochemist, b.1917)
Religions may not reject what is scientifically established by the majority of scientists, for scientific truth is not a question of belief but of facts.
Scientific truth is not a question of belief but of fact. It is inadmissible that religions compel people to believe in statements that contradict scientific knowledge. When religions request their adepts to take as truth beliefs that are incompatible with scientific discoveries, there is conflict. When religions present themselves not as systems of beliefs but as moral prescriptions, there is no conflict.
In the USA more than half the population do not accept evolution ! It is amazing to record that such a large number of the inhabitants of one of the most developed, advanced and powerful country in the world give more credit to stories written three thousand years ago than to clearly demonstrated scientific facts. This type of belief is an obstacle to scientific progress. It is all the more dangerous that it is harmful to education and instruction. In several American southern States, very powerful movements dominated by churches militate for the prohibition of the theory of evolution in schools in favour of what they call “creation science”. They have added the word “science” to somewhat make it palatable, but that “creation science” is nothing else than the literal reading of the Bible.
The dialogue between science and religion is desirable for they are both the great forces in the modern world. The problem is that this ‘dialogue’ cannot occur unless both sides use a language that is mutually understandable. Scientific truth is not a matter of politics or vote or belief : it is a matter of truth. In science there are a certain number of established, uncontestable facts on which compromise is not possible. It is of course difficult to begin a dialogue in saying that. For a dialogue to be possible and constructive, religions must bend before what is scientifically established and accepted as such by the majority of scientists.
* de Duve Christian, Science et quête de sens, Presses de la Renaissance, 2005
(Belgian biblical exegete, 1914 - 2003)
1. There are different kinds of truth: metaphysical, historical, scientific, logical, ethical, religious. In each case the relation of truth to history is different. De la Potterie exposed the main models of the relationship between truth and history.
A. Truth separated from and transcendent to history
- The Platonic tradition locates truth in the stable transcendent world of ideas, existing outside the flow of time, at the level of eternity. The changeless and immortal truth has no contact with history.
- For the rationalist tradition inaugurated by Descartes the abstract truth of mathematics and logic is the model of all truths. It is a timeless and universal truth like the Platonic truth isolated from history but with a radically new approach from the locus of truth (Plato’s world of ideas) to the criterion of truth (Cartesian reason). Lessing’s (see Lessing) well-known saying is another expression of the same concept of transhistorical truth: “Accidental truths of history can never become the proof of necessary truths of reason”.
B. Truth immersed in history
- G.B.Vico (see Vico) (+ 1744) is one of the precursors who identifies truth with historical truth. Truth, for him, is the truth that human beings bring gradually into being by their activity in the course of history. The true is convertible not with being but what is made, fabricated or produced. Truth is human truth, the operational concept of truth. Vico is thus at the origin of the modern view of truth as immanent in history. This idea has developed in two opposite directions.
- According to historicism, the truth of history consists in the truth of past facts, or the retrospective truth. This current of thought has lead to historical positivism which makes fact and truth completely identical. “Scientific” objectivity is recognised the supreme and sole criterion of truth. The human factor which plays an essential role in history is neglected.
- According to Hegelian Idealism, truth will be attained only in the future when the unfolding of history reaches its end. Hegel conceives truth as the becoming, the gradual realization and the growing awareness of the Absolute Idea. For him the trans-historical Platonic world of ideas is no longer separated from the historical reality of our world. In a way Hegel has blended truth with history in emphasizing the dynamic nature of truth and its eschatological tension.
C. Truth immanent in the human person
Existentialism is preoccupied with the concrete existence of the individual. Truth has nothing to do with the flow of history. The person is the place of truth. The merit of existentialist philosophy is to have shown, against Platonism, rationalism and historicism, that truth is not a purely objective datum, independent of the human person.
- According to the atheistic Existentialism of Stirner ( followed by Nietzsche), every individual is his own absolute norm.”Truth is what is mine, the false is anything that owns me” (Stirner). The individual is his own criterion of truth. The idea of truth is connected with that of power. History exists only in function of the self and cannot be the place of truth. The break between history and truth is complete.
- According to the Christian existentialism of Kierkegaard, the egoistic self of atheistic existentialism is replaced by “an individual before God”. Truth consists in the authenticity and depth of religious feeling and faith in God. The important thing is not so much the object of belief as the how of belief. Truth is in the subjective attitude. “Subjectivity is truth”. One does not reach the truth without committing oneself to it. Genuine truth must be interiorized. The historical side of Christianity, the question of truth and history, is of little concern for Kierkegaard.
2. The Christian concept of truth: the divine revelation
The word “truth” in its Christian use, does not refer to God but to the revelation of God. This revelation reaches completeness in Jesus-Christ. De la Potterie shows how the three different aspects of truth analyzed above (transcendence, historicity and interiority) are unified into a synthesis in the idea of Christian revelation.
a) Historicity and eschatology.
Since the word “truth” means “revelation” to a believer, it is obvious that this revelation takes place in history. This does not mean solely the ”truth of facts” of historians. If Christian truth is located on the level of history (the horizontal dimension), this truth consists in the presence and self-manifestation of mystery in the heart of historical events (the vertical dimension). Moreover the historical truth has an eschatological dimension, a polarization toward the future. It includes both an “already” and a “not yet”. The full knowledge of the truth is reserved for the end of time.
Because the historical facts manifest a mystery, they are open to transcendence. Christian truth is truth as revelation that comes to us from God. The God of truth is God as he reveals himself in Jesus Christ. The transcendence proper to truth does not belong solely as in Platonism to the world of eternal ideas, that is, metaphysical entities cut out of history, but to the incarnate, historical Word of God (Jesus-Christ) who is the truth in history that leads beyond history and is an opening to transcendence.
c) Interiority and immanence
Christian believers are called to appropriate the truth for themselves, to “do” the truth and make the truth of Jesus their own. The believer must make the truth his own and interiorize a truth that is not subjective but has an objective existence antecedent to and independent of this appropriation.
* de la Potterie, Ignace, "History and Truth”, chap.6 in Problems and perspectives in Fundamental Theology, René Latourelle and Gérard O’Collins, Paulist Press , NY, 1982
(French R.C. priest and philosopher, 1782-1854)
Individual reason, left to itself,can only end in absolute scepticism. It discovers strong reasons to doubt about everything. On the other hand every human being spontaneously believes in a great number of truths, indispensable to social, moral and physical life. In order to distinguish true from false certitudes, one naturally adopts universal consent as the rule. It is not “private sense” or individual reason which can attain the truth but common sense or the universal consent, the general reason of humanity.
The first of these truths demonstrated by the unanimous consent of peoples is that God exists. From this Lamennais assumes that God, in creating man, gave him a set of primordial truths with words destined to express them and transmit them to others. Thus each individual naturally adheres to truth with an invincible belief. It is because God has created all human beings alike that universal consent is the supreme rule to adhere to what is true. Philosophy should therefore begin by an act of faith in primitive truths, received from tradition by language and the consent of humanity.
The individual cannot find truth. Truth is in tradition transmitted from generation to generation from its divine original source.
* De Lamennais, Essai sur l’Indifférence en matière de religion, in Thonnard, History of Philosophy, Desclée, Paris, 195O, p 729-731
(French philosopher, 1925-1995)
Deleuze conceives reality as an anonymous field, devoid of subjects and individual persons. Existence is impersonal and the universe is indefinite, without identity of self or ego. He conceives it as the field of “impersonal desires” . Desire is the creation of life, a positive will to power and not a negative exigency or want. Against western traditional thought (even against Freud), Deleuze stresses the positivity of desire, as the leading force of invention and ”difference”. Indeed Deleuze’s philosophy is a philosophy of “difference”. He abhors philosophical systems which endeavour to think the unity of the multiple in reducing the other to the same and to explain the many by the One. Deleuze is above all attentive to becoming, to the events that are always new. Desire is the force of invention and difference, causing the breakdown of “the same”, of all ordinances, rules and norms and, ultimately of truth itself. The philosopher is not one searching for a truth in the heaven of eternal ideas. Rather he is the thinker who produces new ideas and “concepts” always open to falsifications and rectification.
Deleuze links the traditional concept of truth to the principle of identity and the categories of resemblance and repetition. But in his world everything is different, everything is equally important or unimportant, never the same. No comparison can be established between phenomena that are always new and incommensurable. Unity is an illusion. The universe is a chaos, a succession of unrelated instants, the Heraclitean singularity of each moment, the result of sheer randomness. For the “desiring machines” to which Deleuze reduces human beings, there can be no responsibility, no constraint of any kind, no legitimate organisation and no acknowledgment of any truth, but only the earthly paradise of ephemeral and scattered enjoyments that result from productive desires.
* See Parrain-Vial, Tendances Nouvelles de la Philosophie, Centurion, Paris, 1976, p.93-118
(Contemporary American pastor)
What is Truth?–A theological approach to philosophical skepticism
I am a skeptic. I don’t accept anything at face value, with one singular exception. I see truth as something which God alone controls. Supposed ‘truth’ which comes from science and from the world immediately gets put into the doubt folder, it is not necessarily untrue, but aside from God’s confirmation, it can never be proven as true.
It is necessary for me to address Christians who presume to know truth. I believe that men are incapable of completely understanding truth, even when God makes it clear to us. Even though God is providing us with His pure unadulterated word, by the time we filter it through all the crap in our lives, we get a manipulated version of that truth. Because of this, I do not believe that ANY man can know conclusively what God’s truth is. So even with the greatest theologians, I am a skeptic.
How about God’s word? I should make it clear that I continue to prayerfully seek truth from God’s word, however, I do not believe that any man can conclusively determine God’s truth even from the Bible, not because God is faulty in His method, but because we, as humans, have so soiled ourselves that we are unable to grasp the depth of the truth of God’s word.
I determine truth according to three basic methods I derive truth (1) through God’s word. I take what is clear and simple in God’s word and use that as a filter for determining truth in other areas of life and/or God’s word. I derive truth (2) By the Holy Spirit. Through prayer and meditation, I believe God will confirm His word. I derive truth (3) through the work of God in my life. Only when all of these three come together will I make an assumption on truth. An assumption is the best that we can hope for and I truly believe that any assumption of truth made aside from this method or another similar method is foolish.
But what about general revelation? Certainly truth exists in creation, but creation alone is not conclusive on truth aside from God’s word, God’s Spirit and God’s intervention (see above 3 points). There is probably truth in science and in the world, but without a proper method, the evidence is inconclusive.
*See Internet Delgado Anthony
(Contemporary Canadian professor of philosophy)
When tolerance trumps truth
In today’s post-modern world, the notion that truth leads to freedom is regarded as narrowly Catholic and intolerant of other religious views. The new blueprint in the post-modern world is that tolerance, not truth, leads to freedom. This is a crossroad and a crisis to which Pope Benedict XVI has given considerable thought and verbal expression.
When he was known to the world as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he produced a book, Truth and Tolerance that confronts this very issue of the place of truth in the post-modern world. He recognizes that so much importance is now attached to tolerance, that it has been separated from truth, which, in turn, has been relegated to the sphere of mere opinion. To state the matter quite simply: Tolerance has been absolutized, while truth has been relativized.
Such a separation of tolerance from truth (or politics from philosophy) is preposterous, in the original meaning of the term. The Latin words prae (before) and posterius (after) relate to the absurd or “preposterous” practice of placing “before” that which should come “after,” like putting the cart before the horse.
By setting tolerance above truth, tolerance degenerates into intolerance, while truth is abandoned altogether. The result is akin to what Plato describes in the opening of the seventh chapter of his Republic: cave dwellers who are intolerant of education, mesmerized by shadows, and closed to the light of truth that could improve their lives. The rejection of truth does not make people tolerant.
Tolerance can hardly be the first principle of human conduct. And it has never been the founding principle of any civilization. The Judeo-Christian God commands us to love, not to be tolerant.
Tolerance is not a first step or pro-active; it is acquiescence, capitulation to something to which one neither approves nor disapproves. It presupposes moral neutrality. It is a response, not an initiative, leaving the question, “Response to what?” unanswered.
*Donald DeMarco. "When Tolerance Trumps Truth." National Catholic Register. (February 17-23, 2008).
(American philosopher, b. 1960)
The intuition of the truth of the intelligent design theory
William Dembski’s intelligent design theory argues that it is possible to find evidence for design in the universe. He aims to show the lay reader 'how detecting design within the universe, and especially against the backdrop of biology and biochemistry, unseats naturalism'--and above all Darwin's expulsion of design in his theory of evolution.
Dembski shows how modernity--science in the last two centuries--has undermined our intuition of the truth of intelligent design. He examines "the philosophical and scientific basis for intelligent design." He shows how science and theology relate coherently and how intelligent design establishes the crucial link between the two.
Intelligent design, if correct, is a direct challenge to naturalistic evolution. More broadly, intelligent design is a direct challenge to naturalistic science. Naturalistic science is based on a principle called methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism is the view that science must be restricted solely to undirected natural processes. According to methodological naturalism, the proper way to conduct any serious inquiry is to focus strictly on naturalistic explanations to account for phenomenon. Dembski argues that methodological naturalism is not only false but is also harmful to science. Methodological naturalism is harmful to science because it artificially limits the questions that science allows itself to ask; science cannot ask whether or not a certain phenomenon exhibits evidence of design. If an intellectual discipline is aiming to discover the truth about something, it is wrong to artificially limit the questions that can be asked.
Dembski not only challenges naturalistic science, he also challenges theistic evolution, a position held by many Christians, especially those involved in the natural sciences. Theistic evolution holds, roughly speaking, that naturalistic evolution describes the process that God used to bring about life. Dembski notes that, like naturalistic evolution, theistic evolution assumes methodological naturalism is true. Since Dembski is challenging methodological naturalism, he is also challenging theistic evolution.
It is worth noting that Dembski does not seem to be using design as evidence for God’s existence. That is, we do not come to believe that God exists because we recognize that there is design. Rather, our conviction that God exists can provide a resource for explaining those phenomena that exhibit design. Naturalistic theories lack that resource. Thus a theistic worldview has explanatory advantages over a naturalistic worldview.
Dembski notes that intelligent design is “theologically minimalist.” That is, intelligent design theorists claim that careful empirical observation yields evidence that some natural objects are the product of design; however, intelligent design theory does not, by itself, make any claims about the nature of that intelligence. Creation science, which Dembski rejects, takes the evidence of Scripture as scientific data which any true scientific theory must accommodate.
* Dembski William, Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999
(Greek philosopher, 460-370)
Sense perception does not lead to the truth : the truth of things is not what they appear to be
Democritus's atomist metaphysical theory states that the world is composed of hard indivisible particles of matter moving through empty space. He speculates that atoms have shape, mass and motion. He proposes that the senses yield no knowledge, or at best, "obscure" knowledge. "The truth is that what we meet with perceptually is nothing reliable, for it shifts its character according to the body's dispositions, influences, and confrontations" . The most telling limitation of the senses is their inability to see objects smaller than a certain size. "Whenever obscure knowledge can no longer see the objects because of their smallness, and also cannot hear or smell or taste them nor perceive them by touch, the investigator must then have recourse to a finer means of knowing". By this, Democritus means rational investigation, the kind of reasoning that produced a theory of reality, a "metaphysical" theory, according to which what is real is moving mass of atoms in a void.
Sense-perception does not satisfy our thirst for explanation. We perceive myriad changes going on around us all the time. The senses might be able to detect, with greater or lesser accuracy, that they have taken place, but they are silent on the question of why they have. For Democritus, what explains what we sense is the action of tiny indivisible particles of matter, atoms, which cannot be detected by the senses. What appears to the senses as a smooth, continuous surface, say a slab of polished marble, is in reality a conglomeration of atoms with a great deal of empty space between them. For the atomists, things in reality are not what much like what they appear to be.
Democritus says there are two kinds of knowing, one through the senses and the other through the intellect. Of these, he calls the one through the intellect ‘legitimate’ attesting its trustworthiness for the judgement of truth, and the one through the senses he names ‘bastard’ denying its inerrancy in the discrimination of what is true. To quote his actual words: “Of knowledge there are two forms, one legitimate, one bastard. To the bastard belong all this group: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. The ‘bastard’ knowledge is concerned with the perception through the senses, therefore it is insufficient and subjective. The other is legitimate and separate from that”. Then, preferring the legitimate to the bastard, he continues: “When the bastard can no longer see any smaller, or hear, or smell, or taste, or perceive by touch, but finer matters have to be examined, then comes the legitimate, since it has a finer organ of perception. This second sort of knowledge, the ‘legitimate’ one, can be achieved through the intellect, in other words, all the sense-data from the ‘bastard’ must be elaborated through reasoning. In this way one can get away from the false perception of the ‘bastard’ knowledge and grasp the truth through the inductive reasoning. Therefore, the knower after taking into account the sense-impressions, can examine the causes of the appearances, draw conclusions about the laws that govern the appearances, and find out the causality (aetiologia) by which they are related. This is the procedure of thought from the parts to the whole or else from the apparent to non-apparent (inductive reasoning).
* See Burnet J. , Early Greek Philosophy, Kessinger Publishing, 2003
(American philosopher, b.1942)
1. Faith in the truth has a priority claim that sets it apart from all other faiths. The goal of truth goes without saying, in every human culture. Indeed saying would not go at all without the ideal of truth. Truth-telling is, and must be, the background of all genuine communication, including lying. After all, deception only works when the would-be deceiver has a reputation for telling the truth.
Scientists have faith in the truth, but it is not blind faith. It is not like the faith that parents may have in the honesty of their children. It is rather like the faith anybody can have in a result which has been independently arrived at by ten different teams.
2. Agreeing that truth is a very important concept, epistemologists have tried to say just what truth is-- without going overboard. Just figuring out what is true about truth turns out to be a difficult task in which definitions and theories that seem at first to be innocent lead to complications that soon entangle the theorist in dubious doctrines. Endless philosophical controversies around the notion of truth have had some mischievous consequences. Some have concluded that truth itself was nothing estimable or achievable after all. Give it up, they seem to be saying: truth is an unachievable and misguided ideal. In fact these sceptics are forgetting all the points about truth that all sides agree upon.
3. The problem is that often people do not want to know the truth. The reason is because truth can hurt. When one pretends to take the truth for the highest good - which it is not - it is evident that much harm can be done. Is it not better to lie and suppress the truth in order to prevent some human sufferings? To leave people in ignorant bliss of the truth may be right in few cases: but they are exceptions to the rule.
4. It is a more unsettling fact that people often don't want other people to know the truth. Adult members of our species have all the right to know the truth. It is shockingly paternalistic to say that we should shield some people from the fruits of civilization. Education may turn them into something radically different. They will lose many of their old ways. Some of this will be good riddance, and some, no doubt, will be tragic. The well-meaning policy of tolerance for traditional policies that deny free access to the truth-seeking tools of science is often a policy in the service of tyrants. The idea of informed consent is one of the cornerstones of liberty. In some cultures, the very idea of informing the people so that they might consent or not is viewed with hostility. Hopefully in the next century it will become more and more impractical for leaders to preserve the uninformedness of their people.
* Dennett, Daniel, "Faith in the truth", Tufts Center for Cognitive Studies (Amnesty Lecture, 1997)
(Contemporary American pastor)
Truth always divides. It must divide – in fact, God WANTS it
I’m not sure what is more important than the Truth. Of course, I’m speaking in a Christian context, but really, truth is likewise the most important thing in ANY field. For example, if you operate in error regarding gravity or other law of physics, what will happen? If you lack the Truth about economics or accounting, then what? How much more essential is the Truth in our relationship with God, and with other Christians!
Truth exists because God exists. Because there is an Absolute Being, there is absolute Truth. Indeed, it is only by knowing HIM that we can know the Truth – it is only by knowing Him that we have a frame of reference for all else.
Truth is not optional. It is central. Indeed, if you believe that the Truth is unnecessary you are already deceived. If you believe that knowing the Truth is impossible or unimportant, you are already deceived. There is nothing more vital, essential, and central to walking with Jesus Christ than is the Truth. .
There are thousands of professing Christians today who are convinced that as long as UNITY is preserved, they are on the right track. They grab out of the Bible verses that tell us that unity is God’s will, and they translate that to mean, "unity at all cost." We need to get this straight: Christianity unity means NOTHING. The only kind of Christian unity that is according to the will of God is unity that is in the Truth.
Truth is NEVER neutral. It is NEVER anything but absolute and total. The Truth ALWAYS divides between light and darkness. Truth always divides. It must divide – in fact, God WANTS it to divide if things are initially unified in error or apathy.
So what we see in all of this is that DIVISION is good, and GOD-ORDAINED, if the division is caused by the presence of Jesus Christ – if the division is caused by the Truth. It is good because Truth will break up all unity in error, for the purpose of salvaging those who respond to it, and establishing a new unity in Christ.
*See internet David A. DePra
(Contemporary Scotish relational therapist)
The relational understanding of truth: truth must be the servant of love. Old school philosophical, scientific, and religious inquiry seeks to find objective truth by observing as a neutral party from the outside. Its goal is to discover an absolute truth. However science has been discovering that we cannot be neutral observers because our observation actually changes the results. This is all the more true in relationships: you cannot truly understand another unless you enter into their lives. It is not possible to truly know another without loving them. Truth then cannot be separated from love.
Beyond this, there is also a practical problem with the old school approach of seeking to find the objective impartial truth: in relationships this approach inevitably leads to conflict because it seeks to determine which party was more correct, and thus who “wins”. Theology that is focused on determining these kinds of absolute propositional truth claims (such as systematic theology) has often fallen into this trap. “Systemic theory” instead seeks a relational understanding of truth. Instead of asking what the absolute right answer is, it seeks to understand how each person in a relationship perceives what is happening. Because its focus is on seeking to understand people relationally rather than determining who is "right", it leads towards reconciliation and understanding instead of towards blame and conflict.
While this is an approach that is relational, it is not relativistic per se. That is, systemic theory does not claim that truth is relative, but simply that we are. We each perceive what we do, and if we care about others, if we care about relationship, we need to care about their perceptions and feelings - about them -more than we do about our being right. You might say its the difference between being right and being righteous. Righteousness is not self-focused, but cares for the other.
Without denying the reality of absolute truth, on a far deeper level we need to recognize that Truth is at its very core relational, and when the one who is Truth came among us it was in order to seek relationship. In other worlds, truth must be the servant of love. The goal of theology needs to be to foster loving relationships by seeking relational understanding rather than to make correct propositional statements. That does not mean we need to throw out all propositions, but that they are means towards love and relationship. Truth is loving and life-giving. Truth is transformative and reconciling. Truth is love, and what is unloving and life-sucking simply is not truth.
*See Internet Derek Clow
(French philsopher, 1930- )
Derrida’s project is the denunciation of the “metaphysical enclosure” that Western culture has imposed in order to justify the established order. To achieve the “deconstruction” of Western metaphysics he claims that all meanings and values (truth included) are our own invention. In ruining the “sacred” truths and pulling down the order based on it, man affirms himself and liberates others. This is on the agenda of those called ‘post-modernists’ whose world is bereft of all authority. However, different post-modernists adopt different approaches to the problem. Derrida’s specific strategy consists in identifying the fault of Western culture in its ‘logocentrism’, that is, the belief that the world really is as our concepts describe it. Derrida adopts the nominalist arguments that concepts are nothing more than human artefacts. The true purpose of concepts is not to describe the world but to fortify our power over it.
Western metaphysics, for him, has been built over binary oppositions of concepts, such as intelligible-sensible, object-subject, true-false, space-time, being-nothingness, etc. The task of philosophy is to go beyond these binary oppositions in order to reach the deeper level and the source of these ‘differences’. Derrida wants to rediscover the original unity of conceptual oppositions (which he calls in French “differance” with an “a”). He rejects the fundamental character of language that the truth of a proposition consists in “reference”, that is, in its power to correspond to what is. He endorses the linguistic revolution of structuralism which allows the complete dissociation of language from its extra-linguistic reality. Language functions for itself as a game between signifier and signified. In his theory of language, “differance” takes the place of reference.
Underlying all systems of traditional metaphysics is the concept of “presence”: to be is to be present. The coincidence of being and knowing is the measure of truth. Derrida’s fundamental deconstructive project is that the coincidence of what is and what is known – which is the measure of truth – is an impossibility for finite minds. Truth is the knowledge of Being but for Derrida we are never in the presence of Being, but always of a representation which refers to another representation. We are imprisoned in “traces” (the mark of meaning, but not the full revelation) and therefore there is no perception, no presentation and no intuition of being , no truth. There is a free play of meaning: “anything goes”. We are liberated from meaning. It is for us to decide what a text means. We are free to decide because after all ‘all interpretations are misinterpretations’.
Derida’s purpose is not to reveal meaning and truth but to reveal the “unmeaning” in all texts. He does not want to offer a metaphysics of his own: his intent is to be “parasitic” in offering a therapy that disabuses one of the illusion of knowledge in pursuit of truth.
* See Parrain-Vial, Tendances nouvelles de la Philosophie, Centurion, Paris, 1976, 80-92
(Belgian b. American philosopher, 1908-2001)
Truth is achieved by a globalizing viewpoint that transcends the individuals’ limited understandings
Desan's philosophy is deeply committed to the inviolability of the individual. His philosophy can be considered as being essentially a hopeful humanism, envisaging the possibility of human beings attaining a higher level of consciousness through their own efforts, adequate to ensure the future of the species.
He argues that as unique individuals we originate as parts of a larger whole, which he calls the totum, and we are destined to return to this totum through meaningful dialogue, which the whole enables. Individuals may be unique or unequal, but that does not necessarily have to be the cause of serious conflict among persons or nations. Precisely because of their differences, they can complement each other.
Each person or nation by itself is considered incomplete (fragmented) in being and in knowledge, and each approaches reality subjectively from a specific angle. Therefore, each can only arrive at partial truths on their own. If true and universal objectivity is to be achieved, Desan argues that then we must cooperate, in particular by acquiring a globalizing viewpoint which transcends our own limited and incomplete understandings, and in this way become "planetary persons" who, realizing the limits of the "angular visions" of each, reach insight in the totum to ensure its survival, considered as the highest good.
The truly "planetary person" is regarded in Desan's philosophy as a cosmopolite. For him, the planetary person is the saviour of the totum and therefore "salvation" (in the secular sense of survival) must be ensured through practical human efforts made toward planetary unification.
* Desan Wilfred, The Planetary Man, Vol. 1: A Noetic Prelude to a United World, (1961)
(French philosopher, 1596-1650)
1. For Descartes the search for truth is the search for certainty. The true is the certain, that about which there is no doubt. The major risk in life is to be cheated and live in error rather than in truth.
The main problem of Descartes is not to determine the nature of truth. Indeed for him truth is known by ‘nature’, it is a primary notion, it is ‘transcendentally clear’. The question for him is to distinguish the true from the false. What are the truths that are evident for the mind?. Evidence is the mark of truth, even more, it is the presence of the truth. The impossibility to doubt gives evidence. The danger is to take an apparent evidence for a genuine evidence. To reach evidence, the mind must have clear and distinct ideas. It is something experimented by the mind itself which serves as a criterion of truth and nothing outside it. Truth is not the correspondence or similarity between ideas and things. Truth is what is conceived clearly and distinctly by the mind.
2. Descartes takes the mind for having a natural predisposition for the truth. Every one possesses the natural light of reason, by which to make the difference between the true and the false. The problem of truth and certainty is a matter of personal meditation; it must be approached on the first person by an exercise of interior thinking. Amongst things we believe, there are false things and true things. To establish something firm one has to empty one's mind of all traditionally accepted views and opinions. Once this is done we can begin the work to fill the mind with simple truths and then more complex ones. Therefore it is necessary to begin with a universal methodical doubt about everything so as to find which philosophical knowledge is undoubtedly certain. The first precept of Cartesian philosophy is “to receive for true only that which I know to be evident, so that there is no way of doubting about it.” In writing this Descartes rejects the argument of authority but much more. For him evidence consists in the intellectual intuition of a clear and distinct idea, characterised by indubitability and excluding all possibility of error.
According to him, the two domains of religion and ethics are not subjected to doubts. Religious truths pass beyond reason and cannot be submitted to the philosophical method. Ethics deals with the practical side of life and is more concerned with the good than with the truth.
3. As reason is the only way to establish certain knowledge and reach the truth, Descartes takes mathematics as the ideal and rock of evident knowledge. Mathematics alone can clear out the confusions and uncertainties of philosophy. The mathematical method uses two mental operations by which true knowledge can be reached: intuition of self-evident principles and demonstration or the logical inferences from self-evident propositions. The use of intuition and deduction in a mathematical way will lead philosophers to absolute truth and certainty.
4. Like in mathematics, truth in philosophy begins with the apprehension of clear and distinct ideas. Any idea that appears to us as perfectly clear and distinct is true. That is why the Cogito is taken by Descartes as the paradigm of truth. In the Cogito my reality is manifest in my thinking, in the clear idea I have of myself as a thinking subject. This first truth, the evidence of the self, which is nothing outside thought itself, serves as the foundation of all other truths that will be deduced from it. It leads to the certitude that God exists, that this God is truthful and veracious and therefore it leads to the certitude of an external world.
5. The rule of evidence according to which any idea that appears to us as perfectly clear and distinct is true needs an ultimate foundation. This internal evidence is based on the external evidence of God’s veracity. Man exists in a world entirely created and ruled by God who has wanted that man may know the world and find the truth about it. He has implanted in our minds the same eternal truths than those he has implanted in the universe. He is the foundation of the correspondence of our thoughts with reality.
God has established laws in nature like a king in his kingdom. Being all powerful, he could have made two plus two equal five. He has freely created the laws of nature and the laws of the mind; he could have created them in another way. According to Descartes. no truths are ‘autonomous’ ; they are all created truths.
All this shows that for Descartes the proof of God's existence is essential for his conception of truth: the truth of our clear and distinct ideas are assured by the existence of the Creator God. The conformity between mind and reality has been established by a God who in his veracity does want to cheat human beings.
* See Lavine, T.Z., From Socrates to Sartre, Bantam Books, New York, 1984, p.92 sq..; Quilliot R., La Vérité, Paris, Ellipses, 1997, p.45-64
(Contemporary American master coach and author)
There are no objective moral truths
An “objective moral truth” would be a morality that exists outside the human mind. In this view, a moral statement like “theft is wrong” has a truth independent of human belief, like “the moon orbits the Earth.”
Some argue that if there is no Objective Moral Truth, how do we know that it’s bad to be unkind or unjust? Many people think that they are strongly committed–in practice, if not always in theory–to objective truth and to a moral law that binds all of us. If there is no Objective Moral Truth, how do we know that it’s bad to be unkind or unjust?
It’s my opinion that it’s bad to be unkind or unjust, all else held equal. That opinion is informed by a great deal of thought and experience. It’s an opinion I’d be willing to argue for, and it’s an opinion that I think most other thoughtful people who have put time into thinking about will readily agree with.
But it’s still an opinion, and it is therefore not objectively true the way that “the moon orbits around the Earth” or “two plus two equals four” are objectively true.
My premise is that it’s preferable to treat people as I’d prefer to be treated. That premise is not, in my view, a universal, objective truth that exists outside of people’s minds. Indeed, I don’t think that it can exist independently of people’s minds; without people, there is no such thing as “prefer.” It’s merely an opinion I hold – and, obviously, an opinion that many people share with me. Because it’s a commonplace opinion, it can often provide common ground for discussion, which is useful.
But doesn’t the fact that the Golden Rule is so common, prove that it’s an Objective Moral Truth? I don’t think so. Objective Truths are not determined by opinion polls. Even if 99% of people believed that the Earth orbits the moon, for example, it would still not be true.
Nor is the existence of an independent Objective Moral Truth the only possible reason for a commonly shared belief. The Golden Rule arises fairly naturally from the human trait of empathy, which in turn may have come about through the amoral process of evolution.
Let’s remember that although many believe that an Objective Moral Truth exists, they can’t demonstrate its existence to a skeptical observer. That makes the belief in Objective Moral Truth… just another opinion.
*See Internet Barry Deutsch
(Australian philosopher, b. 1938)
A theory of the truth term is not a theory of truth
The focus of the correspondence theory is on the nature and role of truth, the focus of the deflationary theory is on the nature and role of the truth term. The former focus is metaphysical; the latter, linguistic.
Deflationism “deflates” truth itself: it is a kind of eliminativism. There is no reality of truth, but only a linguistic use of it. There is nothing positive to say about the nature of truth. Still deflationists have no objection to the use of the term truth, for its linguistic use is important. In contrast correspondence theorists are realist about truth and want to explain its nature. The term truth denotes a property that applies to reality.
Thus the deflationist has little to say about the metaphysics of truth but much to say about the linguistic role of ‘true’, whereas the correspondence theorist has a lot to say about the metaphysics of truth but little to say about the linguistics of ‘true’.
The deflationists demonstrate that the term ‘true’ has an ‘expressive’ role. When we react to another’s statement and say “That is true”, the role of the truth term is to “say the same thing” without need of repetition. In such a case deflationism amounts to redundancy: one can dispense with the truth term altogether. But there are cases of linguistic use in which the term ‘true’ is useful: mostly in indirect speeches (“What he said is true”) and generalizations (“all men are mortal, is true”). The deflationary view supports the “ equivalence thesis” according to which the term ‘true’ points at an equivalence: its role is to say ‘the same as’. To say that ‘Snow is white’ is true is not to relate the statement in some way to the world but simply to say that snow is white.
The confusion in the literature of deflationist theories is that their theories of the term truth are presented and taken for theories of truth. Devitt mentions several cases among which the notorious semantic theory of Tarski as well as the ‘disquotational’ theories of truth. None of these theories explain truth, they explain the truth term.
The correspondence theorist can, and should, grant that the truth term has the logical role emphasized by deflationist. But he rejects the deflationist view that the term has no other role : he holds that it also has a descriptive role. He believes that truth has a nature and causal role that need explaining.
* Devitt, Michael, The Metaphysics of Truth, in Lynch, M.P., The Nature of Truth, Bradford Book, Cambridge, Massachussets, 2001, p.580-611
(Spanish-born Canadian philosopher, 1922- )
1. Truth is not the correspondence of mind to reality. Truth is the making of the facts to have meaning. We do not discover the truth for the truth is not in the facts. We make things to be true. Before the truth we make , there is no truth, no pre-existing ontological objective truth. The only truth is an epistemological subjective truth. Therefore truth cannot be understood as the correspondence or conformity of mind and reality. It is not the passive and obedient recognition of a pre-existing order. According to the correspondence theory of truth, knowledge is always knowledge of the truth so much so that if there is falsity, it is on account of reasons extrinsic to knowledge (such as prejudices, insanity, etc.). It regards knowledge as an innocent reading of reality and sheer obedience to the fact. In other words knowledge is infallible because it simply recognize what is. But then, says Dewart, this theory for which error is always a sin amounts to a justification of intolerance and dogmatism. No doubt, when our knowledge is true, we can say that there is conformity of mind to being. But that does not mean that this conformity is the truth of knowledge - as is stated by the correspondence theory. We must say on the contrary that the truth of knowledge is the foundation of this relationship of conformity. In other words truth cannot be defined from a standpoint outside our experience.
2. Truth is the creative dynamism of the mind that transcends itself in the process to order the universe. It is the achievement of knowledge. It pertains exclusively to the subjective mind. It is not “to do justice to the world as we know it” but rather “to do justice to ourselves when we become conscious of the world”. We all the time wants to conceive new and improved meanings and in that sense we are intent to the truth. This very dynamic movement of self transcendence is the truth that impels man forward. However the outcome of this pursuit does not always satisfy. The meanings, theories, and interpretations we give can be failures and we become aware of this afterwards, not at the moment we create them. If we keep running after the truth all the time, it is with the possibility of error at every corner.
3. It is very important to explain error in knowledge. The manner with which the correspondence theory explains error is wrong. Error is not a “sin” but a part of the knowing process. Any speculation about truth must respect the reality of error. Both truth and error belong to our experience. Errare humanum est. Error is as much human as truth. Truth and error stand at the extreme poles of our experience. They are contrary , but not contradictory. They must be accounted for together. The experience of truth implies the possibility of error.
We always pursue the truth, we are always coming to the truth, we keep running after it, but we never stand in the truth. Truth is the quality of knowlegde which increases as knowledge grows in ordering reality more and more - for instance in finding new scientific theories. We never experience being mistaken now, but only afterwards do we experience having been mistaken. It is only later that we realise our error and want to avoid it. Error is always retrospective. We progress in knowledge by trial and error. The opposition of truth and error is the opposition of pursuance - avoidance .
Therefore error is not a deviation from a pre-established order, not a failure to discover reality, but a failure of consciousness to realise itself - a false ordering or interpretation. Error is relative to truth and truth to error. Error is an intrinsic part of our knowledge. “Man lives in error” writes Heidegger. “All our theories are in a way false”, writes Popper. Dewart, with them, acknowledges the intrinsic fallibility of all knowledge. The human intellect is by nature fallible.
There are criteria of verisimilitude – as Popper says – but no criteria of truth. As we grope to the truth by trial and error, error is not abnormal. On the contrary it plays an important part of the growth and evolution of truth. There can be no progress without mistakes. And as there is no infallible truth, we should always remain tolerant of errors.
* Dewart, Leslie, The Foundations of Belief, Burns Oates, London, 1969, p.80-90, 300-325
(American philosopher, 1859-1952)
1. Life, for Dewey, is made of problematic situations and their solutions. Knowledge is the name he gives for the product of competent and controlled enquiries. The conclusion reached as justified by enquiry is named “warranted assertion”. This settled outcome of enquiry is the final ‘judgment’ that Dewey distinguishes from the ‘propositions’ which are intermediate. The propositions possess the property of ‘means’ (relevancy, efficacy) but not the properties of truth or falsehood. Truth and falsehood are properties of the end or conclusions of inquiries. The judgment alone, that is, the final settlement, has direct existential import. It effects a transformation of the initial indeterminate situation. The judgment or the conclusion of the enquiry warrants true belief or knowledge which Dewey likes to call “warranted assertion” – because we are “warranted to assert them”. The problematic situation finds its solution in the warranted assertion, the expression of true knowledge obtained at the end of competent enquiries.
For Dewey the problematic situations in need of solutions are not of the private and personal type, but public and objective. Dewey avoids speaking like James of truth as “what satisfies” because the expression suggests an emotional satisfaction of an individual. He is concerned with the transforming of objective problematic situations by objective appropriate methods, as is achieved for instance in the field of scientific research.
2. Dewey agrees to call his view a kind of correspondence theory of truth. However what he means by correspondence does not reflect the classical notion of correspondence of thought and reality. Dewey takes correspondence for operational and behavioural. ‘Corresponding’ means ‘answering’ like a solution ‘answers’ a problem, like keys are answers to locks, etc. Dewey’s vague notion of correspondence is one holding between situations, one problematic and the other unproblematic, because it is the solution that answers the problem.
*See Thayer H.S., Meaning and Action, The Bobbs- Merril C, New York, 1968, p.192-200
(Malaysian Theravada Buddhist monk, 1919-2006)
The Buddha's Teaching is the Ultimate Truth of the world.
Buddhism recognizes two kinds of Truth. The apparent conventional truth and the real or ultimate Truth. The ultimate Truth can be realized only through meditation, and not theorizing or speculating. The Buddha's Teaching is the Ultimate Truth of the world. Buddhism, however, is not a revealed or an organized religion. It is the first example of the purely scientific approach applied to questions concerning the ultimate nature of existence. This timeless Teaching was discovered by the Buddha Himself without the help of any divine agency. This same teaching is strong enough to face any challenge without changing the basic principles of the doctrine. Any religion that is forced to change or adjust its original Teachings to suit the modern world, is a religion that has no firm foundation and no ultimate truth in it. Buddhism can maintain the Truth of the original Teaching of the Master even under the difficult conditions prevailing in the modern world.
The religion which we call 'Buddhism' is very different in its external practices from what the Buddha and His early followers carried out. Centuries of cultural and environmental influence have made Burmese, Thai, Chinese, Tibetan, Sri Lankan and Japanese Buddhism different. But these practices are not in conflict, because the Buddha taught that while the Truth remains absolute, the physical manifestation of this truth can differ according to the way of life of those who profess it.
A few hundred years after His passing away, the disciples of the Buddha organized a religion around the Teachings of the Master. While organizing the religion, they incorporated, among other concepts and beliefs, various types of miracles, mysticism, fortune-telling, charms, talismans, mantras, prayers and many rites and rituals that were not found in the original Teaching. When these extraneous religious beliefs and practices were introduced, many people neglected to develop the most important practices found in the original Teaching; self-discipline, self-restraint, cultivation of morality and spiritual development. They polluted the purity of the Buddha's message.
Buddhism as a religion did not begin as a superworldly system that came down from heaven. Rather it was born and evolved through a long historical process. In its process of evolution, many people slowly moved away from the original Teachings of the founder and started different new schools or sects. All the other existing religions also face the same situation.
One should not come to a hasty conclusion either by judging the validity of a religion or by condemning the religion simply by observing what people perform through their blind faith in the name of that religion. To understand the real nature of a religion one must study and investigate the original Teachings of the founder of that religion.
*Dhammananda, K. Sri (1964). What Buddhists Believe. Buddhist Mission Society of Malaysia
(Buddhist philosopher and logician, c. 530-600)
Dharmakirti's epistemological approach is pragmatic and empirical: he asserts that there is no point in discussing things that can never be verified by sense experience and that have no impact on the physical world. In his pragmatist system, all statements and cognitions are subject to falsifiability: a statement is true only as long as subsequent perceptions and analysis do not show it to be false. In addition, Dharmakirti believes that there is no point in discussing merely theoretical topics (such as Brahman or atman) and that an essential test of validity is the possibility of effective activity (artha-kriya). Practical application is one of the conditions of valid knowledge. In his system, statements become true through a process of verification: they must be able to withstand subsequent analysis and be corroborated by relevant perceptions. Those that meet this test may be accepted as true, while others (even statements contained in Buddhist scriptures) should be rejected.
Dharmakirti only accepts the pramanas of direct perception and inference, and rejects others that are accepted by the Nyayikas, such as comparison (upamana) and scriptural testimony. Comparison is unreliable because it is not based on direct experience, and scriptural testimony only convinces those who already accept the cited scriptures as normative. Dharmakirti asserts that any truth claim must be verifiable by analytical reasoning and direct perception. Direct perception is defined as being "free from conceptuality and incontrovertible." In his system, only the first moment of perception counts as direct perception, and subsequent moments are overlaid with conceptuality. They are not produced by cognition of a directly perceived sign, but instead are merely based on the initial perception and interpreted by the mind. Hence Dharmakirti emphasizes that universals are not real but products of the mind. They are elaborated on the basis of the resemblances we perceive.
In keeping with the Buddha's injunction that people should carefully examine all scriptures in light of their own experience, Dharmakirti rejected any move to privilege a scripture or set of scriptures. Any doctrine, truth-claim, or scripture must be able to withstand analysis by reasoning and the test of direct perception. In respect of those things that cannot be verified by perception or inference, the testimony of scriptures is useless. Only simple-minded innocent people, unable to know the truth and falsehood by themselves, are deluded to the belief that for everything they should fall back on the scriptures. They have blind faith in every word of the scriptures at the expense of perception and inference which are the sole means for the knowledge of the truth.
* See Ch. Sharma, A critical survey of Indian Philosophy, Rider & company, London, 1960, p.130-142
(Contemporary South African information science philosopher)
The perspectivist concept of truth allows the co-existence of opposites
‘Perspectivism’ is a term used to facilitate the presumption that "every point of view is in some sense true and offers a valuable and unique perspective of the universe". Or in other words, “judgements of truth and value depend on one’s perspective”. Perspectivism means that the world is always understood within the perspective of some point of view; all knowledge is thus an interpretation of reality in accordance with the set of assumptions that makes one perspective different from another.
Perspectivism is not a form of relativism. It implies that knowledge is limited in the sense that there are always other things to know. One is able to appreciate more features of reality by moving from one perspective to another rather than from being locked into one perspective. The perspectival approach emphasizes the anthropomorphic character of all human knowing, which recognizes both its limitations and its potentialities .
Rather than choosing one view to the total exclusion of others (a strategy of selectiveness), perspectivism uses a strategy of emphasis. This means that a specific view is emphasized without discarding the others as irrelevant. This principle operates in a manner similar to the metaphor of "figure and ground" as applied by gestalt psychologists. While a given perspective is featured as the figure in the foreground, other perspectives make up the background. This principle of emphasis in perspectivism echoes the notion of tolerance as advocated in holistic approaches to knowledge, so that the espousal of one perspective does not imply the automatic rejection of all others. Rather, at the broadest levels of human thought, all perspectives are mutually complementary and interrelated. Perspectivism hence allows also for "a kind of coexistence of opposites. This is certainly not an “anything goes” relativism.
* See Internet Dick Archie
(French philosopher 1713-1784)
The only way to truth: holding to what can be verified and proved
Diderot was one of the originators and interpreters of the Age of Enlightenment, the 18th-century movement based on the belief that right reason, or rationalism, could find true knowledge and lead mankind to progress and happiness. Diderot was no original thinker. He forcefully argued that “the greatest service to be done to men, is to teach them to use their reason, only to hold for truth what they have verified and proved."
“The philosopher, he wrote, contents himself with being able to unravel the truth where he can perceive it. He does not confound it with probability; he takes for true what is true, for false what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is only probable. He does more, and here you have a great perfection of the philosopher: when he has no reason by which to judge, he knows how to live in suspension of judgment... Skepticism is the first step towards truth.”
“There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge available to us: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination. The philosophical spirit is, then, a spirit of observation and exactness, which relates everything to true principles...”
Diderot was convinced that the greatest enemy of truth was religious faith. “If reason be a gift of Heaven, and we can say as much of faith, Heaven has certainly made us two gifts not only incompatible, but in direct contradiction to each other. In order to solve the difficulty, we are compelled to say either that faith is a chimera or that reason is useless”
See Diderot, L'Encyclopédie, (1750-1765)
( Ukranian b. American geneticist, 1900-1975)
Creation and evolution are not mutually exclusive alternatives: both are true together
According to Theodosius Dobzhansky, a darwinist and the main architect of the modern synthetic theory of biological evolution, "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". He describes his religious beliefs: "It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternatives. I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God's, or Nature's, method of Creation." In contrast to modern creationists, Dobzhansky accepted macroevolution and the documented age of Earth. He argues that "the Creator has created the living world not by caprice (supernatural fiat) but by evolution propelled by natural selection". He shows that Christians and atheists can cooperate to develop scientific theories, as long as religious dogma is not mixed up with facts and experimental data.
Dobzhansky, Th. 1970. Genetics of the Evolutionary Process. Columbia University Press, New York.
(Japanese Zen Buddhist, 1200-1263)
Two kinds of truth: correspondence and enlightenment
Dogen’s main work, the Shōbōgenzō deals with two kinds of truth, yet never makes their difference explicit. On one hand, true Dharma signifies "correct doctrine," and many chapters in the Shōbōgenzō take this as their primary concern. "True followers of the way" are sharply distinguished from "non-believers," and "right transmission" of Buddhism is opposed to "false doctrine." Here the Shōbōgenzō's task is to clarify the difference between true and false doctrinal positions and to encourage correct belief. In this case, "truth" implies a straightforward correspondence between doctrine and the reality that it represents. The Shōbōgenzō expresses immense respect for the Buddhist sutras, for the historical Buddha who initiated their transmission, and for the transmitted tradition as a whole, and on this basis, takes a strong stand in doctrinal matters. Dōgen makes it perfectly clear: belief or disbelief is not an indifferent matter. On the contrary, correct doctrinal belief is essential to the Buddhist way. Dōgen is persistent in his efforts to expose "false views" and to present the "correct viewpoint." Ability to "discriminate the true from the false" is for Dōgen essential to enlightenment .
Tradition, "the Buddhas and Patriarchs," supplies the standard by which to judge the truth of doctrine. "Anyone who wishes to determine if a teaching is correct or not should use the standards of the Buddhas and Patriarchs. They are the true masters of the wheel of the Law whom we should consult". A doctrine can be verified as correct if it can be found to be the teaching of Buddhas and Patriarchs.
In contrast to much of the Zen tradition that precedes it, the Shōbōgenzō is adamant that doctrine does make a difference.
According to a second understanding, however, truth is manifest beyond the distinction between correct and incorrect correspondence. This view overturns the centrality of doctrine in the sense that true Dharma does not contrast with false Dharma, but rather, includes it. Hence, truth can encompass equally the oppositions between belief and doubt, enlightened and ignorant, samsara and nirvana. This understanding of truth goes beyond truth as correspondence. True Dharma in these references is that in which one resides, or the essence that all beings embody, but in no instance is it a conceptual possession of certain individuals. On the contrary, all beings are possessed by it whether they realize it or not. However, as explained above, the Shōbōgenzō expresses immense respect for the Buddhist sutras, for the historical Buddha who initiated their transmission, and for the transmitted tradition as a whole, and on this basis, takes a strong stand in doctrinal matters. Dōgen makes it perfectly clear: belief or disbelief is not an indifferent matter. On the contrary, correct doctrinal belief is essential to the Buddhist way. Dōgen is persistent in his efforts to expose "false views" and to present the "correct viewpoint." Ability to "discriminate the true from the false" is for Dōgen essential to enlightenment .
See Dale S Wright , Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol 54, No. 2 (Summer 1986) pp 257-277 . Los Angeles, California
( American philosopher, b.1938)
The absolute truth of the three primary philosophical truths
We could all save ourselves a great deal of trouble, if only we would learn the distinction between objective and subjective propositions, between public context and private context, between objective knowledge and subjective introspection or belief, and between what assertions can be genuinely argued and those which cannot be argued. A knowledge of the distinction between matters of truth and matters of taste is essential.
The knowledge involved in the public context category is "objective" in the sense that it is "out there" to be verified by any rational person using the proper techniques. The knowledge involved in the private context category is "subjective" in the sense that it is "in here," that is, in one's own mind. With the exception of statements about our internal physical, mental, and emotional states, we usually refer to this latter kind of knowledge as "beliefs." And if a belief is actually verified as true, it is no longer a belief. It becomes an objective proposition within the public context and is known to be true, either absolutely or to some degree of probability. It becomes, then, knowledge, and not mere opinion or belief.
1. Objective propositions are assertions derived from sources of knowledge which can be publicly experienced and that are capable of public verification. This means that, in so far as evidence, proof, or demonstration is concerned, whatever is contained within the category of objective propositions must be accessible to the public at large in some way or other and at some time or other. This is the case with propositions stating facts acquired through direct observation, as well as with self-evident propositions acquired through thinking, such as the principle of identity and the principle of non-contradiction. These two forms of propositions can be publicly experienced and verified by any rational person. Such propositions have the quality of absolute certainty or certitude.
2. Subjective propositions are assertions derived from and within a "private context." Subjective propositions include all assertions derived from sources of knowledge which cannot be publicly experienced and whose propositions are not capable of public verification. This means that, in so far as evidence, proof, or demonstration is concerned, whatever is contained within this category is not accessible to the public at large in some way or other and at some time or other. Internal states we all experience, whether physical, mental, or emotional, are private states and any statement we make about these internal states of body and mind belong in the category of assertions derived from and within a "private context." These statements may be true; they are not, however, publicly true or objectively true.
The category of subjective propositions also includes assertions derived from sources such as intuition, mysticism, revelation, and certain sources labeled "paranormal." Intuition is always a personal experience. The mystic's experiences are private. Revelation, whether human or divine, demands "faith" as its criterion of belief. If human or divine revelations were public knowledge, we wouldn't need any "faith" associated with them, for faith is needed only where no acceptable public verification exists or is possible. We refer to these as personal beliefs, or religious beliefs, and so forth. These beliefs as beliefs (at least at the present time) are not capable of public verification and are not, therefore, "rational", eventhough they may not be “irrational”. If a belief becomes publicly verifiable, it ceases to be a belief, and it enters the category of objective propositions or assertions of a "public context"; it becomes a fact or state-of-affairs. It is knowledge, not belief or mere opinion.
3. Are philosophical propositions to be included in the category of objective propositions? According to Dolhenty we need to accept the absolute truth of the primary philosophical truths, otherwise the entire structure of knowledge falls apart and we end up in universal skepticism, where nothing at all can be known. The primary philosophical truths are three in number:
- The First Fact is my own existence, expressed as the proposition "I exist."
- The First Principle is the principle of contradiction, expressed as the proposition "It is impossible for something to be and not to be at the same time in the same respect."
- The First Condition is the essential trustworthiness of my reason, expressed as the proposition "My reason is capable of knowing truth."
Each of these truths is absolutely certain. Deny the truth of any one of them, and it is impossible to have knowledge at all. We know that these three primary philosophical truths are included in the category of objective propositions because any rational person can verify them.
There are other philosophical truths which can be placed in the category of objective propositions, that is, any philosophical proposition which is based on the truth of the primary truths and which uses properly the inductive and deductive methods available to us, and is capable of being verified by any rational person, falling into the category of objective propositions and constitutes, therefore, objective knowledge. Such assertions are either true or false, absolutely or to some degree of probable certitude, and can be the focus of rational argumentation.
* The Jonathan Dollhenty archive, Truth and certainty, See internet
(French intellectual, 1922-1997)
"To govern is make-believe” wrote Machiavel. To write is also make-believe. The writer shares with the politician the infamous secret that one can make anything with words. It is the power and the obligation to make people believe which in the long run debilitates belief. “By sheer force of having to speak of God” said a preacher, “I do not know any longer what I place behind that word!” As soon as one decides to speak or write, one has to give the impression to believe and the words come to our help. The “make-believe” takes precedence over “believing” and becomes its substitute and guarantee. Strange sects in which each member finds the justification of his/her belief in borrowing from others without any one of them prepared to answer for him/herself! But history is replete with testimonies of writers, teachers and preachers who, in a moment of sincerity, have given expression to their doubts. In fact what one expects of “people of faith” is excessive: that they give day and night the proofs of the sincerity of their commitment.
* Domenach, J.M., Ce que je crois, Bernard Grasset, Paris, 1978
(English radical Christian theologian, 1934)
1. Truth with a capital T is dead. There is nothing interesting to say about it.. We can only look ‘locally’ at truth and then we find it to be highly regional, variegated, human and under dispute. This truth is socially produced, historically developed, plural and changing. We may make some progress by working at the varous local uses of ‘truth’ but the big, global capital-T Truth is a myth.
2. Of all the theories of truth, the only one which marks a real advance is the pragmatist one. The truth for us is what is good to hold and this kind of truth has only a limited period or serviceability. Truth is what best serves our purposes. Even then in that sense one can say that religious beliefs are true, at least for a moment as long as they work well in our lives. No more than that can be said because we have no standpoint outside our own lives from which to conduct an enquiry into our beliefs.
3. Truth is no longer something “out there”. It is a way of words, a matter of narratives and story-telling. The story-teller is now making the truth. Truth is no longer self-identical in eternity; instead it lives and grows and changes in time. The preacher’s or the interpreter’s job becomes one of creating new truth. He is no longer a servant of the truth, but has become some one whose job is the endless production of truth. The old notion of an immutable truth out there is replaced with a new notion of truth. We have to get free from the classical binary opposition between truth and fiction. We ought to be thinking in a new way, which is “thinking truly outsidelessly”. This means that stories must come first in making the world intelligible and meaningful. Fiction precedes factuality, and then after fiction come theories, evidences, arguments, viewpoints.
In other words we have to get rid of the bogey of a realistic ontology, the notion that there is something out there prior to and independent of our language and our stories, and against which they can be checked. We must make our own fictions come true and do as if they were something out there to vindicate our beliefs. Then we understand that all our experiences are merely produced from within us by the story we have chosen to live by. This makes the view of life lighter and more playful. During the playing of games small benefits may be received according to the rules. Such benefits can be real enough within the game and relative to its objects.
4. In any case, truth-seeking is not the business of religion. The proper function of religion is not the revelation of any truth but the betterment of the self. Ancient Buddhism did not care to teach any doctrine, any truth. It only provided a therapy for the suffering condition of mankind. In religion we should give up truth and instead think in terms of remedial moves and therapeutic procedures.
* Don Cupitt, Creation Out of Nothing, SCM Press, London, 199O p.40-45; Taking leave of God, SCM Press, London, 1981, chap.7; What is a Strory? , SCM Press, London, 1993, p.22-25, 82-92
( Contemporary American Lutheran pastor)
We must present the evidence of the truth of Christianity
In the age of reason, knowledge and truth were rational and scientific. The question of the scientist was "What’s the data?" What’s the objective evidence? Is the conclusion rational?
In confronting the modern age, most Protestant Christians simply preached the Gospel recognizing that the Holy Spirit operated beyond reason. The assumption was, while there is evidence, it would not stand the test of scientific scrutiny. It was evidence for the person who had faith. The person who did not have faith, whose understanding was darkened, required a work of the Holy Spirit to bring him to faith. While evidence for the truth of Christianity was available, most Christians thought that for the scientific mind, which operated in affirmatives and negatives, in truth versus untruth, the evidence could be countered with rational explanation. The supernatural was readily rejected on rational grounds.
Today, in a postmodern age, the pendulum has swung to the other side. Reason, science, data are no longer the issue. Truth is relative, and spirituality and religious expression, often irrational if not insane, are rampant. Rather than accepting a religion based on any evidence for the truth of the claims, the appeal is to feelings and experience. "if you like what I am saying, come and join my group." Read the Book of Mormon and get a burning in the bosom. Visualize Jesus, ask him questions, you’ll discover that it works.
As we present the Gospel today we must clearly make it known that the Christian’s claims are different from the claims of the Mormons and New Age gurus. Our Gospel is based upon historic events. Our faith is founded on facts.
The Christian, in confronting this culture, must not allow his message to be lumped with every other religious and spiritual expression by giving the impression that Christianity is "my truth," which "works for me" and is based on "my experience". There is a case for Christianity: we must present the case and give the evidence.
While presenting evidence for the historic truth of the Christian message will not bring a person to faith in Jesus Christ, it will at least cause that person to take another look at Christianity. He cannot be permitted to lump the Christian message into the same category with the strange and irrational religious claims made by those who offer alleged competing truths. Not to present evidence for the truth of Christianity is to do a gross injustice to the evangelists record of how God entered into history in the person of Jesus Christ.
*See Internet Don Matzat
(Belgian philosopher theologian, 1902-1985)
Human beings have a passion for truth as well as for freedom. These two values define human life in what is its most precious and specifically human aspiration. Whatever great, beautiful and noble has been achieved in the course of history, has sprung forth from the insatiable desire for truth, justice and freedom. We speak of a turning point in history when these values have been at stake, whether in rise or decline, for better or for worse.
But it is remarkable that, to be genuine, truth and freedom have to sustain each other. They are necessarily complementary. There can be no truth without freedom and no freedom without truth.
1. On the one side, freedom is rooted in our being open to the truth. This means that truth only can make us free. We are free on account of being rational and spiritual beings. A certain brand of contemporary existentialism promotes the idea of ‘absolute’ freedom, or freedom ‘for nothing’. It is a freedom unrelated to truth and rationality, a freedom that is pure choice and arbitrary will to power, no longer the right undertanding of human freedom that exists at the service of values. Human freedom has a clear direction and function: it is that without which man cannot realise the truth of his essence.
2. On the other hand truth is rooted in freedom. It can develop only in a climate of freedom. Where there is no freedom, there can be no truth. Without inner freedom, with mind and will subject to inner compulsions and deep-rooted prejudices, the sincere pursuit of truth is an illusion. Without external freedom, in a social climate unfavourable to dialogue and the open expression of one’s own conviction, authoritarian compulsion – whether religious or political – is a grave obstacle to the pursuit of truth in collaboration.
* Dondeyne, Albert, La Foi Ecoute le Monde, Editions Universitaires, Paris, 1964, Chap.3, p.67
(Contemporary Suriname photogtapher)
There is no “one true religion” “There is one god and all religions we know today lead to him”. Various paths, all leading to the same destination. But is this true? Can this be right? Is it really possible to have various religions, all leading to the same god?
Even if you were to assume that it’s possible that all religions lead to the same god, you’d have many other questions to answer, one of which would be: Why would god create all those different religions for people to worship him? And if he did, wasn’t he ever worried that it might cause a lot of confusion, among many other problems? Surely he would have been able to foresee that.
If there would merely be differences between all the religions existing today, it would help in trying to argue for the fact that all religions lead to the same destination. But that is not the case. Not only are there differences, but a lot of these differences are in contradiction with each other.
When we look at the many religions we have today, not only are they different, but all of them have various things which are contradicting in relation with other religions. For example, in Christianity, Jesus is the son of god and is of great importance, but in Islam, Jesus is just a prophet. I could go on and on naming contradictions..
I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I conclude that because of the contradictions, some of which are very serious, there can only be one true religion.
And once you decide on a religion another surprise awaits you. Many of the big religions have sub-religions as well, each with their own interpretation of things, differences and contradictions. For example, in Christianity you have Catholics, Protestant Christians, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and many more, etc.
How can you ever really know which one to choose? In addition it is impossible to be certain about any choice you make, since many differences are based on interpretation of words in holy books, interpretation of intentions, and sometimes even just belief. It’s impossible to make a choice based on any hard evidence.
And remember that you get to deal with all of this after you’ve made a very important assumption first, namely, that god exists. So you begin with an assumption which cannot be verified in any way and which you just have to believe in based on faith. That already is a very weak beginning. And then, you go on to having to confront all of the issues above.
* See Internet Karel Donk
(Contemporary New Zealander philosopher of religion)
1. Religious beliefs rest on interpretations. Most of the so called descriptive statements of religions are interpretations. In religion the testing of truth-claims is not whether there is enough evidence to verify some descriptive propositions or whether the religious statement is in correspondence with reality. Rather it is to find out whether the religious beliefs as interpretations are well supported, and what phenomena do these religious statements try to interpret. Thus the question is : are these interpretations correct? Do they lead to the truth?
For instance one should not ask whether the divinity of Christ is true, but ask what does it mean for the belief in the divinity of Christ to be true. The question is to examine what has led people to believe that Jesus is divine. This point at least is verifiable while the first is unverifiable. If the resurrection of Christ is said to be ‘true’, it is not true as a fact but as an interpretation that presents the resurrection as a fact. What needs evaluation ( is it true or false?) is not the fact but the interpretation of the fact, the reasons for believing in the fact.
According to Donovan, to admit that religious claims are more in the realm of interpretation than in the realm of definite description, need not involve giving up the ideal of objective truth. Interpretations may be correct and the statements that express them can count as true statements. Besides, the question of truth-telling in everyday situations is often not just a matter of correspondence between descriptions and observable facts. It is far too simple an approach to treat questions about truth – in religions as elsewhere – as a matter of evidence based on the verification of descriptive propositions.
2. However the big question remains: in what circumstances do interpretations lead to the truth? How to evaluate the correctness of an interpretation? Undoubtedly, through his religious interpretations the believer finds profound meaningfulness. But how can he know if this is not an elaborate game of make-believe? How should one test the apparent discovery of significance, the supposed grasp of meaningfulness? At most these discoveries of meaningfulness make the believer’s interpretation a reliable guide , an appropriate model. They are more like ‘proposals’ or ‘suggestions’ that satisfy the believer, much like a scientific theory satisfies the scientist in his interpretation of the facts of experience. What is sure is that the religious claims and interpretations must have some points of contact with human experience.
* Donovan, Peter, Religious Language, Sheldon Press, London, 1976, p100-109
(Dutch jurist and philosopher, 1894-1977)
Truth requires the transcendent light of Divine revelation
The neo-Calvinist Dooyeweerd makes the distinction between Truth and our knowledge of truth, and endeavours to link them. He contends that there is no "truth in itself" while at the same time contending that absolute Truth is to be found (in the Divine). He also accounts for how it is that our partial, relative knowledge of truth relates to Truth and is not totally random: because of Divine Revelation from a God who will not cheat or deceive us.
He admits that we all have an human ‘experience of truth’: still there is no 'truth in itself'. These are the 'truths' as they exist in our experience as individual entities such as in propositional form, in philosophy, science, etc. This is what many thinkers talk about when they discuss 'truth': our experience of truth.
Dooyeweerd asserts that our experience of truth is relative and fallible, nonetheless he believes there is an absolute Truth. Dooyeweerd never says 'there is no truth' but 'there is no truth in itself'. The 'in itself' is important, and relates to his fundamental proposal that nothing in this cosmos nor in our experience is self-dependent. Still he contends that there is an absolute Truth - located in God, in the Divine, to whom all else refers.
Dooyeveerd examines the relationship between Truth and our experience of truth: it rests on two things, namely, revelation and orientation. The Divine proactively reveals Truth to us in ways we can engage with, and we orientate ourselves either towards or away from the absolute Truth. Therefore, though Dooyeweerd rejects the positivist idea that we can in principle seek and attain absolute truth (and that there is no such thing as Divine Revelation), he does not thereby sink into a hopeless aimlessness that characterizes much post-modernism. This explains why for him religious presupposition is so important: our presuppositions are tied up with the degree to which we are orientated towards absolute Truth.
If absolute Truth is in God, and our experience of truth is always fallible, then the Divine needs to take the initiative in revealing itself to us. Truth requires the transcendent light of Divine Revelation, which enters our temporal horizon only through faith.
*Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought (Edwin Mellen Press, 1997)
(Contemporary Israeli author)
The Truth mixed up with dross in every religion
It is intentional that religions are not pure truth and goodness. No one should expect religion to be nothing but truth. The truth is mixed with dross in every religion. It is a test that God puts us to. To imagine that religion should give us pure revealed truth without effort on our part is as foolish as it is lazy.
Religion is a testing and training ground that separates the pure from the impure of heart. It is the boot camp wherein those who are destined to "graduate" to higher levels of training and become warriors for God and are separated from those who can't pass muster.
Those with a pure heart chose the truth in religion. Those who are impure choose the dross and are led the way of delusion within their religion. Fools and cowards believe and observe all of their religion, truth and falsehood alike, without discernment. The weakest of spirit give up entirely and, blaming religion for not fulfilling their infantile desires, feel justified by their disappointment with religion in turning their backs on God entirely and indulging their whims and wallowing in materialism.
* See Internet Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
(Russien essayist and philosopher,1831-1881)
The futility of speculations (scientific and philosophical) in its search for truth
“If it came to a showdown between rejecting Christ and the truth, I would side with Christ over against the truth!” Dostoevski’s well known utterance reveals his desperate struggle against speculative truth and the human dialectic that reduces "revelation" to knowledge. The following passage from his Notes from Underground expresses the concept of the futility of speculative philosophy: “Men”, he writes, "yield at once to impossibility. Impossibility means a stone wall! What stone wall? Why, the laws of nature, of course, mathematics, the conclusions of the natural sciences. For instance, once they have proved that you are descended from the ape, it does no good to frown; accept it as it is, like twice two is four in mathematics. Just try to dispute that! For goodness' sake, they will shout at you, you can’t dispute it—twice two is four. Nature does not ask your permission; she is not concerned with your wishes or with whether her laws please you or not. You are obliged to accept her as she is, and therefore you must accept all her consequences as well."
Dostoevsky is aware of the meaning and significance of all the general and necessary judgments, these obligatory, coercive truths to which man's reason has to submit. Inspired by the Scriptures, he exerts all his strength in order to break away from the power of knowledge. In The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, he resorts to the Biblical story of Original Sin and the Fall of the first man. He reveals the meaning of the words: "Ye shall be knowing," with which the Biblical serpent tempted our forefather and continues to tempt all of us to this day. The “stone walls" of speculative philosophy and the "twice two is four" of scientific knowledge are only a concrete expression of what is contained in the words of the tempter: “ye shall be knowing”. Knowledge has not brought man to freedom, as we are accustomed to think and as speculative philosophy proclaims; knowledge has enslaved us, has put us wholly at the mercy of the so called ‘eternal truths’.
Where speculative philosophy sees "truth,"—that truth which our reason tries so eagerly to obtain and to which we all pay homage—Dostoevsky sees the "absurdity of absurdities." He renounces the guidance of reason and not only does not agree to accept its truths, but assails our truths with all the power at his command. “Whence came they, he asks, who gave them such limitless power over man? And how did it happen that men accepted them, accepted everything that they brought into the world; and not just accepted, but worshipped, them?”
Not unlike Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, "withdrew from the general," or, as he himself expresses it, "from the allness." And he suddenly felt that it was impossible and unnecessary for him to return to the allness; that the allness—i.e., what everyone, in every time and place, considers to be the truth—is a fraud, is a terrible illusion; that all the horrors of existence have come into the world from the allness toward which our reason summons us.
Confronted with eternal truths, men offer no resistance, but accept everything that they bring. They see their salvation in knowledge, in gnosis. But in Dostoevski’s philosophy which opposes revealed truth to speculative truth, the first man was afraid of the limitless will of the Creator; he saw in it the "arbitrariness" that terrifies him, and began to seek protection from God in knowledge which, as the tempter had suggested to him, made him equal to God, i.e., made him and God equally dependent on eternal ‘uncreated truths’.
*See Anderson, Susan Leigh; On Dostoevsky, Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 2001
(Contemporary American meteorologist, b.1945)
"Truths" we arrive at are only hypotheses, never absolutes
“I certainly make no claim to knowing what is truth. I have ideas and opinions, some of them strongly held. But secular and scientific truths are not like religious truths ... they are not necessarily sacred and unchanging. Many "truths" may well be only relative things, and might lie only within the eye of the beholder. However, the scientific perspective on "truth" is the following: There is no way to know absolute scientific truth, short of being an omniscient being. Hence, we can only know things by observation and comparing our ideas against those observations. In other words, scientific "truth" is what is observed to work, to the best of our ability to test how well it works. This is a very pragmatic definition of "truth" based on results, and not just opinion. I want to argue that this is a useful way for anyone to use the information that is becoming so readily available to us, not just for scientists.
With some hard work, study, and thinking about things we have learned from different sources, we all can arrive at something that seems to make sense to us, as individuals. These "truths" are only hypotheses, not absolutes, but they can serve as a basis for decision-making because they are based on something substantial. We should maintain the capacity to change our minds if new facts (information!) present themselves. We should respect the right of others to come to different views, even as we disagree. Disagreement is a way to sharpen our understanding and there is nothing inherent in disagreement that should cause us to demonize those with whom we disagree. It is by disagreement and dialog with our opponents that we test our ideas and, hopefully, refine them. Our opponents in disagreement are truly our allies in seeking truth. We should love them for challenging us to think more deeply, not seek to destroy them (either metaphorically or physically) for their different views! We should reject categorically the idea that having a different belief is inherently wrong or evil. None of us have a stranglehold on truth, and we should distrust anyone who would claim to know truth absolutely.”
*See Internet Doswell Chuck
( American philosopher of religion, b. 1934)
The nature of necessary truth
One of the main objections to the correspondence theory of truth is that it seems not to leave room for necessary truth. Necessary truths do not seem to correspond to experienceable situations in the physical world as do contingent truths. This shows that it is incumbent on theorists of truth to deal in some way with the problem of necessary truth. If necessary truth is a kind of truth, then obviously our test(s) for necessary truth need to be included among out tests for truth.
Several theories reject the idea of necessary truth. One of them is that form of conventionalism which classifies the statements of logic and mathematics as mere formal rules, and hence not to be spoken of as “true” or “false” at all. The objection to this theory is that we do speak of mathematical truth and logical truth, and it seems intuitively plausible to do so.
Of the various theories that allow for necessary truth, there are three that are of particular importance: the “truth by convention” approach, the “a prioricity” approach, and the “unthinkability” approach.
According to the “truth by convention” approach, a necessarily true statement is one that is true in virtue of the rules or conventions of the language or system in which it is expressed. Drange argues that the very idea of “truth by convention” is incoherent. There is no way to reconcile it with the correspondence theory of truth. The “a prioricity” approach identifies necessary truth with a priori truth. A statement is said to be true a priori if and only if it can be known to be true by human beings independently of any confirmatory sensory experience. But, Drange shows that this definition of “necessary tuth” needs to be rejected as circular.
According to the “unthinkability” approach, a necessary truth is simply one the negation of which is unthinkable. Drange suggests that unthinkability could be appealed to as a criterion or test of necessary truth, even if it cannot be used as a definition (because of the resulting circularity). One could say that a necessary truth is a proposition that corresponds with a necessary state of affairs. But then we are still left with the problem of defining “necessary state of affairs.”.
An analogy with the way an intuitionist construes ethical properties may be helpful here. Just as the term “good” is indefinable, so also the term “necessary” is indefinable. Just as we need to appeal in some way to intuition to ascertain that an action or state is good, so also we need to appeal to some sort of intuition to ascertain that a state of affairs in necessary. In answer to the question “What makes an action good?” the intuitionist replies, “It just is, that’s all.” Similarly, in answer to the question “What makes a state of affairs necessary?” we are constrained to reply, “It just is, that’s all.” The point here is that it is not humans and their apprehension of a state of affairs that makes the state of affairs necessary. It bears its necessity within itself, independently of all thought. The state of affairs of 1+1 equaling 2 would still be necessary even if there were no minds. Similarly, rightness and wrongness are properties that acts have in and of themselves, independently of all thought or apprehension. Just as an intuitionist might appeal to the concept of an ideal observer to get around the prima facie subjectivity of moral intuition, so also we could appeal to the concept of an ideal observer to defend the objectivity of our intuitions about the necessity of various states of affairs. The position that Drange defends is that we all share the same intuitions about which states of affairs are necessary and which ones aren’t.
This means that the concept of necessary truth seems to be indefinable. We simply intuit the necessity of necessary truths in somewhat like the way we are supposed (by the ethical intuitionist) to intuit the rightness or wrongness of actions. Thus unthinkability could be appealed to as a criterion or test of necessary truth, even if it cannot be used as a definition. It is plausible to maintain that there definitely are necessary truths, and it is also in accord with our intuitions about truth to define it as some sort of correspondence with reality.
* Drange Theodore , "Necessary Truth" An attempt to understand the concept of necessary truth within the framework of a correspondence theory of truth. See internet
(American scientist and philosopher, 1811-1882)
Truth matters, faith is a way to deny truth
Truths are describing reality and reality matters. Draper thinks that it matters whether something is real. And no matter what we believe to be the case, some things will always be true and other things will always be false. Our beliefs, whatever they are, have no bearing on the facts, the reality of the world around us. That which is true is always true — even if we stop believing it and even if we stop existing at all. Language is a strange thing. Some people say truth when they mean belief. Believing in something strongly does not make it true or causes it to be a fact. Like facts, something is either true or it is not. You may believe it’s true whether it is or is not but how do you decide? The obvious answer is to look for evidence and use our reasoning powers to connect the evidence. While this applies to all decisions of “true or not”, it seems to be most difficult when you are told something (e.g. Santa Claus or god exists) by someone you believe (e.g. a parent or teacher) and then you have it questioned by someone else.
If you believed something because you were told, you have already accepted it on faith. You have faith that the person would not lie to you so what they said must be true. So if asked to do the “reason it out” thing, you simultaneously have to decide if you could have been lied to by someone you trust! There may be other reasons why you cling to the original belief. But in the end, you either find reasons, accurate or not or you just decide to accept it “on faith”. The next time someone questions the same thing, you know you have already decided to “believe” despite evidence to the contrary so you have a harder time – you have to convince yourself that you were wrong the last time. You get gradually more entrenched in your belief and your faith gets stronger. A vicious circle.
Wherever we go, things happen regardless of what we believe. There doesn’t appear to be any real evidence of things occurring just because we wished really hard that they would. If it did, the world would be chaotic and unpredictable because everyone would be wishing for different things.
Religious people often talk about truths that cannot be proved. They imply that just because something is not scientific or provable, you "know in your heart" that it is true. But is it really? What is truth? The Oxford Dictionary defines "true" as "in accordance with fact or reality", so saying it is a truth is really saying it is a fact and real.
People argue that there are "truths" that cannot be discovered by science and that many of these are religious truths. I suppose you can define "truth" to be a strong feeling or something told to you by someone who you trust (e.g. a priest) and then for you, it is true - that is, you believe. You can in fact believe a large amount of information - even an entire religion! And you can even call these stories truths although saying it or believing it does not change reality - it either is true or it is not and your belief in it does not change the reality.
For rational or scientific thinkers, truth means "fact or reality" and that in turn requires proof. Believing something does not make it true. Feelings can't be proved; it has been shown that religious stories can't be proved (you need faith!); the intention of a writer can't be deduced with any certainty. So "Religious Truths" are not truths to anyone but the person writing or talking about them.
*Draper John William , History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science. New York: D. Appleton, 1874.
(French mathematician and philosopher of science, 1861-1916)
1. Duhem contends that the object of scientific theories is not to explain reality but to describe it. This is for him the way by which physical science is rendered autonomous from the metaphysical enterprise. The task of metaphysics is to explain reality in finding its first causes and fundamental structure. On the contrary physical science does not speculate on the true nature of reality.
Still when Duhem contends that scientific theories describe reality, he does not mean thereby what realist theories understand by ‘describing’, namely, exposing what reality truly is. A true physical theory is not a theory that explains how physical appearances conform to reality; rather it is a ‘system of mathematical propositions meant to represent in the most satisfactory way a group of experimental laws’. Thus scientific theories are primarily constructions of the human mind. They do not refer to something observable: they are only fictions. Scientific theories are not issued from facts or experience, they precede them. The scientist imposes his views on reality. When he uses such words as ‘atoms’, for instance, he does not claim that reality is such, but only that recourse to this representation is useful. Duhem’s rejection of atomism is based on his instrumentalism (or fictionalism): physical theories are not explanations but representations; they do not reveal the true nature of matter. Theoretical propositions are not true or false, but convenient or inconvenient. The purpose in science is efficiency: scientific theories are all different manners to represent reality in a way that satisfies the mind. Duhem’s viewpoint seems to have much in common with ‘instrumentalism’, the great adversary of the realist conception.
2. However Duhem admits that science has not only a practical aim. It is also concerned with the knowledge of the world. Scientific theories are not merely subjective, ideal and abstract: they tend to become a reflection of a “real order” of things. Duhem concedes that by a kind of intuition, the scientist is lead to affirm his faith in a real order of which his theories are an image, progressively clearer and more faithful to the real. Pure instrumentalism cannot satisfy. One has to go back to some sort of ‘realism’, still not the realism that claims to describe reality as it is truly is. On the one hand one can never know whether reality is such as scientific theories say they are. On the other hand scientific theories do not only aim at acting upon reality, they aim also at providing representations, the most conform to reality and the world in which we live.
* Duhem Pierre, La Théorie Physique, son Object, sa Structure, rééd. Paris, Vrin, 1981
(Contemporary American Christian theologian and apologist)
Christian truth in the face of modernism and postmodernism
1. The Enlightenment project, from which modernism was birthed, is based on certain epistemological assumptions in regards to knowledge: it is certain, objective, good, and accessible. Modernism believes in the ability of the mind to attain truth through the use of observation, reflection, and reason. Its view of truth is the correspondence theory of truth, which states that there is an objective world "out there," which we can know first-hand. There is a direct correspondence between the objective reality and the thoughts of the knower. Modernism links the concept of truth with human rationality, thus making reason and logical argumentation the sole judge of truth and correct belief.
As for postmodern adherents the only valid truth is the local narrative of a particular society. Truth is socially conditioned, thus our understanding of truth is conditioned by the community in which we find ourselves. While truth is not universal, postmodernism does not relativize truth to that of each individual, but rather to that of each community. Truth is cultural, and each person participates in that truth. Seeing that there are many cultures, there are many truths. The postmodern worldview is thoroughly pluralistic. Both our perceptions of truth and the essence of truth are relative. Reality is a human construct determined by the group which guides and even dictates social life, mores, and values. As a result postmodernism has abandoned the Enlightenment quest for a grasp of an objective, unified reality
While the Enlightenment was a project to free knowledge from all faith-claims, wanting no subjective truth, postmodernism wants no part of objective truth, claiming that all truth is little more than personal and community-based faith.
2. We live in a pluralistic world. There are many competing viewpoints in the marketplace, whether it be concerning politics, social issues, governmental theories, or religious truth. The acknowledgment of a plurality of ideas, however, is much different than the doctrine of pluralism that pervades our world today. Pluralism, as it is now understood, indicates not only the existence of many ideas, but also the equal validity of those ideas. We are being told that because of the diversity of beliefs existing today we need to be open-minded to all of them.
But for Jason Dulle, while diversity does call for openness, it does not call for the sort of openness being advocated by postmodernists; i.e. uncritical acceptance or the relativizing of truth. While Christians can recognize that truth is found in all religions, it is quite another thing to say that all religions are equally valid or equally true. The former recognizes our intellectual humility and the existence of truth in all worldviews, while the latter demands that we do not evaluate any claims to truth or reality to determine their worth, accepting them uncritically.
Dulle contends that pluralism ignores the fact that many religious truth claims are not compatible with one another, or flatly contradict one another. The law of the excluded middle indicates that something cannot be both true and untrue at the same time. Either the Jews are right that Jesus was not the Messiah, or Christians are right that He is the Messiah. Jesus cannot be both the Messiah, and not the Messiah. Likewise, the Biblical teaching of resurrection is incompatible with the notion of reincarnation. While neither may be true, both cannot be true at the same time and in the same manner.. All religions do not offer different ways to the same salvation, but have different, and at times, contradictory concepts concerning the nature of salvation itself. All truth claims cannot be true, but it does not follow that we cannot know if any are true. Truth claims need to be critically evaluated. While everyone may have a voice, not all voices deserve equal hearing.
We can adopt the best of modernism and postmodernism, building a solid epistemology which is intellectually honest enough to account for our finiteness and place in the flux of history, but also strong enough to account for the existence of a non-contingent reality and universal truth as revealed to us by God in the person of Christ and the Bible.
* Dulle Jason, The Question of Truth and Apologetics in a Modern/Postmodern World
( American theologian, R.C. Cardinal, 1918-2008)
The five models of revelatory truth
Dulles discerns five distinct understandings of the revelatory truth, trying to identify both their positive and negative points. This does not mean they are all equal, and his critique of the third and fifth models mentions how they are difficult to reconcile with traditional Christian beliefs. He himself does not advocate a specific model, nor does he think that the models can simply be combined.
The first model is Revelation as Doctrine. It could be called the conservative or traditional model. This model sees the Bible as a collection of factually true statements about God and humankind. In some ways it was made official Catholic dogma at the First Vatican Council, though not in a way that totally excludes the following four models. It is also the model generally used by Evangelical Protestants today.
The second model is Revelation as History. According to this model, the Bible itself is not revelation but merely witnesses to revelation. Revelation itself is the acts of God in history (e.g., the Exodus, the Incarnation). A Catholic version of this theory has found its way into the Second Vatican Council's document on revelation, Dei Verbum.
The third model is Revelation as Inner Experience. It is essentially the view of Liberal Protestantism, whose founder may be Friedrich Schleiermacher. This model seeks to establish a theory of revelation in which revelation is not dependent on the Bible, which is considered historically unreliable. Instead, revelation is coterminous with a personal religious experience of God, which can be mediated by the Bible.
The fourth model is Revelation as Dialectical Presence. According to this view, God is "absolute mystery" and cannot be objectified. The object of revelation is not God himself in his absolute essence but God as he turns toward his creatures. Revelation is nothing but the fact of Jesus Christ. As in the second model, the Bible itself is not revelation, but witnesses to revelation.
The fifth model is Revelation as New Awareness. In this model revelation is "the transcendent fulfillment of the inner drive of the human spirit toward fuller consciousness." It is a sort of evolutionary view, in which humankind is moving toward "fuller consciousness," and this is what revelation is.
* Avery Dulles, Models of Revelation, Orbis Books / 1992 / Paperback
(French theologian-philosopher, 1920- )
1. Duméry follows Nietzsche and Sartre in taking the values as man’s creation, truth included. Still unlike them he does not profess atheism. He conceives God on the model of the One of Plotinus, a totally transcendent Absolute, attributeless, beyond the categories of good, true, beautiful, etc. Such a divinity is not the locus of Truth. God has left to human beings to discover the truth by themselves. It is therefore meaningless to treat religious truths as received or revealed truths. The religious person is not dispensed from searching for the truth, he has to find it like any one else. On that account his position is not at variance with the philosopher’s one. But whereas the philosopher uses reason and experience in his search, the religious person looks for the truth through the instrumentality of sacred scriptures and traditions.
2. Duméry’s intention is to find a way of reconciling truth and freedom in religion. In assenting to an externally so-called revealed truth, the believer loses himself in it and alienates himself. The concept of a truth imposed from the outside on the self is destructive of freedom and the cause of religious fanaticism. God does not want to destroy the human freedom he has created. Genuine religion cannot dispense human beings from thinking and acting by themselves. It should be able to harmonize religious truth with human freedom. A religious believer must be as free before truth as an unbeliever. Every one, whether believer or unbeliever, is called to “establish” the truth, to take an active part in the discovery of the truth. There is no pre-existing body of truth that can restrict man’s autonomy. Truth does not “precede” man, for God has left to man the freedom to be the source of truth.
* Duméry, Henri, Faith and Reflection, Herder & Herder, London, 1968, p.6-15
(British analytic philosopher, b.1925)
Dummet professes semantic ( or linguistic) anti-realism. That means that for him the nature of our world is dictated by the nature of our language. There is no point of view outside language from which to make sense of the really real and to assert its truth or falsity.
There are many sentences in our language whose truth-value we can never know, because their truth-conditions transcend our epistemological capacities. Such sentences – for instance “God is good” - may be meaningful but ‘undecidable’. Sentences that describe state of affairs that reach beyond our ability to know them cannot be called true or false. Unknowable truth-conditions must be rejected.
The concept of truth must fit with these limitations. We have no grasp of a ‘verification-transcendent’ concept of truth. Therefore truth can only be the property of what is ‘decidable’ or verifiable. Truth means just ‘assertibility’ or ‘decidability’. We are entitled to say that a statement P is true or false only when P is a statement of such a kind that we are justified either in asserting it or denying it, that is to say when P is an effectively decidable statement. There is an immense range of statements that fail the test. They are undecidable statements and therefore neither true nor false.
Dummett’s view is thus anti-realistic because for a realist theory of meaning our language is able to represent a transcendent reality. Dummett restricts the truth of sentences to those to which we can apply a method for determining their truth. If we lack an effective method for deciding the truth of a sentence, we have no right to suppose that it might nevertheless be true. Dummett denies the possibility of any statements to be true or false independently of our knowledge. A sentence is true only if it can be known as true. The unknown is never true or false. Truth has to be recognizable or verifiable truth. It is clear that Dummett’s intention is to explain ‘true’ and ‘false’ in terms of verification and falsification. A statement is true only if there are verifying conditions for it, conditions that are cognitively accessible to us. So if a statement is true it must be in principle possible to know that it is true.
The difference between the realist and the antirealist conception of truth is that the latter denies the principle of bivalence according to which every assertoric sentence must be either true or false. As an antirealist Dummet flatly denies truth value to undecidable or unverifiable sentences. On the contrary for a realist a statement may have a determinate truth value independently of our access to what shows the statement to be true or false. Statements, for the realist, are true of false, even if we have no means to know it.
Critics of Dummett’s antirealist verificationism wonder what are the conditions that make us able to consider a statement as effectively decidable. A necessary condition for our being able to decide is that a certain something is true. But then statements are not true or false because we decide the matter. It is not the decidable that is true, rather it is the true that is decidable.
* Dummet, Michael, Truth, in Philosophical Logic, Edited by P.F. Strawson, Oxford Un. Press, 1967, p. 49-68; Alston, P.W., A Realist Conception of truth, Cornell University press, Ithaca, 1996, p.102-131
(Belgian born American philosopher of religion, b. 1925)
Dupré observes that the predominant modes of understanding the truth claims of religion are usually cognitive. Assessing the strength and weakness of correspondence and coherence theories of truth, Dupré stresses rather the power of truth understood in terms of ontological disclosure. He argues that disclosure is best suited to understand the nature of religious truth because it is less tainted by modern subjectivism and so remains open to the experience of presence.
For him religious meaning is a message and not a construction. He finds a great promise in the phenomenological approach on account of the possibility it opens up of supplanting a sterile correspondence model of truth with the more ancient model of truth as disclosure, as the radiance by which the object of reflection really shows itself-gives itself-to the subjective intention. Such a model of truth makes room for the notion of revelation and for the idea of a transcendence that declares itself, that is Word and light and meaning, appearing gratuitously, even if it does so necessarily under the forms provided by a human creativity. Even if every religious truth comes to consciousness as a construction, a mythic, symbolic, and ritual invention, it also comes as a gift that still surpasses intention, and overflows the understanding of the one who receives it. Dupré strives to take account of the modern turn to the subject while maintaining the revealed givenness of truth as disclosed. He maintains that the phenomenological method is able to embrace the essential elements of both classical illumination theory and the modern philosophical emphasis on the constitutive role of the subject.
He takes quite seriously the ancient (Platonic and Christian) idea of illumination: the light of truth can be received only under the forms of a creative and poetic capacity in consciousness, perhaps, but that very capacity also already participates in Being's light, and receives it from without. Consciousness, thus conceived, is an openness to the radiance of things.
In "Truth in Religion and Truth of Religion", Dupré depicts religious truth as a kind of deepening of vision, a constant conversion towards Being's transcendent depth of truth and goodness. One is "in the truth" before one can simply "know" the truth; it is a way of being rather than simply a way of conceiving.
* See Paul J. Levesque, Symbols of Transcendence: Religious Expression in the Thought of Louis Dupré, Louvain Theological and Pastoral Monographs, vol. 22. Louvain: Peeters, 1997
(Canadian historian of philosophy, 1885-1981)
1. In the pursuit of truth the game of sense versus reason has filled many a philosophic day. It began with the Sophists for whom knowledge comes from the sense only: truth is what you taste, touch, smell, hear and see. Plato was not satisfied, he was sure that reason is the test of truth. Aristotle agreed with him and made logic to formulate the laws of reason and make truth to be the conclusion of a perfect syllogism. The Scholastics followed them in exalting reason. Descartes rejects the evidence of the sense and hold nothing certain but clear thought. Modernity began with the re-enthronement of sensation – in science with Galileo, in philosophy with Bacon. Then a heavy debate ensued between English empiricism and Continental rationalism. But not for long. Idealism was resurrected in England with Bradley and a new form of empiricism took root in America with James’ pragmatism. The oscillation of the pendulum from sense to reason and vice versa is endless.
2. Durant’s stand in what he calls the “game of sense versus reason”, is that he feels driven back to the Sophists and his conclusion is only theirs: the senses only are the test of truth, not one but all the senses. Truth is consistent sensation. But sensation must include all that we learn from instruments with which we enlarge sense. Sensation includes also the internal sense, our inward “feel” of our own life. After all there is nothing that we know so well as our own selves.
Sensation misses certainty, so does life. Our “truths” are always one-sided and precarious. There are no absolutes and we must learn to live with relatives. That is all what we need, only the logician wants more.
However we do not live alone in this world but with other persons and their senses – and therefore their “truths” – will not always agree with ours. Therefore we should add that truth must be socially consistent sensation, and even permanently consistent sensation.
3. The function of reason in this concept of truth is to coordinate – sensations into ideas, ideas into knowledge, individuals into society. In the conquest of truth, reason is secondary, still important: it must weave the chaos and contradictions of many senses into unified and harmonious conclusions, which it shall hold subject to verification or rejection by subsequent sensation. Every inferential step worked out by reason away from immediate sensation lowers the probability of our truth. It is only through sensation that we stand firmly on our feet on earth; through reason we lift the mind’s eye beyond the present scope of sense, and conceive new truths which some day the senses have to verify. Ultimately it is always sensation that is the test of truth.
* Durant, Will, The Pleasures of Philosophy, A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, 1929, p.15-21
(French sociologist, 1858-1917)
1. Durkheim explains his view on truth in comparing it with the view of truth in pragmatism. Pragmatism criticizes rationalism for conceiving truth a thing quasi-divine, sufficient to itself, placed above human life. It is valid by itself, it exists for its own. Pragmatism is right in wanting to “soften” the truth, to remove its sacrosanct character and tear it away from its immobility. It wants to restore to truth and reason their human interest, to make them human things, to make them into something that can be analyzed and explained. Sociology, claims Durkheim, agrees with pragmatism in upholding the human character of truth, but it is in a better position than pragmatism to solve the problem of truth. Pragmatism claims to explain truth psychologically and subjectively. In fact the nature of the individual is too limited to explain alone all things human. If we envisage individual elements alone we are led to diminish unduly the amplitude of the effects that we have to account for. Sociology provides us with broader explanations. For sociology truth and reason are the results of a becoming that includes the entire unfolding of human history. Unlike pragmatism, sociology admits that human beings have always recognized in truth something that in certain respect imposes itself on them, something independent of individual sensitivity and impulse. Such a universally held concept of truth must correspond to something real. Pragmatism fails to recognize the duality that exists between the mentality which results from individual experiences and that which results from collective experiences. Sociology reminds us that what is social possesses a higher dignity than what is individual. Thus truth for sociology will always retain the character of being a higher value. Still that does not prevent us from trying to explain it.
The question for Durkheim is that one should look at truths which are recognized as such, and examine why they are accepted. The problem is not to know by what right we can say that a given proposition or a system of propositions is true or false. What is important is to know what has made people believe that a representation conforms to reality and why they have taken it for true.
2. Today when we speak of truth, we have in mind particularly scientific truth. But truth existed before science: the pre-scientific truth and non-scientific truths such as mythologies. Mythologies were bodies of truths which were considered to express reality and which imposed themselves on people with an obligatory character. What caused people to consider these myths and beliefs as true? The world of myths is not a real world and yet people believe in it. Why? That is the problem and Durkheim answers that we should say that ideas and beliefs are true not because they conform to reality but by virtue of their own creative power. These ideas did not originate with individuals. They are collective representations. In the life of the human race it is the collectivity which maintains ideas and representations which are by virtue of their origin invested with a prestige which means that they have the power to impose themselves. They have a greater psychological energy than representations emanating from the individual. That is where the very strength of truth lies. The fact that representations are a collective achievement explains the sense of something greater than the individual which people experience in the presence of truth.
There are two kinds of contrasting truths, namely mythological and scientific truths. In the case of mythologies, truth is a body of propositions which are accepted without verification, as against scientific truths, which are always subjected to testing or demonstrations. If they are unproven, from where do they acquire the character of truth attributed to them? It is representations which create the character of objectivity which mythologies have, and it is their collective character which confers on them the creative power that enables them to impose themselves on the mind. Mythological representations are characterised by the fact that they express a unanimous conception, and this is what gives them a force and authority which enabled them to impose themselves without their being subject to verification or doubt.
There will be always room in social life for a form of truth which will be perhaps expressed in a very special way, but will nevertheless have a mythological and religious bias. There will be always two tendencies in any society: a tendency towards scientific objective truth and a tendency towards subjectively perceived, mythological truth.
But truth cannot be characterised only by its impersonal nature. One has to make room for individual diversity. As long as mythological truth holds sway, conformity is the rule. Once scientific thought becomes paramount, however, intellectual individualism appears. It is this very individualism which has made scientific truth necessary, since social unanimity can no longer centre on mythological beliefs. The impersonal truth developed by science can leave room for every one’s individuality. Intellectual individualism, far from making for anarchy, as would be the case during the period of the domination of mythological truth, becomes a necessary factor in the establishment of scientific truth, so that the diversity of intellectual temperament can serve the cause of impersonal truth. The complexity and richness of reality that science discovers becomes now the basis for a tolerant attitude in regard to the diversity of opinion which is both necessary and effective.
* Durkheim, Emile, Pragmatism and Sociology, Cambridge University Press, 1983
(British born American theoretical physicist, b.1923)
Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the truth of life and the universe.
Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows give different views, but they look out at the same universe. Both views are one-sided, neither is complete. Both leave out essential features of the real world. And both are worthy of respect.
Trouble arises when either science or religion claims universal jurisdiction, when either religious or scientific dogma claims to be infallible. Religious creationists and scientific materialists are equally dogmatic and insensitive. By their arrogance they bring both science and religion into disrepute. The media exaggerate their numbers and importance. The media rarely mention the fact that the great majority of religious people belong to moderate denominations that treat science with respect, or the fact that the great majority of scientists treat religion with respect so long as religion does not claim jurisdiction over scientific questions.
Dyson feels content to be one of the multitude of Christians who do not care much about the doctrine of the Trinity or the historical truth of the gospels. Both as a scientist and as a religious person, he says to be accustomed to living with uncertainty. Science is exciting because it is full of unsolved mysteries, and religion is exciting for the same reason. The greatest unsolved mysteries are the mysteries of our existence as conscious beings in a small corner of a vast universe. These mysteries, and a hundred others like them, are beyond the reach of science. They lie on the other side of the border, within the jurisdiction of religion.
Dyson enthusiastically endorses Francis Bacon’s vision about what science can do and what science cannot do. Bacon is saying to the philosophers and theologians of his time: look for God in the facts of nature, not in the theories of Plato and Aristotle. Likewise Dyson is saying to modern scientists and theologians: don't imagine that our latest ideas about the Big Bang or the human genome have solved the mysteries of the universe or the mysteries of life. Again according to Bacon's words : "The subtlety of nature is greater many times over than the subtlety of the senses and understanding". In the last four hundred years, science has fulfilled many of Bacon's dreams, but it still does not come close to capturing the full subtlety of nature. To talk about the end of science is just as foolish as to talk about the end of religion. Science and religion are both still close to their beginnings, with no ends in sight. Science and religion are both destined to grow and change in the millennia that lie ahead of us, perhaps solving some old mysteries, certainly discovering new mysteries of which we yet have no inkling.
*Dyson Freeman, Imagined Worlds, Harvard University Press 1997