(German philosopher of hermeneutics, 1900-2002)
The gradual construction of truth by hermeneutical interpretations
1. Hermeneutics is based on the important distinction (introduced by Dilthey) between the sciences of nature and the human sciences. According to Gadamer there is an experience of truth that cannot be reduced to the methodological criteria used for scientific investigations. The “hermeneutical truth” which is his concern has its foundation on understanding and interpretation. It deals with an experience of truth that transcends the domain subject to the control of scientific methodology. This is the case with the three domains of art, philosophy and history: they communicate their own truth, a truth to which it is important to participate.
The hermeneutical approach differs from the traditional epistemological understanding of a disembodied subject in that it emphasizes the central themes of the situatedness and historicality of understanding. The hermeneutical agent is always a participant in the world of lived experience. To say that understanding is historical is to stress that its operation is never presuppositionless or contextless. It always takes place within a tradition of interpretation. Besides, Gadamer stresses the dynamic character of understanding. Understanding develops and changes over time as a result of previous experiences. The horizon of understanding is constantly enlarged. In fact we are active agents who are profoundly changed by what we experience.
It is essential for Gadamer to discern the role of prejudices and presuppositions in the growth of understanding. For traditional epistemology the notion of prejudices is antithetical to objectivity. To obtain objectivity one has to overcome all prejudices. Gadamer challenges that view. He does not believe that a neutral, ahistorical perspective is possible. Presuppositions and interpretations play a central role in understanding. We understand the world through traditions, but at the same time we are not locked into these frames of reference. Gadamer defends the plurality and mutual openness of traditions. For him the notion of traditions-fusing to yield larger horizons of understanding is central. Thus to understand we should not fear to bring actively all our prejudices into play, provided we make the distinction between negative and positive prejudices: those who distort and those which enable. The positive prejudgements are those who are firmly grounded on the things themselves and characterised by constant openness to the test of experience. This process is an ongoing one. Successive experiences will cause us further to revise and refine our initial expectations about it. The spirit of openness in enquiry means that our initial understanding must be ready to be reappraised in the light of further experiences, also that there must be a continually questioning attitude.
2. The problem of truth in hermeneutics arises from the fact that, if our finitude coincides with our historicity and situatedness, it seems difficult to preserve the idea of truth from the relativism and historicism linked to these conditions. However this objection stands only if we want to apply to the human sciences the method used in the sciences of nature to reach objectivity. The truth of the human sciences is other than the truth of natural sciences.
The claim of art to truth is central in Gadamer’s argument. In art truth is lived as the experience of sense and meaning. Truth is an enlightening experience that manifests itself to subjects, depending on their openness to receive it. Truth in art is received passively in a contemplative vision; it is sheer ‘presence’ to the things. This is the truth of ‘precomprehension’ which precedes all methodical verifications.
Hermeneutical reflection does not dissolve the idea of truth. In fact it does not deal with truth itself but with the questions of the legitimacy of truth-claims. It shows that in all cases there is a gradual construction of truth by interpretations. Hermeneutical reflection is limited to open ways and opportunities of knowledge, which would not be otherwise perceived. It does not provide itself criteria of truth. It provides a unique, immediate and concrete dimension of the experience of truth, other than the methods used by traditional criteria of truth such as sense experience, perception and reason.
Truth, in hermeneutics, is linked to creative operations on the part of human understanding itself, which is always interpretative and never simply representational. Hermeneutical truth is inseparable from the interpretative process. Truth , for Gadamer, is not something simply to be discovered or represented but something to be made, a practical concept that can exist only if we take responsibility for its existence.
* Gadamer, Truth and Method, Sheed & Ward, London, 1960, ; see Berner, C. L’Herméneutique et le Problême de la Vérité, in Quilliot, La Vérité, Paris, Ellipses, 1997, p.92-95
(Contemporary Canadian writer)
The case for the existence of absolutes or universal truths
What is the extent and influence of relativism today? Gairdner emphasizes "its current omnipresence." He states "that relativist orthodoxy in many shapes and forms is more or less pervasive in almost all educational and intellectual departments, disciplines, and spheres of influence." "It is almost everywhere believed, defended and promoted, however unsubtly" . Not only many intellectuals but the man in the street now hold such views: "No absolutes. No universals. No constants, either of nature or of human nature".
Current dogma holds that all cultures and moral values are conditional, nothing human is innate, and Einstein proved that the whole universe is 'relative'. Challenging this position, William Gairdner argues that relativism is not only logically and morally self-defeating but that progress in scientific and intellectual disciplines has actually strengthened the case for absolutes, universals, and constants of nature and human nature. Gairdner refutes the popular belief in cultural relativism by showing that there are hundreds of well-established cross-cultural 'human universals'.
In The Book of Absolutes, he trains his sights on the philosophy of relativism, the intellectual (more accurately, anti-intellectual) matrix out of which many of the most odorous orthodoxies of the day have arisen. The palaver of relativism (epistemological, moral, or cultural) can now be heard practically everywhere, from the public square to the private cocktail party. Everyone knows that truth and right, like beauty, exist "only in the eye of the beholder". (That there is no absolute truth is the only truth we dare to affirm with absolute certitude.)
The main burden of Gairdner's book is, more happily, to show that there exist, in fact, any number of demonstrable universal and abiding patterns, ideas, and truths that transcend and unify all historical epochs and cultures across the world: in mathematics, theology, myth, morality, and law; and that current studies in biology, psychology, and theoretical physics are uncovering new constants of human and physical nature every day.
He makes a strong and persuasive case for the existence of absolutes or universal truths and constants by examination of ancient and modern evidence in many areas of human life and cultures, nature, physics, mathematics, cosmology, biology, sexuality, morals, natural law, and language. His central thesis is that "all of nature, all human experience, cultures, moral systems, and all sciences, from the softest to the hardest - while they are repositories of sometimes countless differences . . . are characterized by the existence of a very large number of absolutes without which the subjects themselves could not be meaningfully discussed in the first place".
* Gairdner William ,The Book of Absolutes ,McGill-Queen's University Press Fall 2008
Mytha may have value, but they should not be considered as truth
Is the Bible true? Fortunately, many liberal/progressive Christians are now willing to concede that much of the Bible is not literally true. But many are loathe to totally give up on the word ‘true’ even of the verses they consider non-literal. “True” after all is a powerful word. Every religion wants to consider its positions “true”, they all want their god to be “true”. “True” is not a word one wants to give up on easily. Few will easily forsake the word “true“. Sure, they may concede a certain story may not be “literally” true, but they still want that story to be “metaphorically” true.
Their tool to preserve “truth” in a myth is a hermeneutic style called “Narrative Theology“. Using the Narrative approach they feel they can both keep valuing these passages and still consider them true in some sense. But should they be allowed to keep both these? We can understand the valuing a message in any myth (as “valuing” in the Hindu story on Ganesh) but that is far different from considering the myth as “true”.
Outside of the “Metaphorical Truth Slight-of-Hand”, there is much about this “Narrative” approach that one can see as valuable such as seeking deep messages and themes without focusing on literal truth, trying to feel the intent of the author, allowing a story to speak to you on a personal level.
But we can do all this without clamoring to preserve the word “true” with the phrase “metaphorically true”. And we can realize that a myth is a myth and not confuse them with actual events. Sure, the story can affect you deeply and mean a lot to you, but that does not make it “true”– literally or metaphorically.
See Internet Jesse Galef.
(Greek Roman physician and philosopher, 130-201)
The true and the false in the science of medicine
Galen, the medical practitioner at the service the Roman emperors Marcus Aurelius ands his son Commodius, is known for his contribution to the desacralization of medicine. He promoted the passive but intelligent observation of the facts in place of blind mythological beliefs. Illness, with him, became humanized and stopped being extraneous to the person who is ill and is identified with him. He saw the science of medicine as based on two criteria, reason and experience, which guaranteed the truth or falsity of its propositions. His systematic anatomical experiments provided a means of demonstrating to the senses those things which no sane man could deny any more than he could deny the self-evident axioms of mathematics.
A characteristic of Galen, central to his methods and perspectives, was his relentless search for truth. Galen used meticulous dissections and sensory observations to confirm or disprove his new ideas and others' previous claims. He believed that logic was important for demonstrating truths, but warned that it should be used carefully when trying to confirm hypotheses, because it could pervert one's conclusions .
Galen believed that both reason and observation served the dual purpose of helping to arrive at truths while helping to confirm truths once they were established. The best method of discovery according to Galen's way of thinking was to assimilate the functions of reason with the clues obtained by the senses. Assertions by Galen himself about the importance of distinguishing fact from speculation confirm the impression of Galen as a "fanatical lover of truth who wages an unceasing battle against ignoramuses and scientific opponents" . Galen believed that his methods of ensuring accurate research results was superior to other systems, so he did not accept any way besides his own as adequate. Nonetheless, Galen's firmly established criteria for evaluating the nature and quality of theories provided a high standard to which he held himself and others and ultimately contributed to his success.
See Temkin, Owsei. Galenism: Rise and Decline of a Medical Philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1973.
(Italian astronomer and philosopher, 1564-1642)
The purpose of the Bible is not to teach scientific truths but to lead men to salvation.
Galileo's view was that the Bible is not, and never was intended to be a textbook on astronomy, or biology, or any other science. He maintained it was not intended as a book to teach us scientific truths that we can discover for ourselves. Rather it was intended as a book to reveal spiritual truths that we could not have found out by ourselves. Now the conflict between science and scripture lies in the fact that these spiritual truths are expressed in the Bible in ways natural to the people to whom, and through whom, they were originally revealed (the Israelites). But this is clearly an accident of time and should therefore be overlooked. A scientist should not be upset to find the Bible picturing the world in a way natural to the early Hebrews, and a churchman should not be upset to find a scientist picturing the world in a way contrary to the description in the Bible. The way in which the world is described is entirely incidental to the real aim of the Bible and in no way is inconsistent with the spiritual teachings of the Bible.
For the understanding of the relationship between the Bible and science, Galileo set forth two general principles. The first is that there can be no contradiction between the truths of science and the truths of faith. God is the author of all truths: both the truth known through revelation and the truth known through reason alone. The second is that the purpose of God's revelation in Scripture is not to teach men about natural philosophy but to lead them to salvation. Galileo agreed with the words of Cardinal Baronius: "the Bible teaches us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go."
To grant that the purpose of the Bible is to lead human beings to salvation could mean that the Bible has nothing to say about the world of nature. Galileo addresses this subject in the following way. He affirms that the Bible cannot err, but quickly adds that the inerrancy of the Bible concerns its true meaning and not what "its bare words" may signify . A slavish adherence to the literal meaning of any particular passage may lead to follies and errors. One may come to think, for example, that God has hands, feet, eyes, that He gets angry and is subject to other emotions. The Bible often contains passages written in a mode "to accommodate" these passages to "the capacities of the common people", Galileo wrote. He adds that in discussions of physical problems we ought to begin not from the authority of scriptural passages , but from sense experience and necessary demonstrations. He believed that the authority of Holy Writ has principally the aim of persuading men of those articles and propositions which, being necessary for salvation and overriding all human reason, could not be made credible by another science, or by other means than the mouth of the Holy Ghost itself. However he admits that there may be truths in the Bible which are not directly connected to the Bible's purpose of leading human beings to salvation.
* See: Langford, Jerome, Galileo, Science and the Church, third edition, St. Augustine's Press, 1998.
(Contemporary American philosopher)
1. The deceptive idea of objective truth.
The common-sense view on truth and knowledge is that the knower aims at being “objective” in his enquiries in getting rid of all subjective preconceptions. We want to know things “as they are”. The task does not seem to involve unsurmountable difficulties. Reality imposes itself on the mind which simply submits to it. Thought and reality being conceived as external to each other, the knower needs only to read what is on the “bill-board” of the outside reality. Knowing is “seeing” and the knower is a “viewer” of reality. The object constitutes the evidence placed there in front of the subject. Perfect knowledge consists in the reduction of the subject to a perfectly transparent eye on a world of objective evidence.
This common sense view corresponds somewhat to Husserl’s own ideal of knowledge, that is the ideal of a “transcendental subject” who reduces his contribution to nullity to reach the objective ‘essences’ of evidential structures of reality. We all aspire to be ‘transcendental’ subjects’, that is, neutral passive observers.
2. The role of subjectivity in truth and knowledge
Gallagher rejects the idea that knowers are pure passive viewers. The bill-board theory of evidence gives a wrong picture of what occurs in knowledge. Prior to being a knowing subject, the knower is an existing being. The mode of existing has a hand in determining the way reality is present to him. Subjectivity is not irrelevant to evidence and to truth, but plays an active role in the process. The verdict on reality is a function of subjectivity and freedom. Aquinas‘ dictum is most relevant: “Quiquid cognoscitur, cognoscitur admodum cognoscentis”.
Following Kierkegaard and even more Marcel (see Marcel), Gallagher is not interested in problematic truths in which the knower is a spectator, but in existential truths in which the knower is a participator. Participation is the ground of knowledge and evidence, it is the source of meaning and the revealer of reality. The vital truths of existence are indubitable, but their evidence is revealed only to those willing to participate. That is why the certitude they confer is a free certitude. Evidence in the case of existential truths is not something which imposes itself on the self because, being personal this certitude is a function of human freedom.
* Gallagher, The Philosophy of Knowledge, Sheed and Ward, 1964, Chap.10
(Indian spiritual/political leader, 1869-1948)
1. The sub-title of Gandhi’s autobiography: “The story of my experiment with truth” points at the importance of truth in his vision of life. Still Gandhi was not a philosopher. Truth for him was not the object of metaphysical or epistemological speculations but a form of life that must inspire, imbibe and permeate all human activities. Truth and non-violence are for Gandhi the absolute values of human life. Truth (satyam) is Reality (sat), Truth is God, there is no other religion than Truth. “Truth is the most important name of God. In fact it is more correct to say that “Truth is God”, than to say that “God is truth” .
It is very important to grasp the reasons why Gandhi changed his position, from “God is Truth” to “Truth is God”. Firstly, because there are many people who do not believe in the existence of God and yet have a firm faith in the reality of Truth. Atheists too are seekers of the Truth. For Gandhi Truth-fearing people are God-fearing people, simply because “Truth is God”. Secondly, the God-concept of religions is ambiguous for “so many religions have used the name of God to commit atrocities”. Each religion believes that its God is superior to that of other religions. If one replaces the word ‘God’ by ‘Truth’, one arrives at a position acceptable to all religious people. Thirdly, God has different meanings in different religions and philosophies. The word “God” is given very narrow connotations. There is much to gain in replacing it by Truth.
2. Gandhi claims to be simply a seeker after truth, ceaselessly searching for it, yet not finding it. He does not equate absolute truth with particular instances of truth, even though the small truths of life are necessary to acquire glimpses of the absolute truth. To proceed towards the goal of absolute Truth the way must lead through the testing of relative truths as they appear to the individual. But how does one come to know the truth? Gandhi answers that truth is “what the voice within tells you”. It is the “voice of conscience” and not an external authority. Each individual is called to “make his own experiment with truth”. Still this cannot be done in an arbitrary way. There are moral conditions for truth: a personal discipline is necessary. Unfortunately many people do not follow any discipline whatsoever and that is why there is so much untruth being delivered to a bewildered world. One point is certain: the honest search for truth requires truthfulness, humility, purity and above all non-violence.
Moreover the realization of the truth is not achieved in silence or away from the world, but through the service of others. Gandhi’s approach to the truth is an activist approach, not a contemplative one. He understands the Bhagavad-Geeta as a call to selfless, detached and sacrificial action. This kind of action results from devotion to the Truth. It is also the means whereby one is able to see the Truth more clearly. “The quest for truth cannot be prosecuted in an Himalayan cave. It cannot be found apart of humanity. Silence makes no sense where it is necessary to speak.”
3. Truth, according to Gandhi, can be obtained only by ahimsa , non-violence. Satyam and Ahimsa are the highest values. “Without ahimsa it is not possible to seek and find truth. Truth and non-violence cannot be separated. They are like the two sides of a coin….Ahimsa is the means; truth is the end….If we take care of the means we are bound to reach the end sooner or later.” Truth would be destroyed by the use of violent means. “Truth excludes the use of violence because man is not capable of knowing the absolute truth and therefore not competent to punish,” Gandhi asserted. No doubt, every one must be guided by the truth as he(she) sees it. But it does not follow that one has the right to coerce another into his own truth. We are all seekers after truth. We must admit that we are imperfect and that we have not yet found the truth that we search. For truth is an ideal, not a possession. It cannot be conquered and imposed. “How can the person who claims to possess the truth be fraternal to another?” The sectarian who shuts himself within his own system is bound to be a fanatic incline to use violent means to impose his truth.
* Gandhi, M.K., in All Men are Brothers, Unesco, Orient & Longmans, 1960; Richards, Glyn, The philosophy of Gandhi, Curzon Press, London, 1991, p.1-15 ; Srivastava R.S. Contemporary Indian Philosophy, Munshi Ram Manohar Lal, Delhi, 1965, p.185-190
(Contemporary Trinidad born American philosopher)
1. Religions are different world-views, systems of intelligibility or categorial schemes. Intelligibility is relative to each particular categorial scheme. What is meaningful in one religious world is meaningless in another religion. Each religion presents a different way of making sense of the world, a different ‘paradigm’. What is category-correct in a particular religious world is unintelligible, not false, in another. Therefore these different religious views are unrelated to one another. Different religious worlds are incommensurable. The consequence of this situation for the question of truth is that there is no common univocal propositional truth between the different religious world-views. Thus, at that level at least, there is no possibility of dialogue because meaningful dialogues presuppose a common ground.
2. To solve the problem of religious pluralism the critical factor is to distinguish the categorial level of religious world views and the trans-categorial or transcendental level of ontological commitment to the world as a whole. At this higher level truth is of a radically different nature than the truth of propositional affirmations which hold within a given particular world. If there is a religious truth in an absolute sense – no longer in the relative sense of coherence within the categories of a particular religious world-view - it is to be found only on the transcategorial and transcendental level of awareness.
Transcategorial logic stands beyond all dichotomies and oppositions of categorial logic. At that level the distinction between truth and meaning is no longer relevant. Truth is self-evidential. It demands from the believer an attitude of “ontological commitment”, that is a commitment to an all-inclusive world, no longer to a particular and limited world. If one chooses nevertheless to belong to a particular religion, this option does not require the exclusion of other religions, for to choose does not mean to reject.
For transcategorial rationality in which categorial expressions which divide and separate are overcome, essence is existence. The ontological commitment is the religious experience of oneness in being. People of all religions are one and the same because in transcategorial awareness there is only one world and one absolute truth.
The true religious person is not the person who affirms a particular world and thereby denies all others but the person who, in transcategorial awareness and freedom, realises that a particular world-view is the vehicle to the infinite being and the absolute truth. He has to realise that the language of his religion is metaphorical. The dialogue between religions is the dialogue between metaphorical languages, which are all intent to express the one absolute truth.
* Gangadean, Ashok, The ontological relativity of religious meaning and truth, Indian.Phil. Quat., Vol.X, n_1, 1982
(American writer in popular mathematics and sceptical philosophy, 1914)
Pragmatism confuses the meaning of truth with its criteria 1. The correspondence theory defines what it means for a statement to be true. But it does not say anything to decide whether an assertion is true. It is not concerned with the criteria and tests of truth. There may be no way to know whether or not “it is true that the Queen of heart is on the table”. Still it is certain that it is either true of false. Truth and falsehood are independent of verification or verifiability. B. Russel agrees with this when he states that truth is more than knowledge. Certain things are true, even if impossible to know them. The ancient definition of truth as timeless correspondence with reality may not be abandoned. 2. But pragmatism rejects the definition and meaning of truth as a timeless correspondence, independent of knowedge. It says: “ Since the process of verification can decide whether p is true, why not define truth by verification?” Truth is what is confirmed by the testing. The “Queen of heart on the table” becomes true when we turn the card and see. Before the ‘turning’, there can be no question of true or false. The truth is the verified and nothing else. According to pragmatism truth is made by acts of verification. It does not deny truth as correspondence but then it has to be verified correspondence. 3. That means that the pragmatist invents a new language, a new definition of truth. He is guilty for going against the ‘ethics of terminology’, that is, the moral obligation to keep the meaning of terms as they are commonly and universally accepted. The pragmatist confuses the meaning of truth with its criteria. Truth is independent of the question of verification and verifiability. “This is the Queen of hearts” is true, independently of its verification and before the unseen card is turned over and discovered to be indeed the Queen of heart.
* Gardner, Martin, The WHYS of a Philosophical Scrivener, Oxford University Press, 1985, p.32-48
(Member of the Institute for Sustainable Social Change, USA)
Only Experience Can Bring Us To The Truth
Because we have been primarily focused on the dispensing of information and not on the experiences that will support this information, we have helped create generations of learners who are increasingly information rich but experience poor. We are losing our ability to distinguish between subjective beliefs and objective truth. Because there is an endless supply of information and research available to support almost any opinion, we’ve come to a point where any opinion seems as valid as any other.
I’d like to focus on the difference between objective truth and subjective belief and why an inability to distinguish between these two orientations has thwarted much of the progress we might have made towards sustainability in any area. Objective truth is something that exists whether we believe it or not.
Some of our beliefs are in fact true, but many of our beliefs are simply the personal-subjective opinions we’ve developed. Because many of us fail to distinguish between objective fact and subjective belief we naturally assume that all opinion is fundamentally someone’s subjective reality.
An over-reliance on information alone and unattached to experience, helps create the necessary environment for this failure to distinguish between truth and beliefs. False subjective beliefs can often be supported by increased access to information but they are rarely supported by increased access to experiences. The more we actually experience things and use the information available to supplement and complement our knowledge, the greater and more accurate the understanding.
The conclusion is to recommitt to experiential education whenever possible and reject simply dispensing information.
*See Internet Garvey Dan
( French philosopher, 1592-1655)
Gassendi was very critical of Descartes’ Cogito, and he also maintained that Descartes was incapable of explaining how we could authoritatively distinguish between what really is clear and distinct and what merely appears to someone to be clear and distinct.
Descartes begins with the certainty “that I am a thinking thing.” The only source of this certainty, he writes, is his clear and distinct perception of his own thought, so it would be undermined if any of his clear and distinct ideas were false. Because he is in fact certain, he concludes that “whatever I perceive very clearly and distinctly is true.”Descartes thus makes a radical inductive jump from his perception of cognition to the truth of all clear and distinct ideas.
Gassendi raised a radical skeptical objection to Descartes’concept of “clear and distinct” ideas, upon which Descartes relies as necessarily true. He presented an opposing argument: “the only thing that we can consider as clearly and distinctly perceived and therefore infer to be true,” he writes, “is that if something appears to anyone to be the case then it appears to be the case.” He essentially denied the epistemic (cognitive) value of clear and distinct perceptions, accepting them as sources of knowledge only when they take the form of tautologies.
Still the distrust of the sensation of clarity, which Gassendi traces to “the arguments of the sceptics,” was not opposed to the spirit of Descartes’ meditation which begins by promoting a similar sort of radical doubt. Descartes himself states that he would “regard all mental images of bodily things as empty, false and worthless”. All what Gassendi did was to argue that this skepticism should be extended from perceptions of things to perceptions of ideas.
Gassendi raised the following objections to the supposition that we have the power to determine that something is genuinely clear and distinct:
1. Some philosophers of considerable intellectual powers had come to the conclusion that nothing could be known for sure.
2. When we review our own personal experience, we see that many things that at the time we had thought we perceived clearly and distinctly, and accepted as certain, we later rejected as false or uncertain.
3. We are aware that people often persist steadfastly in what we take to be error. Some people are willing, for example, to go to their deaths for their own heterodox religious opinions. Gassendi maintains that this indicates that these people believe that they clearly and distinctly perceive that these beliefs are true, when in fact they are false.
* Olivier Bloch: La philosophie de Gassendi. Martinus Nijhoff, La Haye 1971,
(Indian advaitic philosopher, c. 8th century AD)
Both reason (Buddhism) and scripture (Upanishads) testify to the truth of ajativada
Ajativada or the doctrine of no-origination is the fundamental doctrine of Gaudapada, the great teacher of S’ankara. From the absolute standpoint origination is an impossibility. The various theories of creation - that it is the expansion of God or it is the will of God or it is for God's enjoyment or it is an illusion like a dream or it proceeds from time - are all rejected by Gaudapada.
What is the relationship between reason and scriptures testimony: this question arose with Gaudapada. He is a staunch believer in the authority of the Upanishads while at the same time Buddhists doctrines appealed to his reason. The Buddhist philosophy of Vijnavada and S’unyavada are the results of the uncompromising exercise of reason. At the same time a faithful follower of the Vedanta cannot accept anything opposed to it. Thus for Gaudapada, the tenets of the Upanishads must be in accord with the findings of philosophers( the Budddhists), because truth cannot contradict itself.
He shows that his ajativada theory is Upanishadic, but then he also says that the Buddhist non-dualists (advaya-vadins) proclaim the same view of ajativada. There is no quarrel between them. This shows that Gaudapada sought to incorporate Buddhist philosophy in the Vedanta. In his endeavour to reconcile reason with scriptural testimony, he lays down two principles: 1) the meaning of the scripture can be only what is in accordance with reasoning 2) Since ajativada, the non-origination theory, is its principal teachings, all other statements of scriptures about creation and dualism must be taken in a secondary sense. Such statements are intended for the sake of worship for those not yet able to perceive the truth. Gaudapa’s twin principles imply the reason sets forth the norm of truth, and that scriptural statements are untenable if they are unconfirmed by reason.
See K.S. Murty, Revelation and reason, Asia publishing house, Andhra University, 1961
( British paleontologist and evolutionary biologist, b.1962)
Unlike religion, science is not about truth, but doubt and uncertainties
Religion is easier to understand than science, at least for the great monotheisms, based as they are around holy books. In such religions, the truth in such scriptures is held to be absolute and beyond question. If it says in Genesis that God created the world in seven days, then, to a subscriber to Genesis, then, it did, and that's that.
Science could not be more different. Science is not about truth, but doubt; not about knowledge, but ignorance; not about revealed facts, but uncertainties. It would be well were more scientists (and all journalists) aware of the differences between science and religion.
This is how science works: a scientist will observe some natural phenomenon, and then come up with a mental model to explain its cause. This mental model is called an 'hypothesis.' The scientist will then devise experiments to test this hypothesis. Most of the time, experiments will find the hypothesis wanting, in which case the scientist will go back to square one and come up with other hypotheses.
Importantly, theories are not the same thing as absolute truths -- they are, at best, works in progress, subject to constant refinement and even refutation. Despite their robustness, neither the Einsteinian scheme of gravity nor the Darwinian mechanism for evolution are absolute truths -- for, in science, nothing ever can be such, not in the absolute, revelatory sense that religious people mean. An important part of science is falsification. Hypotheses are falsified all the time. Established theories, much less so -- though it does happen.
If science is a system of understanding the world, then it is based on experiment, skepticism, falsification and doubt, and thus very different from a 'religion' which is based on 'faith' of which the adherent must be certain, with no room for doubt whatsoever. To equate science with religion is therefore profoundly erroneous.
The notion of 'truth,' in the sense of something that can be 'known,' is also antithetical to science. In religion, truth is truth and that's that. In science, the best we can do is to come up with a provisional solution which could be overturned by another solution that explains more of the evidence: no matter how unlikely that might seem.
Finally, the idea that science worships anything as its 'God' is quite appalling, for it suggests that scientists are not engaged in a dispassionate examination of nature but are seeking to replace one religion with another. God is quite unnecessary in science, even as a metaphor.
* See internet. Henry Gee, a Senior Editor of Nature. His book 'The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution’.
(French theologian, b. 1926)
All religions lay claim to truth and expect their adherents an absolute commitment to that truth. But even if believers adhere unconditionally to the truth of their own religion, this should not prevent them to rightly assume that believers of other religions have the same type of commitment towards the truth of their religion. The problem then is: how can an atttitude of dialogue be possible between people divided by a diversity of truth-claims?
To tackle this problem Geffré deems it important to grasp the difference between the truth as such and what one could call the ‘spirit of truth’. Those who are endowed with the ‘spirit of truth’ know that the truth they hold is neither a totalitarian and exclusive truth nor a truth inclusive of all other truths. One should avoid to identify revealed truth (and because revealed, ‘absolute’) with scientific truth which is either true or false. The either-or of the principle of contradiction used in science does not apply to religious truth. A truth which is absolute because it is taken for being revealed is not necessarily contradictory to the truth claims of other religions because a religious truth is of another type than a scientific truth.
Each religion represents a partial approach to a Truth which is inexhaustible because it coincides with the absolute, that is, with the mystery that we call God. In this case one should not be constrained with a concept of ‘objective’ truth of which the contrary is falsehood. Heidegger, for one, has shown that the contrary of truth is not necessarily falsehood. He made the distinction between truth in the order of judgement (which is the truth of conformity and correspondence between the mind and external reality and where the contrary of the true is the false) and truth which is manisfestation and revelation which implies a dialectic between the manifested and what remained veiled. The manifestation implies that parts of the total truth remain unmanifested and hidden. In this dialectic of the manifested and the unmanifested, one can no longer speak of contradiction between truth and error, but of partial approaches to a truth that remains a mystery to be discovered. There is a pluralism of truths, not only in the religious domain but also in the philosophical and ethical orders. Philosophical and ethical views do not necessarily reach contradictory conclusions but underline different aspects corresponding to a variety of approaches of a truth that is still before us to be discovered.
According to Geffré one has to adopt a new theological paradigm, one of a religious pluralism of principle which would confer meaning to the plurality of religions within the divine plan. Religious pluralism could be the expression of the divine will which requires the diversity of cultures and religions to better express the richness of the plenitude of a truth which coincide with God’s unfathomable mystery. In this new paradigm the absolute is understood as a relational absolute and not an absolute of exclusion or inclusion. No religion can escape this rule. Any religious truth is “relative” to what is true in other religions if only on account the historical particularity of their origin.
It follows that the truth confessed by Christianity is neither exclusive nor inclusive of other religious truths. This is not a ‘relativist’ standpoint on religious truth. It is simply the acknowledgement that the Christian truth is ‘relational’ to the parts of truth found elsewhere.
* Geffré, Claude, Le Christianisme au Risque de l’Interprétation, Paris, Cerf, 1983
( Christian evangelical apologist, b. 1932)
Evangelicals engaged in the Bible's "inerrancy debate" ( is the Bible wholly true or not?) are divided into two camps : those who hold that there can be mistakes of history or science affirmed by the biblical authors and those who deny that there cannot be any mistakes whatsoever.
Geisler's thesis is that the fundamental issue that occasions the difference between the two major camps of evangelicals on biblical inerrancy is that they are presupposing different theories of truth. Different theories of truth will make a significant difference in what one considers to be an "error," or deviation from the truth. In fact, what counts as an error on one definition of truth is not an error on another definition of truth.
The errantists use the non-correspondence theory of truth: Geisler calls it 'an intentionality view of truth'. According to this view a statement is true if "it accomplishes what the author intended it to accomplish," and conversely, a statement is false if it does not. In this case a statement is true, even if some of its factual assertions do not correspond with reality, so long as the statement accomplishes its intended purpose. It follows that, according to this view, persons, not propositions, can be properly characterized as true. A person is true if he accomplishes or lives up to someone's intentions for him.
On the other hand, according to the correspondence theory of truth, truth is "that which corresponds to the actual state of affairs," to the way things really are. If this theory of truth is correct, then an "error" is that which does not correspond with the facts, with what is really the case. Truth here is a characteristic of propositions about reality. Truth is found in the affirmation (or denial) about reality, not in the reality itself.
It seems apparent that if one adopts the non-correspondence (intentionality) view of truth one could easily hold that the Bible is wholly true (as God intends it) and yet the Bible could have many errors in it. For if truth means only that the Bible will always accomplish its intended purpose (regardless of factual incorrectness), say, "to make men wise unto salvation," then it can do that with or without errors. In an intentionality view of truth one does not need an inerrant Bible; all one needs is a "reliable" and "trustworthy" Bible. Geisler's view is that the Bible consistently employs a correspondence view of truth. A statement is true if it corresponds to the facts and false if it does not. Rarely are there even apparent exceptions to this usage. But then, if the biblical arguments are this strong for a correspondence view of truth, one should explain why many Christians - even some who believe in inerrancy-claim - hold a non-correspondence (intentionality) view of truth. Actually, argues Geissler, the reason is often quite simple: there is a confusion between theory of truth and test for truth. That is, often both parties hold the correspondence theory of truth but differ in their claims that truth is tested by correspondence, by results, or by some other method. In short, truth should be defined as correspondence but defended in some other way. There are good reasons, Geisler claims, for insisting that a correspondence theory (definition) of truth should be accepted, regardless of the apologetic debate about how Christian truth is to be tested. Every Christian should get his view of truth about the Bible from the Bible. And if this is the correspondence view of truth, then it follows that the factual inerrantists are right. That is to say, the Bible is inerrant in whatever it affirms.
*Geisler, Norman (Editor), Inerrancy, Zondervan, Grand rapids, Michigan, 1980
( French Czek philosopher, 1921- 1995)
The unique truth of enlightenment rationalism
Ernest Gellner believes that three ideological options are available to us today: belief in objective truth and religious faith, belief that truth is culturally relative, or belief that while objective truth may exist, no one society can fully possess it. The first is a return to the genuine and firm faith of religious tradition. The other is a form of relativism which abandons the notion of unique truth altogether, and resigns itself to treating truth as relative to the society or culture in question. The third, which Gellner calls enlightenment rationalism, upholds the idea that there is a unique truth, but denies that any society can ever possess it definitively.
The first option - religious fundamentalism - is particularly strong in Muslim societies, and Gellner investigates the phenomenon in depth. The second option - relativism - is exemplified in the west by the postmodernism movement. Gellner is highly critical of postmodernism, arguing that it indulges in radical subjectivism. He fears that “postmodern relativism” has become dominant in the Western academy. Such an outlook easily leads to nihilism. He argues that postmodernism and other forms of intellectual relativism are not merely harmless academic fads; they also distract us from understanding the most important historical development of the last thousand years.
Gellner explores the strengths and weaknesses of the third option, the option he prefers, arguing that this works only on assumption of inner compromise, and a separation of truth taken seriously from truth used as a kind of cultural decoration.
In the end, the only belief system which can survive long-term is, Gellner believes, the empiricist rationalism created in the Western-European Enlightenment. "Enlightenment Rationalist Fundamentalism" is the label Gellner uses for the belief system which underlies the natural sciences and which neither swears allegiance to any religious or ideological Revelation nor succumbs to the superficial tolerance of all-ideas-are-equal relativism as is preached by postmodernism.
* Gellner Ernest, Words and Things, A Critical Account of Linguistic Philosophy and a Study in Ideology, London: Gollancz; Boston: Beacon (1959).
(Contemporary American philosopher)
The golden rule: an important universal moral truth The golden rule is endorsed by all the great world religions; Jesus, Hillel, and Confucius used it to summarize their ethical teachings. And for many centuries the idea has been influential among people of very diverse cultures. These facts suggest that the golden rule may be an important moral truth.
The Golden Rule incorporates the imagination and understanding necessary for empathy but goes beyond it to include action. You rarely hear people talk or write about the Golden Rule anymore. Everyone talks about "empathy", even when what they describe is empathy and action which is the Golden Rule.
The golden rule is best interpreted as saying: "Treat others only as you consent to being treated in the same situation." To apply it, you'd imagine yourself on the receiving end of the action in the exact place of the other person (which includes having the other person's likes and dislikes). If you act in a given way toward another, and yet are unwilling to be treated that way in the same circumstances, then you violate the rule.
To apply the golden rule adequately, we need knowledge and imagination. We need to know what effect our actions have on the lives of others. And we need to be able to imagine ourselves, vividly and accurately, in the other person's place on the receiving end of the action. With knowledge, imagination, and the golden rule, we can progress far in our moral thinking.
The golden rule is best seen as a consistency principle. It doesn't replace regular moral norms. It isn't an infallible guide on which actions are right or wrong; it doesn't give all the answers. It only prescribes consistency -- that we not have our actions (toward another) be out of harmony with our desires (toward a reversed situation action). It tests our moral coherence. If we violate the golden rule, then we're violating the spirit of fairness and concern that lie at the heart of morality.
The golden rule, with roots in a wide range of world cultures, is well suited to be a standard that different cultures can appeal to in resolving conflicts. As the world becomes more and more a single interacting global community, the need for such a common standard is becoming more urgent.
* Gensler Harry, Ethics: a contemporary introduction. Routledge, 1998
(Contemporary Australian Christian apologist)
The obstacles to the Truth
1. Prejudice.--The judgment is often formed without light:--without evidence. The strength of prejudice is amazing. Though assailed by reason, and argument, and revelation, it often remains as deeply rooted and vigorous as ever.
2. Pride of opinion.--When a man has formed an opinion and committed himself to its support, his mind is fortified against the reception of evidence showing that his opinion is false. Though he may feel himself unable to answer his views, he still clings to them with the most obstinate tenacity
3. Authority.--There are but few minds which think for themselves, and form their judgment independent of others. Whether they will acknowledge it or not, almost every man has his Magnus Apollo, to whom he listens as to an oracle.
4. Education.--When the mind is in its forming state, it takes readily the impressions which are made upon it, and retains them throughout life in all their distinctness and vigor.
5. Interest.—When people are governed by calculations of profit or loss, in forming their opinion!
6. Personal Attachments.--Man is a social being and has his favorites, who insensibly exercise a control in the formation of his opinions.
7. Personal Aversions.--When truth comes from the lips of those we hate, the resistance to it is far greater than if it proceeded from a different source
8. Consciousness of Error.—Some people love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. And though conscious of their error, they are not willing to confess and forsake it.
9. The Dread of Ridicule.--How many are prevented from entertaining the truth because it will expose them to the ridicule of their companions!.
10. Example.- The force of example is great. And truth has often to make its way in the face of the opposing multitude.
See Internet Genusa Stephen
(Jewish medieval scientist, philosopher and theologian, 1288-1344)
The most universal mind of Jewish Middle-Ages, Gersonides, considers that Torah, the Jewish holy scriptures, cannot exercise any constraint on the philosopher whose task is to search for truth in an entirely autonomous fashion. At the same time Gersonides is convinced that the philosophical enquiries will ultimately be in agreement with the scriptural revelation. For him revelation and philosophy are the expressions of the same truth. Not only they do not contradict each other, they mutually complete each other. Philosophy and Torah, reason and revelation are co-extensive.
The significance of Gersonides lies in his emphasis upon “religious rationalism in Judaisn”, which explains why orthodox Jews have always looked at his thought with suspicion. He has shown himself a most vigorous and consistent defender of human reason in religion. In his main book “The Wars of the Lord”, he states that one must believe what reason has determined to be true. “If the literal sense of the Torah differs from reason, it is necessary to interpret those passages in accordance with the demands of reason" (Wars, p. 98). Thus reason is upheld as the criterion for achieving truth.
* Gersonides, The Wars of the Lord. Translated by Seymour Feldman. 3 vols. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1984-1999.
(Contemporary internaut author)
Religions are subjective truths masquerading as absolute Truth.
The Roman Catholic Church believes it is the One True Religion. All other religions have some truth, but only the Roman Catholic Church possesses the Fullness of Truth. However, does not every religion claim the Fullness of Truth for itself? If a religion did not possess Truth, its followers would all switch to the religion possessing the Truth. That is the purpose of religious truth, to be absolute Truth. No religion would ever imply fallibility. For Catholics, the Pope is infallible. For some religions, the Bible is inerrant. All religions have something of this nature: scriptures, a spiritual leader, their deity/deities.
Religions feign possessing Truth. Theoretically speaking, only one Absolute Truth about God/gods, the creation of the universe, the afterlife, and the proper ethics can exist. Yet, there are myriad religions. One of two things must be true: either every religion on earth is wrong, except one. Or, every religion on earth is wrong. An examination of these two claims is in order.
Assume every religion on earth is wrong, except one. How does a person figure out which one is the True religion? Well, every religion is based off faith—strong belief without proof. To persuade someone using faith is ineffective, especially when the person in question possesses no faith or possesses faith in a different religion. For example, a Christian telling a Jew to believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah probably would not go too well. The two would probably walk away from the encounter as a Christian and a Jew. A Christian telling an Atheist to believe in God would end with a similar result. Faith is not a solid basis for persuasion. This fact complicates finding the one True religion.
Obviously, a person is welcome to research every religion in the world in order to judge which one deserves the title, The One True Religion. However, the task can never be accomplished. Religions are based on faith, not on reason. Therefore, it is impossible to objectively investigate the validity of religious Truth. Religion is a subjective truth masquerading as absolute Truth. Religion is only as true as the individual makes it. Religious truth and the faith of the individual are directly proportionate. Put simply, if you believe, then it is truth to you.
See Internet, Gabriel Gethin
(Contemporary Canadian writer)
Beliefs vs. truths: our beliefs are not true
Truths are undeniable and universal. Truths have been proven to be true. We don’t need to validate them beyond that. Beliefs on the other hand are selective, personal and changeable. Everything we tell ourselves about ourselves, others and the world comes from beliefs.
Certain beliefs are dangerous. Some beliefs masquerade as truths. Once a belief sets in, it becomes a personal truth; we view the world and our experiences from that perspective only. In other words, we create our vision of reality. Beliefs require constant validation. When we believe something, we look for proof that it’s true. The mind is always looking for ways to prove that we are right. And guess what? We will be right, all the time. Beliefs create a fixed view of what is and what should be. Each belief represents a single view that won’t accommodate any other possible position—especially an opposing one.
Can we live without beliefs? Can we stop believing? I honestly don’t know.
What I know for sure is that we can become more aware of our beliefs and we can choose what we believe in. Once we increase our awareness, we can stop following beliefs blindly and do things differently. Our beliefs are not sacred and can be wrong. We can challenge and question them.
Stop believing everything. Whenever you have an opinion, stop before you turn it into a full blown belief about a situation, and think for a moment. Beliefs take a hold because they go unquestioned. At a deeper level we know that our beliefs are not truths; that’s why we keep looking for ways to prove that they’re right.
Once you cast doubt on a belief, you disempower it and stop it from running rampant in your mind and heart as a holy truth. Embrace not knowing. The human ego is a ruthless dictator. It wants to be right all the time. And in order for it to be right, it needs to know something. Not knowing is considered a sign of ignorance and weakness.
Beliefs give us a sense of comfort that comes from the illusionary certainty of knowing. The truth about beliefs is that we don’t know much about anything. We know very little about the world and our existence. We have suffered long enough because of unfounded beliefs. We can choose to believe as much we can choose not to believe. And that is freedom.
*See Interet Manal Ghosain
(Canadian-American physicist, b.1957)
Science and religion do not offer competing answers to the quest for truth
For a long time we have been told that science and religion are two opposing camps, each offering a competing view of reality, either with science steadily replacing God as new discoveries are made, or with the entrenched defenders of the faith battling against the onslaught of atheism. This warfare mentality is no more evident than in the debate about creation and evolution. Highly vocal advocates on one side or the other would have you believe that you have to choose between your faith and science.
Giberson presents a challenging and welcome alternative to this "either-or" mentality. Drawing upon examples from the history of science and the history of the Church's response to new scientific discoveries, he argues that science and religion do not offer competing answers to the same questions about reality. Instead, each answers different categories of questions that together offer a much more complete view of reality than either can alone.
The conflicts arise only when we try to make the Bible an authority on questions that belong to science, or when we try to make science answer questions that belong in the realm of religion. Creation and evolution should be seen therefore, not as mutually exclusive alternatives, but rather as complementary answers to different sorts of questions. While the oracles of science do bad theology, said Giberson, critics of evolution do bad science. He offers a convincing case that science is not and has never been essentially at odds with theology. Christianity and evolution do not have to be incompatible.
In Saving Darwin, Giberson paints a clear picture of the creation/evolution controversy and explores its intricate history, from Darwin to the current culture wars, carefully showing why—and how—it is possible to believe in God and evolution at the same time.
*Giberton Keith, Worlds Apart: The Unholy War between Religion and Science, published in 1993 by the Church of the Nazarene and Beacon Hill Press
(Contemporary American philosopher of science)
Truth in science : perspectivism
A central debate in the philosophy of science is about the nature of scientific knowledge. On the one hand we have scientific realism, the idea that what science does is to provide us, somehow, with a God's eye view of the world, independent of human cognitive limitations. On the other hand, we've got the other extreme in the postmodernist view that where science is just another cultural activity, and has no better claim to truth than astrology or creationism. Giere's alternative, scientific perspectivism, is the classic example of the sensical middle ground: Giere shows us why both extreme positions are untenable, and yet we can feel pretty confident that science does make progress, at least most of the times.
Giere does not question the major findings of modern science: for example, that the universe is expanding. But like many critics of modern science, he rejects the widespread notion of science--deriving ultimately from the Enlightenment--as a uniquely rational activity leading to the discovery of universal truths underlying all natural phenomena. Giere argues that it is better to understand scientists as merely constructing more or less abstract models of limited aspects of the world. Scientific descriptions capture only selected aspects of reality, and those aspects are not bits of the world seen as they are in themselves, but bits of the world seen from a distinctive human perspective.
Giere explains his position with colors. He points out that they cannot easily be identified with objective properties. Color must be seen as the product of an interaction between surface and perceiver, and this makes colors irreducibly perspectival. Giere wants to extend his picture of colors to all of science. Scientific descriptions capture only selected aspects of reality, and those aspects are not bits of the world seen as they are in themselves, but bits of the world seen from a distinctive human perspective. In addition to the color example, Giere articulates his perspectivism by appeal to maps. Maps represent the world, but the representations they provide are conventional, affected by interest, and never fully accurate or complete. Similarly, scientific models are idealized structures that represent the world from particular and limited points of view. According to Giere, what goes for colors and maps, goes generally: science is perspectival through and through. Science can only describe the world from a human perspective.
* Giere Ronald, Scientific Perspectivism, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2006.
(Contemporary American Christian apologist)
We do not hold the truth, the Truth Holds Us
If we in any way suggest that we hold some ultimate truth, we “lie and do not practice the truth.” We don’t hold the truth: the Truth holds us. We do not own the Truth. It is not ours. Instead we yield to it. We submit to it. We worship the One who is known personally as the Truth. We have no lock on Truth, and we certainly didn’t choose it for how it fits our identity and experiences. We didn’t invent our truths, we didn’t even stumble across them in our own superior wisdom; the Truth was graciously given to us. We didn’t find the truth; the Truth found us. We don’t hold the truth; the Truth holds us.
The perceived immorality of Christian exclusivism comes largely from thinking of Christians as taking our own private truth and trying to impose it on everyone else. We have to be on guard never to communicate that.
Gilson argues in this way: “If you think my position toward truth is arrogant, consider yours and mine in comparison. You think you can shape truth to fit yourself. I don’t. I can only hope to let myself be shaped by the truth. And which of these is more humble: claiming to have your own piece of the truth? Or submitting to the Truth that is far bigger than yourself?” For the true arrogance is that of the person who thinks he can shape his own truth. Real Truth is not so amenable to every person’s personal preferences.
The key message to emphasize is that Truth is not our private truth: we don’t hold the truth, the Truth holds us. Our exclusivist stance is not exclusively ours, at any rate; we are not the only ones who say, “Your belief is wrong!” Anyone who understands what the Christian message says must hold that if it is not exclusively true, it is entirely wrong. The Truth that holds us is what it is, and it’s not for us to size it to suit ourselves or anyone..
See Internet Gilson Tom
(French philosopher and historian, b.1922)
The central theme of Girard's thought is violence, specially the management of violence by human beings. He does not explain the cause of violence but observes that it exists and is a most destructive power. Violence is contagious. To prevent it spreading, the aggressiveness of the community is canalized on a particular person or a particular ethnic group. The community is reconciled through the sacrifice and ritual murder of innocent scapegoats. In the past religious rites were the means to limit and circumscribe the effects of violence, they constituted the foundation of culture and civilization. They succeeded in limiting violence but at the cost of murdering innocent people.
Girard claims that Christianity laid down the principles of a radical revolution in denouncing the unacceptable character of 'sacrifice'. It condemned the old system of sacrificing innocent victims (Jesus-Christ) to appease the violence of the mob. The kingdom of God announced by Jesus puts an end to sacrifice and inaugurates the kingdom of forgiveness and reconciliation, a call to the final elimination of all violence.
Unfortunately humanity in general and Christianity in particular have not adopted Christ's message. The 'sacrificial' approach has survived under a variety of forms: crusades, wars, persecutions, totalitarian systems, terrorism… One must kill and destroy to establish a new society. Genocides, gulags, holocausts…these are all tragedies of our time that show how much humanity is still managing violence through sacrificial murders. The anthropological dimension of Christ's message has not been assimilated. People today continue killing because they cannot be reconciled without killing.
* Girard René, Violence and the Sacred. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982. The Scapegoat. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986
(Czech born American mathematician and logician, 1906-1978)
Truth is higher than logic: the theorems of Gödel
The mathematician Gödel proved that all logical systems of any complexity are, by definition, incomplete. A system of axioms (T) can never be consistent by itself : statements from outside the system T must be used to prove the consistency of T. Each system contains more true statements than it can possibly prove by its own set of rules. All consistent axiomatic systems include undecidable propositions. This seems to imply that provability is a weaker notion than truth, that self-proof is impossible and that truth is higher than logic.
However this does not mean that “standing outside the system T” is all that is required to see the truth of a statement not provable in T. If “stepping outside the system” is sometimes necessary to decide the truth and falsity of statements, this does not establish that those standing outside the system can decide the truth or falsity of statements undecidable in the system T. In other words “stepping outside the system” is not enough to see the truth of what is unprovable in T. It follows that Gödel’s theorem in the form “there is no system T which can be both consistent and complete” does not involve the notions of truth and falsity. Gödel’s theorem deals with the incompleteness and inconsistency of formalized set theories but it does not make sense to speak of them as true or false or that true and false can be reached once we have stepped outside the sytem.
Nonetheless Gödel’s theorem has some relation to truth, as he himself acknowledged. His theorem refers to the fact that a complete epistemological description of a certain language A cannot be given in the same language, because the concept of truth of sentences of A cannot be defined in A. This explains the existence of undecidable propositions in formal systems. Tarski’s theorem states similarly that the concept “true sentence in a formal system” is not definable in terms of that system. To avoid paradox and contradiction, one needs to step outside the system and have recourse to a “metalanguage”.
Gödel’s theorem on the inconsistency and incompleteness of formal systems of logic and mathematics shows that truth cannot be expressed in term of demonstrability. Something provable is not necessarily true and something true is not necessarily provable. Many philosophers – the “verificationists” - have thought the opposite: they have tried to define truth as equivalent to the provable and demonstrable. But the totality of truths is more than the totality of what is demonstrable. Reasoning is not just a question of following rules. Reason is creative and original.
* Gödel Kurt, see “Gödel on the net “, Franzen Torkel
(Contemporary American Baptist pastor)
The notion of truth is an inherently religious idea
It is self-evident that there exist laws of logic. Laws of logic exist in nature. They’re not simply definitions or conventions, because they are so fixed. We cannot simply tweak the definitions and alter the laws. We could not conduct science nor human language without presuming these laws. Nor are they simply conventional, for by their nature as laws we find them unchanging.
Mathematics makes patterns predictable. Numbers actually contain real information, yet they are not material ‘things’. Logical laws make understanding and information possible, yet they are not material ‘things’. They are very much real, as they are actually used. Yet they are not simply human explanations.
For regardless of how we’d wish to define or explain them, they still are. And they still function consistently, perfectly, and absolutely. Yet this ‘they’ that we speak of, which surely exists as evident by their real usage, is no real physical ‘thing’, yet it is real none-the-less. By it being true, we mean to say that such truths are correct explanations of Reality.
In other words, it is true to say the earth revolves around the sun. It is true to say 2+2=4. It is true to say something cannot contradict itself. These are all true things found in physical nature, or the mind/logic. Just as there are physical and logical laws, there are moral laws. It is true raping kids is wrong.
The source of Truth, God, makes sense of these physical, logical, and moral truths, for He is the source of them. So if you want a definition of truths, it would be something along the line of thing: “Truth is that which corresponds with reality; it is the opposite of falsehood. Now the question arises, of course, is “from where does truth… come?” The answer is that truth comes from God. It is a mirror of his being. The notion of truth is an inherently religious idea. Only an eternal, transcendent sovereign could create everything in such a way as to make the universe knowable, personal, and understandable.”
The difficulty for the naturalist is to explain such truths, if they prescribe to only the physical being the source of truth, for the method of gaining the observations that currently correspond to the physical universe are not physical in themselves: laws of mathematics and the laws of logic. If anything, this hints at there being something greater than simply natural truths, given the dependence on these things.
The source of Truth, makes sense of natural, logical/mathematical, and moral truths. They are correct correspondences of reality (physically, logically, and morally), because they reflect the author of reality. They are true because they mirror Truth.
* See Internet Goenaga Leonard
(Burmese teacher of Vipasanna meditation, b 1924)
Vipassana : a technique of experiencing the ultimate truth by exploring reality within oneself
Goenka explains that the practice of Vipassana meditation is the essence of the path of Dhamma, the path to Truth. He does not claim that this Vipassana tradition is the only way to Truth, and constantly reminds people of the Universal and non-sectarian quality of this path.
Our beliefs from a particular tradition may look quite logical, yet those beliefs will create obstacles for us. The intellect has its own limitations. We cannot realize the ultimate truth merely by intellect because intellect is finite, while ultimate truth is limitless, infinite. Only through experience can one realize that which is limitless and infinite.
Whatever truth is outside can be found within as well; whatever is within also exists outside. We may accept truth out of devotion or intellectual conviction, but in order to apprehend it directly we must explore within, to experience truth within ourselves. By thus coming face to face with truth, we can develop experiential wisdom that will make a real change in our lives.
The meditator starts investigation from a superficial level at which gross, solidified truths appear. But as one observes the apparent truth objectively, one starts penetrating from gross to subtler truths and finally witnesses ultimate truth. This ultimate truth can be experienced only only by exploring reality within oneself. The exploration of the truth within is Vipassana meditation.
The meditator realizes the truth for himself directly by experiencing and observing bodily sensations. Observation of sensation leads the meditator to experience the ultimate truth of matter, mind, and mental contents: changing every moment. Then transcending the field of mind and matter, one comes to the ultimate truth which is beyond all sensory experience, beyond the phenomenal world. In this transcendent reality there is no more anicca: nothing arises, and therefore nothing passes away. It is a stage without birth or becoming: the deathless. While the meditator experiences this reality, the senses do not function and therefore sensations cease.
This direct experience of our own reality, the technique of self-observation, called Vipassana meditation, helps us to experience a truth which is beyond mind and matter, beyond time and space, beyond the conditioned field of relativity: the truth of total liberation.
*Goenka, S.N. The Discourse Summaries: Talks from a Ten-day Course in Vipassana Meditation. Pariyatti Publishing, 2000
(Contemporary American R.C. theologian)
The search for religious truth requires a dialogue with those whose truth seems other than our own
Truth requires dialogue, and yet there is more to truth than dialogue alone. But the search for truth, religious truth, the fullness of truth cannot neglect truth that is present in religious systems other than our own. We cannot say in advance whether that truth is the same truth as ours, expressed differently, or whether it is incompatible with our own truth, or whether it complements our own understanding, or simply helps us to understand more deeply what we already claim to believe. The search for truth requires an openness to dialogue with those whose truth seems at first to be other than ours, with those who are others, whose beliefs may even appear strange.
What is truth? Surely not something deposited as if in a bank from which we can withdraw what we might need at any particular time. Rather it is more like an attractor, an Omega Point, drawing us toward itself, something we may never completely reach, or grasp, but toward which we journey.
We all have a lot to learn. The fullness of truth resides in the Catholic tradition, according to Catholic teaching. But this does not mean that it is all already within our grasp. It simply means that Christ is there, in the Church, and there in his fullness. The Church does not lack the presence of Christ who is there in Word and Sacrament. But to say that we have the Word of God and the sacraments does not suggest that we have individually or collectively come to a full knowledge of all Truth. The attitude of the Seeker is always one of openness. The pilgrim church is both church and pilgrim, wayfarer. And we cannot afford to dismiss other pilgrims along the way, whether individuals or traditions. God is there too, and it is God whom we seek. We as church have made mistakes. Anyone who truly knows the truth cannot help but be humbled by it. There is no room for arrogance.
Truth requires dialogue as one of the methods of its inquiry as well as humility before the divine mystery. Perhaps it will be only in dialogue that we come to know ourselves and the truth to which we adhere, the truth that will set us free. Dialogue is a search for truth, and truth needs dialogue because there is always “more” to truth, to the gospel, to Jesus Christ, a surplus beyond our present individual or collective or ecclesial grasp of it. God remains God and is not synonymous with our grasp of the truth nor with the Christian Church.
Dialogue and truth are companions, not adversaries. Be wary of the ones who say they have the truth and no longer need to seek it. Truth calls us into a journey and there are varied companions along the way. We ought to be careful lest we think that we don’t need them. Dialogue does not deny the validity of proclamation. But neither can proclamation deny the importance of dialogue. Dialogue is the effort to understand more profoundly the Christ that we do proclaim. The goal of dialogue is truth, its raison d’etre, its final cause.
* Goergen Donald o.p., "Dialogue and Truth," talk given at the Inter-Faith Dialogue Conference in Bangkok in February of 2001
(German poet and natural philosopher , 1749-1832)
That knowledge is true which adds nothing to nature, either by thought or imagination
Goethe's philosophy is a philosophy of nature based upon an elementary view of reality. The dominant idea of it is this: only that knowledge is true which adds nothing to nature, either by thought or imagination; and which recognizes as valid only what comes from a research that is free from prejudices and preconceptions, from a firm and pure determination to find the truth, from a meditation which goes deeply into the heart of nature. Goethe is persuaded that the knowledge that this research will give us of God, of the world and of man, whether it is great or small, will be sufficient to validate our life.
Goethe's way of science is one early example of a phenomenology of the natural world. He sought a way to open himself to the things of nature, to listen to what they said, and to identify their core aspects and qualities.
One phrase that Goethe used to describe his method was ‘delicate empiricism’ (zarte Empirie)‑-the effort to understand a thing's meaning through prolonged empathetic looking and seeing grounded in direct experience. He sought to use firsthand encounter directed in a kindly but rigorous way to know the thing in itself. "Natural objects," he wrote, "should be sought and investigated as they are and not to suit observers, but respectfully as if they were divine beings." Goethe believed that, too often, the methods and recording instruments of conventional science separate the student from the thing studied and lead to an arbitrary or inaccurate understanding: It is a calamity that the use of experiment has severed nature from man, so that he is content to understand nature merely through what artificial instruments reveal and by so doing even restricts her achievements. Microscopes and telescopes, in actual fact, confuse man's innate clarity of mind.
Rather than remove himself from the thing, Goethe sought to encounter it intimately through the educable powers of human perception: "The human being himself, to the extent that he makes sound use of his senses, is the most exact physical apparatus that can exist." Goethe's aim was to bring this potential perceptual power to bear on a particular phenomenon and thereby better see and understand it. Goethe emphasized that perhaps the greatest danger in the transition from seeing to interpreting is the tendency of the mind to impose an intellectual structure that is not really present in the thing itself: "How difficult it is...to refrain from replacing the thing with its sign, to keep the object alive before us instead of killing it with the word." The student must proceed carefully when making the transition from experience and seeing to judgement and interpretation, guarding against such dangers as "impatience, precipitancy, self-satisfaction, rigidity, narrow thoughts, presumption, indolence, indiscretion, instability, and whatever else the entire retinue might be called."
* Goethe's Way of Science: A Phenomenology of Nature, David Seamon & Arthur Zajonc, editors. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1998
Goldman maintains that the quest for knowledge is basically a quest for truth. He agrees with Aristotle’s saying that “All men by nature desire to know”, and our desire for knowledge is a quest for truth or close approximations to truth, never for misinformations. Goldman describes himself as a defender of the tradition insofar as he remains ‘unmoved by the tides of postmodernism and social constructivism that are trying to wash away all vestiges of truth and objectivity’. He is a ‘wholehearted scientific realist’, and radical postmodernists and social constructivists are the "verophobic" foes he relentlessly fights. He believes that a great variety of human endeavours are dedicated, quite properly and understandably, to the discovery and dissemination of truths.
According to him two motives drive truth seeking: simple curiosity and practical advantage. First, people want to know why things are what they are, even though this knowledge would serve no practical end in most cases. They want to know the truth, that is, what really is the case, not simply what is generally believed (so truth must not be equated with consensual belief.) Secondly, the belief in and desire for truth are usually (though not invariably) a helpful means to achieving practical ends, for instance, prompt medical attention.
The interest in believing truths is amply demonstrated by the universal linguistic practice of asking questions. The normal purpose of asking a question is to learn the true answer. This is why we direct questions, wherever possible, to people we regard as authoritative or knowledgeable, that is, people in possession of the truth.
Interest in true belief is not confined to individuals. Many social institutions also have an interest in knowledge. Science aims to discover new knowledge. Laws seek the truth about who violated certain statutes, so that justice may be done. The fundamental aim of education, that is, of schooling systems at all levels, is to provide students with true knowledge and to develop intellectual skills that improve their knowledge-acquiring abilities.
Goldman divides epistemology into two branches: individual and social epistemology. Both branches seek to identify and assess processes, methods or practices in terms of their contributions -- positive or negative -- to the production of true belief. Goldman’s field of interest is social epistemology which he calls “veritistic” epistemology because of its heavy emphasis on truth. His veritistic approach to social epistemology seeks to evaluate actual and prospective practices in terms of their impacts on true versus false beliefs. He analyzes the conditions under which different intersubjective and institutional practices can satisfy veritistic or truth-oriented goals within an information-based society, and thus enhance the development of beliefs, where truth is understood as correspondence between beliefs and the external world.
* Goldman, Alvin I., Knowledge in a Social World, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1999.
( American cell biologist, b.1943)
The three different concepts of truth: empirical, consensual, first person truth
Goodenough is known for her stance on “religious naturalism”. She professes her faith in the existence of Nature’s complexity and awareness and intent and beauty, and her ability to apprehend it serves as the ultimate meaning and the ultimate value. Nature forms a sacred circle that requires no further justification, no Creator, no super-ordinate meaning of meaning, no purpose other than that the continuation continue until the sun collapses or the final meteor collides.
She maintains that there are 3 different kinds of truths:
1. Empirical truth (evolution happened)
2. Consensual truth (it is good to be nice to each other)
3. First-person truth (truth that emerges unbidden — for example, in the creation or apprehension of art)
The matter at hand, in the end, is which truths are accorded the status of consensual truths, and how that process takes place.
1. For empirical truths, the rules for consensus are out there: evidence, repeated experiment, successful technologies based on the resultant understandings, etc. While it's the case that there are those who refuse to join the consensus that evolution happened or that antibiotics can cure disease, they must, by definition, disregard these rules in order to take such positions.
2.The general consensus that it's good to be nice to each other may well prove to be rooted in our genetic makeup as social organisms; should this be robustly demonstrated by evidence and repeated experiment, then it would move into the category of consensus on an empirical truth. Absent such data, the rules for reaching consensus on moral/ethical matters are far more elusive.
3. For first-person truths, the rules for consensus are not out there at all. The painting on my wall that speaks to me may well not speak to you; you may even wonder why I would hang such a thing on my wall. The God to whom I pray may bear no resemblance to the God to whom you pray; you may even wonder why I would hold such a God-concept. As near as I can tell, consensus on matters like art or theology are going to be rooted in such factors as temperament, life-experience, and cultural surrounds, not to mention even more abstruse qualities like aesthetic and mystical sensibilities, and these are going to vary from human to human. If my tastes in art or theology turn out to map onto yours, then there's a consensus of two. Nothing more.
Attempts to impose first-person truths on "the masses" have sometimes been proximately successful, particularly when accompanied by the instigation of fear or the promise of reward. But these have a way of attenuating and fizzling out. Those who bemoan the continued influence of messianistic “leaders” have lost sight of the influence such persons exerted in former times.
Not only is there every reason to expect first-person variation. There's every reason to celebrate it. Global homogeneity in first-person truths is a most depressing concept.
* Ursula Goodenough - The Sacred Depths of Nature, Oxford University Press US, 1998, page 272
(American philosopher, 1906-1998)
Truth is wrongly over-estimated
Goodman grants to truth a subordinate role. Truth has been wrongly over-estimated. It has been the object of an undue philosophical obsession. The essential of man’s cognitive activity is not the exclusive pursuit of truth, but much more the creation of symbolic systems that satisfy human needs. If there is a constant desire for understanding, it is not with the aim of always reaching the truth but with the desire of finding a solution to the problems of life. The function of truth is only instrumental and secondary because truth is only a participating ingredient in the global cognitive project.
However Goodman does not follow the pragmatist attempt to re-define truth. He accepts the common sense concept of truth (neither semantic nor redundant) but he gives it a minor role. What he rejects is the notion of truth as the converging point of all man’s cognitive efforts.
Goodman proposes a reconception of philosophy and that means a revision of its key concepts. He shifts his focus from truth, certainty and knowledge to rightness, adoption and understanding. ‘Rightness’ is a matter of fitting and fitting is tested by the working. The concept of rightness is of greater reach than truth. In replacement of certainty, he proposes ‘adoption’: a matter of putting to work and trying. Rather than knowledge he speaks of ‘understanding’: the collection of abilities to inquire and invent. Where usually knowledge requires truth, belief and proof, understanding does not demand any of these. Assertions can be understood independently of their truth and of the beliefs attached to them. We can understand sentences which are neither true nor false, neither demonstrable nor refutable, neither certain nor uncertain. Understanding is wider than knowledge, adoption wider than certainty and rightness wider than truth.
Goodman’s stand is neither scepticism nor relativism but ‘constructivism’, that is, the view that by reflecting on their own experiences people construct their own understanding of the world they live in. We do not live in one reality but in many, and each of these realities is the result of a processing that can never be traced back to some sort of real, true world underneath. There is no single underlying world, but instead we create new worlds out of old ones in a process that Goodman calls “fact from fiction”. Fictions are not the unreal side of reality, not even the opposite of reality. Rather, they are conditions that enable to production of worlds whose reality is not to be doubted.
One must free oneself from an exclusive and intransigent search for truth and care principally to extend and enrich our capacities and thus be open to reforms, even revolutions. Truth in many cases provides little inspiration.
* Goodman, Nelson, Fact, Fiction and Forecast, Indianapolis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1973; See Quilliot R., La Vérité, Paris, Ellipses, 1997, p.173
(Greek philosopher, 483-374)
The concept of truth is fictitious
Gorgias's nihilistic philosophy was expressed in his work, On Nature, or the Non-existent, the title of which suggests the sophistical love of paradox. His position is summed up in three propositions: (a) Nothing exists; (b) If anything existed, it could not be known; (c) If anything did exist, and could be known, it could not be communicated.
For proof of the first proposition, "nothing exists," Gorgias attached himself to the school of the Eleatics, especially to Zeno. Zeno taught that in all multiplicity and motion, that is to say, in all existence, there are irreconcilable contradictions. Zeno was in no sense a sceptic, though. He did not seek for contradictions in things for the sake of contradictions, but in order to support the positive thesis of Parmenides, that only being exists, and that becoming is not at all. Zeno, therefore, is to be regarded as a constructive, and not merely a destructive, thinker. But it is obvious that by emphasizing only the negative element in Zeno's philosophy, it is possible to use his antinomies as powerful weapons in the cause of skepticism and nihilism. And it was in this way that Gorgias made use of the dialectic of Zeno. Since all existence is self-contradictory, it follows that nothing exists. He also made use of the famous argument of Parmenides regarding the origin of being. If anything is, said Gorgias, it must have had a beginning. Its being must have arisen either from being, or from non-being. If it arose from being, there is no beginning. If it arose from non-being, this is impossible, since something cannot arise out of nothing. Therefore nothing exists.
The second proposition of Gorgias, that if anything exists it cannot be known, is part and parcel of the whole Sophistic tendency of thought, which identifies knowledge with sense-perception, and ignores the rational element. Since sense-impressions differ in different people, and even in the same person, the object as it is in itself cannot be known.
The third proposition follows from the same identification of knowledge with sensation, since sensation is what cannot be communicated.
These arguments has led historians to label Gorgias a nihilist: one who believes nothing exists, or that the world is incomprehensible, and that the concept of truth is fictitious.
* See internet Gorgias
(Contemporary South African b. writer)
Searching for the truth in the midst of uncertainty through faith
Everything we do in life, our behaviour towards other people, is based on reasons we consider to be true. But we may be wrong. The fact is that we live in doubt and therefore we should accept to continue living in doubt and search for true reasons. Unfortunately, no matter how correct this logic might be, most human beings illogically insist on living in a world of certainty even if it means adopting wrong reasons and hence wrong actions.
Living in a world of uncertainty seems to scare people more than living in a world of wrong certainty. The only thing that can help us live in uncertainty is faith. Faith is saying we don't know and being happy in not knowing.
When Jesus said "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" He meant that He wished that his disciples would have faith. They were in the midst of stormy seas of doubt and uncertainty, as all mankind is when they admit that they don't know the reason for some occurrence. If they had faith they would be able to live in uncertainty. But they didn't have the faith Jesus wished they would have, so it became necessary for Him to make a miracle which would give them certainty. He therefore made the required miracle: "Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." (Mat 8:26) This means that He made the miracle of calming the seas because his disciples had little faith and so weren't able to live in a stormy world full of doubt and therefore needed a miracle.
The message here is that it's better to have faith and live in doubt than to have no faith and live on miracles. Miracles are only necessary if we don't have faith to live in uncertainty. If we have faith we'll continue to search for the truth instead of being dependent on miracles. Faith doesn't mean trusting God to make a miracle. Faith means living in uncertainty, searching for the truth and making the world a better place ourselves.
* See Internet, Leon Gork
(American evolutionary biologist, 1941-2002)
Evolution is not only theory but fact, still evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth
1. According to Gould the fact of evolution is as well established as anything in science (as secure as the revolution of the earth about the sun), though he admits that absolute certainty has no place in the scientific lexicon. He argues that the occurrence of evolution is a fact and that scientists only theorize about how it happened. Yet clearly the sense of evolution that Gould means here to defend, namely, the theory of universal common descent, does not have the same epistemological status as observations of apples falling to the ground. No scientists can directly observe evolution occurring. No one can observe the history of life, or the pattern of a branching tree emerging, or the transitions between each of the major groups of organisms. Indeed, Gould himself speculates that evolution happened too fast for even the fossil record to preserve most of the transitional forms required by the theory of universal common descent.
Though Gould claims that evolution is not only a theory but also a fact, he acknowledges that facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts, but facts don't go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them.
Moreover, "fact" doesn't mean "absolute certainty". The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though, says Gould, creationists often do. In science "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent”.
2. One should add that Gould – himself an atheist - takes special pains to assure his readers that evolution is only about science, that science and religion function in two separate domains, and that there should be no conflict between the two—as long as religion stays within its proper realm. Problems arise only when Christian fundamentalists, who don’t understand science, try to make science fit their personal theologies. He writes: “No scientific theory, including evolution, can pose any threat to religion—for these two great tools of human understanding operate in complementary (not contrary) fashion in their totally separate realms: science as an inquiry about the factual state of the natural world, religion as a search for spiritual meaning and ethical values.”
*Gould Stephen, The structure of evolutionary theory. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002
(Contemporary Canadian writer)
How to seek and find Truth: only through introspection
To seek and find truth requires that we communicate within rather than without. When we communicate outside, with other people, truth is always watered down by differing perceptions, consensus, and compromise. People have different understandings. To reach a very effective level for finding truth there is much work that we must do to remove the impediments and obstacles that we have built to block our path.
There is always a very easy check on the quality of thoughts that we are processing. That check is asking ourselves 'What is the feeling in my gut?'. If we are processing thoughts that are aiding our true honest desires we have a good feeling in the gut. If we process thoughts that are abetting our true honest desires we have a bad feeling in the gut. When you feel that bad feeling it is a clear signal to examine your current thoughts and change them to positive thoughts.
Self-examination is seeking the truth within us rather than from outward searching. Outward searching is marred by the feelings, perceptions, and compromises that others have made because people have different understandings.
If we look within ourselves, we question, and the answers are the universal truths that we seek. Every question has an answer; every problem has a solution. Answers and solutions may not come immediately; some take time to find-an hour, a day, a year, or even many years. If we search for it or allow it to come to us, we will find it.
Only through introspection can we arrive at the truth that, of course, is another word for self-examination.
How do we achieve this self-examination? Many philosophies have been developed to realize this introspection, but a simple act is all that is necessary: take a moment to concentrate on your inner mind and to ask a single question; let your subconscious seek the answer throughout the day and the answer will come without effort. Make it a daily ritual and be surprised by the outcome. Be careful not to let negative thought about the question hinder the search for the answer.
One important truth is the discovery that 'our thoughts create our life experiences.' This is probably the first universal truth that is discovered, and once this is realized and accepted one has found and important phase of self-examination.
* See Internet Charles O. Goulet
(Contemporary American atheistic philosopher)
The intolerant truth-claim of all religions
There is no such thing as a tolerant religion. By its very nature, it cannot be defined as tolerant. Even those religions that claim total tolerance such as Buddhism cannot make such a claim. Instead, they redefine other belief systems to fit under the umbrella of their own. While a Buddhist can claim that each individual must “find” his own way and method to achieving and understanding Nirvana, the truth of the matter in such equivocation is simply a method of justifying the idea of a “one, true religion”: Buddhism..
Christians often claim that Islam is an intolerant religion whose motive and primary goal is to “take over the world” while at the same time Moslems claim that Islam is a religion bound to peace and prosperity for all. It is ironic however, that Christianity is infamous for its bloodshed and violence as well as its open claim that the “gospel of Jesus Christ” is to be spread throughout the world. It can be no surprise, nor is it a coincidence, that Islam is a very close sister-religion to Christianity: they both have the same aims and are not above the means to achieve their ends: namely violence, bloodshed and incoherent justifications concerning their “true motives”. Their true motives are not questioned by anyone who is 1) honest enough to look at the histories of these religions and, 2) honest enough to read the dogmatic doctrines of both of them. What Islam is doing today, that which is called “terrorism”, was done and continues to be done, by Christianity. In fact, Islam is nothing more than a continuation of Christianity, theologically speaking.
Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam claims “Truth” in the form of revelation. The “Truth” is that all the above religions are based on nothing more than faith. Revelation is faith. Truth cannot be based on faith, or it becomes opinion. There is only one method of acquiring anything close to what Truth can be defined as and it is far from being absolute: science. Be that as it may, science does not rely upon faith, and does not make the claim that it is absolute.
To be tolerant, one must accept the possibility that one is wrong and that another is right. This is suicide to all religions and this is the basis upon which doubt is considered ignorance, pride, and/or sin by religions. Doubt forces honest questioning, and honest questioning demands honest answers. Every religion, including the so-called “peaceful ones” makes an intolerant claim: that they alone hold the absolute Truth. Any truth that is held as absolute becomes dogmatic, and all religions must by their very nature claim absolute truth and therefore every religion is dogmatic. There is no such thing as religious tolerance, and there is no authority in reality that can claim that we must tolerate religious belief in any of its forms. The fact that some of humanity continues to do so is either from altruistic slavery to tradition or simple-minded naivety if not plain stupidity.
*See Internet GOWAN Mark
(American R.C.theologian and sociologist of religion, b.1928)
Truth according to faith, is neither facts nor doctrines but stories out of which experiences and imagination shape communities.
Greeley is a ‘catholic’ theologian and a sociologist of religion. He claims that religion communicates via experiences to imagination and from imagination via stories to community. He identifies faith experiences in which the propositional words and the doctrines are, if not absent, far away from the center. Faith is experience, imagination, stories, and the community that is built out of them. This, Greeley argues, is the way faith works locally in parishes, churches, and the homes of people. In The Jesus Myth he wrote that the life of Jesus is the very story of who God really is and how God lives. Therefore, Greeley continues, truth according to faith, is not facts but stories out of which experiences and imagination shape communities.
He freely applies the term "myth" to Christianity. In his book Myths of Religion, he defends this terminology: "Many Christians have objected to my use of this word ‘myth’ even when I define it specifically. They are terrified by a word which may even have a slight suggestion of fantasy. However, my usage is the one that is common among historians of religion, literary critics, and social scientists. It is a valuable and helpful usage; there is no other word which conveys what these scholarly traditions mean when they refer to myth. The Christian would be well advised to get over his fear of the word and appreciate how important a tool it can be for understanding the content of his faith."
In fact, he argues, doctrine results from reflection on experiences and images and stories. It is essential because we are rational reflective beings and we must articulate our experiences and our insights in prose sentences and in systematic organization of such sentences. We cannot do without creeds and catechisms and theology. But the origins and raw power of religion are found in the stories. The doctrines are latent in the stories. Both are necessary, but the stories come first. Unfortunately, for much of which passes for Catholic religious education, the stories are discarded in favor of the doctrines.
Doctrine never exhausts the truth and the beauty of story. The doctrine of God become human is surely true, thought it is an abstract statement of the truth contained in the story which begins with a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
It is worth noting that it took four centuries to make the doctrine reasonably precise while the story was there at the beginning. Both require one another, but it is the story that appeals to the total human. It is the beauty of the story which holds Catholics to their heritage. We were Catholics for several centuries before the doctrines acquired some precision. It was the beauty of the stories and the lives inspired by the stories, particularly the Christmas and Easter stories which appealed to those who heard them. Beauty is not opposed to truth. It is simply truth in its most attractive form.
*Greeley, Andrew, Myths of Religion: An inspiring investigation into the nature of God and a journey to the boundaries of faith (1989) ISBN 0-446-38818-1, The Catholic Imagination (2000) ISBN 0-520-23204-6
( Atheist internaut)
The Slavery of ‘Revealed Truth’
Science is a process geared towards acquiring a better understanding of the world we live in. It is a journey of discovery. As new information becomes available, our scientific understanding is calibrated to incorporate these findings. Outdated theories and information are discarded. Even when examining the past, science faces the future, because that is where truth will be found. Science is not threatened by change. It expects it.
Fundamentalism, in contrast, is always gazing in the rear-view mirror. For the Bible-believing Christian, truth was revealed in the past, by their god. Since fundamentalism begins with the assumption that they already have the truth, new information and ideas which contradict this must be opposed and discarded. Change is an enemy and old ideas must be protected and conserved. Fundamentalists often view science with suspicion. It is a potential threat to belief, and scientists are readily viewed as part of a conspiracy; “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.” Social change is also a big problem for the fundamentalist mindset. Morality and gender roles were ‘revealed’ by their god in ancient writings. Revisions to those ideas must be vigorously opposed. Modern thinking is a fast lane to Hell.
Fundamentalism wants that ‘old-time religion’ and thinks we should ‘get back to the Bible’ and the ‘good-old days.’ Instead of new information shaping our thoughts, fundamentalists conform their minds to old ways of thinking. Much energy is spent denouncing and resisting change.. ‘Revealed truth’ is a ball and chain which shackles the fundamentalist forever to the past. It is a slavery of mind. ‘Revealed truth’ has revealed itself to be an enemy of societal progress, science, and learning.
*See internet J.M. Green, Debuking Christianity
(Eastern Orthodox monk and archbishop, 1296-1359)
Truth is of double kind: the vision of God and wordly wisdom
(St.) Gregory Palamas, using many quotes from Holy Scripture and the Fathers, introduces the truth of two kinds of wisdom and of knowledge. Throughout his work we see this essential difference between divine and human knowledge underlined, something which demonstrates that the truth is not singular. Characteristically Gregory Palamas notes "Whence it is shown that truth is of a double kind: one is the result of God-inspired teaching, whereas the other is neither necessary nor does it save, it seeks out secular wisdom, but achieves much less." That means that one kind of truth, which is the vision of God, is the work and result of God-inspired teaching, whereas the other kind of wisdom, which is worldly wisdom, is neither necessary nor does it save, but neither is it fully accomplished. Gregory Palamas asks «What care does deifying wisdom have for all the truth in the stars» i.e. truth and knowledge about the stars does not interest and does not benefit deifying wisdom, that is the living experience of revelatory truth.
He does not reject worldly wisdom which looks to the knowledge of beings but argues that this human knowledge neither constitutes nor aids in any way the attainment of divine knowledge which is the result of purification of the heart and illumination of man's nous. With clarity of thought and revelatory wisdom Gregory Palamas would write: «However the introduction of secular philosophy for the knowledge of beings is not entirely false, under some circumstances it could be true, but this is not the knowledge of beings and the wisdom that God gave to prophets and apostles.» That is to say, the use of worldly philosophy to attain to the knowledge of beings is not totally amiss. Indeed, with certain preconditions it would also be true, but this is not the wisdom and knowledge given by God to the Apostles and Prophets directly.
Western Scholastic Theology used a single method both for created things and for the uncreated God. This means that they tried to comprehend God with the same method that they used to investigate creation and natural phenomena, i.e. through reason. Illumination by Divine Grace simply assists human reason to comprehend concepts and objects. Whereas, taking the opposite view, Orthodox Theology, as expressed by all the Holy Fathers, including St. Gregory Palamas uses a double methodology for God and creation. That is to say it uses reason to investigate creation, the nature of beings, to examine natural phenomena, while with the nous, which is purified and illuminated it attains knowledge of God.
All this shows that education according to the world - and this includes Science - acts at one level, whereas knowledge of God, i.e. the aim and end of Theology, acts at another. A Science which tries to comprehend God with its own methodology (reason), and a Theology which leaves behind the hesychastic method, using reason for all matters including God, are equally bankrupt.
*See A Study of Gregory Palamas (ISBN 0-913836-14-1) by Fr. John Meyendorff
(American evangelist theologian, 1950-2005)
A positive appraisal of the Concept of Truth in the Postmodern Context
Contrary to what some commentators suggest, postmoderns have not dismissed truth. On the contrary, they operate from a conception of truth that differs from the reigning modern view.
The modern era was born when certain philosophers concluded that truth is a characteristic of true statements, and a statement is true if it declares accurately what is in fact the case. Paralleling this conception of truth is the assumption that the world operates according to universal laws. This assumption emerged full force during the Enlightenment. Their thinkers believed what human reason could supposedly fathom was boundless. They hoped that human scientific discovery would eventually devise the one true and complete description of the real world.
Postmodernism questions the central assumptions of modernism. According to postmoderns, truth is not merely an inherent quality of statements that accurately ascribe properties to the world. Neither is truth limited to what can be verified by reason and the empirical scientific method alone. Instead, postmoderns are convinced that, in addition to reason, there are other ways of knowing — through the emotions and intuition. Postmoderns do not view the world as a realm of impersonal laws, but as historical, relational, personal, and participatory.
Postmoderns would answer Pilate’s question ‘what is truth’ by inviting him to participate in the truth. Pilate would never know that Jesus is the Christ unless he participated in what Jesus embodies. To know the truth Pilate must respond personally to the Master’s invitation, “Come and see.” Postmoderns might also urge Pilate to realize that the discovery of truth involves his whole person. It must grab his emotions and stir his intuition, as well as satisfy his reason. They might respond to Pilate by telling him “the old, old story of Jesus and His love.” In doing so, the apologist becomes an evangelist. Telling the narrative invites the cynical Roman governor to forsake the narrative inculcated in him by his pagan, imperial overlord and gives him opportunity to participate in the glorious narrative of God at work in Christ reconciling the world to himself.
For the postmodern, Pilate’s question can only be answered within a particular social context. Viewed from this perspective, truth is not confined by indubitable facts that ascribe qualities to the world . Instead, truth is active. Truth is what accomplishes a goal. Truth is what works. Truth comes to expression in the relationships shared by members of the group.
The postmodern understanding of truth provides a great opportunity and a great challenge to Christians. Postmoderns are less impressed with well-reasoned arguments that supposedly prove the rightness of the church’s claims to truth than with the life of a truth-embodying community. Consequently, when viewed from a postmodern perspective, the final answer to Pilate’s question lies in the fellowship of the disciples who live in the light of the crucified and resurrected Jesus by the power of the outpoured Holy Spirit. Postmoderns are converted to community before they are converted to Christ. But then, this should not be a surprise. Jesus declared, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). And love for one another between people who love God and are loved by God is the ultimate description of the kind of truth that, when known, sets us free (John 8:32).
* Grenz Stanley,“Participating in What Frees: The Concept of Truth in the Postmodern Context,” Review and Expositor 100/4 (Fall 2003): 687-93.
(American philosopher of religion, b. 1939)
The two great truths of scientific naturalism and Christianity integrated
David Ray Griffin argues in favour of a peaceful coexistence between Christianity and scientific naturalism. Asserting that both Christianity and scientific naturalism embody great truths which have been distorted, Griffin traces the history of the relationship between the two worldviews, ending finally with an integrated worldview incorporating the truth of both traditions. Griffin is quite confident his proposal upholds the central truths of both science and Christianity.
Scientific naturalism which implies a rejection of supernaturalism, is the great truth of modern science which Griffin argues has been distorted when presented as necessitating an atheist position. He is clear that naturalism accepts the possibility of something beyond the totality of finite things, but rejects the existence of a supernatural being which could violate the universal web of cause-and-effect relations.
Griffin rejects atheistic-materialistic naturalism, which is incompatible with Christianity. This kind of naturalism is unable to resolve questions stemming from what Griffin calls “hard-core common sense”, the “various ideas that we inevitably presuppose in our practices, even if we deny them verbally” .
On the other hand Griffin claims that Christian truth has been distorted by such ideas as the creatio ex nihilo, the assertion of the exclusivity of Christian truth, and the development of a supernaturalistic Christology.
For Griffin, panentheism and non atheistic materialist naturalism solve the theodicy problem, for they hold that divine power is persuasive power, rather than omnipotent coercive power. In being a non-supernaturalist understanding of God, panentheism avoids many of the arguments against the existence of God and provides new reasons for affirming God’s existence as the reality behind human religious experience. This view of naturalism provides an integrated worldview in which the two great truths of naturalism and Christianity are upheld.
* Griffin David Gray, Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith. Westminster John Knox Press, 2004
(British - Indian Benedictine monk, 1906-1993)
Each religion reveals a unique aspect of the one Truth
Bede Griffith’s objective was to “find the way to the marriage of East and West”. He began to realize that truth is one, but that it has many faces, and each religion is, as it were, a face of the one Truth, which manifests itself under different signs and symbols in the different historical traditions.
According to him, "each religion has to purify itself and discover its own inmost depths and significance and then relate it to the inner depth of the other tradition. Perhaps, it will never be achieved in this world, but it is the one way in which we can advance towards that unity in truth, which is the ultimate goal of humankind…. It is only in the awakening of the contemplative spirit, of a transcendent consciousness, that we come to a vision of unity."
He spoke of the “one spirit of all religion” and shifts to a theology of “complementarity”. This theory presents each religion as revealing a unique aspect of the one Truth, aspects that when compared are not contradictory but complementary, like different colours within white light. Beneath this level of understanding of the uniqueness of each tradition, however, one may discover at “the deepest level” a “fundamental unity” or point of convergence of the various religions.
In each tradition the one divine Reality, the one eternal Truth, is present, but it is hidden under symbols ... The divine Mystery is hidden under a veil, but each revelation (or 'unveiling') unveils some aspect of the one Truth. It is not by word or thought but by meditation on the Mystery that we can pierce the veil. This is where all human reason fails. All these words, Brahman, Nirvana, Allah, Yahweh, Christ, are meaningless to those who can get beyond their reason and allow the divine Mystery to shine through its symbols.
The original message, the essential truth, of every religion is the sacred Mystery, the presence in this world of a hidden Wisdom, which cannot be expressed in words, which cannot be known by sense or reason, but is hidden in the heart - the Ground or Centre or Substance of the soul, of which the mystics speak - and reveals itself to those who seek it in the silence beyond word and thought. All myths and rituals, all doctrines and sacraments, are but a means to awaken the soul to this hidden Mystery, to allow the divine Presence to make itself known.
Griffiths writes: "I often use the illustration of the fingers and the palm of the hand. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are all separate in one sense. But as you move toward the source in any tradition, the interrelatedness begins to grow. As one might say, we meet in the cave of the heart. When we arrive in the centre, we realize the underlying unity behind the traditions.”
"The divine Mystery, the eternal Truth, has been revealing itself to all men from the beginning of history. Every people has received some insight into this divine mystery -- which is the mystery of human existence -- and every religion, from the most primitive to the most advanced, has its own unique insight into the one Truth. These insights, insofar as they reflect the one Reality, are in principle complementary. Each has its own defects both of faith and practice, and each has to learn from others, so they may grow together to that unity in Truth which is the goal of human existence."
* Griffiths Bede , Marriage of East and West: A Sequel to The Golden String, Templegate Publishers, 1982,
(Dutch humanist & jurist, 1583-1645)
The plurality of religious ‘truths’ is an acceptable state of affairs . The truth of Christianity is not dogmatical but ethical.
Hugo Grotius sought to quell religious conflicts by reducing religion to ethics, while leaving religious beliefs diverse: he sought to show Christians of diverse confessions that it was possible, because theologically acceptable, to live with religious diversity. Grotius introduced the foundation of a liberal solution to the problem of pluralism: that of an “overlapping consensus” of diverse world-views around a minimal, non-metaphysical natural law. The overlapping consensus enables liberalism, in principle, to solve the problem of pluralism because it draws on citizens' deepest convictions and at the same time is widely shared.
But Grotius also shows how this consensus must overcome significant conceptual barriers, especially theological ones, to take hold: the overlapping consensus is not simply found but must be self-consciously fashioned, and so must the theological opinions supporting it. Indeed, religion itself must be re-constituted so as to fit comfortably within the Grotius’ idea of liberal consensus.
He sought to persuade Europeans of diverse and incommensurable religious points of view that religious division was not an evil but something they could and should live with. He believed he could present an account of Christianity that would be recognized as valid by diverse religious confessions, and at the same time radically transform how these confessions conceived of religious diversity: far from being an evil of one sort or another, he believed he could show that it was an acceptable state of affairs. However, given the dependence of these conceptions of religious diversity on fundamental theological doctrine, Grotius could not transform them without undertaking to transform Christianity itself.
In fact he sought to give Christianity a new center of gravity, replacing dogma and creed with a morality oriented to social peace: a religion of other-worldly salvation would be molded to fit the needs of deeply divided societies and thus re-described as “the very religion whose purpose is peace.”
The foundation of his view that controversy about Christian dogma is needless was not skepticism, but his radical claim that the fundamental part of religion is ethics: “Many [religious] controversies over dogmas are merely due to words which must be avoided for consensus to appear”.
Grotius argues that ethics is prior to dogma not only in importance but epistemically. Ethics comes first not only in that it is in effect the point of theology but in that it is grasped with greater certainty: ethical precepts in fact are the “most self-evident” elements of Christian faith. The moral praecepta play a regulative function in relation to the dogmatic decreta: it is from the firm ground of praecepta that the necessity of the various decreta is assessed.
*Grotius, Hugo, De veritate religionis Christianae - Paris, 1627, The Truth of the Christian Religion, ed. John Clarke (Edinburgh, 1819).
( Contemporary American philosopher)
The prosentential theory of truth
The basic claim of the prosentential theory is that ‘it is true’ and ‘that is true’ function as pro-sentences, that is, they function in the same manner as pro-nouns. For example we may use the pro-noun “she” in place of the noun “Mary” to transform “Mary went shopping” into “She went shopping”. Just as pronouns occupy a position that a noun (Mary) occupies, so ‘that is true’ occupies the position that a sentence occupies. To assert that a sentence is true (‘Snow is white’ : that is true) is simply to assert or reassert that sentence (Snow is white); it is not to ascribe the property of truth to that sentence. Thus the prosentential theory is a kind of deflationary theory of truth.
Now most uses of pronouns are “lazy” – the antecedents of the pronouns ( Mary) could have easily been used instead of the pronouns. Likewise the use of ‘it is true’ or ‘that is true’ stand in for something that has already been said in the context (‘Snow is white’). Assertions of truth are thus “lazy” in the sense that they do not assert anything new, they have no content of their own. Whatever content they have is inherited from their antecedent.
But pronouns have also another use: one of generalizing with respect to names, so ‘it is true’ tends to be used in a similar way for generalization with respect to sentences. This shows that the use of the truth-predicate is not redundant but useful in many cases.
An important claim of the prosentential theory about the truth predicate is that it is not used to ascribe a substantive property to propositions and sentences. The truth-predication, e.g. ‘That is true’, is not – as many theories of truth assume – about its antecedent sentence (‘Snow is white’). The prosentential account is that ‘that is true’ does not say anything about its antecedent sentence (‘Snow is white’) but says something about an extralinguistic subject (Snow). The truth-predicate is not used to say something about sentences or propositions. It is used to say something about the world. The truth predicate serves to point through the sentence to reality. Likewise in using the pronoun “she” for “Mary”, the antecedent of “she” is not the word “Mary” but the reality of Mary. In this lies an important difference between the prosentential account and the other deflationary theories that represent ‘true’ as a purely linguistic or metalinguistic predicate. Prosentential truth predicate keeps reference to extralinguistic matters. It is therefore neutral in respect to many philosophical questions about meaning, realism, and other “big” philosophical issues. The prosentential theory is thus compatible with metaphysical realism and in that it differs from classical deflationary theories of truth.
* Grover, Dorothy, The Prosentential Theory, in Lynch, M. The Nature of truth, Bradford Book, Cambridge, Massachussets, 2001 p.506-526
(French writer and journalist, b. 1944)
Guillebaud’s thesis is that humanity cannot sustain itself without belief and that the force of conviction is constitutive of the human essence. As a matter of fact, everything is a matter of belief, he claims, and not only in religion. The world today seems to err between credulity and cynicism, intolerant fanaticism and generalized skepticism. Something seems to have broken down in the human capability of holding reasonable convictions. The time has come to restore strong convictions that fiercely keep themselves away from all forms of sectarianism and skepticism and remain open to other beliefs than one’s own. A kind of madness seems to be linked to all forms of belief, even in the field of science, economics, politics and the media. Thus the great question today turns around belief and its various pathological forms. In all fields – not only religions –people have to learn again to distinguish blind beliefs from reasonable beliefs. While forcefully denouncing the pathological forms of belief found in profusion today, Guillebaud maintains that man cannot live without basic beliefs because they are an invariant anthropological necessity. Besides, far from being only an individual need, the believing attitude is a relational affair. One never believes alone because believing includes trusting and thus a relation to the other. Skepticism, which is another rule of the day, rejects all believing attitudes; for it takes reason and belief to be antagonistic. But Guillebaud maintains that reason without belief does not bring about meaning and belief without reason becomes superstitious. They need each other. Belief is not the conclusion of reasoning because the heart has its reason that reason does not know. Belief is necessary but it is also dangerous because the risk of becoming intoxicated with itself is always lurking about. This occurs when believers opt for dogma rather than for reasonable convictions. Believers are potential fanatics. In short, Guillebaud urges people in all fields of life to hold reasonable convictions while distancing themselves from blind credulity and universal skepticism.
* Guillebaud, Jean-Clause : La force de conviction, Paris, Seuil, Août 2005
(American author and social critic, b.1941)
The Christian rock-like view of truth
"What is truth?" someone will ask. Let me answer straightforwardly. In the biblical view, truth is that which is ultimately, finally, and absolutely real, or the "way it is," and therefore is utterly trustworthy and dependable, being grounded and anchored in God's own reality and truthfulness. But this stress on the personal foundation of truth is not - as in postmodernism - at the expense of the propositional. Both accuracy and authenticity are important to truth.
If in our ordinary speech, telling the truth is "telling it like it is," we can say that a statement, an idea, or a belief is true if what it is about is as it is presented in the statement. Belief in something doesn't make it true; only truth makes a belief true
Biblical faith has a robust view of truth. All truth is God's truth and is true everywhere, for everyone, under all conditions. Truth is true in the sense that it is objective and independent of the mind of any human knower. Being true, it cannot contradict itself.
Human beliefs and truth-claims, in contrast, may be relative because we humans are finite. Therefore all beliefs are partial and provisional. But truth - guaranteed by God - is quite different. Created by God, not us, it is partly discovered and partly disclosed. It is singular ("truth"), not plural ("truths"); certain, not doubtful; absolute and unconditional, not relative; and grounded in God's infinite knowing, not in our tiny capacity to know anything.
With such a rock-like view of truth, the Christian faith is not true because it works; it works because it is true. It is not true because we experience it; we experience it - deeply and gloriously - because it is true. It is not simply "true for us"; it is true for any who seek in order to find, because truth is true even if nobody believes it and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it. That is why truth does not yield to opinion, fashion, numbers, office, or sincerity - it is simply true and that is the end of it. It is one of the Permanent Things. All that and a great deal more hangs on the issue of truth, even though this is only the lesser argument for truth.
*Guinness, Os (2000), Time for Truth: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype and Spin, Baker . ISBN: 9780851119786, 144 pages, Paperback
(French philosopher, 1901-1999)
The “art” of communicating the truth in charity
Reason as well as truth which is its proper object is a common good of humanity. A truth once discovered is like a light destined to illuminate the surrounding and not be kept under the bushel. He who has found a truth is thereby endowed with the commission of sharing it with others.
But how can this be done? If the commission is imperative, the transmission of the truth to other beings, who are as free as we are, is difficult. Still Guitton’s claim is that if the task of communicating the truth to others is demanding, it is also much profitable and beneficial to truth itself. For two reasons: first, it forces us to study and defend it in a better way when confronted with other views; second, it compels us to discern it from its envelopes and formulations.
1. When we discover some truth, it seems to us that this truth must impose itself on others with the same evidence. We are tempted to neglect the work that would make explicit our reasons to accept this truth. Our duty in charity is to present the truth in all its compelling force that comes from the reasons and testimonies that found it.
Moreover it is often in as much as we have not studied vital questions in depth that we are inclined to radical negations and intolerant attitudes. The root of intolerance is ignorance. The perfect knowlege of a particular truth (for instance in geometry) gives right to its holder to be intransigent. Intransigence results from the assurance of the mind about truth. But intolerance has totally different roots, being “the intransigence of the ignorant”.
2. We always apprehend the real in our way which is human and finite. We are bound to think in logical categories and words. We belong to a tradition and to a particular socio-historical situation. Our manner to conceive and expose what we think to be true may shock minds formed by other traditions. What can preserve us from the danger of exposing the truth from our own narrow perspective? He who wants to communicate truth in charity must discern carefully between the real and the notional, the truth and its language. The first duty of charity is the critical discernment of the truth from its envelopes, the necessary essential core from the accidental coating.
The communication of truth in charity implies also the respect of consciences. A certain “art” is necessary in the presentation of the truth. This art consists in saying only what must be said, when it is opportune to say it and according to the capacity of minds to receive it. There are cases when the duty to respect immature consciences leads us to apparent infidelities towards the truth itself. It is only in the silence of laboratories and in the exchanges between specialists and theologians that certain truths can find their full expression. It is a fact of experience that a new truth or the new expression of an old truth cannot be easily accepted by the people at large without a slow assimilation. At the time of Galileo, the scientific truth of heliocentrism could not be understood by the masses without overthrowing the religious truth of the Incarnation. The prejudiced minds of the people – including the theologians of the Holy Office - were not yet ready for such novelties.
* Guitton, Jean, La Pensée Moderne et le Catholicisme, Editions provencales, Aix, 1938, p.17-34; Difficultés de Croire, Paris Plon, chap. V
No Religions Are True
No religion provides hard evidence to validate itself universally. All religions are based upon faith, therefore, what one person calls truth, another calls nonsense. But who ever really knows which path leads to the truth?
However, some provide the answer to this dilemma by declaring that there is only one true religion, created by a transcendent source, leaving all others false and man-made. Yet, there are a few things which contradict this statement. First, if there was only one true religion, there would be solid, undeniable evidence confirming this truth universally, since this is not the case, it is safe to assume that this statement is invalid. Accepting the idea that no one religion is true, people tend to move towards the idea that there is one religion that is truest, while few others posses some truth. This statement is inconsistent, because saying that there is one religion that is truest, and others that posses partial truth, is essentially saying that all religions are true; that they all posses some degree of truth, but none posses the full truth, which is a very conflicting and complicated idea in itself. If all religions are partially true, then they are partially false as well, which makes them all false, yet true. It is less than logical to declare all religions partially true, but one religion as truest because that is simply too uncertain. Furthermore, Religions are not ranked by the varying degrees of truth they hold, because it's impossible for that to be determined. A religion is either true, or not true.
Some believe that all religions are true, that all paths lead to the same place, but this idea is such a contradictory one that it will never be proven true. There are simply too many religions that each have such diverse and conflicting beliefs that if this statement was true, the entire world would be one big paradox, unable to hold an ounce of solid truth. ..
*See Internet Guntyre.
( Contemporary Trinidad & Tobago “Christian”writer )
The Bible is not the Truth. Only Jesus is the Truth.
Those who are led by the Bible and the commandments within the bible are not Christians, they are not 'in Christ'. They are under law, commandments, canons and scriptures (which killeth). They are not under Grace and being in Christ is not for them.
Those in Christ are under the Spirit. They are totally different people. They are the new people. They are the flock of Paul. This is the Spirit which was promised by God to Abraham. And like Abraham, those in Christ will be required to routinely transgress the Ten Commandments and all other ideals or laws of society, morality and religiosity, in order to obey the mind of the Spirit which conforms to the will of God.
The Bible is simply good news. It is simply the good news about how to get onto Truth/Jesus. The Bible is not the Truth. Only Jesus is the Truth. Getting to Truth/Jesus is achieved only, directly and intuitively, from the living Jesus, from His living Spirit through our own spirit. This has nothing to do with physical things, like the Bible. Jesus never could and never did deliver Truth in physically spoken or physically written words. Truth is never deliver in that manner.
The very great majority of Christians are saying and promoting that the scriptures are Truth. This means that the very great majority of people in what passes for Christianity have been blaspheming the Spirit. Is it any wonder why many are called and few chosen?
What passes for Christianity can be called Traditional Christianity. It is not Christianity at all. It is simply chuck filled with leaders who are false prophets who came in Jesus' name and they are misguiding many. The result of this is, as Jesus' prophesied, many are called (to Christianity) but few chosen. The very great majority of those called (i.e. all but a few) do not get Truth, err and do not make it. The billions of people in traditional Christianity are under laws, commandments, canons and the written scriptures. They are not under Grace and being in Christ is not for them..
*See Internet Gurucam
(Peruvian liberation theologian, b.1928)
The ‘liberation’ theology’s conception of truth
In the face of suffering and adversity identified in Peru, Gutierrez, one of the promoters of ‘liberation theology’, questions the traditional concept of theology. He sees traditional theology as a disconnected exercise of the intellect, and to him it makes no sense to ascribe authority to a system appearing so abstract. A path needs to be carved which is to get the Church to have a hand in the struggle to supersede the Capitalist system with a more equitable and Bible-focused social-economic order. Genuine theology is not just a reflection on truth, or a philosophy, but more radically it is a way to live. This is what Gutierrez refers to as praxis. This leads him to redefine theology as a reflection on praxis in light of the Word of God: to be committed to the poor in real situation, and to identify with them and take action on their behalf.
Theology and praxis far from being distinct actually form a symbiotic and determinative relation on the other. Christian praxis without theology ceases to be Christian praxis and, likewise, theology without Christian praxis ceases to be theology, that is, an (active) explication of the divine will. This in turn has a direct effect on liberation theology’s conception of truth. Truth is no longer a mere metaphysical concept to which our beliefs may or may not correspond. Instead, after the model of the incarnation, truth aspires to becoming enfleshed (John 14:6) and theology does not merely reflect upon the world “but rather attempts to be part of the process through which the world is transformed”.
Gutierrez defines theology as "critical reflection on historical praxis." Doing theology requires the theologian to be immersed in his or her own intellectual and sociopolitical history. Theology is not a system of timeless truths, engaging the theologian in the repetitious process of systematization and apologetic argumentation. Theology is a dynamic, ongoing exercise involving contemporary insights into knowledge (epistemology), man (anthropology), and history (social analysis). "Praxis" means more than the application of theological truth to a given situation. It means the discovery and the formation of theological truth out of a given historical situation through personal participation in the class struggle for a new socialist society. The theologian must therefore be immersed in the struggle for transforming society and proclaim his message from that point. In the theological process, then, praxis must always be the first stage; theology is the second stage. Theologians are not to be mere theoreticians, but practitioners who participate in the ongoing struggle to liberate the oppressed.
*Gustavo Gutiérrez, Liberation Theology: A Documentary History , Maryknoll NY: Orbis, 1990
(French philosopher, 1854-1888)
The untruth of dogmatic religions
Guyau presents a study of the evolution of religion from a sociological point of view, but it is primarily the decay of dogma and ecclesiasticism which he intends to indicate by the title of his book: The Non-religion of the Future.
He considers every positive and historical religion to present three distinct and essential elements: 1. An attempt at a mythical and non-scientific explanation of natural phenomena and historical facts, 2. A system of dogmas forcibly imposed upon one's faith as absolute verities, even though they are susceptible to no scientific demonstration or philosophical justification, 3. A cult and a system of rites or of worship, looked upon as possessing a propitiatory virtue. By these three different and really organic elements, religion is clearly marked off from philosophy.
The decay of the dogmatic religions , specially catholicism, is inevitable. There must follow the non-religion of the future, which may well preserve, Guyau points out, all that is pure in the religious sentiment and carry with it an admiration for the cosmos and for the infinite powers which are there displayed. Hence it appears that "non-religion" which is for Guyau simply "the negation of all dogma, of all traditional and supernatural authority, of all revelation, of all miracle, of all myth, of all rite erected into a duty," is most certainly not a synonym for irreligion or impiety, nor does it involve any contempt for the moral and metaphysical doctrines expressed by the ancient religions of the world.
Guyau points out that there exists in the bosom of every great religion a dissolving force: the absolute right of private judgment, the free factor of the personal conscience, which no external authority can succeed, ultimately, in coercing or silencing. He points out that in modern times some kind of reconciliation has been effected by a subtle process which, while maintaining the traditional dogmas and phrases, evolves a new interpretation of them sufficiently modern to harmonize a little more with the advance in thought, but which presents a false appearance of stability and consistency, disguising the real change of meaning, of view-point and of doctrine. Of this effort the most notable instance is that of the "Modernists" in France and Italy, and the Liberal Christians in England and America.
Guyau claims that these newer interpretations, subtle and useful as they are, and frequently the assertions of minds who desire sincerely to adapt the ancient traditions to modern needs, are in themselves hypocritical, and the Church in a sense does right to oppose them. Guyau cannot see any satisfactoriness in these compromises and adaptations which in a sense betray the old teaching, and do not satisfy the demands of modern thought.
*Guyau, L’Irréligion de l'avenir. 1886, engl. The Non-religion of the future, New York 1962