We live in turbulent times. Politically, accusations of lies are thrown in both directions. A new term has entered our lexicon to capture this idea: Fake News. Everyone seems to bemoan the lack of truth in our conversation.
We want truth, from our politicians, from corporations, from family members. But can we recognize truth when we are exposed to it?
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What is truth?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What is one thing you feel the need to do every day?’
It has gotten to the point that two different people can observe the same event, and have different beliefs about what occurred. How can these two viewpoints be reconciled? Is one “true” and the other “false”? Or are they both some combination of true and false? And if so, how can you hope to convince each that the other is right, at least a little bit?
We live in a complicated world, and making sense of it with information coming from a variety of different sources is a new challenge, unique to this era. Before we are able to separate out a factual statement from a lie, we have to know what “truth” is, how to recognize and evaluate it, and how to store and share it with others.
Does truth depend on what you already believe? Is it relative, or absolute? What is truth?
Related questions: How do you know who to trust? When is a lie justified? How much of our thoughts are our own? What is necessary to change your mind? When is doubt helpful? What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?
7 thoughts on “What Is Truth?”
I believe there is an objective truth; there is a reality. It’s human perception that is limited. We all suffer from and/or purposefully decide how we want to look at the world. Our lenses — intentional or not — see reality in a particular way and/or light.
Individually, the best we can do is to recognize that we have our limited viewpoints. We each see reality in ways that are through lenses we’ve been saddled with (e.g from our upbringing) or have willfully put on (e.g. I primarily and purposefully see world problems through an economic justice viewpoint).
I believe we can individually see reality differently in at least two ways. First, a major life event may jolt our perspective, or (less life-altering) we can listen to those we talk to to truly understand their version of reality before we try to have our own view understood.
Collectively, I believe the objective truth is sought through science — testing and challenging a dominant way of understanding the world or universe. Two examples: science has taught us that the world is not flat and human-induced climate change is real.
I also believe there are some moral truths, that everyone has some basic human rights (e.g. we each have the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to an education, the right to be free from discrimination, etc.). While I am not well-versed on all these universal rights, it is likely the best and most comprehensive of these rights/moral truths are articulated in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I don’t have an answer, but I have a soundtrack. 🙂
Ben, I can’t tell you how much I love your — and Johnny’s — response.
The truth can be proven through evidence. As Michael said, science has proved that climate change is a reality, true. Though, I do not have absolute faith in scientists themselves as they can be biased by what they believe, scientific method, if practiced impartially, is reliable.
I think truth is absolute, but since we cannot know everything we
base what we believe to be true on what we currently know. It is up to us to be willing to change what we believe when new evidence is discovered.
It may sound simplistic, but I believe truth is whatever we believe it to be. Something might be truth to me and me and not to you, so that is the only answer that makes sense to me.
Do you mean “truth” that applies to everyone everywhere? Like the laws of physics. Because I think that truth can be many things varying in importance. For instance, it is true that I had peas for lunch today, but that is a truth that only matters to me. Those are the extremes. Then there is everything in between, things that are meaningful only to a particular group or in certain places. Things that are important for a short while or things important for a long while or forever.
Seems to me that often the answer to your questions in this blog is Jesus. “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life.” – John 14:6. Jesus is my role model, my happiness and joy. He is my Lord, God, Brother, and Friend. Now may my actions match my words.