Said Pontius Pilate in the presence of Jesus Christ, “What is truth?”
If truth exists, we can’t alter it. If we don’t believe in something that is true, it remains just as true as it would be if we believed in it wholeheartedly. Many people don’t believe what I just wrote.
There are nearly seven billion people in the world today. Each has a unique perspective and personality. Each views and understands their world differently. Does this mean that there are billions of truths?
Ten people examine a purple ball. Each will see the ball in a slightly different way. Each may also experience a unique emotional response. Does this change the ball? Many would argue that it does.
Truth is a dangerous thing to boldly proclaim. In fact, the only thing more dangerous is the denial of it. Lies have killed many. Truth has killed the rest. Lies protect the mortal from the truth of death. Truth protects the mortal from the cost of lies. And the thing is, no matter how elaborately dressed we are in comforting lies, the truth is always there to strip us bare.
What truth can we all agree on? How about, 2+2=4? Or, the sun rises in the morning? Well, what if someone disagreed with these and they had a really good explanation? Dave, you see, the sun doesn’t actually rise in the morning since it is the Earth that is rotating. It appears to us that it rises, and to us it is true that it does this in the morning, but the greater truth is that it remains relatively stationary while the Earth spins around and around. And, about this 2+2 business, these numbers exist as part of a man-made system. The numbers only have meaning because people gave them meaning. Really, they are just like words. The difference between scribbles and letters is meaning. And meaning comes from us. Not some grand truth.
Things that appear as simple truth can be broken down until the truth is skewed and complicated. There was an ancient philosopher named Zeno. Zeno is famous for developing a number of paradoxes. There is one in which Achilles and a tortoise have a foot race, and Zeno shows that Achilles cannot win if the tortoise has a head start. Every time Achilles reaches the point that the turtle was at, the turtle has moved ahead. It’s weird. But the one I want to look at involves an arrow. Imagine that there is an arrow being shot at a target. Now, consider that the arrow must first travel halfway between the starting point and the target in order to move. And before it reaches that point it must first reach the halfway point between the start and the halfway point. (Read that again) This is reduced many times to show that the arrow is in fact motionless. Of course, Zeno knew and we know that this isn’t the case, but his paradox reveals how absurd conclusions can be reached when truth is inserted into a system of understanding.
Many of us are ready to accept certain things as truth. We accept that our bodies require food in order to survive. We accept that red blood cells carry oxygen. We accept that the sun can blind us if we stare into it. But what about the things you can’t see or touch? What about beliefs? What about things like faith, hope, and love? Does some ultimate truth contain these things as well?
I have heard it said more than once, “I’m not going to hell because I don’t believe it exists.” I’m not going to preach fire and brimstone (at least not now). Instead, I want you to really look at that statement. What’s implied is that belief supersedes truth. Belief takes the place of truth. By not believing in something, it no longer exists. If I knew this as a kid I would have told my parents, “I’m not going to school because I don’t believe in it.” And this also works the other way. Someone might say, “I’m going to Heaven because I believe in it.” Just as you’ve given yourself the power to destroy truth through belief, you also give yourself the power to create it. The power to create and destroy worlds is at the disposal of those who believe in relative truth, or a truth determined by the beliefs of the individual.
The thing about truth is that it tends to lead to God. If I were working to remove God from my thoughts and conscience, I would probably start with my philosophy on truth. To accept that there is no ultimate truth in the universe, which seems to be the current trend, does wonders for a guilty conscience. It removes the threat of eternal consequence for opposing the truth. It seems tolerant and non-judgmental. It appears to free the heart and mind to choose its own path. This reminds me of something…
” Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:1-10)
I was naked; so I hid.
What are the gods of truth wearing?