What is Truth? Some Observations
Believe those who are seeking truth. Doubt those who find it.
Andre Gide (1869-1951)
I believe that it is a moral and intellectual responsibility to be seeking truth. However the concept is misunderstood. For example, there are many religions around all of whom, I assume, claim to be the true religion. Yet, can they all be true when they often have conflicting claims? In all probability none can really prove theirs is the true religion, therefore the members must accept the claims as a matter of faith or belief.
The same can be true of science, which is based on propositions that may or may not be true. The true scientist must keep an open mind and say that he or she believes this to be true based on the knowledge and tools at their disposal but someone else may come and prove the proposition wrong. Again, even the scientist is working with a degree of faith.
In our current society we have several propositions which claim to be true but are really matters of faith.
1. My first example is the current attack on the beliefs of the Mormon Church. I personally do not believe the tenets of this religion but that is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the members of the church believe it true. Since the constitution of the United States does not allow for a test of religious faith, the truth of the Mormon faith is only relevant to Mormons.
2. The concept of manmade global warming or climate change is a matter of faith claiming to be a matter of science. Granted there is legitimate scientist involved in the study of climate change but they get lost in the politics, which are more, a matter of faith. Where is the truth in this? Those who are true believers claim that those who doubt them are anti-science. However, I would contend that they are more anti-science than the doubters are. Science has the “Scientific Method” to pursue truth. Which requires a firm hypothesis, that is a clear, concise statement of the problem. The hypothesis is then observed and tested. It is not scientific to ignore evidence that one does not like. It seems that when there is evidence that challenges the global climate change theory, they change the hypothesis to fit the result they want.
3. Evolution is another case of truth giving way to beliefs. Both sides are guilty of not being objective. Those who push for a blessing on humans being the result of an evolutionary process do not want to recognize the possibilities of a spiritual element involved. Those on the other side often do not want to recognize the observations of the age of the earth and the time humans have been on the earth. In my opinion, I think there is room for both. Evolution helps explain how the physical bodies of humans and animals developed. The Bible and other beliefs help explain how the spiritual being of humans came to be. The Catholic Church has recognized an approach along these lines.
There cannot, of coarse, be two conflicting truths. Usually one is true and the other false. However, if people are intellectually honest they will recognize when there are flaws in their theories and try to reconcile the views. Logically if ones premise is challenged with facts than it is necessary to more or less start over and reevaluate your theory.
· Say not, ‘I have found the truth, but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’ Kabil Gibran (1883-1931)
· Turns out if you never lie, there’s always someone mad at you. Scott Wethersfield
· The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth. W.Somerset Mangham (1874-1965) The Comedy ofErrors Act III