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What is Truth? Some Observations

Updated on October 28, 2014
Thinker. Represents the view the ancient Greeks had to understanding life through truth whatever the cost.
Thinker. Represents the view the ancient Greeks had to understanding life through truth whatever the cost. | Source

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.

Black Magnifier glass on white
Black Magnifier glass on white | Source

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

Do you believe truth in religion,politics, and science needs to prevail

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    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      rajan, thanks for reading and commenting.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting. Voted up.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Yes,there is.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      yes. Very true indeed. And there's always more to learn

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      True. Actually I think the more we know the more we become aware of how much we do not know.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      ya, but not everyone can admit it :-)

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for the comment. We are all ignorant to some degree.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      yes. I have no problem pleading ignorance

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      PFXKaraokeGuy, The trick is to know when you don't know.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Dah, I'm aware of anyone who claims to know anything :-)

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thomas Ryder,

      Thank you for commenting and for the compliment.I agree with your analysis.I don't think,at this time, that we have to find Truth but that we be seriously seeking it.

    • profile image

      ThomasRydder 

      6 years ago

      Good afternoon...well written and thought provoking!! I believe that in today's world the concern has swung away from "what is truth?" to "does anyone really care what truth is?". To put it more succinctly, we have entered an age where folks would rather glance at an issue, haphazardly choose one side, and then hold protests in the name of that cause or belief. That's a great way to swell the ranks with mindless bodies, but hardly the way to discover "truth". There are many examples (Christianity vs. Evolution being the pack leader) that will never be resolved, for obvious reasons. The importance isn't which one you believe-it's your reasons FOR believing.

      You are a splendid writer...bravo!! :)TR

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      PDXKareokeguy,Truth seeking is a constant quest. Generally be wary of those who think they know it.Thanks for commenting.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Indeed. The quest for truth is a long and arduous one, and one which will never be satisfied during our lifetimes!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      PDXKareokeguy,That statement you mention is an operating principle for me. I forget who said it but it was some theologian,I believe, in the catholic church that said that if there is a disagreement between religion and science, and only one of them can be right than both must reexamine what they believe until they can agree on the same truth.Not an exact quotation, but one I believe in. thanks for commenting.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      great article, Dah. This line was great: "I believe that it is a moral and intellectual responsibility to be seeking truth. " I think a lot of people equate searching for the truth as a lack of faith but I think, if God gave us the ability to think and reason and we don't use it, then we are wasting and disrespecting what God gave us. Voted up interesting and awesome.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi bethperry, thank you for the great comment.I am afraid that many people have no concept of"truth" in this day and age.

    • bethperry profile image

      Beth Perry 

      6 years ago from Tennesee

      I find this an excellent commentary piece; perhaps I am prejudiced because you echo some of my own sentiments. But nevertheless, fantastic writing. And you quoted W.Somerset Mangham, one of my very favorite authors!

      Cheers :)

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      BK37,

      Thanks for adding your views to the hub.

    • profile image

      bk37 

      6 years ago

      Newton was never considered settled. He himself was very troubled by his own concept of an absolute coordinate system for space. But accelerated motion appeared to be referred to it and he tentatively adopted it. Even then, uniform motion was known to be purely relative and to have no absolute measure. This frame of mind also troubled and motivated Einstein even though Newton's theory precisely accounted for nearly all of the observable universe. Einstein is no longer unsettling and if his theory is unsettled, he still will, as did Newton, provide a vast number of verifiable answers to difficult questions.

      Global warming is not a theory, but a postulate based on the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and the fact that every ton of carbon we burn makes 3.7 tons of it. It is wise to be very concerned.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Storyteller,

      It does not sound like we are too far apart.What confuses people about English is that words have so many different meanings.Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 

      6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      True, and now Einstein is unsettled! Good point.

      I thought a lot about this as I walked the dogs yesterday afternoon. I came to the conclusion that I have a problem comparing the words science and faith, because they are not the same type of thing. Science and religion are connected; they are both ways of explaining our existence. Sometimes I think Science IS a religion. So having some practitioner who is not "of the faithful" means there is a disconnect between his/her interpretation of "the system." It's like going to an expert Hindu practitioner for information on Islam. It does not make sense.

      Faith to me is an action word. It is deeper than facts or feelings. It is a deep seated consciousness that invests itself in believing... something. I have faith in my children. I have faith in God. Even if there is no proof, (which seems a requirement for truth with a small t) I believe in these things. To me, faith points to a greater Truth.

      And now I am done with all I considered yesterday as I walked my Pup Pup. Hugs!

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Storyteller.

      I don't believe that I have connected global warming to religious faith except to the extent that I think the Al Gore followers are much like a religious cult.However, I do use the word faith in the sense of belief, not in the sense of religious belief. You, for example, have faith in your uncle. Most of us do not know very many if any scientists.What I might argue for is objectivity in the press and politics.

      Generally reporters do not know much about science or business for that matter.Drastic political policies are pushed on us by politicians who are not scientists and often have vested interests. Al Gore has made a fortune off of global warming.

      It really should be up to the scientist to sort it out and let the public know what the facts are.

      If I wrote in such a way as to make you think I was calling on religion for a view of global warming, I did not mean to do so. I meant faith in the press or whatever sources they get there information from. Very few people read scientific journals or have the background to understand them.

      We should look to Theologians for information on religious beliefs and even then to approach with a critical mind. With Science we look to scientists but there too blind faith is not appropriate.

      Faith, in the religious sense, should be seeking truth. Science too should be seeking truth. One reason I suspected Al Gor and friends is the constant saying the "science is settled" which to me is like "because I said so." science is never "settled". Newton was considered settled until Einstein came along.

      Anyhow, thanks for commenting.

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 

      6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      da, I love the quotes! And the subject matter.

      I think it is inaccurate to connect science and religion when it comes to global warming, which is like evolution- it is based on study of physical information. The scientists who argue against it are generally those who are faith-based, not those who are actually using the tools of science. I share this because I have listened to many legitimate scientists discuss this, including my uncle, a renowned physicist. I asked him once about the argument scientists make that global warming is not man made and he was astonished. Which scientists, he asked. He then rolled his eyes and dissed my list. Faith and science only interact when it comes to proving there is or isn't a God, in my opinion. We can ignore the reality of a God until we get to the very beginning of all things. Then no one can answer the question, who created the first cell.

      Anyway, I see this in politics all the time- the dismissal of truth in the name of faith. Faith is too often used as a means to shut down arguments. My mother in law does it all the time, "It's a matter of faith," she says. This is simply wrong and is too often used against people. Faith that God created us is one thing. Faith that God makes people homeless is another.

      Science and Faith have their place, but they don't always inform the other.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      presarieo,

      Thankl you for reading my hub and leaving a comment. You are right, I think all religions teach about Truth. However, they do not all agree on what is the truth.The political attacks in the United States about the Mormon beliefs of one of our presidential candidates. Others attack the believes of the other candidates.But I am concerned in areas other than religion as well, such as the meaning of some of our laws.The main thing is not finding Truth but in having open minds willing to seek it.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. I am glad to know the "truth" version from you in several sides. But I believe that all religions taught about truth. Thanks for share with us. Well done, brother. Rated up!

      Prasetio

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Lyricwriter,

      Yes faith is believing what we cannot know for certain. However, that does not eliminate seeking for the truth.Sometimes though, one has to believe what is reasonably.I spent much time in conflict back in college between evolution (not Darwinism) and the Bible.The Catholic church, of which I am a member, at that time held that one had to believe in a soul being created in humans at some time. The physical body was open to theory, such as evolution.The church is more firmly of this view now.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      6 years ago from West Virginia

      A very interesting article dahoglund. We will be lucky if we ever prove one over the other in regards to religion and natural creation. Every day that passes, new theories and test are being conducted to prove one over the other. I ask, isn't faith to believe without seeing? These are popular topics at this point in time, especially with the 2012 event kept in mind. Eye sight is not the only sense we have. Very good topic and well written there friend. Votes up and take care.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Mr. Smith,

      I have in mind the deeper Truths which philosophers have sought.What is the true nature of god, why are we in this world etc.Also the scientific truths. we may not be able to find these truths but I think we should be seeking them.

    • Mr. Smith profile image

      Mr. Smith 

      6 years ago from California

      Truth is so hard for humans to grasp. I think you're right when you say an open mind is necessary. Because truth is not always 'desirable', it is not always what we have in mind when we say "tell me the truth..."

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Dexter,

      Thanks for your comment. I certainly hope that people do think about it and consider the value of it.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy W

      Thanks for your votes and comments.The search for truth seems to have given way to trying to push onew own point of view on everyone and uwing political power to do it(politics being any organization that has power)I am disillusioned with professionals I used to trust-doctors,scientists, political leaders and business leaders.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      6 years ago from United States

      Hi Dahoglund! You have certainly given me something to think about.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      You have nailed this head on! An old expression that probably came from carpentry, meaning (for those who may not know) I think that what you have written is absolutely correct. Well said!

      One cannot dispute the fact that most all religions think that theirs is the one "true" way.

      Definite evidence from noted scientists on both sides of the global warming issue.

      Definite evidence exists that over time evolutionary effects have taken place in plants and some animals changing to adapt to the environment over time. I don't think that one species of animal has ever changed into another, however. Of course, that is only based upon my current knowledge. I do think that there is certainly room for spirituality in this, i.e., a Higher Being having had a hand in creation. (Certainly all of the world religions are based on that belief.)

      Up all across the board except for funny.

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      TheManWithNoPants

      Jim, you are welcome back anytime. The subject may be a bit academic but truth seeking seems to be somewhat lost now days.

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image

      TheManWithNoPants 

      6 years ago from Tucson, Az.

      dahoglund,

      Very well laid out. I really enjoyed this. I'm going to return I think. I have something to say on this subject, but no time to get into it right at this minute. Book marked!

      jim

    • dahoglund profile imageAUTHOR

      Don A. Hoglund 

      6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      An open mind is always necessary in finding truth.Even those things we thought were absolute are change by new theories and findings. The general theory of relativity has changed much thinking about physics.I appreciate your reading and adding your thoughts.

    • thebeast02 profile image

      thebeast02 

      6 years ago from Louisiana

      I think that people who hate the other side simply because of the conflicting opinion simply pollute the process. I agree that objectivity should be a requirement regardless of which side of the fence you find yourself on, in any argument. If you can't keep an open mind and listen to the other sides' theory, then you have already lost.

      For example, in the evolution issue that you mentioned, I believe that "most" scientists would agree that they cannot rule out any divine intervention, yet we have limited proof that there has been any. We simply don't know. Until we find something concrete that can, without a reasonable doubt, prove one or the other we must keep an open mind.

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