Many moons ago I posted on the concept of truth, and specifically on Focus on the Family’s “Truth Project.” Now Earl has gone and brought up the subject again, albeit from a different angle. Keep in mind that he is writing to the evangelical community with which he has experience. He and I are good friends. Now I’m going to take a few moments and point out why I think Earl’s three absolutes of truth are not, in fact, absolute. Keep in mind that, for the most part, I agree with what Earl is getting at (that is, Christians ought to stop assuming that the world should work according to what the Bible defines as right. Now, how Christians should act is a completely different matter). Onto the three absolutes of truth.
1. Truth is self-evident.
A line right out of the Declaration of Independance – so unlike you Earl! I’d like to believe that all truth is self-evident, but I’m unable to really get on board with that. I think it works – to a point. I realize that you’re working specifically within the frame work of religion and philosophy, but if I can bring in science for a moment I think I’ll make my point quite clearly. The way in which bacteria evolve is not self-evident. To be sure, you could observe it with a microscope, but without some kind of education you would not understand what you are seeing. You couldn’t pluck up a peasant from 1456 and plop him down in front of a microscope and expect him to understand what he was seeing. Yet, clearly, bacteria exist and evolve. Bringing it back around to religion, the idea of a single-God may seem self-evident to us today in the West (as evidenced by the three major religions), but is hardly as self-evident in other circles, or in the past. So, I think ultimately that some truth’s are self-evident (Murder is bad, for instance) but others are less self-evident (how many gods? A God at all?).
2. Truth is self-manifesting
I’m not really sure I understand your point with this one.
3. Truth is indisputable
To be honest, I’m surprised this was your third one. People all over the place dispute all kinds of things that are “true.” Take the fact that, basically, the entire conservative Christian community disputes evolution. Now, it might be nice to think that things are indisputable, but that isn’t always the case. We might say that evolution isn’t actually disputed, and that those who do dispute it are silly, but what about another example? What about the person who says that stealing in all circumstances is wrong. But then I person comes along and says that stealing from the rich to help the poor is fine. A third person comes along and says that neither of those are quite right, its only okay to steal to save someone’s life. Which truth is true? The fact that truth is disputable is why we have multiple religions, and multiple factions within those religions. There may be a bare minimum, a lowest common denominator, of truth that is shared across all religions, but that’s certainly not shared or at least not shared without disputation between religious people and non-religious people.
In the end, I think that we may be talking about something entirely different from truth. I’d like to say we’re talking about right and wrong. But I don’t know if those three things really apply to those either. So, I guess ultimately I’m not convinced that Earl’s three absolutes hold water.