24 December 2015

Hard Questions—What is the difference between objective and subjective truth?

What is the difference between objective and subjective truth?

hard questions

The article below is from my ongoing book on basic doctrine.

Truth (Basics)

A1 Defined

B1 Eyewitness: as in testimony

B2 Repeatable: as in math

B3 Consistent

B4 Legal: based on law, as in speed limit

B5 Faithfulness: as in true to a person or cause

B6 Fact vs. Opinion. This would be difference subjectively/objectively.

B7 Comment from IVPBBC--

The Greek concept of truth emphasized reality; the Old Testament word translated "truth" had more to do with integrity or faithfulness to one's word or character. Jewish thought characterized God as the Truth, so Jesus' hearers should realize that he refers specifically to God's truth in the Jewish sense. [Comment on John 8:32--The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener]

B8 The Hebrew, 'emeth, has to do with stability.

A2 Theories

B1 Objective: the description of an object is correct

C1 Correspondence theory: verifiable

D1 How a statement's truth or falsity corresponds to the world of reality.

D2 How thoughts and statements correspond to things and facts. [1]

D3 Examples:

E1 It is raining outside. Is it or isn't it?

E2 The dog ate the hot dog. Did the dog eat the hot dog or not?

D4 Difficulties

E1 God exists. Is this true or not?

E2 How can this be verified?

E3 Usually statements need to be checked as true or false have to be verifiable and repeatable.

B2 Subjective:

C1 Coherence Theory of Truth: not verifiable. This deals with how something lines up with subjective reality. Something may be true because it lines up with our belief system.

C2 Constructivist theory: truth is what society has struggled with and come to a conclusion. It is not based on any transcendent facts. "...perceptions of truth are viewed as contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. [2] Basically truth is whatever society says it is, thus changeable.

C3 Consensus theory: truth is whatever is agreed upon by a person or group. That group may be a group of one or the whole human race.

C4 Pragmatic theory: does a belief work; if it does, then it is truth. Thus some believe an idea must be tested by a group or individual. There is also negative pragmatic theory that holds that if it works may or may not be true, but it is for sure that if it fails, then it is NOT truth.

D1 Negative pragmatism: any statement can be true, but if it doesn't work (it fails), it has to be false.

B3 A flow chart concerning truth can be found here: http://www.truthdefined.com/7-TheoriesOfTruth.htm

C1 Truth cannot be known: nihilism

C2 Truth can be known

D1 Inflationary (substantive) theories: (truth can/may be defined)

E1 Correspondence: the idea that there is a "correspondence" between belief and reality.

F1 Need to define terms

F2 Examples:

G1 That leaf is green; need to define leaf and green.

G2 I love my wife; need to define love and wife.

G3 God exists; need to define God and exists.

E2 Coherence

F1 Defined: a statement must cohere (stick together) to other statements known to be truth

F2 Examples:

G1 "It is raining cats and dogs outside."

H1 True or false?

H2 How does it compare to commonly accepted truths.

I1 Is it wet outside?

I2 Are drops of water falling from the sky?

I3 Are cats and dogs falling from the clouds?

I4 Are other people standing here see the same?

G2 A common example

Coherence Theories are valuable because they help to reveal how we arrive at our truth claims, our knowledge. We continually work at fitting our beliefs together into a coherent system. For example, when a drunk driver says, "There are pink elephants dancing on the highway in front of us", we assess whether his assertion is true by considering what other beliefs we have already accepted as true, namely,

  • Elephants are gray.

  • This locale is not the habitat of elephants.

  • There is neither a zoo nor a circus anywhere nearby.

  • Severely intoxicated persons have been known to experience hallucinations.

But perhaps the most important reason for rejecting the drunk's claim is this:

  • Everyone else in the area claims not to see any pink elephants.

In short, the drunk's claim fails to cohere with a great many other claims that we believe and have good reason not to abandon. We, then, reject the drunk's claim as being false (and take away the car keys).

E3 Pragmatism

F1 Defined: If it works, then it is true. (Relativism).

F2 Post-modernism

F3 No absolutes except the absolute--there is no absolute truth

F4 Not practical as it is subjective and changeable.

F5 Is it falsifiable?

D2 Deflationary theories: (truth cannot or needs not to be defined)

E1 Redundancy: adding "it is true" to any statement. It is true that the dog is barking. It is true is not needed.

E2 Prosententialism: this deals with prosentences. A prosentence is a sentence that stands for something. "My dog is black, so I didn't see it at night." The word 'it' means the dog. If I say, "That's true," the sentence "that's true" is a prosentence.

E3 Disquotationism: removing quotations marks around statements. The statement "it is true," simply becomes it is true.

B4 Ways to know something [see 3]

C1 Empirical

D1 What sense organs (taste, smell, see, feel, hear, also instruments that may extend these as microphone, telescopes, microscopes, etc.)

D2 The senses may be wrong as in optical illusions, delusions, hallucinations, ventriloquists, etc.

D3 We may know our own stimulated senses but how do we know others?

C2 Rational

D1 Not what is sensed but what is arrived at by reason using mathematical proofs

D2 Descartes: I think, therefore I am. (also rationalists as Spinoza and Leibniz).

D3 Criticism:

E1 The world out "there." How does someone know the sun is shining.

E2 Reality would be different for different people. How do I someone else thinks?

C3 Mystical: a feeling or sense inside someone as premonition, burning in the bosom, tingling, "peace"

C4 Pragmatical: finding out what works

C5 Authority: because someone (an authority) says so. This is no more than "trust me" and is often manipulative.

B5 The Bible and Truth

C1 Words for truth

D1 "emet" H571 with the idea of stability, truth. This would be as a stable object that when pushed, blown on, tested is various ways proves unchangeable (unalterable) thus constant, lasting permanent. Stability includes the ideas of resistance to change. It comes from the root "aman" (TWOT entry 116). There is an idea of reality in what is said and done. God is truth.

D2 "aletheia" G225. It means not hidden or covered up. It is something out for all to see. "It denotes a reality that is firm, solid, binding, and hence true. With reference to persons it characterizes their action, speech, or thought, and suggests integrity." [4]

C2 How can we know that this sentence (Jesus is God) is true?

D1 All the above theories fail. God cannot be studied or analyzed.

D2 What direct proof would be adequate?

D3 Does circumstantial evidence adequate?

D4 Is there a difference is "proof" and "reasonably?"

E1 Proof: an absolute found in math and logic but not science.

E2 Reasonable: the preponderance of circumstantial evidence

B6 Only God can know and reveal truth, so whatever the Lord Jesus says and does is truth. That is the only measure of truth. In this sense logic, science, and math are not perfect.

C1 Can only true Christians know what is true or not?

C2 Is the phrase, "All truth is God's truth," true?

B7 Jesus--this is the only correct one. (Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. --John 14:6)

B8 Theory and how we live our lives

C1 Theory is interesting and philosophical but what about how we live our lives. People do not live their lives totally in the theoretical. Is it raining or not? Does God exist or not? Since God cannot be tested with the senses, we must find these out by what is most reasonable. This is a view to circumstantial evidence. The more circumstances there are, the more likely it is true.

A3 Contrasted

B1 Lie

C1 He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, ' Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.' " (He was lying to him.) (1 Kings 13:18)

C2 "Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. (Ezekiel 13:22)

C3 A faithful witness does not lie, But a false witness will utter lies. (Proverbs 14:5)

B2 Deceit

C1 My lips will not speak wickedness, Nor my tongue utter deceit. (Job 27:4)

C2 He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit. (Proverbs 12:17)

B3 Hypocrite

C1 The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? (Luke 13:15)

C2 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:28)

B4 Belief systems that fear the truth with uncomfortableness, exposure,

C1 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)

C2 That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the LORD; Who say to the seers, "Do not see," And to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel To cease from before us." Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: "Because you despise this word, And trust in oppression and perversity, And rely on them, (Isaiah 30:9-12)

A4 Importance

B1 Is freeing (And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." --John 8:32)

C1 No need to remember lies

C2 Confidence

C3 Safety

C4 From harm

C5 From deceit

C6 From false teaching

B2 Only known from the Bible (Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. --John 17:17)

C1 Holy Spirit is teacher

C2 Bible is the text book

C3 You and I are the students

C4 We only learn when we study

A5 Bible passages

B1 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, (Exodus 34:6). Thus the very character of God, what He does, what He says, and what He thinks is truth.

B2 And Micaiah said, "As the LORD lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak." Then he came to the king; and the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?" And he said, "Go and prosper, and they shall be delivered into your hand!" So the king said to him, "How many times shall I make you swear that you tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" Then he said, "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ' These have no master. Let each return to his house in peace.' " (2 Chronicles 18:13-16) Thus a contrast between truth and lie; the king saw the difference perhaps from the tone of voice. Micaiah might have been speaking this with a sarcastic voice.

A6 References

    B1 http://atheism.about.com/od/philosophyepistemology/a/Coherence.htm

    B2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth

    B3 http://www.truthdefined.com/7-TheoriesOfTruth.htm

B4 http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15073a.htm

A7 Lecture

B1 Define truth

B2 Offer examples

C1 If a=b and 12/4 = 3 and 3 = 12/4, then does truth = fact and fact = truth

C2 If fact is truth, then was Satan's offer to Jesus truth or the words of Satan to Eve were fact?

D1 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, "To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." And Jesus answered him, "It is written, "' You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'" (Luke 4:5-8)

D2 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, ' You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ' You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. (Genesis 3:1-4)

A8 Sources

B1 [1] Correspondence Theory of Truth (n.d.). In Correspondence Theory of Truth. Retrieved January 24, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correspondence_theory_of_truth

B2 [2] http://www.truthdefined.com/7-TheoriesOfTruth.htm The reader is hereby given permission to copy and distribute any or all pages from this website as long as text and graphics is not altered and the copyright and this permission statement is included as part of all copies. Information on this website must not be used for any commercial purposes.

B3 [3] http://www.shrdocs.com/presentations/16815/index.html

B4 [4] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged (TDNTa), Kittel, Gerhard; Friedrich, Gerhard, 1985, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Entry: aletheia.

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