Updated: Feb 12, 2022
JT Bogden - Everyone is talking about truth and there are self-proclaimed keepers of the truth. Usually, these keepers of the truth are found in social media, so-called fact-checkers, and mostly on the Political Left. But have you noticed there are fact-checkers on the Political Right who counter the fact-checkers on the Political Left? If the facts are the facts then why are we confronted with opposing 'facts'? The truth is the facts do not matter and the issue is not about truth. The issue is about the idea, view, or opinion. Selective facts, regardless of the strength of veritable truth, are chosen to support whatever the issue is about. So, what is a person to do? Moreover, The Naked Truth Report is about the truth but the truth often seems elusive and even ethereal at times.
Truth has deep roots steeped in world history. The question of truth goes as far back as the ancient Greeks who studied truth with great fever. The great Philosophers all wrestled with the notion of truth and philosophy breaks everything substantive into being, essence, and virtue. In this case, truth relates to virtue which is goodness, morality, and the quality of being useful. Pontius Pilate jeered, "What is Truth?" circa 35 AD. Pilate was acknowledging that truth can be fleeting.
We need to get a grasp on what is truth! Then, we need to understand how to discover the truth by understanding what truth is. Quite frankly, this is why the Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D., exists and the truth is central to becoming a Ph.D. Although, many PhDs are using the discipline to manufacture truths rather than discover truths. They create doubt using skepticism.
The Past and Post-Modernism
The recent surge in relativistic truths emerged out of post-modernist pop culture. Postmodernism appeared during the 1940s and gained widespread acceptance during the 1960s. The postmodern movement questioned reason and the notion of absolute universal truth. The postmodernist argued that truth is contingent upon historical and social context being partial and 'at issue' rather than complete and certain. The core message of postmodernism is pluralism, relativism, and human identity is a social construct rejecting any notion of certainty and absolute values or belief. The challenge of postmodernism is that it lacks coherence, is hostile to certain or absolute truth, and causes problems for reliable information and knowledge.
I must stress that information and knowledge are not one and the same. Information is a statement of quality or character traits of a person, place, or thing regardless of whether the information is true. Knowledge is the accumulation of relevant information which in combination reveals some sort of higher meaning regardless of any truth or not. Thus, there has to be some sort of dogma to discern the truth. The science of epistemology is the study of the extents and limits of truth and knowledge.
Generalized Definition of Truth
Truth as defined in many dictionaries is the state, quality, or fact that is empirically verifiable. The dictionary definition is a very narrow definition of truth. A more generalized definition of truth is needed.
Truth is, of course, the opposite of falsehood. Falsehoods arise from human behavior involving lies, deceit, ambiguity, ignorance, innuendo, obfuscation, pride, selfishness, etc... These factors distort truths or create pseudo-truths.
Truth is a property of reality. Reality is based on a person's worldview. Any truth must be evaluated with respect to a worldview seeking the strongest support. This creates the problem of a person's fundamental belief system becoming challenged which we will explore later in this discourse.
A generalized definition of truth for the purposes of this discourse is:
A combination of facts and factors that combine to support, in a repeatable and verifiable manner, either through direct evidence or deductive reasoning claims of truth.
Theories of Truth
There are different truth theories that hold a much broader definition. Five mainstream theories are the:
Correspondence Theory: Truth propositions correspond to the facts.
Semantic Theory: Truth is a property of sentences.
Deflationary Theory: A statement is true is just to assert the statement itself.
Pragmatic Theory: Defines Truth in terms of utility.
Coherence Theory: Any proposition must be coherent with a specified proposition set to be true.
Most of these theories have serious problems of various sorts and were advanced to counter the Correspondence Theory of Truth. For example, The Pragmatic Theory was advanced to support relativistic truths based on usefulness which we have rejected in this study.
Modes of thought or ways of thinking span several forms to include; critical thinking, analytical thinking, instinctive or gut thinking, creative thinking, etc...
In the American pop landscape, theory-based thinking emerged about 1900. This shift in thinking replaced any justification for belief or investigation into a matter with fantasy, ideas, and interesting notions that had no basis in reality. A good example of theory-based thinking is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI. Without any basis other than the idea that there may be life elsewhere, SETI began searching. They formulated the Drake Equation, Figure 1, which is supposed to suggest the possibility of the number of off-planet civilizations Earthlings could communicate with.
Figure 1: Drake Equation Used by SETI
The Drake Equation formulated by the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI, is unbounded, the variables are impossible to know, and the equation amounts to junk math and junk science. Franchises in the entertainment industry such as Star Trek, Star Wars, and other space thrillers have captured the imagination of millions of people but lack any honest evidence that intelligent lifeforms exist off-Earth. There has been no evidence that has ever been observed to support such a scientific investigation and to date, more than 60 years later, there have been no discoveries.
Whereas in the book, The Privileged Planet, the Astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez approaches the search for life by bounding the problem to a known set of parameters identifying the type of galaxies where life could persist and where within the galaxy life is possible, then Goldie Lock zones within a solar system where life could survive. Gonzalez concludes that life off-planet is probabilistically impossible and, in fact, life on Earth is a statistical improbability that is carefully balanced. The issue of intelligent and sentient life becomes a theological rather than a cosmological investigation.
Theory-based thinking has permeated into American Society and become the predominant mode of thought leveraging creative thinking patterns but has no foundation in honest science. However, as Einstein pointed out that without imagination there would be no science. Einstein was based on the known four natural forces and was formulating a method of combining them. He used a technique known as image streaming to place himself as if he were a photon of light. Through this method of image streaming, he was able to make a breakthrough discovery that became the well-tested and well-established theory known as Relativity. Einstein’s use of imagination was quite different from theory-based thinkers. Einstein was founded on evidence and mathematical formulation using imagination to make the quantum leap. Whereas, theory-based thinkers have no evidence and pull a good idea from the ethereal space of their minds. Theory-based clouds matters of truth with the fantasy but can be discerned using a dogmatic approach.
Spectrum of Truth
Missing from the five theories is the Epistemological Theory of Truth. Epistemology is the study of the extent and limits of knowledge to justify a belief as opposed to an opinion. There is a Spectrum of Truths, Figure 2, that ranges between two extremes. At one end are the Epistemic Truths and at the other end are the Correspondent Truths.
Figure 2: Scale of Truth
Human perception of the world is based on a worldview. Worldviews generally stem from the rejection or acceptance of a sovereign deity and the level of engagement from a deity, if the deity exists in the worldview.
In the case of rejection of a sovereign deity, a reliance on science is used to assess truth and limits truth to a correspondent theory and in various degrees of support the other theories too. As an outcome, we begin to observe a pliable science or science that is bent to fit a form of thought known as Theory-Based Thinking which is not associated with scientific dogma but instead social conduct. This Theory-Based thinking approach imagines an idea without any observable basis for forming the idea then seeks to apply science using mostly selective evidence to support the idea. Theory-Base Thinking is the opposite of traditional scientific dogma that requires observation in nature first to support an investigation. That investigation tests the observation and places boundaries limits on the phenomenon. Variables are known, measurable, and have boundary limits.
In the case of a sovereign deity, claims are made in the scriptural messages from the deity. These are examined to assess the validity and ultimately the truth of the claim. These kinds of truths are called Epistemic Truths which may also apply to secular claims of truth. Epistemic Truths are based on a set of foundational assertions. These assertions are often validated through reasoning rather than observation. This reasoning may be deductive but most often is inductive reasoning requiring a leap in judgment. For example, if three findings point to A and five findings point to B, then the five findings underpin stronger support for B than A without having correspondent support for either A or B. Often the findings that point to an inductive reasoned conclusion are called fingerprints or impressions.
Since most of the world holds a belief in some sort of sovereign deity, Epistemic Truths shape the world perhaps more than correspondent truths. Thus, scientific dogma is applied to the study of all the scriptural messages from all the different deities to examine their claims and discern which claims are the strongest. The deity having the most claims with the greatest underpinning strength is deemed to be the closest to the truth.
The topic of truth is expansive and difficult to cover in a blog posting. Nonetheless, having a basic foundation is essential to growth and understanding when discerning matters of truth. Assessing the foundational assertations behind any claim to truth is the starting point.