In recent years, relativism has taken over the world. In it’s many subtle forms, “Post-Modernism” and more recently, “Post-Truth” altogether. You can just make things up and claim them as facts to support your arguments. It’s been fashionable to answer questions with statements such as “truth is relative!”, or “there is no absolute truth!”, or “your truth is different to my truth, but they are both correct”, or “you can’t really know what the truth is”.
These statements are used to argue that it doesn’t matter what you believe, everyone is correct in the choices and believes that they make. Is this correct? This is question is of vital importance, becasue if these statements are true, then the whole of Science and reason is void… Logic itself falls apart at the seams.
If there is no truth to seek, then all questions of where we came from and how it happened are pointless. Fortunately it is easy to see that statements such as these are false when you turn them against themselves.
Turn it against itself!
For example, “There is no absolute truth!”. Is that statement absolutely true? Is it true in all cases? If it is, then there is at least one absolute truth… that statement! But then if there is an absolute truth, then the statement “there is no absolute truth” is false. Either way, the statement is false. There is absolute Truth.
The same can be said of “Truth is relative!”. Is that statement relative or is it absolute. If relative, then there are by definition some absolute truths… the statement is false. If absolute, then the statement is false.
What is truth?
Truth is absolute and conforms to the universal principals of Logic. For example, the law of non contradiction, something can’t be true and false at the same time and in the same space. This is basic common sense.
Truth is absolute, perception of truth is relative. Something can be true and yet we don’t yet realise it. We can believe, or attribute truth to something that is false. Our perception may be incorrect, but that doesn’t make something true or false.
How do we know what the truth is?
Deduction and Induction. These two approaches are the basis of observable Science – not to be confused with the more fuzzy historical science, and it’s various branches such as the speculative field of cosmology.
Deduction – is where we have an idea, and then work out how we could test it, and then collect data to prove or disprove the theory. If the tests defined are flawed, not accounting for all conditions, then we risk accepting a theory through confirmation bias – selectively taking the results that fit the theory and ignoring the ones that go against the theory.
Induction – this is the opposite approach. We take readings and then look for a pattern and then devise a theory that could account for the observed patterns.
In reality, in Scientific research you flip back and forward between both. Starting with deduction, an idea of some sort – even if only subconscious. Then run some experiments and see if it stacks up. If not, then you may switch to Induction working from results through pattern recognition to theory. Then test that theory with further tests and refine further. Swapping back and forward between deduction and induction with each refinement of the theory. Increasing the confidence, but we may never be absolutely certain.
We can observe something and see the affects in that instant. The more observations the better the the confidence we can have that something is true. For example, “the floor is solid”, the more we stand on it the more experience we have, the more confidence we have to stand further.
However that is not necessarily enough. Something may be True within some limited conditions, and unless we test outside those conditions we might not get the global absolute truth of the statement. Continuing the analogy, if the floor is thick concrete then the statement is always true. If the floor is thin ice, then our observations may suggest truth for a while… then tragically prove false, with a cold and wet realisation.
We need to test and continue to test our convictions with each new piece of the puzzle. Moving towards “true beyond all reasonable doubt”…
Now we have shown that Truth does exist, and looked at some methods for seeking it. In the following posts, lets put those methods into practice on life’s most challenging question, why are we here?