Is there really such a thing as truth?

I've been thinking about the concept of truth lately and whether or not we can truly know that there is such a thing as truth. A basic understanding of truth would be that there is a standard of right and wrong, of acceptable and unacceptable. And if we agree that the concept of truth is valid, can truth be relative or does it have to be absolute?

In order to answer these questions, we first must think about where truth comes from:
  1. Does man determine truth? If so, then who was the man who set the standard? What if I don't agree with him, does that make me wrong or him? Is man qualified to set a standard for right and wrong? The answer to that is no.
  2. Does society/culture determine truth? In America we have ruled that smoking marijuana is illegal and immoral but what about in countries where it isn't illegal? Also, we have so many disagreements over what's acceptable/unacceptable in America that our culture(or any culture) can't be trusted to point us to a set standard of truth.
  3. Does nature determine truth? Nature is beautiful and the universe is wonderfully ordered and complex. Surely nature can point us to truth. The only problem with this rationale is that nature can only determine what we observe, not how we act or think. A tree or waterfall or galaxy, while incredible, can't determine right or wrong for me.
  4. Does my conscience determine truth? Many use conscience as their guide for determining right and wrong, but what if my conscience tells me something is right for me but you are convinced by your conscience that the same thing is wrong for you? Which one is right?
  5. Does a moral being determine truth? In order for us to understand the concept of what is right, we have to accept that there must be an originator of what is right. We have already determined that man can't be the origin of that so we have to look elsewhere. There must be a perfect being in existence who sets the standard for what is right, and against that we can also discern what is wrong. This being is God and, because He is truth, He has shown us what truth is.
You may or may not buy into that line of arguing, but it does make sense to at least agree that the concept of truth is above any one of us to determine for the rest of mankind. Some things are true whether or not we determine them or not: the earth is round, killing another person in cold blood is punishable (every culture has a punishment for murder), and we need oxygen to survive. Not many would argue against such ideas. But what about areas that seem to be open to interpretation?

What about abortion? Is it wrong? What about sex outside of marriage? Is that wrong? What about the casual use of drugs? I mean, it's my body so why does what I put in my body concern other people? These questions and many like them have no consensus of agreement, yet there must be a right and wrong answer, a standard by which we should live. Why must there be? Because by the very definition of truth, there must be a right and a wrong. But can't truth be situational? Can something that's right for me yet wrong for you still be true? As long as it "works" and doesn't hurt others then it's okay, right?

Actually, no, that's not right. To say that truth can have two or more sides (i.e., that it's relative) means that one doesn't believe that truth is absolute, that it is right for all people and all circumstances. After all, who am I to try and push my belief system on you? But think about that for a minute. To say that all truth is relative is itself an absolute statement; it's something that you believe for all circumstances and all people. So, we can't deny the existence of absolutes if we so freely use the concept in our everyday thoughts and reasonings.

On the same line of logic, saying that truth is relative puts us in a difficult quandary. If one believes that there can be one or more different sides to truth then we have pushed the envelope not only of semantics but also of logic and reason. Two opposites can never be true because of the fact that they oppose one another. By very definition they can't be the same. So why are so quick to accept that truth can have more than one side and be okay with that?

When the arguments concerning truth come to the surface you will often find people who want to apply them to such moral and social issues such as drinking and lying and sex and that is often where we most want to start. But wouldn't it make more sense to begin at the core of truth, with the originator of truth itself? God has spoken through His Word and has made His truth known to us. Issues aren't right or wrong because I say so but because God has determined them to be right and wrong. Something may "work" for you and you can convince yourself that it is right, but if it goes against God's standard of truth then it will only exist as right in your own mind, not in reality. Truth has one side; we must stop trying to flip it over to see if there is another side that suits us better.

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