EARLIER IN THIS BOOK, I wrote about the practice of telling falsehoods or spreading derogatory information about other people — advising that one should never accept such information at face value because very often the people doing the bad-mouthing are doing so either because of their own internal hang-ups or just plain old jealousy. The true victim in any calumnious situation is always truth.
Truth, for me, is the most precious commodity in the universe, so it’s hardly surprising that it should come under attack in a corrupted, relativistic world where the majority have no reverence for the genuinely sacred. When I contemplate what the world would be like without the possibility of objective truth, I see a moral desert and the cosmos would be an ugly scar from one end to the other. Yet, many today deny that there is even such a thing as truth! They say that everyone has their own truth therefore it can only ever be relative and never absolute. Truth, they say, is therefore merely what any human being happens to feel is right at any one time.
But is this true? Or, rather, can it be true, given the fact that they say that nothing can be true! Allow me to demonstrate this conundrum in the form of a dialogue. This is a dialogue which you could very easily have with most members of the human race. It is based on an actual conversation that I had and it goes like this:
A.N. Other: Are you one of those jerks who believes that there is such a thing as THE truth?
Me: Well that is what I believe, yes. But I don’t think that makes me a jerk.
A.N. Other: Of course it does. Only a jerk could be so blinkered.
Me: Are you suggesting that there is no such thing as truth?
A.N. Other: Well you have your truth and I have mine and they are both as valid as each other.
Me: How could that possibly be? Either something is “the truth” or it isn’t.
A.N. Other: You just don’t get it, do you. You people are all the same. I obviously have to explain it to you. For example, at one time, people believed that the earth was flat. For them that was the truth. Nowadays we believe that the earth is round. That is the truth for us. So you see, truth changes. It isn’t an objective constant. It shifts historically. In fact, truth only becomes truth if there is agreement about it; and since people can agree on something to be the truth in different ways and at different times therefore truth is simply a community-based changeable reality.
Me: Hold on, you’re changing the goalposts there. What you are referring to as “truth” is simply people’s opinions about what is true, which do indeed vary from one person to another and do change over time. But that is not “truth”. Genuine truth can never change over time, only ideas about truth can change. You are confusing the two.
A.N. Other: No, no, not at all. It’s you who is changing the goalposts by claiming that there is such a thing as objective truth when there cannot possibly be such a thing.
Me: Well that’s what’s called “begging the question”. So many today need a few lessons in logic! So let me take you through this here. You mentioned the flat-earth believers and cited what they believed as being “truth”. But it wasn’t ever the truth. It was simply what they believed to be the truth. If you could have levitated a flat-earther up above the planet, they would suddenly have exclaimed when they reached a certain height: “Wow! It’s true. The earth is round!” So you see there was not a flat-earth truth and a round-earth truth. They are mutually-exclusive ideas. They cannot both be true otherwise everything is a lie and nothing is true. To say that flat-earth and round-earth are both examples of truth is a classic example of Doublethink, a dangerous thought-process which was described in Orwell’s novel, “1984”, as the ability “to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled [each other] out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them”. When you refer to them both as “truth” you are confusing what people believe to be the truth with the truth itself. But they are not the same. I could believe that green is brown but that does not make it the truth. It would merely be my mistaken belief about what is true and what isn’t. What people believe to be the truth is not necessarily the truth. Communities don’t decide arbitrarily to make something into the truth (even when it isn’t). Truth has an objective quality and is rooted in facts and reality and is beyond manipulation by humans who are scared of its implications.
A.N. Other: You can preach all you like but the fact is that you have fallen into the classic trap of believing that there is such a thing as THE truth. Truth changes and is always relative. It’s just that you give your idea of truth greater weight than others. It is THAT which is dangerous. The followers of Hitler believed his policies were THE truth and look what happened there.
Me: Again, what you are referring to is not truth itself but what people wrongly believed to be the truth. To believe something to be the truth when it is merely one’s opinion is obviously dangerous. It wasn’t because there is such a thing as THE truth which made the followers of Hitler dangerous. It was because they fanatically believed something to be true which patently wasn’t. Don’t you see that?
A.N. Other: You’re really clutching at straws now. Can’t you see that? It was because they believed it to be THE truth which made what they believed to become THE truth. Therefore, to believe that there can be such a thing as THE truth must always be dangerous. Truth can never be anything other than what people make it to be. Communities make truth.
Me: Again, you are saying that truth becomes the truth because it is an agreed opinion. If communities decide what truth is, then everything can be a lie! Let me take you through another example. The sun is shining in my garden today. That is the truth. Anywhere you stand in my open garden it is true. It would be true whether there were people there to agree on it or not. It is simply an objective truth. The sun is shining in my garden today. If that is true, therefore there can be such a thing as objective truth. It is relative to nothing. It is very basic but nevertheless it is purely and simply THE truth.
A.N. Other: Well that may be true for you but I’m sure there could be someone who may disagree with it. Therefore, for them something else is true. As far as they are concerned their truth is as valid as yours. Therefore there cannot be objective truth.
Me: But if the sun really IS shining in my garden therefore anyone who believes otherwise is mistaken, even if they think that what they believe is the truth.
A.N. Other: Not from their point of view.
Me: Precisely. It’s merely their point of view rather than objective truth.
A.N. Other: You just don’t get it do you. You’re creating a circular argument so you can make out as if what you believe to be truth is true.
Me: If you and I go and stand in my garden and the sun is shining, is that truth?
A.N. Other: It could be. But only because we agree it to be so. I could disagree with you and then that would be my truth and you would have yours.
Me: Do you believe that it is possible for the sun to be shining in my garden without anyone in it.
A.N. Other: How would I know if I’m not there?
Me: Ah, so you’re making the truth depend on whether or not there is someone there to believe it.
A.N. Other: Precisely. How can anything be established as truth if there is no one there to witness it?
Me: Because some things are objectively true. They are factual. They have a reality all of their own, regardless of whether or not there are people to validate them. The idea that things are only valid when there is a human witness is a philosophical system called Solipsism. It places the observer at the centre of, and as the creator of, the universe. In short, it makes you into God! To say that nothing can have objective reality other than oneself and one’s own thought analysis is the ultimate form of narcissism. Classic Solipsism poses the question: “Does a falling tree in a forest make a noise if there is no one there to hear it?” The very similar question which you are really asking is: “Is the sun shining in my garden if there is no one there to experience it?” In that case, there can never be any meeting point between us because you plainly believe that anything outside of your experience cannot have any basis in objective reality. Therefore, I too must be an illusion. So I don’t understand why you began this dialogue by referring to me as “one of those jerks who believes that there is such a thing as THE truth”. If, on your own admission, all those other than yourself have their own “truths” which are nothing to do with your own, then why even bother engaging in a dialogue with me about my understanding of the truth?
A.N. Other: Well I can still have sport with others, even if they have their own truths.
Me: I put it to you that you argue so passionately about there being no such thing as objective truth because you are frightened of there being such a possibility. It has huge implications for you from a moral standpoint.
A.N. Other: What nonsense! What possible implications could it have for me?
Me: If we each have our own truth and there is no objective truth outside of our separate understandings of it, then it matters not a jot what we do in this world. Each person can persuade himself that his or her actions are as validly true as the next person’s. A serial killer’s attitude to his fellow human beings is as valid as that of a lover of life. A child molester’s “truth” about sexual relationships is as valid as that of someone who believes sexual relations are for married people of mature age. There is no end to the moral permutations which can be entertained if we believe that each person’s “truth” is as valid as the next. Tell me, is it wrong for you as a parent to have sex with your child of five years old?
A.N. Other: Well, there have been societies in which certain forms of incest were considered…
Me [interrupting]: That’s not what I asked! Just answer the question. I’m not speaking academically about different societies. I’m speaking personally to you as you stand before me. The question is simple. Is it wrong for you as a parent to have sex with your child of five years old?
A.N. Other: But that’s just a hypothetical question.
Me: Rubbish! It’s a very real question. Okay, then if you want to shirk it, I’ll get even more in-your-face. Would it be wrong for your next-door neighbour to have sex with your child of five?
A.N. Other: This is just getting ridiculous now. I know he wouldn’t do such a thing.
Me: That’s not the point. Don’t you see what’s happening here. There is a moral code deep within each one of us which makes certain behaviour not only repulsive but downright wrong. You know it. I know it. The fact that there have been and are certain individuals who don’t share our revulsion doesn’t make it right. They are, in fact, perverts — people who have perverted in-built human moral truth and tried to justify their perversion with moral relativism. This is the inevitable fallout from believing that one person’s truth is as valid as anyone else’s — even if they contradict each other.
A.N. Other: Well, perhaps there are very simple specific situations which you could say were objectively true but generally truth is relative.
Me: Ah, but objective truth IS always significant! Just getting anyone today to admit that there could be objective truth is quite something. And you have just admitted that in the instance to which I was referring there is objectivity to the truth of the matter: Namely, paedophilia is perversion. Yet, this same procedure could be applied to numerous other situations.
A.N. Other: I don’t know, it just strikes me as being unhealthy for anyone to say that their truth should take precedence over anyone else’s.
Me: But don’t you see that you’re still confusing personal opinion or viewpoint with truth. For me to say that adults having sex with children is a perversion of human nature is not simply my viewpoint versus the paedophile’s viewpoint. I’m talking here about a Universal Moral Law. This isn’t about a clash of opinions. It’s about human opposition to universal moral law. I passionately believe in Universal Moral Law. Every human being knows this too, deep down. They know it is wrong to kill, to steal, to lie, to commit adultery — heck, they even know that it is wrong to despise their Creator, although most have buried their sense of moral law beneath layers and layers of psychopathy, sociopathy, justification, fence-sitting, equivocation, cultural baggage, social engineering, wobbling, waffling and wavering. You know that paedophilia is perversion. I know that it’s perversion — corrupted sexual expression. I’m willing to admit it but you’re not. Why? Why should this be? Why do you fight against the idea of objective truth so strongly. I put it to you that it is because people are afraid to the core of ideas such as Universal Moral Law because it implies that they are answerable for their behaviour — maybe even to a higher being — when they just want to be selfishly free to do whatever they want. When anyone suggests that there can be such things as Universal Moral Law many immediately rebel against that idea and say: “I do what I want, whenever I want, however I want to do it”. And this assertion lies at the heart of all that has gone awry in this cosmos, whether in the angelic or human realms, going right back to the Fall of both angels and, subsequently, humans. People are using their lack of belief in objective truth in order to justify their amoral behaviour and imagined freedom. As the inspired prophet, Isaiah, put it, nearly 3000 years ago: “Justice is driven back, and righteousness stands far away. For truth has fallen in the street, and integrity cannot enter”. There are always consequences for moral failure and ethical relativism. Again, as Isaiah said: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” The full manifestation of that “woe” will not be far away now, as this civilisation descends into its inevitable chaos.
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I believe that this whole area of the relativizing of truth lies at the heart of much that is happening in the world today and will be a key area in the inevitable total breakdown of this civilisation and aeon, which is happening already before our eyes. This is why it is so important to take a stand for truth today. (Not that it needs any champions, for it exists with or without our help). But to be a witness to truth in this world is what marks us out as being on the side of Light rather than darkness.
[Extracted from my upcoming book, “Narrow Gate ~ Pathway Strait: The Road I have Chosen”, which contains more than 100,000 words in nearly 300 pages and will be available free of charge sometime in August]
© Alan Morrison, 2018