The Measurement of Truth

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

“How do I know what someone is saying is true or false?”

If you have asked this to yourself, congratulations!  You are not alone.  I ask this question all the time, especially when reading philosophy or theology.  However, this question may mislead you to a false sense of security.  Why?  Because you and I are asking the wrong question.  The question we need to be asking is:

“What measurement tool (of truth) am I using to evaluate what is being said?”

Why is this question better than the previous one?  The first question is subjective, where the latter is objective.  The first question has no known measurement to evaluate the person’s views.  When we ask the first question, we are saying, “No matter what the truth is, do I feel good about what is being said?”  However, when we ask the second question we show our objectiveness by stating “Regardless of how I feel, is what the person saying measuring up to the known truth?”

In today’s society, we hear that “Truth is subjective”.  But is it?  Is truth really subjective?  Let me reason the term “truth” has definitive and objective motives.  The word ‘truth’ is defined:

“The state of being the case: FACT” – Merriam Webster Dictionary (1985)

So if ‘truth’ is fact, then one question remains, is it objective of subjective?  Let’s start by seeing what objectiveness means.  The word “objective” can be defined:

‘A system (of thinking, ideas….) where multiple independent experiences are used to confirm factual data.’

The above statement, regarding objectiveness, will lead us to this conclusion…If truth is objective, then we cannot have various multiple competing arguments.  If something is fact (as stated in the dictionary), then it is truth.  If it is truth, then it is fact.  Logic states that you cannot have two (2) competing facts for the same subject and both are truth.  Therefore, there is no room for multiple competing arguments.  So can truth be subjective?

The word ‘subjective’ can be defined:

‘A system (of thinking, ideas….) where multiple independent experiences are used to determine the appearance of factual data.’

This statement leads us to a very different conclusion.  If truth is subjective then multiple competing arguments not only count but can give the appearance of factual data.  The appearance?  Yes.  Scientifically we call that theory.  So if subjective truth is theory, then it has not been proven to be fact (truth).

Think of it this way, if truth is subjective, then what you think may be truth, and if I think the opposite, then is my truth still valid?  I think a couple of examples will help understanding this.

The earth is round.  Is this fact or fiction?  We know this today as fact, but there was a time, where people thought that the earth was flat.  Many cultures believed that once someone went over the horizon, they would die or get eaten by a monster.  Over time, scientists discovered various observances and determined the earth was round.  Today, when we look at photos from satellites, we clearly see the earth is factually round.  Early cultures first observed something and then made a determination.  This was subjective.  When scientists discovered factual data about the earth, the observances once thought to be truth were no longer truth.  The scientists of that time used factual data and then measured the experiences against the data.  They used an objective approach.

The same can be done today.  When we are talking with people or learning in school, we can take factual data and compare it to the observances or experiences of others to see if what they are saying is truth or not.

In order to do this, we need a measuring tool (factual data) and measure the experiences against the tool.  It’s like building a chair or table without a diagram and ruler.  If we start cutting wood and then nailing it together, we may end up with what looks like a chair, but you probably won’t be able to sit on it.  It may be wobbly or even be dangerous to sit on.  It is only when we use the diagram and ruler to measure, cut and nail everything to specification that the chair is useable.

So what is your tool?  Is your tool your experience or are you using factual data?  It is clear that ‘absolute truth’ can only be objective.  Before any of us state anything, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I using a factual tool to measure my experiences?’  Go and search out for real truth!

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