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valdasta's avatar

What is your standard for truth?

Asked by valdasta (2139points) September 28th, 2009

For me, this question is easy. I am a Christian, therefore, the Bible is my authority for all that I do and believe. Of course, there are other areas of truth where I wouldn’t use a Bible (e.g. a square to make a line at a right angle…), but that is obvious.

Before I became a Christian, truth was something I felt strongly about. I have since learned that I can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. Of course, when I was a little tyke, my dad was my source of ALL that was true. When I became a teen, my parents knew nothing.

What about you, what is your standard for truth? Do you believe that there are no absolutes?

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39 Answers

J0E's avatar

It’s only absolutes.
Your either telling the truth or your not.

dalepetrie's avatar

Provable, objective facts…things that can be tested repeatedly, which provide the same answers consistently, that is the truth. Anything else is conjecture. The Bible can well be the authority for all you do, it can be what you “believe” to be the truth, and maybe you’re right, or maybe some fraction of the 4 billion people on the planet who aren’t Christian have the true answers in some combination, maybe no one does. Some things are true in that you can prove them, and some things can “ring” true to you, but without evidence, they can not be taken as absolute truths, because not everyone agrees with you, who’s to say who’s right, and how do you prove one answer more accurate than the other. In matters of faith, you can not, that’s why it is called faith. So your faith can be absolute, and you can live by the teachings, and that’s all well and good, but it’s not the absolute truth in that it’s not a fact. But of course, you can be honest, and tell “the truth” if you state what you believe, as long as you believe what you say, doesn’t mean you’re right, but you are telling what you know to be the truth.

ragingloli's avatar

it has to match reality, has to be supported by evidence, be contradicted by none. (one of the reasons why the Bible is not my authority on about anything)

whitenoise's avatar

The standard I hold out for truth is combination of perspective, time and observable facts.

And a realization that there very rarely is an absolute truth, quite often the same occurrence in reality will spawn various absolute truths.
All of them vividly opposing each other.

Bluefreedom's avatar

My standard for truth is honesty and integrity. Don’t lie to me and I won’t have to dislike you. Simple.

noodle_poodle's avatar

wow you guys must all be very young or very closed minded there are so many grey areas in life..I find reality doesn’t lend itself to absolutes….things are true until something comes along proving otherwise

Harp's avatar

To me “absolute truth” is this present reality, the fact of this. Any effort I make to interpret this fact by framing it in conceptual terms will result in, at best, relative truths. Those relative truths may be true enough to be useful, but I know that in the strictest terms they will always rest on whatever assumptions are built into the way my brain processes information.

Computers, for instance can only deal with information in binary form. Truth, to a computer, is expressed in “off or on” terms. But I don’t think that reality itself is ultimately binary, so (Douglas Adams’ “47” aside) I wouldn’t expect a computer, no matter how large, to be capable of grasping absolute truth. Likewise, our own conceptual process is subject to its own structural limitations, though we’re blind to them because we’re dependent on them for our entire representation of reality.

kevbo's avatar

“There is no spoon.”

The more I explore this the more I see that our perception helps determine our truth. Sometimes large groups of people agree those perceptions, but that’s about as close as it gets.

Judi's avatar

For me truth is like a mountain. When approaching it from the south it may look like a completely different mountain than it does when looking at it from the north. I am a Christian too and I know that God is truth. I also know that he is to big for me to comprehend and that I am only seeing a glimpse of the whole picture.
I read the Bible and try to know him and understand his nature. I want to recognise him, but more importantly I want him to recognize me. (Read Matthew 25, Sheep and Goats story.)
I have no problem admitting that I don’t know the whole truth, and that I am looking at the mountain form the vantage point he has placed me in. I know enough to know that the mountain might look quite different from the other side, so I try to listen to people with an open mind. God has things for me to learn from Christians and non Christians alike.

whitenoise's avatar

@ESV That’s your second referral to that website, that I see…

Interesting as that site may be…. I’d rather hear your own ideas from your own mouth.

kevbo's avatar

@Judi, nice simile

Qingu's avatar

@valdasta, I doubt very much the Bible is your standard of truth.

You probably do not believe the sky is a solid dome that holds up an above-sky ocean, like Genesis 1:6 says.

You probably don’t believe that slavery should be legal, like Leviticus 25:45 says, or that you can legally beat your slaves as much as the Romans beat Jesus before they crucified him, like Exodus 21:22 says.

You probably don’t believe that it would be moral to force a rape victim to marry her rapist, like Deuteronomy 22:28 says.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, though.

To answer your question, there is no such thing as an objective standard of truth. What we call “truth” is ultimately based, in some way, on sensory data interpreted by our brains. The words you read in your Bible all go through your eyes, into your nervous system, and are outputted as conscious thought by your brain, through the filter of your language and experience and culture.

I think the scientific method is by far the best way to minimize the assumptions and errors in how we understand the world. But as you know perfectly well, scientific knowledge evolves as our capacity to observe evolves.

noodle_poodle's avatar

nice one @Qingu I wanted to say something about the bible truth but I haven’t the leg to stand on actually i haven’t read much of it and what I did was a long time ago….cant imagine the person that would read all of it let alone base their life on it

wundayatta's avatar

There’s truth, and then there’s TRUTH. Truth is the most accurate description of the facts. TRUTH is the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

I think you are talking about TRUTH, not truth. You are asking what is the right and correct way to live. You are assuming there is an absolute right and correct way to live. Most likely you make this assumption because you believe that’s what the Bible tells you.

Whether or not that’s what the Bible says, I’ll not get into. Whether or not there is an ultimate source of TRUTH, I’ll not get into.

I think TRUTH is a metaphor for what we are all searching for. I think that for some of us, the need to know TRUTH is insistent than for others. Some people just don’t see how they can go on not knowing what TRUTH is or where it comes from. Others are capable of living in uncertainty.

I think TRUTH comes from the application of basic principles to our understanding of the world around us. We each choose our own principles, and then interpret the world according to those precepts. This means that TRUTH is different for everyone. Even those who think the Bible contains TRUTH all have different ideas of what the Bible says.

What are my basic principles? Be kind. Be an example of how you want others to behave. Assume the best about others. Assume they will treat you as they believe you treat them. Do not hurt others. Be of service to others. Credit for service is unnecessary, no matter how badly you want it (a recipe for low self-esteem, but there it is). People will give you what they think you deserve. You deserve no more and no less than what other people give you. The world doesn’t care about humanity and it is a mistake to act as if it does. Life is the greatest gift of all. Unrelenting pain is the only reason to give up that gift, but even that should be shouldered as long as you think possible, and then some more. Giving up is not giving in. It is better to live to see another day than to die, even in the greatest cause, because not only is life the greatest gift; it is the only gift and there is nothing other than life.

That’s enough for now. I hope it is controversial enough for you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t need a standard for truth. Do we have to have one at all?

bumwithablackberry's avatar

If you speak it and sometime’s it makes you look good, and sometime’s it makes you look bad, yet you still speak it.

lloydbird's avatar

There is only Truth.

We have the wondrous ability of not being sure about It.

DrBill's avatar

There is truth.
There are Lies.

There is no gray area.

YARNLADY's avatar

There is a “great big, absolute, philosphical TRUTH” that is debatable, but telling the truth, always and without fail on a daily basis is the only truth that I feel strongly about. I do not lie, and apparently those who do lie believe that “everybody does it”. At least that’s what they tell me.

ratboy's avatar

Truth is the most convenient lie in any given circumstance.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

There is Truth as we come to know and accept it until proven otherwise (non planet Pluto)
There is Lying
There is Omission

My preference is this, don’t lie to me, tell me the truth when at all possible, carefully omit things that haven’t to do with me but that could damage me having knowledge of them.

YARNLADY's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence Well you’re just a “plutoid” are’t you? And I agree with you completely

bumwithablackberry's avatar

I just got into a conversation about what kind of music I like, I said “good” Being that ultimatley our personal taste don’t alter what level something be it artistic, is at.

valdasta's avatar

@noodle_poodle The Bible (King James Version) is a good read, and it HAS had an impact on your life, though you haven’t read much of it. (e.g. The First Amendment is a Bible doctrine: freedom of conscience – religious liberty. It wouldn’t have made it into the Constitution without the verbal agreement between James Madison and Rev. John Leland. Rev. Leland promised the support of the Baptists for ratification of the Const. in Virginia if Madison would lobby for an amendment promising religious liberty.)

Qingu's avatar

@valdasta, why are you recommending the King James Version?

The original Hebrew and Greek were not written in Ye Olde Englifh. There are much better translations with less distracting and archaic language.

Also, what do you think religious liberty has to do with the Bible? Deuteronomy 13:6 says anyone who believes in a non-Biblical religion should be put to death!

valdasta's avatar

@Qingu You take scripture out of context. Deut 13:6 was for the children of Israel – the Jews. God has dealt with people in throughout the Bible in a progressive manner. Jesus in the New Testament doesn’t talk about killing non-believers.

As far as slavery goes, my answer is the same. Slavery was different than what we had in America. Many times, it was economic circumstances that lead to someone becoming a bondservant. Some people sold themselves into slavery. God gave them guidelines for masters to follow. If a master beat his servant to death, he was to be put to death. God never said we should have slaves and definitely would not be in favor of what has happened in America.

About the girl being forced to marry her rapist…I am not convinced this passage is saying she was raped (I am not saying that she wasn’t either – I would like to look at it closer). It doesn’t say that he “forced” her, but “lay hold of her”. However, it does say that he would not be allowed to put her away (divorce her). I believe this would include consensual sex. They are being held responsible for their actions.

KJV: I believe it to be the preserved word of God in the English language. The archaic words are important and not distracting to me. The KJV is almost its own language; people didn’t talk like that back then. Read the translator’s letter to King James, this is harder to understand than the Bible.

Qingu's avatar

I love it when people tell me I take scripture out of context without actually providing a context.

Re: Deuteronomy 13:6, are you saying that it would be immoral today to follow God’s law in the Old Testament, and that Jesus abolished those laws?

Re: slavery, you are correct, the Bible provides guidelines for the treatment of slaves. However, beating a slave to death did not result in a death penalty. And you could legally beat your slave as much as the Romans beat Jesus before they crucified him. See Exodus 21:22.

And God did say we should have slaves. In Deuteronomy 20:10, he commands us to enslave the people of cities we conquer. Unless they don’t give up immediately. Then we should kill all the men and enslave the women and children.

Re: Deuteronomy 22:28, it doesn’t really matter what you believe. Numerous translations either say “raped” or “seizes and lies with.” Nowhere does it say or even imply that sex is consentual. In fact I can’t find a single passage in the Bible that says a woman must consent to sex. Can you? (I don’t even think rape is punished as a crime in the Bible—the two laws immediately before 22:28 punish adultery, not rape. The message in verse 28 is “you break it, you buy it.)

Re KJV: why on earth do you think the KJV better preserves the word of God than other translations? We have early Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. People who know Hebrew and Greek can see what they say.

It’s like saying a sloppy 16th century translation of Aristotle is better than a modern translation of Aristotle. If you want to understand Aristotle, you’d read a modern translation.

Qingu's avatar

Notes on my previous post:

When a slave-owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

It doesn’t say the slave-killer is put to death. It says he’s punished. And that’s only for injuries that immediately kill the slave.

Later the Bible says that if you knock out an eye or a tooth, you have to let the slave go free. But then this is still perfectly in line with most of slavery in the American South. Few slaveowners mutilated their slaves in that fashion; they whipped them, in line with the Bible.

valdasta's avatar

You keep saying “we”? God was speaking to the Jews…are you a Jew? Do they sell slaves at Wallmart?

Qingu's avatar

I thought you said the Bible was your standard for truth and morality.

I take it you don’t think anything in the Old Testament applies? That the ten commandments were only for the Jews?

I mean, certainly you’re not saying it would be wrong to follow these laws, right? God himself says the laws are so wise and wonderful that other nations will look on them and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and discerning people!’ For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is whenever we call to him? And what other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

Do you agree that the laws we’re talking about are the most just and wise laws in existence?

Do you agree that the law is “holy, just, and good,” as Paul said in Romans 7:12?

Qingu's avatar

Also, they do sell slaves, for all intents and purposes, in places like Dubai and Saudi Arabia; many slaves work on chocolate and coffee farms as well.

Americans don’t have ready access to slaves for sale, but that’s because our secular government outlawed slavery. Would you have a problem if our government followed the Bible’s law and allowed people to own slaves and beat them within the guidelines?

Judi's avatar

stops following. I hate it when a question degenerates into religon bashing and justifying. This isn’t fun anymore.

valdasta's avatar

@Judi I agree…I was in the middle of another response when I read your post. Thank you. This is not what I intended for this discussion. We could go back and forth all day long. @Qingu I guess we could take this outside (ha ha) and speak in private. : )

Qingu's avatar

Feel free to send me a direct message. Though I’m sure people who are following this question are curious as to whether or not you actually support slavery. (Personally, I wouldn’t want to leave that hanging.)

valdasta's avatar

I don’t support slavery.

Qingu's avatar

That’s good to know.

But then that veers back to the topic of the question: by what standard do you not support slavery? Because the Bible clearly does.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

my standard for truth is that it’s true. i can’t get much more blunt about it than that. haha.

ratboy's avatar

If you believe that there is a simple criterion for truth, explain why all but a minuscule fraction of what has been taken for truth throughout human history has proved to be mistaken.

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