This blog first appeared at seanmcdowell.org
The topic of truth seems to be confused in our culture. Some think the truth is based on what makes you happy, and because God wants us to be happy, whatever makes me happy is true and good!
Others think that each person has their own truth. I saw an advertisement this past summer at UC Berkeley for voice lessons which give “vocal techniques to ‘free the natural voice,’ combined with gentle spiritual exercises empower you to SPEAK YOUR TRUTH” (emphasis theirs). This has become a popular phrase in our culture and was even used by Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes when she said, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have” (emphasis mine).
Do we just have “your truth” and “my truth”? What happens when your truth contradicts my truth? What happens when someone’s truth hurts other people? We wouldn’t agree with someone speaking their truth when they believe that murder or racism is a good thing. Instead, we need to focus on the Truth. We should seek and believe the truth even if it doesn’t make us happy.
But how can we even discover the truth when people have different beliefs? Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, gives four worldview tests in his book, Understanding the Times. We are going to briefly look at the first two.
#1 Test for Truth: Reason
Is it reasonable? Can it be logically stated and defended?
It is important to start with these questions. If something goes against reason, we don’t need to look for evidence or think about whether it is true. Illogical statements are self-refuting and falsify themselves.
You don’t need to look for evidence of a married bachelor. If you’re married, you’re not a bachelor, and if you’re a bachelor, then you’re not married. You can’t be both! If I were to tell you about a square circle outside, you don’t go looking for it. It is logically impossible for square circles to exist. So, we need to begin by checking to see if the statement or fact is in accordance with reason. Once it passes the “test of reason,” then we move on to our second test.
#2 Test for Truth: External Support
Is there some external, corroborating evidence to support it?
First, one of the key words in this question is external. This is looking for something outside of a personal experience, emotion, or feeling. The fact that I feel good about believing I’m a millionaire doesn’t make me a millionaire. When you check the external evidence of my bank account you will see that my internal belief was false (in fact, really false).
Second, make sure the external evidence is actually corroborating the claim the person is making. I often see examples of people using evidence that supports a claim that is different from their original claim.
For example, I once read an article claiming to “prove” Darwinian evolution of how one animal kind is able to change into another animal kind. The evidence given was that a new kind of shark was discovered, but this evidence didn’t corroborate their view. Their evidence supported microevolution because when two different sharks breed you get a new type of shark. This is not a change from one kind to another but a change within a kind.
We have to remember that there is truth to be discovered in our world even if it is not obvious. Sometimes the truth is right in front of us, but people think it’s irrelevant.
Because of this, we might have to put in a little extra work. We must discover the truth, live by that truth, and help people around us see its importance. The truth is worth it. In reality, we all know this.
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