Proof for Absolute Truth

"Truth" is defined as: "the real state of things; fact; reality; an accepted statement or proposition." Some suggest that there is no true reality, only perceptions and opinions, while others argue that there must be some absolute basis. This being said, we can say that there are two diametrically-opposed beliefs related to absolute truth:


Either:


1. There are no absolutes that define reality. Everything is relative, and thus there is no actual reality. There is ultimately no authority for deciding if an action is positive or negative; right or wrong.


Or:


2. There are absolutes that define what is real and what is not. Thus, actions can be deemed right or wrong based upon how they measure up against these absolute standards.


ULTIMATE ASSUMPTIONS


Our perspective on absolute truth should be determined by the one who is the ultimate authority, or maker, of all things. (This follows because the maker of all things has defined reality, thus becoming the standard for what we understand to be real.) For those who believe that the "maker" was God (a personal, all-powerful Intelligent Being), absolute truth is derived from properly understanding who God is and what His "will" is for His creation.


Those who reject the idea of a personal maker must believe that an impersonal one -- chance -- has determined reality. Hence, chance (which by definition has no standard or objective sense) is the only "real" thing in the universe. Everything is a chance occurrence, including our ability to understand who and what we are talking about! "Meaning" is a fantasy. There is no way to derive a standard of truth that has any authority. Anything goes!


Let's consider some of the logical outcomes of believing one way or the other:


If I believe that a personal God created all things, I can know:

--I was created for a purpose


--My level of fulfillment in life will be based on how well I accomplish the objectives ("will") of my Creator.


--Some actions are right, while others are wrong. I can discover this difference by learning about the Creator's plan.


--I am accountable to the Creator for my behavior.

If I believe that "forces" of chance randomness created all things, I can know:

--That nothing is truly knowable, since there is no standard by which to define reality or by which to measure the factual nature of any given idea.


--That no action is any better than another, hence, all actions are meaningless.


--My life has no value or purpose, because, in a very real sense, it is an accident


--I am not accountable for my behavior, because nothing I do matters.

PROOF THAT ABSOLUTES MUST EXIST


The denial of absolute truth has more than a few serious logical problems. If we will "follow the train of thought to the station" we will find that it "derails."


Problem #1 -- Self-Contradiction. Those who would insist that there are NO absolutes are believing in an absolute. They are absolutely sure that there is nothing that is absolute. Such a philosophy is self-defeating and self-contradictory. Their statement of belief is, in itself, evidence against their belief!


Problem #2 -- Limited Knowledge. A human being, with a limited and finite mind, cannot make absolute negative statements. You can't say: "There are no dogs in Alaska" unless you have absolute knowledge of Alaska...every home, cave, etc. You would be forced to say: "With the knowledge I have now and the small evidence I have observed, I don't think there are any dogs in Alaska." (On the flip side, making an absolute positive statement is possible, because if we see dogs in Alaska, we could make the absolute statement "There are dogs in Alaska.") Likewise, a finite human cannot make the statement: "There is no God" (although many try), because they would have to have absolute knowledge of the entire Universe from beginning to end in order to know that. The best one could really do would be to say: "With the limited knowledge I have, I don't believe that there is a God." The same logic applies to the statement people make "There are no absolutes."


Problem #3 -- The Real World. Let us, for a moment, suppose that everything really is relative (no standards of any kind). That would mean that everybody does what they think is right--setting their own rules for life. The problem comes when one person's rules clash with another's. What if one person decides that killing is a noble thing to do, and so attempts to kill everyone in sight? If things are relative, then killing is just as right as not killing. Cruelty is equal to non-cruelty. Would you have a problem with that? Of course, most of us would.


When locked in the chambers of philosophy, we can kick around wild ideas about nothing really existing, or nothing being absolute. But the real world greets us when we emerge from that chamber--a world full of life and death, suffering and pleasure, evil and good. If there is no standard of truth in the Universe, then one can never be sure of anything. It is all an accident. We would be free to do as we please--rape, murder, steal, lie, cheat, etc. Who is to say that those things are wrong? A world without absolutes would be horrible indeed!


So, the other possibility--that there is indeed absolute truth in the Universe, can be our only other option. There must be a "reality" somewhere, that defines what is and what is not, what is right and what is wrong. In order for there to be absolute truth, there must be an authority that establishes that truth. You cannot have a law without a lawgiver. You cannot have a design without a designer.


Proof #1 -- Conscience. If you believe in absolute truth then you must accept the idea of a Creator--someone made you and implanted in you a moral code--a conscience. Our conscience tells us that the world "should be" a certain way. It informs us that something is wrong with suffering, starvation, rape, pain, and evil. It informs us that love, generosity, compassion, and peace are positives for which we should strive.


The only rational explanation for the existence of such a "inner knowledge" is God. The Bible makes it clear that it was God who established the Universe. It testifies that God created the world and made mankind. It records God's moral absolutes that He expects His creations to live by. According to the pages of the Word of God,


--it was He who set in motion the laws of nature and conscience.


--he is the architect behind the grand design of our world.


--he is the author of the moral absolutes that govern the hearts of men.


If one accepts the idea of God as Creator, then it becomes easy to understand where morality came from. Why do people disagree with innocent killing? Why are people repulsed by the idea of sexually abusing little children? Why do we think it is wrong to steal someone else's property? It is because God told us. Those morals certainly did not flow out of millions of years of chance evolution and the survival of the fittest-- in fact, evolution would teach us the exact opposite set of guiding principles! Evolution tells us to do whatever it takes to survive and get ahead...not to show love and compassion to the weak!
Proof #2 -- Science. The word science simply means "knowledge." It is the study of what we know, and the quest to know more. Thus, any scientific study must necessarily be founded upon the belief that there are objective realities in the world. (Interestingly enough, many historical scholars surmise that the scientific revolution in the West grew out of the study of the Bible following the "Reformation." As the Bible was printed and distributed, people began to realize that there were laws by which God governed the universe, and began giving up superstition in order to learn about the world God had made.) At any rate, we understand that it would be very difficult for someone to pursue a field of study, while at the same time rejecting that there is any definition of reality. Without absolutes, what would there be to study? How could you know if your ideas were correct? How would you even know if your perceptions of what you were studying were real? You wouldn't, because you wouldn't believe in "real" to begin with!


Proof #3 -- Religion. All the religions of the world are an attempt to give meaning and definition to life. They represent the fact that humanity is craving something "more" than physical existence. We want assurance for the future, hope for the afterlife, forgiveness for our sins, peace through our struggles, and answers for our deepest questions. Why do we want these things? It seems clear enough that the animal world is not pursuing philosophy or grappling with issues of eternity. If we are mere chance accidents, all flowing out of a common animal ancestor, why did we turn out with an insatiable desire to know and grasp reality? Religion is proof that mankind was built with something more...a higher purpose. There must have been a Creator, personal and purposeful, who implanted in us this desire. If there is a Creator, then there is a reality which He has defined in creation. He becomes the standard for absolute truth.


THE ULTIMATE PROOF


If you want to know what the absolute answers are, then get to know the One who has absolute knowledge. If you want the truth about the beginning of the world and the purpose we are on earth...talk to the One who was there! If you want to understand what standards we must follow as human beings, talk to the One who has defined reality! The ultimate proof that there is absolute truth will not come through some clever philosophical argument. It will come from a personal encounter with the One who declared: "I am the Truth."


The Bible says in Romans 1:18-20 that


"..What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."


God has implanted in us and all around us the knowledge of Himself. Creation testifies that He is real…so men are left without excuse.


He has laid down His absolute moral code for His creation….one only need look at the Law of God in the Bible. There it clearly outlines right and wrong--good and evil.


Psalm 19:7-10 declares:


"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure, and altogether righteous." (NIV)

4 comments:

Rick A. Jacoby said...

Hi,
First, I like the web site name. I, too, am a staunch believer in Absolute Truth.
I was wondering if you had considered that it's possible people might not *actually* think they are worthless because their existence is random.
It's the *opposite* for some--feelings of despondency and worthlessness at the thought of a God/Goddess/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Spock/Imaginary Friend/Whatever creating them like a bacteria sample in a petri dish. Now *that* is a worthless existence to many--manipulated from the beginning of all time, the playthings of a supreme being--THAT, my friend, is a worthless life to many people.
I must also suggest that it is downright insulting when you claim that lack of a belief in a God makes someone unable to feel as though their actions have consequences. Do you really believe this? I must ask; some people really do think this way. Of course this isn't the case! Do athiests ever get arrested? Do they know what they're doing is wrong beforehand? Sure, they do! Probably at the same rate as Christians, per capita...humanity is weirdly predictable like that.
So your statement that lack of belief leads to the idea that actions have no consequences is, at best, silly--and at worst it is insulting and condescending, and you will anger or lose readers with lazy and fallacious logic like that.
Even your first statement is erroneus, and it is the closest to being accurate of the four. You say nothing is truly knowable to someone who doesn't believe in God. But that same person doesn't believe in God--oh, crap, see? You've made the same mistake as the logical contradiction of saying "There are no absolutes."
Since the person has analyzed this God person, and come to a conclusion (in this case that there isn't one), then they've probed the issue to their satisfaction--I'd say they found the subject *very* knowable, directly contradicting your sentiment.
I guess my point is...hell, there's no nice-sounding way to say this but I do mean it constructively:
Christians should stick to preaching scripture and telling scary stories, and leave the chore of logic and rationality and explaining how the universe actually functions to those who specialize in it.

DanJ said...

Rick A., thanks for the honest comments. Here are a few things to consider:
You mentioned that: "[If humans are] the playthings of a supreme being--THAT, my friend, is a worthless life..." I agree wholeheartedly. I can't understand religious people who have that type of perception of God having any basis for joy or purpose in life. Were that true, it would indeed be a dark existence.
You said: "it is downright insulting when you claim that lack of a belief in a God makes someone unable to feel as though their actions have consequences." I see your point, although technically that's not what I'm trying to say. What I'm suggesting is that there is no authoritative basis (objective proof) for a purposeful life for those who believe their existence is random. They may feel purpose well enough, and may live wonderful lives; but as far as I can tell, the feelings of purpose they would feel have no basis outside of themselves. I'm willing to rethink this point, though, as I freely admit I could have this wrong.
You said: "So your statement that lack of belief leads to the idea that actions have no consequences is, at best, silly..." I agree - that would be a silly statement to make. Obviously actions have consequences. What I was pointing out is that without a creator, there is no way of interpreting those actions or consequences as morally right or wrong, purposeful or pointless - except by individual feelings. Hence, in a Creator-less world, there would be no "absolute" truth - just personal opinions about morality and the desirability of various consequences. And there would be no ultimate accountability for moral choices - just the "survival of the fittest."

Niwre said...

Hi, I think your two statements about the existence or absence of absolutes is not exhaustive and is based on a serious set of assumptions. Your immediate jump to the choice between God or Chance creating all things is a step too far too soon for me, and both are in my view not even mutually exclusive. If logic as we know it is a fair method to follow (BIG assumption, I know) we can falsify everything down to the bear truth of being (I am, full stop). All else is based on observation, perception and interpretation and cannot be universally true. That's absolute, but does not imply creation by a God. I further believe that this theory is not complete. The absolute truth is only absolute because we cannot follow the path any further, a bit like cells once being the smallest particles until we discovered atoms to take their place, until we discovered.....etc.

Daniel Jarvis said...

Excellent thoughts here, Niwre.  I guess I am surmising that there is either an ordered, intentional explanation for reality, or there is pure chance.  And, as logic appears to me, the most coherent explanation for intentional reality would be God/Intelligence.  If reality is not intentional, then Chance is only remaining answer (unintentional things are chance, the way I understand them).  I realize a mixture of the two is probable as we look around us - but still, one or the other had to be the ultimate cause.
You said: ...we can falsify everything down to the bear truth of being (I am, full stop). All else is based on observation, perception and interpretation and cannot be universally true. Thats absolute, but does not imply creation by a God...   I agree that the direct implication of being is not creation by a God, but there is an implication that if I am - and I did not create myself, something (unintentional nature/chance) or someone (intentional intelligence/God) created me. I certainly see that at many levels of this discussion, some faith assumptions, and some common sense assumptions must be made (or else the discussion itself would be nearly impossible :-).
To your final illustration regarding cells, atoms, etc. - I agree.  Our observations/interpretations are limited by our current perceptions, technologies, etc.  I am absolutely certain that there is a dramatic amount of information that we do not know, and maybe cannot know, about reality.  But, in your scenario, the discovery of atoms did not reverse or disprove the existence of cells - it merely rearranged our understanding of where cells fit into the big picture.  The existence of cells has remained absolute, but additional information has corrected (for now) our understanding of their makeup.  Couldnt the same be true of ourselves, God, etc.?  We may have enough information now to make a positive statement about their existence and even some coherent information about their purpose - but knowing full well that many more dots may be connected for us as we learn more?

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