Thursday, May 24, 2007

"What Is Truth?" Won Point? Oh!

Thus begins the "what is truth?" series.

I believe Pilate made famous the questions, "What is Truth?" I think he really wanted to know. I wish Jesus would have answered like Jack Nicholson and said, "You can't handle the truth," but he didn't.

"What is truth?" is a great question. It can be an honest question, but it isn't always. Some people feel like only other people should be asking the question because they already know the answer. Some people think that other people should ask them what truth is. Others think they can never have any truth or that it is arrogant to say one knows even a particle of truth.

I wonder what the truth about truth is. The followong questions will be pursued in this series. I'd love to ahve some good conversation as this series progresses. I do not come to these questions as a theologian. I come as a regular Christian who has learned, unlearned and relearned and reunleanred and questioned and been confused and confident, sometimes in the same sentence. I come with questions to the question.

Is truth something that can be known by reciting scriptures and practicing rituals?
Is truth something that can be known in its entirety?
If truth causes harm, is it really true truth (are there untrue ways to truth)?
Is truth a collection of select content, a process, a direction, a way, a level of beauty, a potential?
Is truth found in facts, in metaphor, in story, in myth, in proof, in promise?

There may be more questions that arise as the series begins, but this is the promise of a series of at least five more posts. I hope you'll join me with a lively conversation.


Keith Brenton said...

I can't read or hear that passage without the lyric from "Jesus Christ: Superstar" running through my head; Pilate asking Jesus:

"But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths ... aren't mine the same as yours?"

Bad rhyme (works better with an British accent), but interesting theological questions.

Marshall Brown said...

This may not be what you're asking for, but here's a couple of immediate thoughts that come to my mind.
I have to believe that at least some truth can be known. Otherwise, why would Jesus have said that we can know it (Jn. 8:32)?
I also believe that it's dangerous to subscribe to the philosophy that says that everyone gets to decide his/her own truth - what may be true for you may not be true for me, and you have no right to impose your perception of truth on me.

John Alan said...

I've said it before on this blog: Partial truth can still be real truth as long as we don't take it to be the whole truth.

Fajita said...

I wonder if learning truth is (in part) like learning about the universe. On the one hand we have tools (Hubble Telescope, electron microscope) which help us observe and discover what is way out there or is so tiny, but then on the other hand analytical skills and methods that help to define these observations.

There is always more to truth than we can find or define, and yet there is that which we can know with some decent accuracy.

I like what john alan said about partial truth that can still be real truth. I think that is hard for many people to accept, from many directions.

Some people are offended at the thought that they don't know all truth. Others are offended at the idea that someone can claim to know any truth.

I would like to mention here that truth is not contained only in knowledge, but also in process, in beauty, in way, and in other categories I'm not thinking about or have never even contmeplated.

If we leave truth to knowledge alone, we suffer from narrow-mindedness.

Marshall Brown said...

I think you're right, Faj. One cannot limit truth to just factual knowledge.
In the biblical realm, usage of the word "truth" usually has as much or more to do with genuineness and sincerity than with indisputable fact. That is evidenced when Satan is tempting Jesus and even quotes scripture. He spoke a fact, but he was completely insincere in his usage of that fact. So it wasn't really truth, was it?
So then I guess I'm adding a question to your list of questions: in our search for truth, should we be searching more for factual data or for sincerity...or for a balance of the two?

Fajita said...

Right on Marshall. Genuineness and facts do not necessarily contradict, so there can be 100% of each, theoretically. That is balance. There is no sacrificing one for the other.