What Is Truth?

1 + 1 = 2 Is that statement true? What makes adding one and one together equal two? Why doesn’t it add up to three? If you have any experience with mathematics, then you know the above statement is simply correct—it’s just true. Most people, regardless of religious belief or background, agree that there is such a thing as truth, and it is absolute. The truth matters. Explore more here.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Why is it important to talk about and understand truth?
  2. What's the difference between someone who claims that truth exists and someone who claims to know the truth?

One of the things that, that at least is true of, of contemporary philosophy, academic philosophy is that you'll find almost everybody agreeing there is such a thing as truth and it's absolute. Um, the idea that there's no truth and that it's relative is really unpopular among my colleagues, even among atheists, materialists, and so on.
I think where you're born, um, and who you're born to, um, is the beginning determining factor, uh, of your worldview and how you shape and form truth, but if all truth is malleable and all truth is subjective, uh, then there is no truth. Uh, moment by moment, what may be true for me— the sky is green— and what may be true for you— the sky is pink— uh, well, is that actually truth? Or is there an objective reality that, no, we're looking at it, and it's actually blue.

Truth is like that. I mean, 2 plus 2 is 4. It's either true or it isn't true. It can't be true for some people and false for others, just it is or it isn't. Now, post-modernism is a little more consistent, I think, in that it just says, "Forget truth." Uh, don't worry about it, uh, think about other things. And you can do that, I guess, to some extent, Again, it's hard as a human being to really do that, and you'll find even the most thoroughgoing postmodernist at some point saying, "Wait that's just false," right? "And it's important that it's false." If you say, "There's no such thing as truth," then what about the Holocaust? Well, that really happened, right? It's important to say that it happened. Well, yeah, it is, so there you got it. I mean, truth matters.

The real issue, I think, uh, with this idea of the relatively of truth and truth being objective, uh, is not so much what truth is but more so, how do we know truth? And so for me, when I have conversations, uh, with my friends, you know, on this point, many of them agree, "Okay, maybe I don't mean that truth is relative, but I'm very concerned of people who are claiming that they have the truth and are pushing that on everyone else." So for me, the question boils down to, uh, knowing the truth, not so much identifing what truth is.