What is truth?

October 18, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
Photo by queenzombie

Photo by queenzombie

What is truth?

Big question, right?

It’s something philosophers have been pondering for as long as there have been philosophers pondering. I’m not going to pretend to be able to answer it here but I would like to list a few things that truth is not.

Belief is not truth.

Faith is not truth.

Desire is not truth.

Hope is not truth.

Vague prophecy is not truth.

The other day a believer in a religion forum conversation I was a part of told me that he hopes that some day I learn the “truth” and get saved. I am always wary when a word is willfully and consistently misused. There is an Orwellian doublespeak creepiness about the mis-use of the word “truth” by believers that is disturbing to me whenever I hear it.

People often speak of a personal truth and I suppose that concept has some validity, but all too often that personal revelation, which ends up being called truth, is applied to humanity as a whole. In other words, “My truth must be your truth”. That is a very myopic viewpoint and one thing about belief in God that has always rubbed me the wrong way.

That same believer more recently posted that because he knows the truth no one will ever be able to change his mind or shake his faith. He is mistaken if that’s what he thinks the non-believers are trying to do by arguing against certainty. Why would I want to take away from him his life’s philosophy that he has worked so hard to discover? Conversely, why would he want to deny me mine?

As an atheist all I have ever wanted from believers is respect. Respect for my doubts. Respect for my journey. Respect for MY personal “truth”.

Does belief rule out respect and understanding for other paths of life? I don’t think so but if that is the case, that is just one more reason that I would prefer to hold on to my doubts.


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Category: Meaning of Life, Religion

About the Author ()

Mike Pulcinella is a documentary filmmaker.

Comments (4)

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I am generally annoyed by the page, found on many websites created by aggressive Christians, plainly labeled "Truth". It is usually some hopeful or arrogant affirmation of their faith based on a particular interpretation of a particular translation of the 1,700 year old updated second version of the 2,600 year old anthology known as The Bible.

  2. Truth is a process, involving in part recognition. People confuse Truth with fact all the time—a fact can be true, but truth can be more. The one thing it is not is static, and that's where it parts company with religion, which attempts to nail it down and define it as one thing.

  3. Karl says:

    You are correct that all people that think they have a grasp of truth are dead wrong, be they scientists or religious people of political despots.

    If a person stops considering that what they know is possibly only partially correct and therefore hindering them from considering further possibilities they are far from remaining along the complete path of the process of truth.

    Similarly if one has made one's mind up about a matter before considering both further evidence and what this further evidence might imply they are blinded to ever coming to the truth.

  4. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    In a logical context, truth is the perception of what a fact is, often based on observation.

    In a broader sense, truth is more often determined by the memetic framework one bases his world view on.

    The determination of what is truth is an operant process which can and often does suffer from operant bias.

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