Absolute Truth and Exclusivity

To claim that there is no Absolute truth is in itself a statement in which the teller is claiming to have an absolute truth. Therefore, by its own grounds makes no sense at all. To claim that there is no absolute truth is just as controversial and faith based as claiming that Jesus is the Truth. The question cannot be whether or not there is an exclusive absolute truth, rather the question should be "Which exclusive claim of truth produces the most inclusive and loving behavior?" The answer to that is seen only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ who claimed to be God and died the substutationary death for our sin. This is what CS Lewis called the "Great Exchange". Where Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin, paid our penalty by absorbing the wrath of God on the cross, so that we may become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5)

Real orthodox belief in that TRUTH can only produce a following of the same example which is just about as inclusive and loving as one can be. The gospel paints a picture of loving those who should not be loved and accepting those who should not be excepted. Christianity is the only religion that makes those claims. True Biblical Christianity also assumes that non-Christians are no worse than Christians; because Christianity is not about being moral, rather it is about recognizing your sinfulness but being justified by Christ. Looking at life and the world through this gospel lens, can only create peace and a non-judgmental attitude from the believer. If that is not the case; which often times it isn't, the believer is not really looking at life through the true orthodox gospel lens. In conclusion, True Christianity is an exclusive belief that produces inclusive behaviors which is bent towards love. Every belief, even is the belief claims that there is no truth, is a belief in truth.

How does this effect me:
I no longer feel the need to intelectually prove my belief over someone else's. No belief can be fully proven, all beliefs are an act of faith. Truth be told, I cannot prove anything, it is only the Spirit that bears witness to Jesus Christ, not my crafty words or intelligence. Instead, I now feel the freedom to just put my belief in the same pool of every other belief BUT....knowing that my belief produces the most inclusive and loving behaviors. In the end, I need to do a better job at looking at the Gospel of Christ and allow the gospel to transform my life so that when people see me they will praise my Father in heaven. That is why character is so important.

My thoughts on "The Reason for God" Chapter 1

85 comments:

Drew said...

Interesting take, but I feel you present a false dichotomy.

As a postmodern pragmatist, I see a lot of misunderstanding about certainty claims and truth. Indeed, it may well be the attitude of a college freshman after a few too many beers to proclaim "This is the only absolute truth: There are no absolutes!" Yes, it's insipid to the point of being tautological.

Rather, the idea I would put forward is that there very well could be such a thing as an absolute truth, but such subjective beings as humans are incapable of gaining full access to it. This fits will with a Christian worldview, actually.

Regardless of all that, there exists a broad spectrum of perfectly reasonable philosophies that address just these questions regarding truth.

Without saying so, you become very pragmatic with this statement:
the question should be "Which exclusive claim of truth produces the most inclusive and loving behavior?"

I'll play the Devil's Advocate by visiting upon you the criticism from which I must most often defend myself as a postmodern pragmatist, but first I need to properly set up the question. It would seem to me that you are espousing here the notion that an idea or position can have its merit judged based upon its real-world implications, which is pragmatism in a nutshell (See: Thomas Dewey, Richard Rorty for reference). I agree mostly with this, but it is highly susceptible to criticism as this line of reasoning is circular.

The other, nastier side of this coin is that your conclusion that those whom follow Christ exhibit more moral behavior than those who do not is highly debatable. I will not introduce any red herrings, but I think we saw an example of this over the weekend. Clearly, mentally disturbed people can use any sort of means necessary to justify their behavior, but if blind obedience to an intangible were not exalted to a place of prominence and even undue respect in our society, would he have been able to remain in society at large?

Hit me back, this one is interesting.

Matt Chewning said...

D,

Thanks bro. Can you help me. From my research there seems to be multiple levels of the philosophy of someone who defines themselves as a postmodern pragmatist. So, in very easy English, can you define what you believe that puts you in the category of a postmodern pragmatist?

You stated the following "that there very well could be such a thing as an absolute truth, but such subjective beings as humans are incapable of gaining full access to it." This is hard for me to grasp. In essence what you have done is given me your absolute truth. You believe that "absolute truth" is that as humans we are incapable of gaining full access to truth. That in itself is an absolute claim. Although, on the outside, this seems to be a humble statement, when I look deeper, you seem to be making a contradictory statement. One cannot claim that as humans we cannot know absolute truth, without suggesting that he himself has the absolute truth.

Your other comment "The other, nastier side of this coin is that your conclusion that those whom follow Christ exhibit more moral behavior than those who do not is highly debatable." Actually, that is not what I said in the post at all. Actually, this is far from what I believe. I specifically wrote "True Biblical Christianity also assumes that non-Christians are no worse than Christians" In other words, I believe that there are Non-Christians that are much more moral than I am. Actually, Christians as a whole, should never be surprised to find a non-believer who is more moral than him/her. That is where the gospel comes into play.

The gospel says that we are saved by faith, not by works so that no man can boast. Romans 1:17 says "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." The orthodox Christian belief is that we are not saved by our moral character, but instead by God's grace. This leads me to believe that there are many who will be more moral than me. As a Christian continues to walk with God, his morality should improve however, the bible explains that this is a very slow process. It's the doctrine of "Progressive Sanctification".

I agree with this statement "you become very pragmatic with this statement: the question should be "Which exclusive claim of truth produces the most inclusive and loving behavior?" From what I understand about being pragmatic, I guess that was a pragmatic statement.

Hey man, what did you mean by this. Send me a link.
I will not introduce any red herrings, but I think we saw an example of this over the weekend. Clearly, mentally disturbed
people can use any sort of means necessary to justify their behavior, but if blind obedience to an intangible were not exalted to a place of prominence and even undue respect in our society, would he have been able to remain in society at large?

Keep it coming...

Drew said...

The story I was referencing was the murder of one Dr. Tiller at the man's church by a whackjob. I don't remember the suspect's name. It's all over various news sources, a Google News search should get it for you.

It's not really an easy thing to do, distill epistemological assertions (that is, assertions about the nature of reality) down into easy, bite-size chunks. This is why I don't have any bumper stickers on my car. :)

The reason why "there very well could be such a thing as an absolute truth, but such subjective beings as humans are incapable of gaining full access to it." is not an 'absolute' statement is because it doesn't make any absolute claims. It's merely conjecture. I consider the height of arrogance to make claims about absolute truth, because you yourself are an entirely subjective being. Everything you know with so-called 'certainty' could be entirely false. You could have been created a few seconds ago, with all your memories intact. This view is called solipsism, and I reject it in this extreme form.

But the point still stands, while we can have reasonable degrees of certainty about many things, to take a word whose definition is already quite muddled and abstract such as "truth" and then tack on an obsequious (and arguably) pejorative term like "absolute" only serves to confuse the issue even more.

Suppose that there is no such thing as a truly objective understanding of reality, or "truth"? I do not think this is so, but I can only be reasonably certain that is the case, and I cannot dismiss the possibility entirely that I could be wrong.

That is part of what "postmodern" means, as I use the term.

I'll come back to pragmatism when I have some more time.

Drew said...

Here's a tl;dr:

Ultimately, neither you nor I *know* anything at all with the degree of knowledge required to say "this is absolutely true". All that is required to prove something *not* absolutely true is a single example to the contrary. This is why using terms like absolute only serves to cloud thinking. We haven't even established that absolutes exist! You can't put the cart before the horse.

There is an ontological argument that I think you espouse unknowingly as well. That is to say, simply because you can think of something does not guarantee its existence. I cannot prove that such a thing as an absolute exists, and it is not enough to say "well, I can imagine something that is absolute, so therefore they must exist in the real world."

Edgar Allen said...

Good post Matt, very positive.

Matt, I think you nailed Drew by exposing his claims to be absolute. Here's Drew's response to your response:

"The reason why "there very well could be such a thing as an absolute truth, but such subjective beings as humans are incapable of gaining full access to it." is not an 'absolute' statement is because it doesn't make any absolute claims. It's merely conjecture."

Let's look at this statement of Drew's.

"there very well could be such a thing as an absolute truth"

Yeah, that's not an absolute claim. I agree. But what about the next part of the statement?

"but such subjective beings as humans are incapable of gaining full access to it."

In particular the words, "humans are incapable of gaining full access to it(absolute truth)"

That is an absolute claim.

There are things that 'are' and things that 'are not'

The things that 'are' exist as absolute truths independent of my or drew's observation. Shopehaur called it "the thing in itself"

I love picking apart Drew's comments. Let me just look at this one really quickly,

"Everything you know with so-called 'certainty' could be entirely false. You could have been created a few seconds ago, with all your memories intact. This view is called solipsism, and I reject it in this extreme form."

You reject it in this extreme form but you embrace this extreme form temporarily and use it to defend your view of absolute truth. First you fall back on it then you say it's bunk?

See, that is what happens when you try to defend something that is wrong or untrue I should say.

Matt, Drew and others like him flounder around clumsily in debates like this because their belief is based entirely on contradiction! I mean what is this coming down to? Maybe you are ALL just a figment of MY imagination and only I exist? Come on...be for real.

I noticed that in this conversation Drew had his dictionary open and wrote many words. Not really saying anything though, but many words.

"But the point still stands, while we can have reasonable degrees of certainty about many things, to take a word whose definition is already quite muddled and abstract such as "truth" and then tack on an obsequious (and arguably) pejorative term like "absolute" only serves to confuse the issue even more."

The issue is not confusing. What is confusing is your claiming to not make any absolute claims yet you continue to drive home the point that "while we can have reasonable degrees of certainty about many things,..."

What's this "reasonable degree of certainty?" Some things are known and some are not known. The things that are not known are the things that we can have a "reasonable degree of certainty" about. The things that are known knowns are true. We can go beyond degrees of certainty in that case.

I don't know. It's really obvious that truth exists and to argue against it you must court absurdity the entire time.

Drew is just another example of another agnostic liberal defending absurd viewpoints lest his world view begin to be undermined.

You can know anything, you can't make up your mind about anything, there are no absolutes, there are no convictions. Nothing! Agnostics who study history, philosophy and theology never make up their mind. Drew is going to be 55 years old some day and still have no idea what he believes.

Matt hit the nail on the head by pointing out that the statement, "there is no right or wrong" or "there is no absolute truth" is the king of all paradox's.

Edgar

Drew said...

I'll respond at length to your banality, Edgar. I lack the time now.

I didn't have a dictionary open, and it's a sad commentary on your vocabulary if you think I'd have needed one.

You and Matt make a positive assertion that absolutes exist, I am not ready to make that assertion without evidence. You're the one making the claims, I don't need to prove anything. I was merely offering the possibility that absolutes may or may not exist, or they may not be accessible to humans.

Drew said...

Actually, scratch that last bit.

Edgar, address my arguments and leave out the ad hominem and I may respond.

I was trying to offer Matt a way out; I was trying to give him a way to validate experiential evidence. If you want to talk in absolutes, then we're talking materialism. There is no way to accept the existence of the supernatural objectively, we can observe material causes for spiritual phenomena. I know Matt is a very religious person which is why I was concerned that he is going down that road.

Jen Shomo said...

Who is this Edgar Allen and why hasn't he commented before... nice, very nice!

Drew said...

He's a Poe if you couldn't tell by the name:

http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Poe%27s_Law

He follows me around. I'd have a battle of wits with him, but I decided a while ago that it's not right to do battle with an unarmed man.

Paul said...

It's a shame that discussions that could lead to a greater understanding of [...] and stronger belief of [...] often veer towards personal attack and judgement. That being said, I guess I'll chime in because I've enjoyed following this.

I can't yet personally reconcile the two concepts: "no absolute truth" and what I've come to believe as "the gospel and nature of Jesus Christ", so I choose to believe in absolute truth. But I won't completely ignore the fact that the subject matter is "bigger" than I'll ever be able to define, and I think it would be silly for me to ever say "i have it fully figured out and have it defined". I choose to believe in Jesus Christ because I too pragmatically approach my experiences and knowledge to date: (re: Dewey's constructive process of knowing - since he was referenced previously). And given my personal context, I feel it would be disingenuous for me to say anything other than Jesus is ABSOLUTELY TRUE TO ME, and I do not deserve the (His) grace I believe I've been gifted. For me to get all "feisty" and attack someone personally for not believing this would not be helpful or productive.

Matt Chewning said...

Hi Drew,

Sorry for not posting in a few days. Beth and I just had another baby boy. Jacob Matthew was born June 6th at 9:24pm. Mom and baby are doing great. The Matthew name lives on. :) Anyway, Thanks everyone for keeping the conversation going. I really enjoy talking through these things as it helps me learn a little more about myself and my beliefs as I continue to read and write. There were a few things that I pulled away from as I read Drew, Paul, and E. Allen.

Although I think that Edgar Allen's tone seemed a little harsh, I agree philosophically with most of what he was talking about. I would add submit him that the comments, "Drew is just another example of another agnostic liberal defending absurd viewpoints lest his world view begin to be undermined. Drew is going to be 55 years old some day and still have no idea what he believes." are harsh and a little off theologically.

Jesus says "My sheep will hear my voice", "Those who the Father give him, will never be taken away from his hands." That being said, Drew, I am believing God for you. Just as you are afraid that I am missing out and making blank assumptions, I also fear the same for you. I pray that God would call you to live into all that he has for you. I believe that with your education and intelligence, you would be a huge blessing to the ELCESIA. However, without God revealing those to you in ways like he did CS Lewis, (Intellectually) than it will never happen. Orthodox Christianity says that we cannot think our way into the kingdom, we can only be called into it. The reason that people like Paul and I believe what we do, has less to do with our education and intellect, and more to do with His grace. Paul prays it like this in Ephesians 1:17 "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better." Drew, that is what I pray for you. That is what your friend Paul prays for you. This is why I asked you the questions that I asked when we were exchanging conversation on the "Marijuana" blog. Those questions still stand, and are much harder ones to answer because they do not deal with your intellectual side which I believe you try to hide behind. (please do not take that as an attack, that is just an assumption from observation of previous conversations.)

cont............

Matt Chewning said...

............

You wrote The reason why "there very well could be such a thing as an absolute truth, but such subjective beings as humans are incapable of gaining full access to it." is not an 'absolute' statement is because it doesn't make any absolute claims.

I am having a hard time understanding how you can claim that this is not an absolute claim; so maybe let me offer some assistance. If you are saying that "subjective beings as humans are incapable of gaining full access to truth" I will ask the question…"Are you absolutely sure about that?" if you say "YES", then you are making absolute claims, if you say "NO", then you are saying that you are "Unsure" if it is possible for humans having access to absolute truth. Based on the rest of your post, it seems that you take the position of being unsure. If that is the case, it surprises me that people get all bent when someone like myself says that we are "Sure." When I make claims that I am sure about knowing Jesus as the absolute truth, please don’t take that as an arrogant claim. I make that claim on a similar basis, like lets say making a claim that your wife loves you. One would make that claim based on circumstantial and experiential evidence. She is nice to you, you feel like she is listening to you when you talk to her, she brings you pleasure, joy, satisfaction, comfort, etc. She is faithful to you, honest, trustworthy, committed, and she communicates to you that she loves you. All of those characteristics that would seem constitute a loving relationship. Therefore, you would claim that you are absolutely sure that your wife loves you. To move away from that would only bring despair.

The same is true with my relationship with Jesus, except that he is not physically visible to me. However, that should not be surprising though if he is God. It also doesn't take into the effect all the other people who make similar claims about Jesus being absolute, all having their own stories. Every Sunday about 2 billion people on the earth worship Jesus as God, not to mention that Christianity had no business outside of supernatural power to make it out of Jerusalem or the 1st century. Add to that my own personal experiences with Christ, and I feel (similar to how you feel) that I have more than enough evidence for a strong belief claim.

I would like to learn more about you and I think those other questions that I posed previous will help us get on a more level ground. I look forward to chatting and love reading your comments. They make me think, and I hope they do the same for you. Similar to what Paul wrote, I hope that this conversation can bring us both closer to Jesus.

Drew said...

I look forward to answering the questions you posed to me elsewhere, but I'd prefer to do so in a more personal context, which is why I haven't yet responded.

When addressing questions like these, I try to leave myself out of it. It might not be possible for humans to be truly objective, if objectivity even exists as more than a concept, but let it never be said that I don't try.

I found the implication that I'll be 55 years old and still not know what I believe to be one of the least offensive assertions on the part of Edgar, actually. I'll have been doing something right if that's the case. It's the insipid arrogance and woefully demagogical tone of posts like the one Edgar made above that I try my best to avoid. That said, I don't suffer fools gladly which is why I haven't bothered pointing out the myriad logical fallacies with which his post is rife. I like the fact as though you speak to me as though I'm a fellow human being.

I have the same problem that Brian does, posting here Matt. That is, I don't want to come here and be Mr. Contrarian, always tearing stuff down and making arguments. I could point to your post above and inform you that whoever wrote Ephesians, it was almost certainly not Paul. That is why I make myself scarce. I don't get angry when I argue, debate is what I do. It's stimulating. In the same way you might feel fulfilled from a more emotional experience like proper worship, I am fulfilled by argumentation and critical thought.

Edgar said...

Good conversation here but it's really not getting to the heart of the matter. Absolute truth is what we are debating correct?

So since it is just plain obvious that absolute truth exists, I feel the onus is on Drew to explain away the obvious.

This is like going for a walk in the woods with a friend and he says to you, "there may not be any trees in this forest," yet you are both surrounded by trees.

Denying absolute truth is like saying out loud, "I don't exist" and believing it. It's absolutely absurd!

Drew,

if you say there are NO known knowns, and you were correct, then you'd be absolutely true in your statement. That's an obvious paradox.

If you say there are known knowns then you believe in absolute truth. If you say there MAY be some known knowns then you've said nothing at all.

Why would humans be incapable of understanding absolute truths? 2+2=4. That's absolute truth. Who can deny it?

Liberals deny it. They take up the losing cause of defending such absurd arguments because it's really an argument about Relative Morality.

If absolute truth exists then so does Right and Wrong. That's a line libs never want to have to cross. Getting a liberal to admit that absolute truth exists would undermine their entire philosophy.

The Truth is too much for some people.

Edgar said...

"He follows me around. I'd have a battle of wits with him, but I decided a while ago that it's not right to do battle with an unarmed man."

Drew,

I was invited to comment here.

The art of effective communication is being able to convey your ideas so that everyone can understand them.

I take offense at your lofty tone, "As a postmodern pragmatist, I see a lot of misunderstanding about certainty claims and truth. " etc...

A lot of misunderstanding? As if you are the expert and you are going to set us straight?

Throwing around all these philosophical terms and whatnot, it fails to impress. Too many words and not enough real substance.

I don't want to hear about this world view and that world view, this kind of philosophy and that kind of philosophy.

I want to hear what YOUR ideas are Drew. Original ideas and arguments. Your OWN philosophy explained your own way.

Forget about semantics and all that smoke and mirrors stuff. Just shoot straight and talk about the ideas regarding absolute truth.

Drew said...

"So since it is just plain obvious that absolute truth exists, I feel the onus is on Drew to explain away the obvious."

Oh ho ho, nice try. That elicited a belly laugh from me.

I'm not the one making positive assertions about truth. The logical fallacy you have demonstrated in that statement is referred to as "shifting the burden of proof". If you've made a positive assertion that absolutes exist, it's on you to prove it.

The problem is that you can't prove a positive. 2 + 2 = 5 for large values of two. If something is absolute, it can be absolutely true with no exceptions or qualifications. I can think of no such thing. You also can't prove 2 + 2 = 4 by the way, it's what we refer to as a "brute fact". That means we don't know why it is the way it is, it just is. Probably because it doesn't actually exist as anything more than a concept, which is the only thing I am suggesting could be true about absolute truth, without making a claim either way. Since I am content that to be observed is what gives a thing substance, a world that lacks absolutes is perfectly suitable, as objects are given reality by description, and description comes from observation, which is driven by consciousness.

Drew said...

Think about what I'm saying in relation to how people view God. If there is one "correct" view of how to look at God, why are there so many denominations? The answer is that God may exist absolutely, but every subtle nuance of a human being's understanding of Him is very relative to that person's experiences, religious tradition, etc. So while God may be said to be absolute, it's completely meaningless for you, a human being, since you have such a relative and subjective lens through which you perceive Him. That's all I'm trying to communicate. Calling God absolute means virtually nothing, since humans are so abstracted from the gods described by most religious systems that we don't really have any way of making absolute claims about Him. How could we?

This is all very compatible with the message of the Christian Gospel. It is a social gospel and it's transformative, but the modern church has traded the real message of the gospel for a cheap and tawdry promise of eternal life in the hereafter, on the existence of which, we lack any real Biblical consensus.

Edgar said...

"You also can't prove 2 + 2 = 4 by the way, it's what we refer to as a "brute fact". That means we don't know why it is the way it is, it just is. Probably because it doesn't actually exist as anything more than a concept"

It's impossible to prove 2+2=4? This is a concept and that's it? Are you telling me that if I have 2 oranges and add 2 more oranges that I would not in fact have 4 oranges? Those 4 oranges do not exist? It's only a concept?

That's absurd!

See, according to your philosophy you can't even admit that 2+2=4. But then again if you did in fact admit that obvious truth then you would have to admit to other truths and that would completely undue your entire philosophy which is meant to protect you from having to deal directly with the issue of the existence of God.

Thus you are compelled to court absurdity and keep your head in the sand lest you see the truth and have to deal with it forthrightly.

If 2+2 doesn't equal 4 then there is no science, no math and degrees from universities mean absolutely nothing!

If someone says that "absolute truth doesn't exist" then that person is either speaking the truth or a lie.

If he is right, then that is a HUGE paradox. Am I the ONLY ONE who gets it? How can you say that absolute truth doesn't exist when in order for your statement to be meaningful it has to be true itself?

Drews line of reasoning is the result of liberal indoctrination both in school and probably college. They teach the kids that 2+2 might not equal 4 and that wiping poo on a canvas and calling it ART makes it ART.

People are no longer evil but insane. Murderers are not evil but rather the product of their society. God is bad and Gay is good.

Look around at society today. What's on tv and radio. What happens in the streets and in schools and on campuses. Look at how people are doping their kids up on drugs for this reason or that reason, adhd etc...

Liberal indoctrination has given us our present society. A society without values or common sense. A society where more than half of marriages end in divorce. A society where kids shoot each other in school. A society where people drug their kids rather than parent their kids. A society of irresponsibility, decadence and greed.

Drew said...

I wrote a nice long dissertation refuting your post point-by-point, but then I had an idea. Let me try your style of argumentation:

"Everyone can see that the god Apollo exists. How else would the sun rise in the morning?! To claim otherwise is just absurd when everyone can see that the sun rises!"

See how I've taken a premise, assumed it to be true, and then said nothing more of substance except to restate my premise.

Yeah. Read some of the things you've written. You might get it.

Drew said...

You seem like the kind of guy who likes to make appeals to "common sense", which of course isn't a valid logical style of argumentation.

The problem is that so-called "common sense" really only gets us so far. There is nothing common-sensical about particle physics, for example. The idea that there are billions of tiny cells, each of them more complex in their mechanisms than the most intricately-designed wristwatch, that make up your body; That is not something that one would discover using "common sense".

Words have meaning because humans assign meaning to them. The number two has no inherent meaning on its own. You don't have two oranges, you have oranges and the word used to describe the number of oranges you have is two. Number is a concept that you, as a human, superimpose on those oranges. Two can mean "2", like two physical oranges, or it can be the integer representation of 2.5121. If it is the latter, and you add it together twice, you get 5. This is a good example of when 2+2=5.

Drew said...

"If 2+2 doesn't equal 4 then there is no science, no math and degrees from universities mean absolutely nothing!"

Had to LOL at this one.

No, it means that the overly-simplified armchair-expert versions of those things that you espouse don't exist.

Edgar said...

"Everyone can see that the god Apollo exists. How else would the sun rise in the morning?! To claim otherwise is just absurd when everyone can see that the sun rises!"

See how I've taken a premise, assumed it to be true, and then said nothing more of substance except to restate my premise."

The problem with your analogy is that it is not true in the first place. All you have proven is that one can not claim a lie to be true and have it be so.

Or, borrowing from your very words one can not, "Take a premise, assume it to be true and make it such just by repeating the premise.

Let me give you a little lesson here. Your argument would have refuted mine IF I had said something like, "God exists because there is love in the world"

That's not what we are saying here. You are using the old straw man trick to try and wriggle out of this one.

For those that don't know what a straw man argument is, it's when one evades the uncomfortable burden of trying to prove a losing argument by proving a similar but much weaker argument wrong.

Let's look at your 2+2 nonsense.

"Two can mean "2", like two physical oranges, or it can be the integer representation of 2.5121. If it is the latter, and you add it together twice, you get 5. This is a good example of when 2+2=5."

LOL!!! LOL!!!

So what you are saying is that IF 2 didn't really equal 2 (in some other world) then 2 plus 2 wouldn't equal 4.

LOL!!! (Hearty Laughter)

Well, if it were TRUE (lol) that 2 didn't equal 2 then it would also be TRUE that 2+2 would not equal 4.

But the sum of the defined value of "2"+"2" the integer representation for "z",would still equal z+z. It's all still true! The product of the sum is and always will be true.

Drew, one day when you have kids teach them that 2+2=4 and 1+1=2.

Whatever number you take for this example works because when you add numbers you get results and those results are true. It's simple Drew.

So here you have denied that simple math is what it is. Absolutely amazing.

It takes GREAT FAITH to be a true liberal like Drew. In his world nothing is true (and therefore there are no facts) yet he strongly BELIEVES (by faith of course since there are no truths) in his world view.

Yet liberals like this will mock christians and their "faith"

Try again (no straw man this time) to refute the existence of truth. But if you are right then what you said will be true.

Matt Chewning said...

Hi Guys,

I havnt responded in a while so I thought I would share some things. We just had a new baby, my momma is in town and I have had limited free time. A few observations.

1. Drew, Paul most defintially wrote Ephesians. There has been very little arguments about that historically. You may be thinking of Hebrews. Ephesians 1:1 says "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" makes you think that Paul may have written the book.

2. I do not think that we can prove that Absolute truth does or does not exist. As a beliver in absolute truth and that Jesus is that truth, there is personal faith. However, on the same side, it takes just as much faith to believe that there is not any absolute truth. Non-the-less, both are absolute claims based upon evidense, experience and ones belief system. We cannot move away from the fact that we all have an exclusive belief syetem that we believe to be absolute truth.

3. Since we cannot agree on an absolute truth, can we shift the topic in a different direction? This was the questions that was posed in the origional blog. What exculsive absolute claim produces the most loving and inclusive behavior? What exclusive claim doesn’t margalize or oppress?

Edgar said...

"What exculsive absolute claim produces the most loving and inclusive behavior? What exclusive claim doesn’t margalize or oppress?"

None. That is if I'm understanding you correctly. I might be reading too much into it but any exclusive claim (not sure what you mean by claim) is exclusive and not inclusive.

When something is exclusive it excludes. That marginalizes someone by definition right?

For example; if one believes that Jesus Christ is the "absolute Truth" and his word is the "absolute truth," then how might those claims produce the most loving and inclusive behavior?

If you are a Christian then it is your duty to help save non believers from damnation. If we agree upon that then I can go a little further.

In the spirit of "Love thy enemy" it would seem that preaching the gospel to even those who hate you for it is a great example of inclusive behavior. After all, how many people include their enemies (people who despise you) on their "list of people to help?"

What better thing can a Christian do than to bring someone to Christ?

The problem is that the word of God is not inclusive but rather exclusive. True Jesus sat and ate with the "sinners" and all that but the Bible makes it clear what kind of behavior is sinful and what kind is not.

For instance, homosexuals don't like it if they are told they will not go to heaven because of what they do here on earth and how they live. But then again that is the exclusive nature of heaven.

Only a few will make it to heaven and wide is the gate to destruction. That's exclusivity.

In my personal view most Christians are too 'nice' and rarely speak their truths loudly enough. Christians are afraid to offend anybody even if by imparting those offensive truths they may save the listener some day.

That is one of the characteristics of the church in the End of Times. "Neither hot nor cold" but rather "lukewarm"

The Truth is offensive and often exclusive generally.

Drew said...

>1. Drew, Paul most defintially wrote Ephesians. There has been very little arguments about that historically. You may be thinking of Hebrews. Ephesians 1:1 says "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" makes you think that Paul may have written the book.

Where do you get this "historical data?" Ephesians is what we term a "pseudo-Pauline" letter.

>2. I do not think that we can prove that Absolute truth does or does not exist. As a beliver in absolute truth and that Jesus is that truth, there is personal faith. However, on the same side, it takes just as much faith to believe that there is not any absolute truth. Non-the-less, both are absolute claims based upon evidense, experience and ones belief system. We cannot move away from the fact that we all have an exclusive belief syetem that we believe to be absolute truth.

Strictly speaking, we can't really prove most things, but Edgar enjoys playing word games with me apparently.

>3. Since we cannot agree on an absolute truth, can we shift the topic in a different direction? This was the questions that was posed in the origional blog. What exculsive absolute claim produces the most loving and inclusive behavior? What exclusive claim doesn’t margalize or oppress?

I don't know how to answer the first question, about exclusive absolute claims producing loving and inclusive behavior. For the second question, I can only say that I cannot think of any exclusive claims that do not marginalize or oppress. If you take the Bible literally, Revelation seems to indicate that only about a hundred and forty four thousand people will be saved. That's pretty exclusive, and it marginalizes 99.9+% of the human race who's ever lived (it's a number over 10 billion that I'm too lazy to look up).

Drew said...

"...but the Bible makes it clear what kind of behavior is sinful and what kind is not."

ROFL

You can't be serious, unless you think that rape, incest, slavery, and polygamy are A-OK.

The only way the Bible is "clear" on practical moral issues is if you don't interpret it at all. But then we're left with an unworkable, barbaric system of pseudo-morality. So it has to be interpreted. How is that "clear"?

Drew said...

Also, stop calling me a liberal.

It's getting annoying.

I guarantee I'm further to the right than you could possibly stomach being.

Drew said...

When did I say that truth doesn't exist?

That part of your comment puzzles me.

Brian Hebert said...

Wow, we have ourselves wrapped around the axle on this one, don't we? The whole 2+2=? debate reminded me of an xkcd comic that was surprisingly apropos: http://xkcd.com/263/

Of course, in this context, universal mathematical truth means that it is universal within the context of mathematics, which is an entirely conceptual field of study. The fact that Math is conceptual is what gives sets it apart from all other forms of knowledge, allowing us the rare opportunity to 'prove' something to be universally true (within its conceptual framework). Math can work with infinities just as easily as it can work with integers but only in the pure sense. The minute you take math and apply it to the real world, you are working with something that is math-like and entirely subjective. 2+2=4 as a concept is universally true, but when we try to apply that to Edgar's oranges example, we have to immediately start making assumptions. If I have two oranges, and I buy two more, how many oranges do I have? The common sense answer is four, but let's break down exactly what we are saying here (I'm not trying to be cute here or playing word games, that's not my style):

1. Establish an integer unit of measure

An orange consists of billions of molecules of all different kinds, not to mention an orange naturally splits into several pieces. You could also argue that a handful or bagful or oranges counts as a single unit. In this case I am assuming that Edgar was using a common sense approach to say that a whole orange equals 1. Keep in mind that this mapping is both dynamic and completely arbitrary. Different cultures could certainly have different 'common sense' standards and the mathematical concept would be true. In fact, failing to understand the unit of measure can, in fact, lead to a situation where your 2+2 does not equal your neighbors 2+2 at all. If I thought you borrowed two cups of sugar and were asking for two more, I would react quite differently than if you took two tires off of my car and asked for two more. The math is same in both cases, but the arbitrary measure that we applied to the concept dramatically changes the meaning and outcome.

2. Establish a real world equivalent of the operator (addition in this case)

What exactly do we mean when we 'add' oranges together? Are we talking about adding up the numbers of individual units? What method are we using to do this? In the real world it makes a huge difference. To better illustrate this, imagine I have two glasses of water. If adding them together means pouring one into the other, then do I still have two glasses, or did 1+1=1? Would your answer change if addition simply meant putting the glasses side by side? If we see a real world example of a math problem not working out (e.g. 1+1=1), it is not a breakdown of the universal truth, just a mistake in our assumptions. In this case it is a bad decision on the original unit of measure (glass of water). In the case of our orange example, I assume that Edgar was once again using a common sense approach to ask us to sum up all of the oranges in his possession, but again that is just an assumption.

So you can see that, while the concept of 2+2=4 is universally true, the real world version of it is anything but.

continued below

Brian Hebert said...

Truth works the exact same way. Absolute truth may or may not exist, I am not in a position to say either way. What I can say with absolute certainty is that anyone claiming to have an absolute truth is only speculating based off their relative experience.

"AH HA! You are caught in an intellectual paradox!", you might be tempted to say "Your claim that none of us can know absolute truth is, in fact, a statement of absolute fact itself!" I'm going to spell it out, but this is one of those times where you really need to resist the urge to retort with the same old rhetoric. If you felt this knee-jerk reaction, I would encourage you to spend more time thinking deeply about what other people have to say and less time looking for cheap shots. If this doesn't apply to you, I salute your open-mindedness!

The reason I can make an absolute claim in this manner is the same reason we can express mathematical truths. At this point, I am expressing a conceptual truth, not a physical one. Even if we cannot prove the existence of absolute truth, we can certainly describe the kind of being that would theoretically be able to (just like we can work with infinities in math, even if we can't work with them physically). Proving anything absolutely requires you to disprove all other possible explanations, so in short, anyone claiming to have genuine absolute truth would have to be omniscient, knowing with certainty that there are no other possibilities. None of us are omniscient, so I can 'prove' (conceptually, just like in math) that none of us can know absolute truth, even if I cannot prove whether or not it exists. Since none of us can possibly speak to this fact, it renders the entire discussion moot. If you choose to believe in absolute truth, you are being intellectually dishonest if you claim that you have reasoned your way there. You may claim that you get this truth from your omniscient god, but we are now back to proving how your connection to god is any more genuine that the countless other claims that are out there. This is certainly a valid area on inquiry and debate, but this entire discussion seems like window dressing for 'god told me so and that is good enough for me'. If that is your reasoning, come clean with it up front and spare us all the time of a pretend rational debate.

(Caution, Rant Ahead)
There is no room in rational debate for 'personal conviction' or 'personal belief'. You may find the evidence sufficient to live your life by it, but in the halls of rational debate, only what you can demonstrate with either logic or evidence is considered valid (no appeals to authority). If you are not going to live by those standards, you have dismissed your opinion from consideration. In this case, it is far better to claim the Nuremburg defense of 'following orders' and drop the rationalized pretense.
(end rant)


My comments are directed at anyone in particular, but if you feel like what I'm saying applies to you, it probably does :)

TL;DR: Only concepts can be universally true, the minute you apply a concept to the real world, it becomes immediately subjective. Therefore any claims to absolute truth are speculative at best.

Drew said...

Hope you're not wasting your breath educating those who don't want to be educated, Bri.

How many times did I try to say the same thing you just did?

You can see it evidenced in the part where Edgar accuses me of stating that truth doesn't exist. How utterly laughable!

Whatever it is that you write, he will read it to mean whatever he wants it to mean so that he can hack at a straw man.

And I hope he proves me wrong.

Edgar said...

"The reason I can make an absolute claim in this manner is the same reason we can express mathematical truths. At this point, I am expressing a conceptual truth, not a physical one."

Oh brother...

Ok, if you want to be absurd then let's play. Everything is physical. All matter is energy. Energy vibrates at different frequencies. Thoughts are electromagnetic waves that vibrate so they too are physical.

Concepts are groups of thoughts which are merely bits of vibrating energy which is a physical thing.

Logic cannot disprove absolute truth, which by the way is no different than any truth.

Edgar said...

Brian,

You write, "What I can say with absolute certainty is that anyone claiming to have an absolute truth is only speculating based off their relative experience."

Yet on your own blog you quoted:

“Humans may crave absolute certainty; they may aspire to it; they may pretend, as partisans of certain religions do, to have attained it. But the history of science — by far the most successful claim to knowledge accessible to humans — teaches that the most we can hope for is successive improvement in our understanding, learning from our mistakes, an asymptotic approach to the Universe, but with the proviso that absolute certainty will always elude us.”

So when it suits you you embrace absolute certainty but when it doesn't suit you you wont embrace absolute certainty.

I see the writings of atheists littered with this kind of hypocrisy all the time.

Brian Hebert said...

Just leaving the same note here as the other thread, Matt. It seems that Edgar can turn off his seething hatred for long enough to dump out a couple of reasonable responses like these, but I know it won't last. I'll give him another reasonable response and he'll fly off into some tirade about my personal life. No thanks. If you or anyone else on this board want to continue this (pretty decent, IMO) discussion, I'll hop in. Edgar is a lost cause and not worth my time.

I'm sure he'll see this as supreme victory, which is fine. The one thing I always knew was that I would run into hardcore believers that simply cannot be reasoned with. His mind does work well, but he seems to be happy with superficial debate followed by temper tantrums. That just isn't my thing.

Edgar said...

Matt, I have to thank you because these discussions have been really fun for me.

@Brian

"It seems that Edgar can turn off his seething hatred for long enough to dump out a couple of reasonable responses like these, but I know it won't last."

I hate no one. But you want to paint me as a hater because then it's easier to attack me. The fact is you can't handle an equally combative and intelligent rebuttal to your arguments.

Easy way out. Call me a hater and try to marginalize my comments. That might work in a setting where everyone is a militant atheist like you but I doubt it's going to fly with Matts readers here. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

"The one thing I always knew was that I would run into hardcore believers that simply cannot be reasoned with."

I'm not a hardcore believer Brian. I've just more objective and see both sides.

SO in my response to your (brian) inconsistent use of absolute certainty (my last comment), in which you say one thing here and another on your own blog (which I quoted -don't want to be superficial) you have this to say:

"Edgar is a lost cause and not worth my time."

So you concede to me then that you embrace absolute certainty when you want to and kick it to the curb when you don't.

My main point here is not to attack you Brian or make you angry. My main point is to show you that you are guilty of the same kind of utterly dogmatic thought systems that you think you have escaped by opting out of religion.

But you haven't figured it out yet. You are busy defending your ego. But I understand. Maybe someday you will understand too, if you have the courage to question your NEW convictions.

Brian Hebert said...

An imaginary absolute (∞-∞=0) is completely different than a real one, even if you are a strict materialist. Pure logic can't prove whether or not an absolute exists (I never claimed it can), but it certainly can furnish the requirements of someone who potentially can. Sadly, no human fits the bill, so all claims to the truth are speculative at best.

You essentially spit back the exact objection that I went out of my way to explain away. I even gave you a little breather in the middle to point this out and you still came back with the predictable response. This means you either didn't read my post, didn't understand it, or you just didn't care. I consider it a test of your willingness to engage in reasonable discussion...you failed.

Edgar said...

"An imaginary absolute (∞-∞=0) is completely different than a real one, even if you are a strict materialist. "

Not in the new age of quantum physics. Einstein proved with e=mc2 that matter and energy are one. Everything is energy. That is what made e=mc2 SO revolutionary.

Up until that time physics made a distinction between matter and energy. Everything was believed to be made up of either matter or energy. But after Einstein and in particular e=mc2 the world of physics argeed that einstein had indeed proven that everything is energy, even matter.

One interesting implication here that did not go unnoticed was the effect of consciousness (literally!) on a scientific experiment with particular regard to subatomic particles.

The revolutionary and very exciting idea was that since your mind and thoughts are indeed energy and since subatomic particles (the very foundation of what we call matter)were also now considered energy, (as opposed to the old view of matter being a totally separate thing than energy), it was now impossible to truly be an objective outside observer of any experiment!

Before this time the mind (energy) and matter were thought to exist separately, where one cannot effect the other.

But now since matter is energy and the mind is energy a scientist could actually affect the outcome of an experiment but the mere existence of his consciousness.

A lot of people don't quite understand how revolutionary Einstein was.

Now in reference to the above quote: fundamentally there is no difference between an imaginary absolute truth and a so called real one. Both are energy and both are true.

A strict materialist should know that since everything is energy, he should not differentiate between "material" and "thought" -both of of the same substance, energy.

Brian Hebert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Hebert said...

(double post, didn't spell check)

You're talking about monism, which is entirely irrelevant.

Forget everything else in this thread for a second. I'll simplify this for you with a logical proof:

1. An absolute truth must hold true in all circumstances, at all locations, for all time.
2. Any being capable of validating an absolute truth must be able to validate each of the three defining characteristics.
3. Human beings cannot be exposed to all circumstances, cannot be in all locations, and only exist for a limited period of time.
4. Human beings cannot validate any of the three conditions of an absolute truth.
5. Human beings cannot make substantiated claims about any absolute truth.

That is exactly what I said in my post and is the exact sentiment that was captured by your quotes from my blog.

Edgar said...

"3. Human beings cannot be exposed to all circumstances, cannot be in all locations, and only exist for a limited period of time."

Is that TRUE in all circumstances, all locations and all times?

At this point there are two possibilities:

1. What you said is an absolute truth, which would then be a self defeating statement.

2. What you said was false and therefore your logic is faulty.

Did I miss something?

Brian Hebert said...

Human beings are not immortal, omnipresent, or omnicient. Are you arguing differently?

Edgar said...

I want everyone reading this post to pay special attention to brians unwillingness to confront this simple flaw in his logic.

"Human beings are not immortal, omnipresent, or omnicient. Are you arguing differently?"

I'm not arguing the truthfulness of your statement. I'm arguing against the construct of your logic. You are trying to use absolute truth to prove that absolute truth doesn't exist.


Let's refer back to my simple analysis of your logic:

"At this point there are two possibilities:

1. What you said is an absolute truth, which would then be a self defeating statement.

2. What you said was false and therefore your logic is faulty."

So which is it?

Brian Hebert said...

I addressed this no less than three times:

"At this point, I am expressing a conceptual truth, not a physical one."

"So you can see that, while the concept...is universally true, the real world version...is anything but."

"At this point, I am expressing a conceptual truth, not a physical one."

Let me try a fourth way, perhaps this will stick:

A logical (conceptual) truth is not the same thing as a real (physical) one. The minute you take my clean logical proof and try to apply it to the real world, you automatically have to start making assumptions (reread my 2+2 example). Since it is a human being making the logical statement, you have to assume that it can only apply to the scope of things that human beings are able to speak to. Logic is no different in this regard. The best I can say is that none of us can get past our own perspective, because our furthest reaching tool, Logic, points out our limitations. That means that if you are making a claim to a real absolute truth (not a conceptual one), you cannot have used logic or reason to get you there. If our collectively limited view makes it so that logic and reason are incapable of penetrating reality - which is the only scenario where my proof could be wrong - then you still have to demonstrate how your non-logical alternative is any more accurate. At that point though, you have increased your problem tenfold, as you now have to explain why logic helps us make accurate real life predictions in every other aspect of our lives except in the one circumstance where it happens to disagree with you.

Please don't ask me to explain this point a fifth time. Every objection you have raised so far has been addressed in my original post. Perhaps you should try reading my words with a bit more of an open mind and spend less time trying to look for easy shots. If there are flaws in my position, you aren't going to catch them using cheap tricks and misdirection.

Brian Hebert said...

Btw, you said this:

You are trying to use absolute truth to prove that absolute truth doesn't exist.

Another example of you not reading my words. I actually said the opposite of this no less than two times:

"Absolute truth may or may not exist, I am not in a position to say either way.

"Pure logic can't prove whether or not an absolute exists"

You just simply aren't carefully reading what I am writing.

Drew said...

Edgar is conflating Absolute Truth with truth.

No one here ever said that truth doesn't exist or that it isn't useful or accessible. You don't need any such thing as Absolute Truth with a capital "T" to speculate about the possibility of its non-existence. The tools you have *accessible* to you are just fine.

It is arrogant to claim that you know there is Absolute Truth. It is even more arrogant to claim that you know what It is.

Edgar said...

@Brian

(In response to my claim that your argument was invalid)

"I addressed this no less than three times:"

Actually you addressed it immediately with this, "Human beings are not immortal, omnipresent, or omnicient. Are you arguing differently?"

You tried to squirm out of it and deflect the argument. That is telling and shows that I'm winning this debate.

You've gone on to invalidate your logic once again.

You are saying that an absolute truth(which is an absolute truth physically as you put it) must be A,B and C which are conceptual truths.

Simplified: you are saying that an absolute truth must be a conceptual truth (which you numbered 1 thru 5).

"2. Any being capable of validating an absolute truth must be able to validate each of the three defining characteristics."

By validating you mean someone has to observe the absolute truth and thus receive knowledge from it. Then one must go through the process of validation by comparing what? The sensual experience of the absolute truth with his knowledge of it, which he received from it in the first place? Your reasoning is circular.

Since the absolute truth, by your definition, is physical and exists outside of us and our knowledge is within us then we can only compare our knowledge with our knowledge.

You are all over the place. Your saying that you can't apply conceptual truth to reality,

"Only concepts can be universally true, the minute you apply a concept to the real world, it becomes immediately subjective."

but then you are saying that absolute truth must be validated by conceptual truths making one codependent on that other!

WOW, really reaching here! It makes me LMAO!!

Understand Einstein

This nonsense was thought to be true in the pre-quantum physics age where matter and energy were thought to exist exclusive of one another. But since einstein proved that everything is energy we must now accept that there is no gulf between what you call the physical "real reality" and the conceptual. For concepts and matter are both energy and one has a direct effect on the other.

So by trying to confine the conceptual to this inner realm that is unaffected by the material world, you just show that you are ignorant of what is now an 80 year old revolutionary discovery in physics. Or you just didn't understand why e=mc2 was so revolutionary.

That's physics. Not monism but physics as proven by einstein 80 years ago!

It makes sense though especially in light of the inability in this argument to separate the absolute truth from the conceptual truth.

None of this is necessary though because to deny the existence of absolute truth is absurd. It really IS a paradox.

It's on the level of saying, "my consciousness does not exist and you can't prove me wrong"

Edgar said...

@Drew

"It is arrogant to claim that you know there is Absolute Truth."

Brian knows it exists, he knows it so well that he defined it for us, stated its characteristics and qualified a procedure that would validate it.

Then denied that he knows it exists, but then conceded that in may exist but can't be proven with conceptual truths, but must be proven with conceptual truths.

Don't you get it man? It might not never make no nonsense no how unless it makes sense sometimes when it doesn't and can be verified by a non existent verifier who can only theoretically make sense of the nonsese if that no nonsense sense can be validated by the initial unsubstantiated nonsense which is and always will be never nonsensical all the time.

I get it, don't you?

Drew said...

I understand Einstein as I'm sure Brian does.

I think you have a bit of science reading to catch up on. The "everything is energy" idea flew for a while, but then we discovered waves and particles.

What you are saying has nothing to do with what Brian is arguing. You're either being intentionally misleading and ignoring critical components of his argument, or you genuinely don't get it. I sincerely hope it's the former, for your sake and so we can all forget about it and call it a day.

Drew said...

I am so done playing nice with you. I went back and edited out all the profanity from my post anyway, out of respect for Matt.

"Brian knows it exists, he knows it so well that he defined it for us, stated its characteristics and qualified a procedure that would validate it."

What could you possibly be talking about? Seriously. It's like you're just making stuff up. Did you even read anything Brian wrote? How many other ways could he explain it? The non-existence of Absolute Truth has no more bearing on you or me than the non-existence of the Easter Bunny.

Nothing Brian has said is controversial! This is not hard either, these are simple concepts. If there's such a thing as Absolute Truth, I've never found it. How hard is that to understand?

And then how does it follow that because of that, we can never talk about anything again?

"Then denied that he knows it exists, but then conceded that in may exist but can't be proven with conceptual truths, but must be proven with conceptual truths."

Yeah, that's it genius. That's exactly what he did. Just come out and say it. He talks faggy and his $@%*'s all retarded.

Just because you don't understand what he's talking about doesn't make him wrong and you right. That's the lowest common denominator form of argumentation. You're just trying to make him look bad for your audience. The problem is that the members of your audience who have an IQ over 80 or so can see right through you, and it's pathetic.

Stop it. You have no points to make. You continue to say nothing, over and over, while people make points and have arguments of substance that you choose to ignore, over and over.

Edgar said...

Drew has retreated from the argument regarding absolute truth and is now trying to drag this debate to the level of a mere quarrel.

That's a concession.

Before I go on to answer drew's harsh judgment against me I want to ask the readers here if they agree with Drew's last remark.

Namely do you guys (the other silent readers) feel that I make no points?

Do you think I continue to say nothing?

If so please let me know so I can correct it.

@Drew

"I am so done playing nice with you. I went back and edited out all the profanity from my post anyway, out of respect for Matt."

Good. I'm glad you learned your lesson about respect and arrogance.

""Brian knows it exists, he knows it so well that he defined it for us, stated its characteristics and qualified a procedure that would validate it.""

What could you possibly be talking about? "

I'm talking about this,

"1. An absolute truth must hold true in all circumstances, at all locations, for all time.
2. Any being capable of validating an absolute truth must be able to validate each of the three defining characteristics.
3. Human beings cannot be exposed to all circumstances, cannot be in all locations, and only exist for a limited period of time.
4. Human beings cannot validate any of the three conditions of an absolute truth.
5. Human beings cannot make substantiated claims about any absolute truth."

"Did you even read anything Brian wrote? "

Scroll up. I directly quote every sentence that I want to dispute. So to claim that I'm am not reading brians posts is silly. Just plain silly.

"You're just trying to make him look bad for your audience. The problem is that the members of your audience who have an IQ over 80 or so can see right through you, and it's pathetic."

I've been dissecting his logic. Please scroll up and read my comments.

However you might be right drew. No one else is chiming in on my side of this argument. Maybe every one thinks I'm wrong.

Your last comments were an attempt to turn this into a quarrel. I'm not biting thanks.

It's up to the readers of this post to decide for themselves who had the stronger points. Since you and I and brian are the people involved in this debate we should refrain from casting judgment on who won this debate.

We need to leave it to the silent readers here to voice their opinions.

I think we've exhausted the subject.

Drew said...

The forum of public opinion is not kind to new ideas, in general.

You keep telling us about the splendid garments in which the emperor is awe-inspiringly arrayed.

I've re-read everything and I still don't get how anyone can rationally argue your point. You are claiming to know something that no human being could possibly know. Then you say that because we're genuine enough to admit that we don't know about Absolute Truth, we can't have any discussions about truth. How do we get from "logic" to non-sequitur so fast?

I think it might have something to do with the fact that the emperor is naked.

Edgar said...

"You are claiming to know something that no human being could possibly know."

What qualifies YOU to make that statement about absolute truth? You know enough about absolute truth to make an absolute claim but I don't?

Maybe you are the one with no clothes, except your SPEEDO that is.

Drew said...

No.

I've already explained this, and it takes one sentence.

"I'm not arrogant enough to think that I can know Absolute Truth, and I'm not naive enough to believe that you've found it."

Edgar said...

Well, at least you have refrained from demonstrating invalid logic.

You are repeating yourself and I guess it's your way of backing out of this one. I really wish you wouldn't as I'm enjoying debating this with you and brian, who has already run away.

I guess he has better things to do than argue with a ignorant person like me *smile*

Look drew, there is no difference between truth and absolute truth. Conceptual truths are simply truths according to a definition. The famous example is "All bachelors and not married"

That is a conceptual truth.

When you think about it existence is the personification or manifestation of truth.

What is truth besides an accurate reflection of reality? If reality exists then truth exists. The absolute term means nothing really.

It just suggests some sort of connection with the existence of God so it drives materialists insane! They don't realize that it's OK to admit that the existence of truth is obvious and has nothing to do with God.

You and Brian think that admitting to the existence of absolute truth will undermine your whole thought system regarding the existence of God. So you court absurdity in order to defend your core values or thought system.

That is of course if we agree that truth is merely an accurate reflection of reality. Whether it be spoken by word, written down or communicated some other way, as long as it is an accurate reflection of reality then it is THE TRUTH.

That's all it is!

Bear with me,

To deny the existence of truth is to deny the existence of reality. For truth merely describes reality and a lie is the opposite.

Here's an absolute truth: energy exists. Here's another one: Things exist.

There is no larger framework to fit this truth into that makes it relevant to the framework. That's nonsense anyways.

Realize that admitting absolute truth exists (and can not be logically disproven) does not undermine your whole philosophy.

Brian Hebert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Hebert said...

"What is truth besides an accurate reflection of reality? If reality exists then truth exists. The absolute term means nothing really."

"To deny the existence of truth is to deny the existence of reality."

"You and Brian think that admitting to the existence of absolute truth will undermine your whole thought system regarding the existence of God."

"Realize that admitting absolute truth exists (and can not be logically disproven) does not undermine your whole philosophy."

Are you for real? How many times do I have to correct this? I even dedicated an entire post to quoting all of the times where I said the exact opposite of this. Your continuing to argue this point despite my showing (on several occasions) it to be false is proof enough that you lost this argument on my first post.

"Realize that admitting absolute truth exists (and can not be logically disproven) does not undermine your whole philosophy. " [emphasis added]

I’ll take this as your concession.

You’ve finally abandoned even the pretense of rational debate, and I thank you for your moment of honesty. Why should I accept your Absolute Truth if, as you have already conceded, we can neither prove nor disprove your claim? Where is your evidence? Why must I abandon a logical truth, which you still haven’t shown to be false, if you don’t have anything more compelling to offer? Your whole case boils down to “if you can’t prove I’m wrong, I must be right!”. I both anticipated and refuted this kind of simple-minded thinking in my very first post.

I don’t see how you can keep your arguments consistent with your own belief. If you get your view of absolute truth from a transcendent, all power, and all knowing deity, can’t you also agree that you are proposing something that will seem absurd to anyone who also does not have that information? When speaking about future persecution of his followers, Jesus said that “They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.” (John 15:21-22). Yours is not a reasonable belief, even Jesus understood that fact. He recognized the fact that his Absolute Truth was so absurd to the natural human mind, that he could not hold us responsible to know it unless he tells us each individually. He told us that he didn’t make his truth understandable with our unaided mental tools (logic and reason), so why are you disagreeing?

So even Jesus, who has no problems passing out infinitely harsh punishments for thought crimes and other moral misdemeanors, doesn’t blame us for not figuring this on our own. Maybe you want to have a chat with him to get some clarification on these matters, but the Bible seems clear on this point.

Since Jesus and I are in agreement, I am comfortable closing this discussion.

I’ll leave you in the same way I entered this debate, with a comic that seems appropriate to the situation:
http://cectic.com/comics/069.png

edited for clarity and spelling

Edgar said...

I knew I could get you to come out of hiding with a little baiting Brian. You are just a sucker for punishment I guess, and I mean that in the most endearing way.

Oh, this one is a gem LMAO!! LMAO!!!

Now you are quoting Jesus to make your points. I think Matt is having some kind of influence on your thinking! That may be a good thing because you seem rather close minded and prematurely convinced about a lot of things.

Now on to absolute truth:

Oh, you didn't really say anything to further your argument except the reference you made to your earlier logic I suppose.

Let's return to the real meat behind this post:

"1. An absolute truth must hold true in all circumstances, at all locations, for all time.
2. Any being capable of validating an absolute truth must be able to validate each of the three defining characteristics.
3. Human beings cannot be exposed to all circumstances, cannot be in all locations, and only exist for a limited period of time.
4. Human beings cannot validate any of the three conditions of an absolute truth.
5. Human beings cannot make substantiated claims about any absolute truth."

I responded to this (my last response directly to you) on July 12, 2009 11:21 AM.

Scroll up.

You failed to address my dismantling of your logic in your last post.

Brian, a conceptual truth is a truth by definition. "All bachelors are not married." What you outlined above in your logic were not really conceptual truths.

If they were conceptual truths then by your own logic they would fail to provide you with reason enough to come to the conclusion (which is an absolute claim) that you support.

You are confusing absolute truth with being omniscient.

"imagine I have two glasses of water. If adding them together means pouring one into the other, then do I still have two glasses, or did 1+1=1?"

Yes you still have two glasses, one empty and one full.

In your example 1+1=1 does not represent accurately your actions. It would be 1-1+1=1. If adding one glass to another is + then emptying one glass is -.

If you are just counting glasses then the water is irrelevant.

Edgar said...

I know Brian wont want to scroll up to read my refutation of his logic, so I will paste it here.


The Argument Against Absolute Truth is Self Defeating

"You are saying that an absolute truth(which is an absolute truth physically as you put it) must be A,B and C which are conceptual truths.

Simplified: you are saying that an absolute truth must be a conceptual truth (which you numbered 1 thru 5).

"2. Any being capable of validating an absolute truth must be able to validate each of the three defining characteristics."

By validating you mean someone has to observe the absolute truth and thus receive knowledge from it. Then one must go through the process of validation by comparing what? The sensual experience of the absolute truth with his knowledge of it, which he received from it in the first place? Your reasoning is circular.

Since the absolute truth, by your definition, is physical and exists outside of us and our knowledge is within us then we can only compare our knowledge with our knowledge.

You are all over the place. Your saying that you can't apply conceptual truth to reality,

"Only concepts can be universally true, the minute you apply a concept to the real world, it becomes immediately subjective."

but then you are saying that absolute truth must be validated by conceptual truths making one codependent on that other!

WOW, really reaching here! It makes me LMAO!!"

I think you are taking liberties with the whole notion of conceptual truths. You are just avoiding the ugly paradox which awaits you in this argument.

Brain, you can't make absolute claims if you reason your way there by 'conceptual truths' -as you tell me - yet you are doing just that.

For instance, according to your OWN LOGIC, how can you say, "Human beings cannot be exposed to all circumstances, cannot be in all locations, and only exist for a limited period of time."???

That is an absolute! According to you, YOU can't make that claim because you are not everlasting, omniscient and omnipresent!!

!!!!

You are just stepping ALL OVER yourself. Defend that!

Drew said...

Seriously Edgar, I don't know how many times I have to say it.

No one made the claim that truth doesn't exist. Can you please either get it through your head or just admit that there is a WORLD of difference between truth with a little "t" and Absolute Truth?

Drew said...


For instance, according to your OWN LOGIC, how can you say, "Human beings cannot be exposed to all circumstances, cannot be in all locations, and only exist for a limited period of time."???

That is an absolute! According to you, YOU can't make that claim because you are not everlasting, omniscient and omnipresent!!


What? By whose logic? How is that an absolute statement?

Did he use the word absolute? Does he have to spell out before each of his posts that he is just a human being and thus confined to his own perceptions in order to be consistent?

You're arguing for something whose existence you presume in order to further your argument. Who's circular now?

Matt Chewning said...

Drew:

You should know better than anyone else since you lived in the Christian world for quite some time that the bible is not a "paragon of human morality" as you put it. Christians believe that it is actually 66 individual books inspired by God himself through the Holy Spirit. Those books together tell one story which is the glory of Christ. The bible is not about morality as much as it is about knowing God. Sadly, people who don't read their bibles but just bits and pieces misunderstand this. I know however, that you do not read just bits and pieces and therefore, intentionally enjoy using out of context verses as a weapon against itself.

Also, just because something happens in the bible, does not mean that God condones it. We have to be careful not to assume we know what we're reading when we read it. For example when we think of slavery we think of marginalizing a people group for racial or ethnic reasons. So, when we see that word in the bible, we automatically think of the horrible and injustice that was done to specific races within the recent years. Not so in the bible; slaves were similar to everyday workers as we know it today; not the African slave trade of recent centuries. Wasn't it Christians who were the catalysts to ending the slave trade? Also, when you read of rape in the story of Lot in Genesis; where do we see God condone this behavior. Instead if you look at Lot's life, you see a man who's entire family was effected by his continued indulgence in sin and disregard of a Holy God. Take women rights for another example, when you see polygamies in the OT, show me a time in scripture where God encourages a situation like that? Does it happen? Yes. With Godly people? Yes. However, Does God agree with it? NO!

Come on Drew. You also know that the bible (66 books) were put together as the canon 300 years after Christ. But you also know that the NT scriptures were considered "Holy Scripture" in the 1st century and even Peter was considering Paul's writings as authoritative as the Pentateuch within 15 years of Christ's death. Drew, the sad thing is that I know that you know these things, but you choose for the argument's sake to ignore them. Which, by the way, is totally contradictory to the way you approach information from the other side of the pendulum.

One last thing. There is a ton of talk pertaining to the thought of "Absolute Truth". You have said multiple times that there very well can be Absolute Truth but we cannot know it. However both you and Brian continue to make Absolute claims and then get frustrates when Edgar repeats himself. It continues to contradict itself which is why he continues to repeat itself. Some advise would be, "stop trying to prove how we cannot know absolute truths by using absolute claims." Everyone on eth board seems to see it but you and Brian. Although Christians seem arrogant, let me add something else. As a Christian I do not believe that I know "ALL" absolute truths. I claim that I know some of the truth. I agree that it is impossible to know the fullness of an infinite, transcendent God. As the bible tells us, "His ways and thoughts are higher than ours." However, Jesus also says that he is the truth and that is where I stand pertaining to my knowledge of truth. Christians do not know "All Truth" they know "Some Truth".

Lets get real: We're all more interested in evangelizing our ideas rather than finding a deeper understanding of truths. The way I know that is because we spend a hell of a lot more time giving statements than we do asking questions.

Brian Hebert said...

*sigh*

Matt, I get frustrated when Edgar (and now you) accuse me of something for the 15th time in a row, forcing me to deny it for a 15th time. This has become tiresome...

I HAVE NOT MADE ABSOLUTE CLAIMS

I HAVE NOT DENIED THE EXISTENCE OF ABSOLUTE TRUTH

Would you both feel better if I copy/pasted this in front of each of my posts?

WARNING: The words that you are reading come from a single human being with no special access to alien or supernatural information. This human has not yet experienced his full life span and has only absorbed a small fraction of the sum of human knowledge. His brain is a natural (material) machine that has some abilities to discern reality, but it is a reality from his perspective and limited to what his senses and intelligence can discover. His species in general is currently limited to a single planet, although their powers of science and rational thought have allowed them to peer into many facets of the universe that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. They have accumulated knowledge over the short evolution of their species, but there is still much that they do not know. While human beings might refer to the information they see time and time again as truths, these are always assumed to be true as far as it is possible for human beings to tell.

In normal conversations with people genuinely interested in intellectual honesty, it is not necessary to state these obvious facts, even though they apply to everything we say, do, and think in our lives. I put it there now because I am tired of assuming that we are all on the same page.

I do not need access to Absolute Truth to say that your absolute claim is speculative just like I don’t need to discover or disprove the existence of alien life to be able to say that you aren’t from another planet. This is the truth that I have been talking about. Not Absolute Truth, you certainly could be from another planet, but a truth that is going to hold in all but the most absurd circumstances. This is all the truth we are ever likely to find as a species and it is what is meant by the word truth in the vast majority of circumstances. In fact, the reason why we differentiate Absolute Truth with capitals (and the word Absolute) is to specifically indicate that it is a unique type of truth, having stricter standards than conventional truth.

So any human claim to Absolute Truth is speculative in all but the most absurd circumstances. It is exactly what I’ve been saying, but maybe that sits better with you. If you want to claim that believers fall into one of those absurd situations (receiving knowledge from a supernatural being), you still have to demonstrate why your very unlikely revelation is more reasonable than the multitude of other very unlikely revelations that exist. Within the confines of logic, I have already proven that human beings cannot know Absolute Truth without some sort of external agent. As far as I am aware, Christians say the exact same thing, so I am not exactly sure what we are all debating here.

Edgar, Your attempt to put my arguments into your own words was a very cute diversion. You seem to confuse debate tactics with intelligence, somehow thinking if you can muddy the waters enough to bog down a conversation, you have demonstrated your superiority.

Why, for instance, do you assume that an Absolute Truth must be conceptual one? Not only did I never say that, I'm pretty sure I said the exact opposite. My logical proof is describing the properties of the kind of being that could validate Absolute Truth, not the process by which that Truth would be validated. My claim is not an absolute one either, it is limited by the disclaimer above, like everything everyone says (including you).

The circular reasoning and inept logic are coming from your assumptions, not my proof.

Edgar said...

Matt, that was an excellent comment. Straight and to the point without any bologna. Perfect!

For the record I love arguing with brian and drew. Drew and I debate on another blog as well and it's quite fun, at least for me.

Matt, I think it is quite revealing to watch agnostics and atheists try to defend an argument against absolute truth.

Why would someone do that? Why willingly endear such philosophical nonsense?

I think it's because they WANT to believe in relative morality (so they can behave any way they want without God watching...)

No rational person (with out an agenda) would reason that there is no such thing as being absolutely true. It's almost like saying, "I don't exist. I don't exist. I don't exist"

I think some agnostics suffer from information overload. If you really think for yourself then I doubt anyone would come to the conclusion that absolute truth doesn't exist.

And what's with the cop-out "it may exist but NO ONE can ever know" ??

As I said before truth is an accurate reflection of reality. Simple and easy.

Edgar said...

@Brian,

You have stuffed absolute truth into a conceptual framework (in order to understand it and define it I presume) by defining it.

Since conceptual truths are truths by definition, and you go on to define Absolute Truth for the rest of us, then absolute truth must be a conceptual truth.

"1. An absolute truth must hold true in all circumstances, at all locations, for all time."

Doesn't all truth have to be true all the time? If the truth is nothing more than an accurate reflection of reality then how does it ever change?

Once the reflection ceases to reflect accurately the reality it is expressing, it becomes untrue.

Let's take the word truth out of the dictionary, it's meaningless.

"somehow thinking if you can muddy the waters enough to bog down a conversation, you have demonstrated your superiority."

This is not about superiority Brian. I think we have equal potential generally speaking.

The waters are not muddy. It's just that you can't make your argument sound 'right' because it's not right. It's untrue.

I have a question for you brian:

You say that you did not outline how absolute truth can be validated. You only described the characteristics of one who could validate absolute truth.

Question: If you don't know how the validation process goes, then how can you logically describe the characteristics of one who could perform the validation?

Question 2: What would be the process of validation then?

Let's look seriously at this logic for a moment.

1. You are not denying that absolute truth exists.

2. You concede that if absolute truth did exist then it could be validated.

3. A being capable of validating absolute truth must be omniscient, omnipresent and everlasting in order to constantly check up on the truth and continually verify its soundness.

Everybody ok with that so far?

In between the lines I can infer a distinction between the observer and the observed. The one validating and the truth being validated.

You are implying that the truth (the observed) lies outside of the observer (the validating being).

Therefore it is by observation and experience that the validating being can confirm an absolute truth.

How does this happen? The one who validates absolute truth observes it, experiences it and takes in the knowledge from it.

Then the validating being would compare that knowledge to what?

What does he compare it to in order to validate it?

Does he reason in order to validate it? Does he use logic in order to validate it?

You said that, "Pure logic can't prove whether or not an absolute exists" so then how does the Validator validate the absolute truth that he observes.

You must have an answer for this since you have already conceded that absolute truth can be validated. You must somehow KNOW this.

Bottom line:

1. what is the validation process in a nutshell.

2. you must reconcile the idea that one cannot validate a 'real truth that exists in reality, outside of us' with his own internal logic and reason, when that is exactly what the ultimate verifier would do in your example.

Edgar said...

@Drew on Russell.

Russell, like spinoza and william james, believed that there was no distinction to be made between the outer reality and the inner reality.

He believed that everything was of the same substance just like spinoza.

So if you are a russell kind of guy then you need to reconcile the idea that we can not grasp absolute truth because it is outside of us, and our reasoning is internal and limited.

Brian Hebert said...

Ok, at least this is getting somewhere.

You must have an answer for this since you have already conceded that absolute truth can be validated.

This is an assumption, I never conceded that at all. What I did was describe the being that could, if it is possible, validate an absolute truth. I personally do not believe in omniscient beings, so I'm not expecting any Absolute Verification (or absolute anything, for that matter) anytime soon. For all I know, omniscience may not be enough, but it is irrelevant either way. From my perspective though, I was only concerning myself with the human capacity for validating Absolute Truth.

1. what is the validation process in a nutshell.

I have no idea, but I assume this omniscient being compares the fact in front of him with his Absolute Knowledge in all areas. It is impossible for me to tell you what process an omniscient being would go through, but I can say that you would need that kind of power at your disposal. The best I can say is that since we are not omniscient, we don't have access to this method.

2. you must reconcile the idea that one cannot validate a 'real truth that exists in reality, outside of us' with his own internal logic and reason, when that is exactly what the ultimate verifier would do in your example.

This is my whole point. Absolute Truth is only verifiable from outside reality. Any being contained within our reality will be limited - if even by the smallest amount - by its own perspective. The only being capable of truly differentiating would have to be able to put the entire universe, past, present, and future, in context at the same time. This is obviously not possible for temporal beings like humans, and shouldn't be possible for any being that exists in this universe.

That's why my claims are not absolute in nature. They are made using our best available tools (logic), but it would be foolish to presume that those tools are the best that exist inside (or outside) the universe.

As a side note, logical proofs are meant to have all of their assumptions documented as premises. If I did not explicitly state something as a relevant fact, I did not intend it to be a constraint. I only bring it up now because you have made quite a few assumptions that do not exist in my proof (or my writings). Those assumptions have drawn you off of the main point and down an unrelated chain of reasoning.

Drew said...


For example when we think of slavery we think of marginalizing a people group for racial or ethnic reasons. So, when we see that word in the bible, we automatically think of the horrible and injustice that was done to specific races within the recent years. Not so in the bible; slaves were similar to everyday workers as we know it today; not the African slave trade of recent centuries.


Seriously? Did you just say that?

Slavery in the Old Testament meant being a war captive. You were property.

I don't quote the Bible "out of context". I don't always quote it literally because I'm most familiar with the King James version which is the least accurate. Out of context would involve me now knowing the historical context, and I know me some historical context.

Drew said...


Come on Drew. You also know that the bible (66 books) were put together as the canon 300 years after Christ. But you also know that the NT scriptures were considered "Holy Scripture" in the 1st century

Yes, but so were the apocryphal gospels.

and even Peter was considering Paul's writings as authoritative as the Pentateuch within 15 years of Christ's death.

How do you know that? I'm not sure what you're referencing. I know Peter was illiterate, but someone could have written something about him I suppose. The other disciples were pretty amenable to ghost writers, after all.

Drew, the sad thing is that I know that you know these things, but you choose for the argument's sake to ignore them. Which, by the way, is totally contradictory to the way you approach information from the other side of the pendulum.

Sure, I know a thing or two. I've taken more seminary classes than most pastors at this point, probably. What I don't know is what you're talking about. I searched Matt. I really searched long and hard. But when you dig deep, there is nothing cohesive, persuasive, or substantive about Christianity. Especially when you compare it to other religions. Not that any other religions are better, they just all seem equally contrived when you get right down to it. I wish I could force myself to believe something simply because I want to believe it, it would make my life a whole lot easier. I have to be honest with myself though.

The truth is that there is a lot of internal inconsistency. The most reliable documents we have of Scripture do not form anything resembling a consensus. The problem is that there are so many. But regardless, you shouldn't have to justify anything about the perfect word of an almighty creator. The fact that such a thing as apologetics even exists ought to tell you something.

Drew said...


So if you are a russell kind of guy then you need to reconcile the idea that we can not grasp absolute truth because it is outside of us, and our reasoning is internal and limited.


Isn't that what I've been saying?

I've been saying I doubt there are two types of substance because I haven't found a compelling reason to think that the other type exists, but it might. Who am I to say differently? So you can keep your gods and claim that they exist outside of time (except that General Relativity says anything that exists outside of time can't interfere with time by its very nature, because it would be doing things before it existed) and understanding, and tell me it requires faith, and I'm fine with that.

Edgar said...

@Drew

"there is a WORLD of difference between truth with a little "t" and Absolute Truth?"

Actually, this is a telling comment...

Alright guys, time out for a minute.

We have to clear something up before we can really start having a more meaningful debate.

As so often happens in philosophical discussions, definitions that differ slightly can lead to two opposing parties arguing away but missing each others boats.

We need to define absolute truth and truth in order to make sure we are on the same page.

This is nothing new in philosophy. In fact some believe that philosophy is nothing more than finding the most correct definition of a word or term.

I have a feeling that our neglect to offer up an agreeable definition of both truth and absolute truth is getting in the way here.

Why don't we settle that and then continue the debate in a more coherent manner.

Agreed?

Let's define truth and absolute truth.

Drew said...

Truth is that which is thought to be true by the stating party at the time of statement. That is one definition. It's the one I most often use in this context.

I think it's important to note that the stating party's belief is all that is required for something to be true. If we lived 1200 years ago, and you asked me if the earth was round or flat, and I said "flat", I would be telling the truth. I wouldn't be stating fact but I'd be telling you the truth as I understand it.

This is the truth to which humans have access. I don't think anyone would argue with that idea.

The truth to which humans do not have access, if it even exists, is truth that is irrespective of its observer. Brian and I differ here. I think that existence is emergent from observation, because without language to define something's existence, it may as well not exist. We can't talk about it. We don't know about it. To us, it doesn't exist.

I'm sure I'm not the first to consider the idea that all reality is emergent, but I do think no one else has put it that way. If he has, I haven't read it.

Edgar said...

@Drew

"Truth is that which is thought to be true by the stating party at the time of statement. That is one definition. It's the one I most often use in this context.

I think it's important to note that the stating party's belief is all that is required for something to be true. If we lived 1200 years ago, and you asked me if the earth was round or flat, and I said "flat", I would be telling the truth. I wouldn't be stating fact but I'd be telling you the truth as I understand it."


Ok, this is getting more intersting now. Let's take this seriously and try to stay on track here.

I disagree with that definition of truth. I think the truth reflects reality.

So in light of that definition of truth then your example,

"If we lived 1200 years ago, and you asked me if the earth was round or flat, and I said "flat", I would be telling the truth."

would not be an example of the truth because the statement, "the world is flat" does not reflect the reality of 1200 years ago (or now of course).

Now would the person be lying if they said the world was flat? If a lie is intentional then no. So then what would we call an inherently false statement? I can think of no better term than an "untruth"

Edgar said...

@Drew,

"I think that existence is emergent from observation, because without language to define something's existence, it may as well not exist. We can't talk about it. We don't know about it. To us, it doesn't exist."

This leads to some interesting questions and ideas.

When one observes reality (reality being the whole of everything that is real and not unreal) one gains knowledge of that reality.

Reality emits knowledge which we take in through the phenomena of sensory perception.

Without there first being a reality how could there be a 'one' who can observe? For if one exists then he becomes part of reality.

On the other hand if reality (such as energy, matter, space waves) ceased to have a human observer it would still exist.

So observation is contingent on there being something (in reality) to observe. An observation is an action taken on reality.

So what does ones observations of reality produce then if not the existence of reality? It proves that the observer exists inside of reality.

Edgar said...

Absolute Truth

"1. what is the validation process in a nutshell.

I have no idea, but I assume this omniscient being compares the fact in front of him with his Absolute Knowledge in all areas"

Well if your thoughts are concepts and can't be applied to absolutes then how is this validation process possible?

Someone qualified to observe absolute truth would still be taking a concept (his own knowledge which he compares to what he is observing) and applying it to reality, which you said is impossible.

You touched on that numerous times. I believe with the oranges example as well, but I didn't scroll up and check.

I mean, let's get this straight. You are fist saying that it is impossible to validate the external (observable truth) by conceptual means (internal) but that is exactly what the observer of absolute truth would do. Not withstanding the fact that his unique presence 'qualifies' him to 'be able' to judge the absolute, the validation process would still entail applying concepts to the 'real world'


Skeptics have an easy job. They need to prove nothing. It's the position of an intellectual coward in my very humble opinion.

Skeptics merely need to raise doubts so they avoid ever having to come to a conclusion. However, when the doubts raised border on absurdity it must be hard for the skeptic to find comfort in his skepticism.

One thing I've noticed is that skeptics often apply a different standard to ideas they don't want to like.

For instance, I bet many skeptics believe in global warming. The new world religion. There is only arguable scientific consensus (which is what you have when there is a lack of evidence) yet my gut feeling tells me that many liberal skeptics believe the sham hook, line and sinker.

Matt, I thank you for this interesting topic. I had fun debating these guys. And by the way, it was a debate.

Not a persuasive argument but a debate. And the purpose of a debate is to impress your audience. The purpose of a persuasive argument is to persuade your adversary.

I think I've made my case clear and backed it up with many sharp points.

Since it seems that the readership here has already weighed in on this, and they have not been convinced that absolute truth can not be known, I will close my end of this argument as the audience is satisfied with my points remaining intact and unrefuted.

Thanks for the great debate Matt!

Drew said...


It proves that the observer exists inside of reality.


No, it proves that the observer is able to observe that he exists in reality. That sounds tautological, unless you step back and take into account the fact that the reality of the observer's observation is his reality unto itself. Do waves and particles continue to exist even when unobserved? Almost categorically, I can say "yes". But it's only almost categorically. I can't prove that they exist when I'm not observing them, since I cannot prove that they exist unless I'm observing them.

You say that reality is necessary for observation, I say that observation is necessary for reality. That is all. I think you understand what I've been saying all along. This is a subject in philosophy that is far from having its status "decided", so it has been fun talking about it, yes.

Drew said...

I think Derrida covered your view a bit, because it sounds like "The Sign" exists whether or not I am around to observe it. That whole "if a tree falls in the woods" bit. Well, I can only surmise, because if I'm there to hear the tree, then it no longer works.

I can scratch my head and say "It stands to reason that the tree would make a sound, and these laws of physics that cause it to make a sound seem to be pretty immutable.", but to get an intractable truth like "trees always make sounds when they fall in the woods" is a bit of a jump for me.

Edgar said...

"You say that reality is necessary for observation, I say that observation is necessary for reality."

I say reality precedes observation necessarily. For instance, if a human being is to observe he must first exist.

Now, this can get confusing if one defines reality as being separate from the physical universe.

If the universe is all things and only things that are physical, and if reality is the concept humans produce when comparing the immediate sensory experience of observing the physical universe with his prior knowledge, then the two must be looked at separately.

Even still, the creation of a reality (in your mind) is contingent upon a physical universe already existing which can be observed. So existence precedes essence and the physical universe precedes our interpretation of it, since we are part of that physical universe.

However, it's not clear that the physical universe and reality are really two separate things. That would mean that our perceptions are actually part of the physical universe and thus the word "physical" would be unnecessary when describing 'the whole' of existence.

You would have to talk about containment theory and causality I guess.

But in either case existence makes observation possible.

Drew said...

Separating external reality from perception is akin to the "mind as a mirror" philosophical analogy.

That is to say, objects in external reality are reflected in internal reality to certain degrees of accuracy by the mind.

I agree with you in that I'm not sold on this. That's kind of my point. It is not the reflection of reality that resides in a mind or minds, it is the reality itself, since we are unable to ascertain whether the object being reflected actually exists and thus it's nonsensical to differentiate.

Edgar said...

For those that may not be familiar with the topics and ideas being discussed here let me recap a little.

In order to talk about absolute truth we must discuss the limits of human reason. In order to do that we must look closely at the process of receiving knowledge from physical objects and examining the phenomena that converts that information into what appears to be our reality.

Now to Drew:

I learned a long time ago when having these arguments that it is important to define reality vs physical universe. Only then can we continue to explore this interesting line of reasoning in an efficient and coherent way.

So, for the purpose of this argument shall we distinguish between the physical universe and reality?

Because there are many fine points and tricky tautological concepts regarding containment theory and causality which is where this is headed if we do it right.

Drew, we need to define reality vs the physical universe before we con't.

Drew said...

I think that's what we've been trying to do.

I'm a materialist at heart, so clearly I don't differentiate in the purest sense between the physical universe and reality.

Matt Chewning said...

"Brown nose" hum.....don't act like you haven't been the King of compliments and siding with Brian. Things like:

Hope you're not wasting your breath educating those who don't want to be educated, Bri.

How many times did I try to say the same thing you just did?

I understand Einstein as I'm sure Brian does.

I guess it takes one to know one.

Drew said...

Yes but I don't leave messages encouraging Brian to have a persecution complex.

Edgar said...

Why am I so confused suddenly? These last two comments don't make sense to me. What are you referring to? How did this pop up?

I was getting ready to reply re: materialism etc...

Drew said...

Matt posted his comment on the wrong thread, but I knew to what he was referring.

Edgar said...

"Yes but I don't leave messages encouraging Brian to have a persecution complex."

Oh PLEASE!! If a grown man can't handle other peoples opinions then he shouldn't be arguing in the first place.

I guess when you are a feminized liberal man you get your feelings hurt easily.

Drew, I still like debating both you and Brian and I wish he wasn't in his room pouting like a little girl, but that's his choice. He can hate me, I'm ok with that.

But I still want to debate a lot of philosophical issues with you. The question is where?

I'd like to discuss postmodern philosophy in all its scope but without hijacking Matts blog.