The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”
- 2 Chronicles 18:15
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.”
- John 8: 31-38
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
- John 14:5-7
“Charles Sanders Peirce was the scientist, logician, and philosopher of science who pioneered the philosophical movement known as pragmatism. Deeply sceptical of metaphysical ideas—such as the idea that there is a ‘real’ world beyond the world we experience—he once asked his readers to consider what is wrong with the following theory: a diamond is actually soft, and only becomes hard when it is touched.
“Peirce argued that there is ‘no falsity’ in such thinking, for there is no way of disproving it. However, he claimed that the meaning of a concept (such as ‘diamond’ or ‘hard’) is derived from the object or quality that the concept relates to—and the effects it has on our senses. Whether we think of the diamond as ‘soft until touched’ or ‘always hard’ before our experience, therefore, is irrelevant. Under both theories the diamond feels the same, and can be used in exactly the same way. However, the first theory is far more difficult to work with, and so is of less value to us. This idea, that the meaning of a concept is the sensory effect of its object, is known as the pragmatic maxim, and it became the founding principle of pragmatism – the belief that the ‘truth’ is the account of reality that works best for us.
“One of the key things Peirce was trying to accomplish was to show that many debates in science, philosophy, and theology are meaningless. He claimed that they are often debates about words, rather than reality, because they are debates in which no effect on the senses can be speciﬁed.”
- Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained
Charles Sanders Pierce (1839-1914) was undistinguished as a ‘scientist.’ He may have been a Harvard graduate of chemistry, but his only scientific observations were the use of a pendulum to discover minor variations in the magnetic field. He also proposed a theory regarding metering of certain wavelengths, something that was not proven for 50 years after his death. But after he misappropriated government funds and left his job, he found a job teaching philosophy, psychology, and mathematics at Johns Hopkins University. What better thing for a chemist to do?
He is known for his philosophy of pragmatism, but he also wrote for the magazine, The Monist. This is not monotheism, but monism. Like Darwin, Pierce believed that all things come from one thing. And as his pragmatism would say, what that one thing was or how that one thing was directed into all things is of no use to argue as it cannot be proven by sensory methods.
And as I read the synopsis of his philosophy, it screamed of the modern notion that there is no objective truth. Yet, objective truth, some objective truth, can be measured. Two plus two is equal to four, in any numbering system where four exists. While the normal body temperature of 98.6F or 37C may vary from one person to another, many things are objectively true. Yet, Pierce’s argument about the diamond only being hard when you touch it is genius and disingenuous at the same time. Sure, you cannot prove while not touching it that the diamond is not hard, but using diamonds, and diamond tipped drills, to cut other things due to a diamond’s hardness is useful information while thinking a diamond to be soft while not touching it is mere lunacy.
My argument against the idea that there is no objective truth is that if you are in college and you come away with that idea, you wasted your parent’s money. You un-learned rather than learned anything. Because your degree field is full of facts, knowledge, and objective truth. But now I have a face to apply to this nonsense.
In the Scriptures, the first Scripture is a statement made by the evil king Ahab. Ahab knew that if the prophet before him was from the true God, the message would not be favorable for King Ahab, so he challenged Micaiah, the prophet, to speak the truth. He was still going to do as he pleased. He knew his prophets were “yes men” which is what Micaiah prophesied later on. And King Ahab was going to do what he wanted to do anyway, even when Micaiah says that God told him that Ahab would die when he did it. Ahab died in the attempt.
Jesus tells His followers in John 8 that the truth will set you free, and in John 14, He states to the disciples that He is the Truth.
Can that be proven by hooking up a meter to something? No. Pierce would vehemently argue against making the statement at all, but I know what Jesus said to be true – in my heart.
It is odd that modern philosophy thinks that they invented this idea, but Satan has used the idea of relative truth for millennia. What did he suggest to Eve in the Garden of Eden, other than to question what God meant by what God said?
God the Father is all Truth as well as His Son, Jesus. All else may contain truth, but in the end, it will not matter. And that truth is worth stating and something to which we can hold fast.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.