What is Truth?

Churchill's comment on truth has proven itself to be accurate time and time again. He is reported to have said, "The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is." 

In fact, the very definition of truth finds itself under assault in our post-Modern culture. Instead of truth being an objective reality, it is now viewed as a subjective abstract, morphing into whatever each individual wants it to be at any given moment. It has no real substantive impact other than that which the individual chooses to give it. This is known as Relativism; the doctrine that there are no absolute truths whatsoever, and that truth claims are all relative to time, place, circumstance and individual. Thus one cannot make moral or ethical judgments, and cannot make any absolute truth claims. Of this, John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae:

"Freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link to the truth. When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion, or indeed, his selfish interest and whim."

Do we not see this today? While biological truth informs us there are two genders, post-Modern culture, under the sway of Relativism says otherwise. In 2021, the Telegraph 1 reports there will be 14 gender options on the national census. In 2014, Facebook updated its system to recognize 71 genders. Obvious evidences of biological science aside, Relativism wins the day. In fact, Relativism has caused such confusion regarding the very nature of reality that chronological "adults" have even identified as cats 2, and babies 3. Truth is clearly under assault and people are, as John Paul II wrote, living by their whims and desires- even if delusional. Unfortunately, we have entire generations who have no understanding at all of the objective nature of truth.

What is truth? A dictionary definition is "that which is in accordance with fact or reality." This simple definition undermines Relativism, since, if an idea or action must be predicated on fact or reality, then it cannot by definition be subjective. You can sincerely believe when you jump off the top of a skyscraper that gravity will have no effect on you, but the reality is, when you do, you're going to hit the concrete like a sack of mashed potatoes. Reality, the way things really are, doesn't conform to feelings or delusions. It often stands in stark contrast to these things. By way of demonstrating what truth is, allow me to share a few things that truth is not:

1. It isn't pragmatic, since some action that might be effective can still be wrong, or based on a falsehood.

2. It doesn't care about your feelings. Truth can be saddening, angering, disconcerting and worrying.

3. It isn't your good intentions. Good intentions can, and have been, very wrong and do harm as a result.

4. It isn't your sincere belief, because you can be sincerely wrong. (see example above)

5. It isn't "yours" or "mine", it simply is. It is transcendent and impartial while being absolute and objective.

Relativism is, then, self refuting. If indeed truth were relative, then the truth claim that truth is relative would itself be relative, which renders the very claim itself absolute rubbish, and only a fool or the mentally ill would base their life on it. As one author put it, when a Relativist says truth is relative, he's asking you not to believe him. I suggest we comply with that request.

1. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/a-nearly-complete-glossary-of-gender-identities-for-your-next-ce/
2. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/12127067/woman-says-she-is-a-cat-trapped-in-the-wrong-body.html
3. https://www.dailywire.com/news/7999/21-year-old-woman-lives-adult-baby-boyfriend-her-amanda-prestigiacomo