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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Objective Truth

Yesterday I dealt with the concept of "objective good" ... which I said didn't exist. There is no moral good that is, in and of itself, good. Rather, good is determined to be good as it meets the standards that God makes. Good is defined by God. Well, that was yesterday.

Today I want to ask about objective truth. What is it? Does it exist? Can we know it?

First, what is it? According to multiple sources, objective truth is that which is true in and of itself. That is, it is not relative or subjective. It is true. It doesn't depend on you or I believing it. It is true. It isn't determined by circumstances or perspective. It is true. One site puts it this way: "The idea of truth as objective is simply that no matter what we believe to be the case, some things will always be true and other things will always be false." That is "objective truth". But was is "objective"? The dictionary helpfully defines it (in our context) as "belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject." That is, it is that which exists independently of perception or individual conception, that which relates to actual phenomena rather than subjective thought or feeling. So there we have "objective truth". It is truth that is in and of itself intrinsically true outside of your concurrence or belief, truth that is true because it is part of reality.

So, does it exist? Is it real or a figment of my imagination? Well, in all honesty, the existence of objective truth cannot rationally be denied. Beyond that, we couldn't really function if it didn't exist. You assume that 2+2=4 every time, and if that was not objectively true, you'd never know what was in your bank account. You know that putting your hand on a hot stove will burn it and if you don't, well, I'm sorry about your hand, but the truth doesn't care. And, of course, we have the biblical claim from Christ, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6). If objective truth doesn't exist, Jesus was lying. So, while there certainly is such a thing as relative truth -- truth that depends on circumstances and perception -- there is and must be objective truth. It does indeed exist.

But the real question is, "Can we know it?" Well, the answer should be obvious. If "objective truth" is that which is true regardless of whether or not you believe it and you believe it, then you know objective truth. In fact, this would be the case whether or not you could prove it. If a 2-year-old stumbled upon the idea that 1+1=2, she wouldn't need careful theorems or logical chains to be correct. So where does this question go? I mean, is there really an objection to knowing objective truth? Of course, this claim comes up when it comes to spiritual matters. What can we know about God? Can we know objective truth about what God believes on a particular topic? You will hear this objection raised over and over. "That's just your opinion! You shouldn't claim to know what God thinks on that issue."

Is this correct? Are we doomed to mere opinions about what God thinks about this or that? Are we stuck with conjecture and personal interpretation, or can we know? Is this an objective truth that we can get our hands around?

First, let me give my top-level answer. No. We cannot know fully what God thinks about all things. The finite cannot grasp the infinite. When the Bible says He is "holy, holy, holy", it is saying that He is so far above us that we can't fully encompass the mind of God. Further, we know that natural man cannot understand the things of God (1 Cor 2:14), so there is a serious impediment there. "Oh, so we can't know any truth about God?" Again, no. Here's what we can know. We can know what He tells us we can know. We can know that "God loved the world in this way ..." (John 3:16) because He said so. We can know that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 18:32) because He said so. We know that God does not change (Mal 3:6), and therefore there are things that God hates (e.g., Prov 6:16-19) and likes (e.g., 2 Cor 9:7) because He laid them out for us. The agnostic would tell you, "If there is a God, we cannot know Him or know anything about Him." The skeptic will say, "We cannot know anything objectively about what God thinks." The Bible, on the other hand, explains with unavoidable clarity much of what God thinks on many issues. These are facts, objective truth, regardless of our apprehension of them or agreement with them.

The trick, then, is to be about the process of aligning our perceptions of God (subjective truth) with God's own revelation of Himself (objective truth). It is a major part of renewing the mind. It is not our aim to hold that all views about God are subjective and genuine humility is to make no claim about what God thinks. I mean, He took the time to have it written down and took the effort to protect it for us over all the centuries, so claiming we cannot know would seem more arrogant than claiming we can. And, given the biblical claims that sinful Man functions with mental futility, is lacking "ears", cannot understand the things of God, and is blinded by the god of this world, the existing confusion and the subsequent disagreement about what God thinks about these things are not valid reasons to argue that we cannot know the truth. It was Jesus who said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). It is the aim and responsibility of the born-again follower of Christ to hear the Holy Spirit's teaching and renew the mind to know the truth.

28 comments:

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

If "objective truth" is that which is true regardless of whether or not you believe it and you believe it, then you know objective truth. In fact, this would be the case whether or not you could prove it.

If God had a very specific opinion about the morality of building nuclear bombs - just building them - and I was "sure" that God's position was that God HATED the notion of building nuclear bombs, AND if it turned out that I was correct, God DOES hate building nuclear bombs, well, it would turn out that my BELIEF was objectively correct. I could affirm after the fact, "Yes, I was right. God DOES hate building nukes."

Agreed so far? There WAS a objectively true position to take on the point and I held it.

But did I really KNOW it? How did I know that I "knew" it?

Would it not be the case, in that situation, that we could say I SUBJECTIVELY SUSPECTED the "right" answer, but I did NOT objectively know the objectively right answer?

What I am trying to point out is that there are two layers to this idea:

1. There ARE objective truths out there - Truths that are objectively "right," whether we know it or not.

2. HOWEVER, our arguments - our opinions, our guesses, our suspicions - about Truth, THOSE are subjective by definition, unless we have some way of demonstrating/testing/showing the Truth...

"in the realm of sensible experience
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

Which is the MW definition of "objective."

I might BELIEVE (and turn out to be correct) that God hates/loves Behavior X, but without any way of verifying it "in the realm of SENSIBLE experience" (ie, with our senses) in a way that is "perceptible by ALL observers," then my ARGUMENT is NOT objective, but rather subjective.

Could we agree on this? I don't think I'm saying anything extraordinary or controversial here. Just pointing out that, by that defintion of "objective" our ARGUMENTS about morality are not objective.

Stan...

Here's what we can know. We can know what He tells us we can know. We can know that "God loved the world in this way ..." (John 3:16) because He said so. We can know that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 18:32) because He said so. We know that God does not change (Mal 3:6), and therefore there are things that God hates (e.g., Prov 6:16-19) and likes (e.g., 2 Cor 9:7) because He laid them out for us.

When you say this, are you saying that we can OBJECTIVELY "know" a point is objectively true for all times and all people IF the Bible has a passage where God is quoted as saying something?

For example, because the Bible says that God says, "do not cut the hair on the side of your head," that we can objectively know that this is an everlasting objective truth?

Are you saying that there are SOME passages in the Bible that are somehow "in the realm of sensible experience, independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers..."? Which passages are like that and how do we objectively know which ones are objective?

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

The trick, then, is to be about the process of aligning our perceptions of God (subjective truth) with God's own revelation of Himself (objective truth).

Agreed. Objectively, how do we do this?

It is a major part of renewing the mind.

Agreed, I think. Objectively, how do we do this?

...[God] took the time to have it written down and took the effort to protect it for us over all the centuries, so claiming we cannot know would seem more arrogant than claiming we can.

A clarification:

1. I think we can claim to "know" what God wants, insofar as it's not difficult ofttimes to "know" the right and wrong of a situation. We can know sufficiently well to take a stand on positions.

2. Nonetheless, I see nothing in the Bible or in logical reasoning that says we can know all things or some set of things OBJECTIVELY.

Are you saying that OUR UNDERSTANDING and OUR INTERPRETATION of a given passage is "in the realm of sensible experience, independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers..." If so, could you demonstrate how, for instance, your interpretation and extrapolation of a given passage/topic ("men shall not lie with men, if they do, kill 'em.") YOUR UNDERSTANDING is "in the realm of sensible experience, independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers..."?

Or are you using some other definition of "objective?"

Stan...

It was Jesus who said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). It is the aim and responsibility of the born-again follower of Christ to hear the Holy Spirit's teaching and renew the mind to know the truth.

Agreed. That IS our aim. But who of us can objectively demonstrate that WE are the ones who have it right?

You have sought God's will, praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance, on the topic of marriage as it relates to gay folk. Hearing the HS's teaching and knowing the Truth is your aim.

Similarly, I have sought God's will, praying for the Holy Spirit's guidance, on the topic of marriage as it relates to gay folk. Hearing the HS's teaching and knowing the Truth is MY aim.

We both are confident that there is sufficient reason to believe that we have been duly enlightened/blessed with the "right" understanding of the Word of God and yet, we have reached different conclusions.

Is there any objective way that either of us can objectively demonstrate that we are objectively right?

OR, are our arguments SUBJECTIVE?

Stan said...

I don't know if you can know what you claim to know, so I'm not sure I can respond. I am responding (next week) to the incredible "don't cut your hair" smokescreen. Here's the reasoning. "It says it" (because no one denies that) "but we don't do it, so it can't mean it" or something like that. Two problems here. 1) On what basis do we eliminate God's commands. 2) If Command A is eliminated for a valid reason, how does that eliminate Command B?

Stan said...

Here's the problematic reasoning point: "I think we can claim to 'know' what God wants, insofar as it's not difficult ofttimes to 'know' the right and wrong of a situation." So here's how it works. "God says it's a sin to murder. Now, as I examine His command against murder, I can see, by externally verified methods, that murder is harmful. Therefore, I will agree with God's command not to murder." On the other hand, "I see that God says it's a sin for a man to lie with a man as with a woman. However, I cannot see with any external verification why this would be harmful. Instead, I see it as a beautiful thing. Therefore, I will not concur with God's command against homosexual behavior." (Please, please, please don't get caught up in the specific example(s). It's the reasoning I'm pointing to, not the examples.) God's commands get verified or castigated depending on whether or not we find it easy or difficult to know the right and wrong of the situation. Problem.

But, beyond that, is it your contention that human beings do not have the capacity to know with certainty what God believes about X, Y, and Z? Is the best humans can do is have a "hunch"? Is the only right presentation of God's Truth "I think," "I believe," or "In my opinion"? Is it, in your view, universally wrong for any human to claim to read the Bible and correctly expound on what God thinks on a topic?

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

But, beyond that, is it your contention that human beings do not have the capacity to know with certainty what God believes about X, Y, and Z?

I'm saying we can't demonstrate that OUR OPINIONS about what God wants are
"in the realm of sensible experience
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

Our ARGUMENTS, our BELIEFS about what God does and doesn't want, THOSE ARGUMENTS are subjective, by definition, not objective, by definition.

Or at least by that definition. If that is the definition of "objective" - and I'd say it is generally what people mean by that word - then, no. How can we measure OUR BELIEFS

"in the realm of sensible experience
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

...? I don't see how it is possible.

Believe me, I'd like to tell you that you are objectively wrong. That objectively speaking, MY UNDERSTANDING of passage X/Topic Y is the OBJECTIVELY RIGHT one. But I don't see how I can do that.

To what in the realm of sensible experience that is perceptible to all observers would we appeal to demonstrate our hunches are objectively right?

stan...

Is the best humans can do is have a "hunch"?

I am not of the opinion that just because an opinion is subjective does not make it "bad" or "fake" or "false." It only means it is subjective, not measurable, demonstrable. So, having a hunch about something beyond our senses is not a bad thing, seems to me. Not in the least.

On the other hand, claiming to have OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE about something beyond our senses IS a bad thing, or at least, a potentially bad thing.

Stan...

Is the only right presentation of God's Truth "I think," "I believe," or "In my opinion"?

I'm fine with, "I'm confident that..." or, "it is self-evident that..." What's wrong with making clear that something that is objectivley YOUR OPINION is, in fact, YOUR OPINION?

Stan...

Is it, in your view, universally wrong for any human to claim to read the Bible and correctly expound on what God thinks on a topic?

Universally wrong to CORRECTLY expound on what God thinks on a subject? No, of course not. If you or I hold opinions that turn out to be correct and our notions DO align with God's will, then obviously, that is a good thing.

What I think is universally a bad idea is to claim to speak for God and state that you can't be mistaken.

Down that path lies an arrogance that MAY hold no direct evil consequences, but MAY - and HAS in the real world - lead to pogroms, crusades and warring in "god's" name. I think that is an arrogant path to trod and, further, I think it is a dangerous path FOR THE PERSON MAKING THE MISTAKE to believe they hold perfect knowledge, because they are setting themselves in God's place, which comes close to a very dangerous sort of idolatry, seems to me.

Dan Trabue said...

Also, Stan, just a suggestion: It would help me if you could address my questions so I can see where it is we agree and where we part ways, if we do.

Or, if for some reason, the question is unanswerable, then pointing that out with an explanation ("that's not answerable because..."), that would be extremely helpful in communication.

I really don't think there's any reason for any of us to disagree on any of this. We are AGREED that there is objective truth. I'm just stating what seems to be an obvious reality: That our opinions and beliefs are objectively OUR opinions and beliefs and thus, SUBJECTIVE unless we have some support "in the realm of sensible experience,
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

Stan said...

Yes, sir! I will follow your demands immediately, sir! Now, let's see ...

Can't figure out what you mean in the first question. If you believe something and it is true, you're asking if I believe that the belief is true?

Your second question(s) are about how we can know what we know (rather than how we can know something). Different subject.

But, look, this is going to be way too tedious, since you write so much. So let's try this.

I say, "The Bible says x" and you say, "The Bible says x". I say, "The fact that the Bible says x and the fact that we both agree that it does is objective. That is, it is obvious to anyone who will look and doesn't require opinion. Changing what it says may require opinion. "Yeah, that's what it says, but that's not what it means." So what is the disagreement about "objective"?

And, for the record, I cannot recall on any occasion ever in my life either in print or in speech ever saying in any form, "This is what God says and I am infallible." I have likely committed on more than one occasion the unpardonable sin of certainty, but I've never claimed "I cannot be mistaken."

Dan Trabue said...

To address your questions...

Can't figure out what you mean in the first question. If you believe something and it is true, you're asking if I believe that the belief is true?

My first question was about a person having an opinion about what God thinks. Let me rephrase it to try to simplify it:

Bob thinks God likes briefs over jockeys. Jockeys=bad. Briefs=good. That is OBJECTIVELY what God thinks (in this supposition).

Now, since Bob's ARGUMENT was "God likes Briefs." Bob was objectively right.

HOWEVER, Bob had NO BASIS in the Bible, in the real world or in ANY MEASURABLE, DISCERNIBLE way to KNOW that God likes briefs. It was a guess based upon whatever.

My first question then is, Bob holds a position and it turns out that position was objectively true, AGREED?

My second question that goes along with the first one is: Bob had NO WAY of KNOWING his position was objectively true. His argument was based on his SUBJECTIVE, non-reality-based guess.

AGREED?

Dan Trabue said...

Now to deal with your question to me...

I say, "The Bible says x" and you say, "The Bible says x".

Okay.

I say, "The fact that the Bible says x and the fact that we both agree that it does is objective.

Okay. We agree that the Bible says X and that is objectively observable.

That is, it is obvious to anyone who will look and doesn't require opinion.

Agreed. If the bible says, "Don't cut your hair," we can agree that the Bible says "Don't cut your hair." No opinion there, just objectively agreeing on the what the text says.

Changing what it says may require opinion.

Changing what it says? Do you mean, INTERPRETING what it says? If so, then yes, INTERPRETING what it says requires/suggests opinion.

"Yeah, that's what it says, but that's not what it means."

I'm not sure what you mean. We can both agree that the text says literally, "Don't cut your hair." WHAT WE DO WITH THAT, HOW WE INTERPRET THAT requires personal and subjective interpretation.

Is that what you're saying? If so, then we agree.

So what is the disagreement about "objective"?

I'm not sure what you're asking here. We can agree that the text says "x,y, z" or whatever it physically, literally says. But ONCE WE START ATTACHING MEANING to what it says (ie, "and X, Y, Z MEANS this...") then we have personal subjective interpretation.

David said...

Does it bother anyone else when people condense Holy Spirit into "HS", or is it just me? You never see someone do that to G, or J, only HS. In a graph or a diagram where space is limited, sure, fine, but there isn't such a lack of space to show the respect due to the Holy Spirit since He is God. It speaks to me of a lack of reverence to the Person of the Godhead to make Him into an abbreviation.

As for Dan T's arguments, he makes me not know up from down. He seems to claim that there is objective truth, we just can't know it, and yet is willing to argue that he is right. There has to be a knowable objective truth, or there is no way to come to a firm conclusion. He argues so vehemently that we can't "know" anything, and demands that we "know" he is right. I don't think I agreed with a single sentence in all his rantings, at least those that made any lick of sense. And based off his argumentation, there is no way to actually know what he believes, since belief is merely in the eye of the beholder. (And please get off the homosexuality kick. No one following Stan's blog is going to agree with you that homosexuality isn't a sin, ever.)

Marshall Art said...

"On the other hand, claiming to have OBJECTIVE KNOWLEDGE about something beyond our senses IS a bad thing, or at least, a potentially bad thing."

Do you not have eyes? Can you not read? Do you not have a dictionary? "Thou shalt not..." is very much within the ability of MY senses, if not yours. On any Biblical statement so beginning, I have objective knowledge. To be absolutely certain of any mandate so beginning, and to relate that to any who will listen is not the least bit speaking "for" God, or speaking as if I am the vessel by which he pours out his will for all (though it's not beyond the realm of possibility that I might very well be---who knows?), it is merely restating what He has already stated for us in Scripture in very plain and easy to understand language. As such, I am not mistaken when I state a sinful behavior is still sinful. Here's the best part: of those things that I am absolutely certain, I don't have to "find out" that they are true. Of those things I am certain, I don't have to wait to learn if they "turn out" to be true. That plain and easy to understand language is undeniable to any who loves God more than the world, who loves God more than those who say they love Him, too, but chastise me for my certainty. I am certain because there is no mistaking those areas of which I am certain. On those areas of which I am certain, I am indeed infallible. This is neither pride nor arrogance. It is merely stating the truth of what the truth is in those areas of which I am absolutely certain.

YOU, on the other hand, Dan, are not certain of anything. You cannot even make a truth claim here:

"I'm just stating what seems to be an obvious reality:"

It's either obvious or it isn't. If it is, it is. It can't "seem" to be.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

Is the best humans can do is have a "hunch"?

This is what it seems to me to boil down to, for some conservative religious folk (and I was one of them at one time):

NOT that the Bible teaches we can know God's Will on a given topic OBJECTIVELY,
NOT that logically, we can make an objective case for our morals,
BUT rather the fear of admitting that our opinions are OUR SUBJECTIVE opinions - even those we think abundantly clear in the Bible - that this somehow lessens or weakens our Truth that we believe in.

The thing is, ALL OUR ARGUMENTS for moral truths are, by definition, subjective, NOT objective.

The atheist who makes the Truth Statement: There IS no god, he is offering a subjective opinion. There is no evidence...

"in the realm of sensible experience
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

...to support that claim. It is HIS hunch.

He can reasonably say, "I see no evidence for the existence of a god..." if that's what he thinks, but he can't state that any argument he makes is somehow objective, since he can't point to evidence in the realm of sensible experience that is perceptible to all observers.

ALL OUR ARGUMENTS/OPINIONS about moral truths would seem to me to be clearly in the realm of subjective, NOT objective, given the definition. I don't see really what there is to disagree on.

Now, stating that OUR ARGUMENTS for such are subjective IS NOT THE SAME as saying, "There is no objective moral truths," just that we can't objectively demonstrate/argue for them.

And I think that unnerves many folk, especially on the conservative side of the spectrum, who like to speak about their opinions in absolute terms.

But it shouldn't. It's just acknowledging a reality. If nothing else, it should HELP us Christians hold to our humility a little more strongly, and humility is a Godly trait for us to have.

It has been stated that doubt is not the opposite of faith: Certainty is. A wise point, it seems to me.

We are to trust in God, cling to God, rely upon God. Not our guns, not our money, not our reason, not our arguments, not our opinions. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen.

What do you think?

Stan said...

So that will be the one and only definition for you of "objective truth":
"in the realm of sensible experience
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

Got it. Cool. Thus, there is no objective truth ... since there can be no truth that is independent of individuals who think it. Got it. Clear enough. Thanks. We're done.

To me, of course, the fact that the sense experience of plain reading that all observers can perceive without any confusion is perfectly suitable as "objective truth". And Jesus's claim that "You shall know the truth" is definitive to me. So we disagree.

But the position you hold that all morality is subjective truth is one that requires that you stop making any arguments about morality. And for some reason you don't. Sure, you admit there are objective moral truths, but in the next breath you deny we can know them for sure. So ... stop! I mean, in what possible sense can faith be "certainty of things not seen" if we cannot be certain?

Stan said...

On your "friend", Bob, you've made a point with which we both agree. Some people believe things without reason or evidence. Got it. We agree. Sometimes those people are right and sometimes they are wrong. True. We both agree that there is subjective truth. That, of course, does not rule out objective truth.

Stan said...

Since the problem is "interpretation" in your view, and since all language is interpretation, and since the intellectuals of the day even assure us that words have no intrinsic meaning, we're pretty much done on this front, too, aren't we? I mean, really, what does "blue" mean? A shade of a color? What shade? Or maybe a mood? I remember seeing an article about a group of women proudly protesting the term "slut". "Slutwalk" it was called and groups of scantily-clad women proudly stated that they were sluts and that was good. One protester said, "Since 'slut' means a proud, strong, confident woman, I'm proud to be a slut!" And I think, "You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means."

So, the term "adultery" as used in our Bibles may mean the immoral sexual relations between a married person and someone with whom he or she is not married, or it may mean the act of being an adult, certainly not immoral, or perhaps it means "painting a wall with yellow paint" because that's the meaning I choose to take today. What ... you disagree? Well, I guess it's a matter of subjective truth, of personal interpretation. You interpret it your way, and I'll interpret it mine. Thanks.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

So that will be the one and only definition for you of "objective truth":
"in the realm of sensible experience
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

Got it. Cool. Thus, there is no objective truth ...


You have totally misunderstood me and gotten my opinion wrong. Let me try again.

There IS objective truth.

Do you understand what I am saying there? There is objectively objective truth.

By that, I mean that there is, in the real world, objective truth, that which is objectively true.

You'll note that this is a re-affirmation of what I have already stated, where I said....

There WAS a objectively true position to take on the point and I held it.

and...

There ARE objective truths out there - Truths that are objectively "right," whether we know it or not.

So, you see, I have already affirmed objective truth and am re-affirming here that there is objective truth, that which is objectively true.

Do you understand my position NOW?

Dan Trabue said...

So, returning to your comments...

Stan...

So that will be the one and only definition for you of "objective truth":
"in the realm of sensible experience
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

Got it. Cool. Thus, there is no objective truth ...


That was NOT my definition of objective truth. That is the English definition of the word, "OBJECTIVE." Do you understand that?

What I'm doing is differentiating between OBJECTIVE TRUTH and OUR ARGUMENTS/OPINIONS.

In both my examples, somebody "knew" objective truth. That is, they were arguing for what turned out to be objective truth.

HOWEVER, their ARGUMENTS for that truth WERE NOT OBJECTIVE, by the standard English definition.

YOUR argument in opposition to marriage between gay folk IS NOT OBJECTIVE.

MY argument in support of marriage between gay folk IS NOT OBJECTIVE.

OUR argument that God is a God of love IS NOT OBJECTIVE, at least BY THAT STANDARD DEFINITION.

NOW, do you understand what I'm saying?

If I argue that the Bible says, "God is a God of love, and I believe that to be the case because it seems obvious to me and because the Bible says so..." IS NOT an objective argument. It is not

"in the realm of sensible experience
independent of individual thought and
perceptible by all observers"

Do you see what I'm saying?

Now, IF you're using some different definition of the word, "objective," then by all means provide that definition so I can understand what you mean. But as it stands now, it just is a reality that my arguments and your arguments are not objective, BY THAT DEFINITION.

Stan said...

Again, repetitions and questions that have been answered.

Dan Trabue: "I have already affirmed objective truth ... Do you understand my position NOW?"

We already agreed that there is truth. You simply disagree that we can know truth or, rather, that we can be certain that we know truth.

Dan Trabue: "IF you're using some different definition of the word, "objective," then by all means provide that definition so I can understand what you mean."

In the text I wrote, "objective truth is that which is true in and of itself." Or, in the English language, "objective" means "that which is determined by the object" while "subjective" means "that which is determined by the subject." So objective truth is that which is true in and of itself ... you know, like I said.

Beyond that, since your definition of "objective" requires "independent of individual thought" and we are incapable of knowing anything "independent of individual thought", then we are, as I've said, at a standstill. You affirm that "objective truth" exists out there and you affirm that we can "know" that truth. You simply relegate any certainty of such knowledge to ... your word ... "hunches". I, on the other hand, say, "This is what the text says and there isn't any question about the meaning of the text, so this is what I believe." It is obtained by "sensible experience" and "perceptible by all observers". Please note: I am not saying that nothing in the Bible or morality is objective or that all texts are equally clear. On the other hand, as an example, all readers of the Bible agree that the Bible states "A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman", and that the text is clear, the meaning is perceptible by all observers, and that "independent thought" is not required to understand it. Some, then, go on to explain why it doesn't mean what it clearly and obviously seems to mean. Just an example.

In today's world, it would seem that the single most objectionable, unforgivable sin is for "conservatives" to be "certain" on moral issues. It looks like you're arguing for that position. I would suggest that Jesus disagreed.

Dan Trabue said...

Stan...

You simply disagree that we can know truth or, rather, that we can be certain that we know truth.

Yes, that is right (the latter). So, you and I and every one here agrees that the statement, "God is love" is objectively true, right?

But ON WHAT BASIS can we objectively know that the statement is correct? WHAT ARGUMENT can we make that demonstrates we objectively know something?

Can we agree that the answer to THAT question is, "There is no physical basis on which we can objectively know a Truth statement..."? There is no objective argument that we can make that demonstrates objectively that we objectively "know" something?

Stan said...

Good. So I properly understand your position. We cannot be certain that we know the truth. Not the same as "objective truth". Yours is an epistemological claim, a denial of knowing, not a statement on truth.

Of course, then you wandered into foolishness. Using your approach, I can prove that there is no sound, because my voltmeter doesn't pick it up. "There is no physical basis on which we can objectively know a Truth statement." Really? What if the truth statement is not about something physical? It would seem that you must hold that you cannot know for certain that love exists because there is nothing physical about it. Just an example.

But, since the discussion has moved from the existence of objective truth to the non-existence of knowing anything for certain, I still can't see why you're trying to ask questions or gain agreement ... since neither you nor I can be certain what we do or don't know and, therefore, on that which we do or don't agree. The position removes all certainty and, therefore, the point. Of course, the repeated statements by Jesus and the authors of the Bible about what God does or does not think about A or B or X and the claim by Jesus that "you shall know the truth" seems to really undercut your argument. I mean, if the only correct approach is "I think that God sees things this way or that way", then all of the Bible writers really messed that up, didn't they? Will you correct them on that? "How can you guys know that you know and that what you know is Truth? You should just state this stuff in terms of your opinion! And that whole throwing-out-merchants-from-the-Temple thing, Jesus, that was really over the top. Really arrogant, thinking that what you think about it is what God thinks about it. Now, let's be reasonable and admit that we can't really be sure about anything."

Marshall Art said...

The more this goes on, the more it seems that Dan is convinced that we cannot be convinced of what the truth of anything about God and His Will is or can be. Isn't that a bit contradictory, or is he also uncertain as to his conviction on that score as well? What's more, he insists that we are obliged to be uncertain as well.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm sorry, did you answer my question and I missed it? I read you not quite get my positions right and twist my words, but I did not see you address my questions...

But ON WHAT BASIS can we objectively know that the statement is correct?

WHAT ARGUMENT can we make that demonstrates we objectively know something?


If you could JUST ANSWER these questions, we could see if and where we disagree.

My point is that YOU CAN NOT answer that question objectively. You can only answer that question SUBJECTIVELY. IF you could answer it objectively, then the simplest thing to do to end this conversation is to answer it objectively. WHAT ARGUMENT? WHAT BASIS?

Here, since you all seem to keep either totally not understanding or ignoring these questions, allow me to hold the conversation as I would guess it would go IF you would answer and, you know, actually reason together, as the Bible objectively teaches.

Dan: On what objective basis can we say we objectively know that God is Love?

Stan: Because the Bible says so.

Dan: And how is that OBJECTIVE? Another book says that "god is hate," and another book says, "there is no god..." how do we KNOW that what the Bible is saying is objectively true?

Stan: Because the Bible is from God.

Dan: And how do we objectively know that?

Stan: Because it's just true, it just is.

Dan: Says who?

Stan: God says.

Dan: "God says" the 66 books of the Bible are from God? Where does God say that? I thought that historically, the 66 books were AGREED UPON BY HUMANS that it was as scripture to us, not "from God."

Stan: Well, we know because those guys were right.

Dan: And how do we know that.

Stan: Ummm... EPA?

=====

You can see where I'm going. You have NO OBJECTIVE ARGUMENT to support your claims. If you had them, you could present them.

And there's nothing wrong with this. The sin is not in admitting the reality that your hunches are your hunches. The sin is in claiming to speak for God what God has not said...

Stan said...

So, you're demonstrating my point that there is no such thing as "proof". If evidence is not going to be accepted for whatever reason (or no reason at all), there is not sufficient evidence to prove a fact.

Look, I'm not arguing with you. You can't objectively know a statement is correct. Fine. Beyond that, it is impossible (especially under the definition you're using) to even know if what you know is correct. Okay. And then we move on to "bad faith" arguments where I say "I'm a male" and you say, "Prove it!" I'm not disagreeing with you. No one can know "objectively" ("independent of individual thought") anything. Contradiction in terms! Got it. Good. SO WHY ARE YOU STILL ARGUING!

No, let's go a step further, Dan. You've managed to remove not just the possibility, but even the morality of being certain. You managed to "prove" by means of "evidence" and "logic" that we cannot know anything truly. And, of course, you've argued that the Bible is not objectively true, cannot be known with any certainty. Great! I'll let you hold that view. I won't disagree. That's fine. But since this blog is about the Bible and since the Bible itself is full of truth claims and since the Author of our Faith made the claim "You shall know the truth", and, finally, since all of that is opposed to all you have argued for, I see no reason to either continue this conversation (because if you disagree with me you do so without grounds) or any further conversation from you on any subject I'm writing about. You cannot know if you're right, so why argue with me about it? We cannot know anything for certain, so why debate about what we know or even how we say it?

And, I have to be honest, it turns my stomach when a person who angrily shouts that he is a Christian who loves God and loves the Bible goes on to assure us that the Bible is not the Word of God but was "historically agreed upon by humans". I'm less tolerant of that than even your profanity. So be warm and fed, Dan, but just not here.

starflyer said...

Thank you for your last comments Stan. I've never seen a "Christian" go so out of his way to cause division in the body of Christ. I've said this before, but it is appropriate again now:

2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

4simpsons said...

Starflyer, you are correct. That is typical of Dan to offer his straw man arguments and to attack the authority of scripture while he pretends to defend it.

Christianity: He's doin' it wrong.

Dan Trabue said...

And again, Stan, how deep in this gossip and slander will you go and never admit your own complicity in it?

You'll post false and unsupported charges demonizing a fellow Christian, but you won't allow a defense.

Have you no decency?

You are right in one thing you've said to me, in a recent email, I believe: That perhaps I should not expect to defend myself. Jesus opted not to when persecuted by his religious hypocrites. Jesus promised us this was coming and to be expected. Perhaps I SHOULD just let these false charges go un-defended (and here, of course, I have no choice, since you're not allowing the defense to happen).

I don't mind it so much if it were some atheists or something attacking and slandering (but generally in MY experience, the atheists have treated those they disagree with better than what we have seen here).

I just truly hate to see this sort of slander, demonization and girl-ish gossip spewing from the church.

Anonymous said...

Funny how this got emotional an left reason behind. Especially since the topic was 'objective' truth.

Stan said...

Isn't though? Or, perhaps, "funny" isn't the right word ...