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Can You Really Know the Truth?

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This week’s church family blog thought is from Scott Rathkamp…

When someone tells you “there’s no such thing as the absolute truth, it’s all relative!” what do you reply?  You ask “Is that absolutely true? … that there is no absolute truths?”

You are having a lively discussion with a friend or relative and you decide to support your position with a fundamental truth from the Bible.  Your friend responds, “well, that may be true for you, but, it is not true for me.”  Wow, how do you respond to that?  Unless you turn this around quick, the debate is over, and you just lost.  Why?  Because what they are telling you (and themselves) is that truth is relative, variable, and situational.  Their version of the truth is just a valid as yours, their risk of living based on an incorrect truth – zero.  Does he need to listen to your points and evaluate them honestly?  He doesn’t think so.  OK, how do you deal with this?

Let’s start with some basics.  When someone says “… the fact of the matter is …”, or “well, the truth is …”, they are about to deliver a truth statement. A Truth Statement is a correct and accurate description of or about a referent.  The word ‘referent’ is just a fancy way of saying ‘what you are referring to’.   If you hold in your hand a yellow, fuzzy, tennis ball and say “this is a yellow fuzzy tennis ball”, you just made a truth statement that is true.  If you say instead “this is a blue fuzzy tennis ball” then your truth statement is false.  Here’s the key; a truth statement can be true, or false, not both or some of each.  If a truth statement is true and the referent hasn’t changed, then it is true for all people, at all places, at all times.  So, back to our friendly discussion – can something be true for you but not for me?  Nope.  If something is really true, it is true for everyone, whether you believe it or not.  Example, if you drop that fuzzy yellow ball it is going to fall to the floor.  Why?  Because gravity exists, it is true, for everybody.  If you decided not to believe in gravity, will you float away into space?  Of course not.

Dr. Frank Turek, the coauthor of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, has come up with a simple test for untrue truth statements, he calls it The Roadrunner Test.  When someone throws you a truth statement, turn the statement back on itself.  If a truth statement contradicts itself, it can’t be true.  For example, if I say “my parents had no children that lived” or “my biological sister is an only child”, does that pass the Roadrunner Test?  Nope, just like Wile E Coyote who ran past the Roadrunner, and the edge of the cliff – there is no support and will soon crash to the desert floor.

Back to our friendly discussion.  When someone tells you “there’s no such thing as the absolute truth, it’s all relative!” what do you reply?  You ask “Is that absolutely true? … that there is no absolute truths?”  How about ‘true for you, not me’?  Try this, go to your bank and tell the Teller “I want to withdraw $1,000, here’s my card”.  “But sir, you only have $25.18”.  “Well that may be true for you but my checkbook says I have $1,000.  I want it all.”  Sure, that will end well.  You get the idea, if a truth statement is true, it’s true for everyone, everywhere, all the time.  Now that we’ve established that, we can get back to looking for the One Truth, His Truth.

If you’d like to learn more about the Roadrunner Test and other similar topics, I encourage you to visit Frank Turek at www.crossexamined.org or search on <frank turek> in YouTube.

-Scott

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