The morality of mankind (choosing right from wrong), is based on the concept of our truth. When we consider the Holocaust, the Nanking Massacre, the Herero and Nama genocide, the Rwandan Genocide, and question the “wrongness” and the “rightness” of the events we are forced to interrogate the basis for ‘wrongness’ and ‘rightness.’ What makes Hitler’s Nazi Germany wrong in wanting to conquer the world and kill innocent people in the process? Why are we disgusted at the thoughts of the Sharpville Massacre?
This is one of the questions faced at the Nuremberg trials following the Second World War. What basis can the Nazi’s be prosecuted for the acts in the Second World War?
The foundation of truth used by Germany was the Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest. The leaders of Germany saw their nation as a superior group a “Stronger People” and the rest of the world as a second-rate people, a “Weaker People”. The source of truth derived from the Friedrich Nietzsche explained that man is the source for good and evil.
Hitler embraced Nietzsche’s view of truth and consolidated this in his view of what truth is. The Holocaust and the death of millions was the result of this truth. The questions faced by Nuremberg trials is the same question we face today. What truth is the basis of our Moral Law and is truth subjective or objective?
Truth and the source
Jesus claimed to be the objective Truth; ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’. John 14:6.
Is it possible to know what Truth is?
To find the truth we can begin at the most basic premise, it is undeniable. If you are reading this, then you have confirmed this first basic premise of truth. “Being”, the mere fact you can question truth or yourself means you exist.
This is an “Axiom” or “First Principle” according to Aristotle. First-principles are self-evident points, showing their existence without proof. For example, the renown philosopher Rene Descartes famous, “I Think therefore I am”, proves you exist even if someone told you did not exist, you would still have to think about your existence, therefore proving the one who told you did not exist is wrong.
This proves two points in the search for truth.
1. The existence (To be aware of yourself proves existence).
2. Reason (To think about yourself proves reason).
We can logically conclude we exist and we can have reasoned thought about our existence.
Aristotle notes that these first principles are necessary if there is to be any rational thinking. He recorded several laws to have rational, logical thought. The Law of Non-Contradiction: (A is not non-A). Opposite truth claims cannot both be true. For example, if an atheist believes God does not exist and a theist believes God does exist, both can’t be right
Can Truth be relative? (Subjective)
The question of morality being relative is directly associated with its root. If truth is relative then morality can be relative. “Relative Truth” means that truth is subject to the holder of truth.
A great test for relative or subjective truth is the “Gravity Test”. To apply this test one should climb to a high tower such as the Times Tower of Nairobi. If the holder of subjective truth believes he or she can fly, and since truth is subject to our beliefs then the person should be able to fly. Once the person jumps away from the tower the test begins. They will fly across the city or fall. If they fly without aid then subjective truth is true if they fall and kiss the ground then objective truth is true. Those on the ground queuing to sort out their tax issues at KRA will witnesses “Correspondence”. If the person flies to Westlands then subjective truth will correspond to reality (The flight being real). If the person falls, objective truth will correspond to reality. (Gravity being real).
Subjective truth is a popular view held by many people, could all these people be wrong?
As Christians how can we respond to those beliefs, truth is subjective and God is unknowable?
In discussing truth, absolute and relative, (Objective and Subjective) we first need to define the terms of what “Truth” is. Many people often repeat statements they have heard without actually thinking about the implications. The belief in relative or subjective truth is accepted as fact because it so often repeated. By asking questions, we can help those who are seeking the truth, find the truth.
For example, using the gravity test of truth is a good way to establish the fallacy of relative truth. If truth were relative, it follows that people who believed they could fly would fly. Since this is not the case, Truth cannot be relative.
Once we understand that Truth is not subjective, the next question often asked is, “How can we know what truth is?” Most people will not doubt they exist or they can reason. So since we know we exist, and we are aware of our existence, is there a logic to find out what truth is? Truth corresponds to facts, we are aware of some facts such as matter and reality. Is there a way to know the source of this reality? Considering even the most hardened agnostic admits to the “logic of cause and effect” this is a logical place to start. What was the First Cause? How did the Universe begin? Is God a logical concept? Without God where did matter come from? These are good questions to start with when communicating the truth.
The Bible claims to be, God’s (The First Cause) communication with his creation. When the evidence of the scriptures is examined, do the facts “Correspond” with reality?