There they stood, upon an elevated platform amidst Roman columns, searching for meaning.
Alright, the last statement might be a little dramatic. But I did recently take my philosophy class to a nearby cemetery so they could reflect on man’s search for meaning in light of the grave. One of the questions I asked them to consider is, “What is truth?”
Here’s a picture of the students on their philosophical field trip.
I specifically asked them to consider how they would answer the question if they were sitting in the midst of the Secular Student Society, a bright group of students at the University of Louisville, some of whom I know rather well. I received the counter punch that any professor should expect via email this weekend, “So how would you define truth in such a setting?”
So, here’s my answer: Truth is the objective and absolute explanation of reality.
Here’s what I mean. Beyond the trivial ways that we use the word “true” and “truth” on a daily basis, there is something more foundational that we all intuitively understand. We recognize that some truth claims are larger than others. And like every other thinking person throughout history, we long to understand how all the little truth claims fit together. We want to understand the world we live in, how we got here, how we should live on this little planet, and perhaps what, if anything, exists beyond ourselves.
The answers to these perennial human questions would have to look a lot like what we call truth. Perhaps, like Francis Scaeffer, we should call it “Truth” with a capital “T”.
Ergo, Truth is something bigger than the average truth claim. No one upon making an isolated scientific discovery would rightfully declare that they have definitively discovered “Truth.” Truth is what you attempt to attain when you seek to synthesize all of the little truth claims you have come to accept. Truth is a framework, an objective and absolute framework, for understanding reality.
You could go at it without a framework, I suppose. It would be like trying to piece reality together bit by bit like a puzzle. This could prove to be a inefficient endeavor, however, if there exists a picture of what it will look like when it is totally assembled. Truth is the picture of reality that allows you to put the pieces together.
Truth is the determinitive factor that separates cosmos from chaos. Truth allows us to find unity in the midst of diversity. Truth is similar to the motto found on American coins, “E pluribus unum” or “Out of many, one.” Truth is the one thing that explains everything.
All people from all times have sought Truth. The great scientists search for a “Theory of Everything.” Philosophers ponder the possibilities. The everyday man wonders what life is all about.
And out of the many, one thing can provide an objective and absolute explanation. This is Truth.
“Truth is that which affirms propositionally the nature of reality as it is.” – Ravi Zacharias
“Truth is defined as that which corresponds to reality as perceived by God. Because God’s perception of reality is never distorted.” – R.C. Sproul
“I am the Truth.” – Jesus of Nazareth