Basic Apologetics: Truth Exists

After all, if there is no such thing as truth then Christianity cannot be true anymore than atheism can be true.  

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You Can’t Handle the Truth!

The famous line from A Few Good Men that rings timeless in its scene in the movie, and as it speaks volumes to our culture.  Many of us can’t handle the truth, so we disregard it.  Or, we choose our emotions or what we feel is right over the truth.  This only seems to work in the realm of personal preference and what we enjoy.  Many times, we forget that there must be something right, there must be truth.  And if truth exists, that means that there is something to figure out as we wander on the earth and search out for it.  After all, if there is no such thing as truth then Christianity cannot be true anymore than atheism can be true.  So, does truth exist?  Can we know that truth exists?

The Popular Self-Defeating Statements

When you attend a philosophy class your freshmen year or even talking to people at work or on the street, you’ll hear popular sayings such as these:

  • There is no such thing as truth.
  • All truth is relative.
  • We really can’t know what is true.
  • That’s true for you, but not for me.
  • All truths are true.
  • All truth has to be scientifically proven.

The problem with all of these (and I have been told many of these myself!) is that they don’t hold to their own truth claims.  So, when we hear these claims at face value they are a little fearful.  But, when we apply the claim to itself we can see the faulty logic of our culture, the skeptic, and those who simply disbelieve in God, the Bible, religion, etc. and we will quickly see how to respond, such as this:

  1. “There is no such thing as truth.”  Okay, freeze.  What do you do?  Apply the claim to itself!  “Is that true?”  If it is true that there is no such thing as truth, then why should I believe you?  And if there is no such thing as truth, why is that true?
  2. “All truth is relative.”  So, think slowly here and ask, “Is that a relative truth?”  If that is a relative truth, then is that true?  Isn’t that an objective truth claim that there is only relative truth?
  3. “We really can’t know what is true.”  I was in a class in college when we discussed the Biblical view of homosexuality and how the church gets it wrong, so I asked the girl who voiced this aloud this question, “How do you know?”  Again, apply the claim to itself.  How does she know what is true if it is unknowable?  How do you know nobody can know?
  4. “That’s true for you, but not for me.”  Popular in the realm of religion and ethical truth claims.  So, is that statement true for you and not true for everyone?  If it is true for you and not for me, but is that is true for everybody, is it really true that it is only true for you and not for everybody else?  (Did I get that right?)
  5. “All truths are true.”  What do you need to say here?  Contradict the statement.  “Well, that is untrue.”  Here we have the Law of Noncontradiction being purposely broken.  Apply this in your math class.  You get the question wrong, you object and say that my answer is right, too.  Or, at the bank.  You don’t like your amount in your account?  Tell them it’s true that you have 23 million dollars when you don’t; who’s right? Both of you?  Pretty sure the teller wins this one 10 out of 10 times.  There is a wrong and a right, a truth and a lie.
  6. “All truth has to be scientifically proven.”  This one is a little trickier at first glance.  What do you ask?  “Is that proven by science?”  And the answer is no, it can’t be.  This is a philosophical claim.  Different realm, different purpose.

So, when something smells fishy that you hear or are told, apply the claim to itself.  Often times when it smells fishy, its because there truly is a fish.

Truth Exists Outside of Us

Here is the bottom line: truth exists.  And to say it doesn’t is self-defeating.  So, where does truth come from?  We see that truth is not relative, it does not depend upon us, and that is exists apart from us.  Therefore, truth has to come from something outside of us, outside of universe.  The Law of Logic require a Law-Giver.  And these laws are immaterial (i.e. not on the periodic table), and therefore, could not have evolved over time or accidentally exploded and appeared.

In order for absolute (objective) truth to exist, there must be an Objective, Unchanging Standard of truth that transcends reality, creation, and humanity.  It must be immaterial and it must be unchanging.

The existence of God must be the standard of truth by his very nature.  If truth exists, it is because an unchanging standard exists outside of space, time, and reality.  God is that standard.  He is the measure by which we hold up all claims of truth and falsehood.

So, this means that there must be truth in the world: either God exists, or he doesn’t.  Either Jesus is God, or he isn’t.  He either rose from the dead, or he didn’t.  The Bible is either God’s word, or it isn’t.  Jesus himself claimed that he indeed is the truth (John 14:6) and claims not just that God’s word is true, but that it is the truth (John 17:17).

Friends, truth exists.  It is not relative or based on our preferences.  All of us operate on the understanding that truth does in fact exist, even those who we would consider atheists, skeptics, or the ‘average’ person who is cut off from Christ.  Engage people with the Scriptures, it is truth.

3 thoughts on “Basic Apologetics: Truth Exists”

  1. Hi Cale, I saw this shared on Facebook, and thought I’d give it a read. Interesting reasoning! If I may, I have a few friendly questions.

    I’m interested in the third statement: “We can’t really know what is true.” I wonder if this statement is really self-defeating? It seems that the skeptic would agree with you in that we can’t really know the truth of this statement. They might say, “Sure, we can’t really know whether the statement ‘we can’t really know what is true’ is true.” It seems to me that this statement isn’t a knowledge claim, but a statement about not knowing. Maybe it could be rephrased as “we can’t really know truth values, including the truth value of this statement.” Is this a contradiction?

    I have a number of questions about your section, “Truth exists outside of us.” I’ll ask just one. The conclusion of your argument is that truth exists outside of us. To get to this conclusion, you must assume that God exists. You probably have a number of arguments for God’s existence in mind. For the skeptics, though, who don’t take arguments for God’s existence to be convincing, they won’t be logically compelled by your argument to accept that truth exists, especially if these are truth claims about God or the Bible. I think you are right that we all operate on the understanding that truth does exist, if we define truth as empirical. But how do we establish that non-empirical truths exist (such as truths about God and the soul) and that we can know such truths? Thanks!

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    1. Hey Jacob! Maybe I can be helpful.

      So, in saying that we can’t really know what is true” is presupposing that that statement is true. Or else, there would be no point in saying it. And if it was true that we can’t know truth, how you do know that’s true? The bottom line is, truth has to exist. And any denial or approval of it, presupposes it. Maybe that statement you suggested would work?

      The main thing is that there has to be something right or wrong, true or false. And the reasoning with “truth exists outside of us” is due to either truth being relative or objective. If it is relative, then relative to who? You? If the atheistic materialism is true, then reason and logic are just chemical regions in our brains. And chemicals don’t reason, they just react. So we shouldn’t trust our reasoning no if that’s true! Does that make sense?

      So, our ability to reason and have truth can only come from two sources: preexisting intelligence, or matter. And matter doesn’t give rise to morals, immaterial laws, truth, logic, etc. That would be my hopefully helpful answer!

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