Subjective Beings and Objective Truth

A large part of my problem with the idea of absolute truth is that usually after one makes an argument for absolute truth are the things that they take by faith. For instance, the fact that God exists is an absolute truth, anyone who believes that fact to be true has to take it by faith because there is no logic that can prove it to be so and vice versa. Most religious absolute truths whether it be sacred texts, sacred people, sacred places or sacred rituals all are taken by faith. What if though faith isn’t a tool that leads us to truth, what if it is a tool that leads us to belief? After all, it’s not what truth really is which forms our actions and our ideals, but what our beliefs are. Faith doesn’t lead to truth, faith leads to belief.

No matter what happens, no matter what we hold, our belief in what truth is depends on us. Without the person forming the belief, the belief wouldn’t exist. Everything we do, see or experience is subjective to us. So that leaves us with the question, can a subjective being know or understand objective truth? Are we even meant to?

I’m unsure why we think that the things we put faith on are absolutes for everyone around us. The very definition of faith seems to be to me that it is something we are believing that we can’t see, or prove. If you could prove it, there is no faith. You don’t have faith that 2+2=4. However we seem to have been duped into thinking that whatever I put my faith in is absolutely true for everyone else. This just doesn’t follow for me.

In the words of Thomas Aquinas (I believe)

“Reason begins a journey only faith can end.”

Not the other way around.

4 Comments

  • It would be helpful if you would define what you mean by truth, I think.

  • Nathan, some more reading suggestions, because I think the issue is quite complex, and just stating that ‘God exists’ as an absolute taken by faith would not be met with universal approval, even today. Take Descartes, for example, or his Aristotelean predecessors steeped in Aquinas. For them, God necessarily exists because he is the ‘unmoved-mover’, the First Cause, etc. We take this to be an article of faith because we live in a scientifically saturated world which only accepts proof based on experiments. An innatist, like Descartes, would not start there, and he is considered one of the founder of modern science!

  • ok if your faith is not universally true then what is the point in evangelizing or make truth claims about Christ, God, Scripture, the Church, etc. If truth is completley subjective then you should read up on the Unitarian church. If truth is not universally subjective and there is an absolute then what is it, how do we find it, what makes it true. And then we are brought back to worldview questions which are informed by tradition, scripture, and revelation. The number one thing i think you need to look at is tradition. Without tradition we are relying solely on revelation and scripture which are fallible. read the church fathers, things we have from people who walked with Christ, established the church and kept the faith. there are some very interesting facts to be found in the examination of tradition. but when it all comes down to it the subjectivity arguement always falls apart because truth is something more universal. and just because you cannot prove something empirically does not make it true. Here is an excerpt from a paper i am writing, read it if you like, it sheds some light on one aspect of the issue at hand:

    We see again in Eusebius of Caesarea the idea of earthly things being unable to expound the nature of God with relation to our salvation. He says No language is sufficient to express the origin, the dignity, even the substance and nature of Christ For who but the Father has thoroughly understood that light which existed before the world was that intellectual and substantial wisdom, and that living Word which in the beginning was with the Father, before all creation and any production visible or invisible, the first and only offspring of God? This divinity of Christ as explain here is essential to the idea of salvation for without Christ being truly begotten and beyond our understanding there can be no sufficient sacrifice.

  • Andrew: Truth would be reality that is not false, a ideal, thought, statement, action that is actual.
    Something along those lines.

    KNShepphard: When I said God existing is an absolute truth, I wasn’t saying I believe that, I was just using that as an example of what people do.

    Nick: I’m not talking right now about the point of evangelizing, by doing that you are trying to prove the ideas of absolute truth then by the need to evangelize? That’s exactly what I’m talking about, trying to prove absolute truth by subjective beliefs.
    So tradition is infallible? I find that hard to believe. There are many things that the church believed by tradition for a long time that we know now not to be true (ie. we are the center of the universe).

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