Does absolute truth exist?
I had a philosophy professor in college who I got along with very well. We had many interesting discussions. One day in class he posited the following thought and asked us to discuss it:
“Reality is reality as you perceive it to be.”
An example was given that a man who maybe is not in his right mind is convinced that his skin color is purple. Whether or not his skin is actually purple, to him it is therefore that is his reality. While this may sound like a reasonable theory, it shows the dangers of using both an exception or distortion as the rule, and ignoring the idea that truth is absolute. Let’s examine it.
If the above logic is valid, and I am convinced as a racecar driver that fire is not going to burn me, then that is my reality. So as a result I decide to race without a fire suit. What is going to happen to me the first time my car catches fire? Regardless of the ‘reality’ I may have in my mind I am quickly going to find out that the truth of the matter is beyond my ‘reality’. That fire is going to burn me and likely pretty badly. Even if, after my recovery, (assuming I have one) I still deny that fire hurt me, my medical bills, scars, and my life will likely prove otherwise. The fact is that absolutes do exist. Beyond qualifying the statement (i.e. using fire retardant clothing, or being a magician) fire is going to burn you.
Many people want to deny that absolute truth exists because it makes life easier. If nothing is absolute, then all of life is relative, and I can make truth fit what is best for me. The problem is that to deny absolute truth exists is a self defeating proposition. If you make the statement:
“Absolute truths do not exist”
you now have a catch 22. The statement must either include itself or exclude itself. If it includes itself, then the statement itself is invalid because it is an absolute statement, so it can’t be true. If it excludes itself, then absolutes do exist because the statement itself would be true and an absolute.
Absolute truth is a good thing. It offers us stability, protection, order and reason. (If you don’t believe me, try going up to the payout window after a race and signing for the winner’s purse after you finished 20th. When they ask you what you are doing, simply explain to them that in your mind, you finished first. I’m betting you aren’t going to leave with any envelope except that marked for 20th place. And if you finished first I bet you’re glad they didn’t give your pay away.) People tend not to like truth because it also gives us a responsibility. If truth is real, and it can be found out, then we would have to try to live by it. To do so means we need to put effort into finding out what it is. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. What if in that truth were life and joy and happiness unlike any you’d ever dreamed possible? Then it would be worth all the effort in the world to search it out.