Sidey’s weekend theme is on “discovering the truth.” How do we know what is or isn’t true? Search me! But since I’m not there with you personally so that you can actually search me, I will empty my pockets before you now, virtually: There is nothing in my pockets right now, except for some lint, an old gasoline receipt, (I know it’s old because the gas was only $2.29/gallon. Sheesh! I wonder how many of us ever thought we would say “only” in reference to gas prices like that?), and a tired old mushed cherry Starburst jellybean, which no longer exists (in its original form) because Princess just grabbed it and ate it.
Now, is there any truth in that? My sidebar quotes/comments are in reference to politics, but we are always looking for truth there, aren’t we? For all too long now, I think the comment I made has held true: We won’t find truth in politics until we spell politics, P-O-L-I-T-R-U-T-H-T-I-C-S.
Truth is a topic that has long puzzled me, and since I have written about it before, I will repeat myself with this partial repost:
From the 9th Chapter of Luke: . . .(Jesus said) 37b “for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38“What is truth?” Pilate asked.
From the 8th Chapter of John: 31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.“Pilate’s question is the basic question for all time, for all of humanity. I believe that Pilate really wanted to know, that he wanted freedom from questions and indecision – and perhaps in the same way that the disciples did. Remember Thomas’ plaintive question in John 14? (Jesus said) ” 4You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, 6“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Thomas was probably speaking for all of them in his own customary, bare-all way. He wanted – he needed – to know, he needed to be free. Yet how can any of us know?
Jesus answers very explicitly, yet somewhat cryptically at the same time. My thoughts are that Jesus wanted us to search for ourselves, because finding the Truth is about the journey, and not the ultimate discovery. Once you start out looking, that act is equally, if not more, important than the finding. So much of scripture is about the search for ultimate Truth, and many of us, while pursuing that end, along the way find it important to discover for ourselves the nature of ordinary, work-a-day truth. How do we know what we are being told, what we are being led to believe is true, or is the truth? And how do facts relate to truth? The Merriam– Webster Dictionary defines fact in the following way:
Main Entry: fact
Etymology: Latin factum, from neuter of factus, past participle of facere
Date: 15th century
1 : a thing done: as a obsolete : feat b : crime c archaic : action
2 archaic : performance, doing
3 : the quality of being actual : actuality
4 a : something that has actual existence b : an actual occurrence
5 : a piece of information presented as having objective reality— in fact : in truth
I Wonder what word they used before the 15th century?
Interestingly enough, the first definition of fact – a feat – is obsolete. The definition is obsolete as in old, worn out, useless, and irreparable. So a fact is no longer considered an accomplishment, I guess! Sounds like a lot of so-called facts that have been offered as truth over the years! The word truth does not enter into the definition until position #5 – and probably for these days that is correct.. So, I wondered, what does Merriam-Webster offer as the definition of truth?
Inflected Form(s): plural truths \ˈtrüthz, ˈtrüths\
Etymology: Middle English trewthe, from Old English trēowth fidelity; akin to Old English trēowe faithful — more at true
Date: before 12th century
1 a archaic : fidelity, constancy b : sincerity in action, character, and utterance
2 a (1) : the state of being the case : fact (2) : the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality (3) often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality b : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true s of thermodynamics> c : the body of true statements and propositions
3 a : the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality b chiefly British : true 2 c : fidelity to an original or to a standard
4 capitalized Christian Science : god
— in truth : in accordance with fact : actually
It appears to me as though the definitions are related to one another almost in the inverse; however the final definition is synonymous with the last for fact. How closely are truth and fact related? Probably not very closely (although I suppose they can be), because I believe that truth, and certainly Truth, is immutable and unchangeable. Facts change every day, even though they are often accepted as truth. The world is flat; the universe turns around the earth; time is a constant, etc. Even the facts that we have discovered since those, might be proved one day to be false, as many facts have been, at least for the time being! Sergeant Friday (of Dragnet fame) used to ask for “Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” He used the word fact as an antonym for opinion or subjective observation. Unfortunately, in courtrooms all over the world, opinions often crowd out and outlast the facts, yet the assumption has always been that we use, or should use, the word facts as those things which are clearly known and undisputed today. Subjective observations – (as all observations are), opinions, and honest belief are no substitute for facts, and certainly not for truth, nor Truth.Jesus very clearly states that He is the Truth, and as a Christian – or one who earnestly desires to be – I believe what He says. He identifies himself with Truth which He then equates with God. Indeed, the Gospel of John opens with: “1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And what is the Word, but the expressed and living Truth of God?
So, what is truth? What is Truth? The second I can answer because that answer came from the mouth of God, but I give that answer only as a reflection from this cloudy mirror, as something I do not fully understand. Nor do I expect to on this side of heaven. The lower-case-t truth is more easily understood, but I feel that our language fails us when we use the words so interchangeably with facts and/or Truth.
I have not answered the question. Can you? Will either of us ever answer it? Let me hear from you!
Always, my Gentle Reader,
I wish you enough. . .