Thursday, July 08, 2010

Can You Handle The Truth?

Tonight Raven had us do a quiz to discover our conflict resolution types. This involved rating value based statements as to how well it matches our typical responses during conflict situations and how we react or behave (not necessarily what we think is the correct response).

Most statements were easy for me to rate as soon as I heard them. Others, like the following statement, made me think. This one for a long time.

"Truth lies in knowledge and not majority opinion."

Being an educated, politically motivated individual who studied religious traditions, this statement first demanded I consider the question "What is truth?"

We all know "facts" change as new knowledge is discovered and we have all seen the power in grassroots movements and spiritual belief. It's hard to dismiss the importance of these phenomena in what we would liberally consider the pursuit of truth. Further, if a "truth" is believed by all but there are no facts or empirical evidence available to back it up, does that make it not true? Or is the majority belief in itself enough to make it a "truth" for everyone?

Of course this simplified argument doesn't allow for an understanding or definition of a variety of truths - we all deal daily with subjective, relative, objective, or absolute truths and might even hold different criteria for deciding which is which.

This statement gave me pause because, while I hold knowledge in the highest esteem I also value greatly the will of the people. I think, for the most part, that if the majority of people believe in something then that is enough to make it true in some sense. However, I do hold minority positions in issues I care fervently about - like equal rights for gay people and families - where I believe strongly the religious majority is just plain (and factually) wrong. I can't have it both ways, can I?

It might just be that there is actually no right or wrong way to find or place value in this statement. This might even be a discussion that doesn't have a natural conclusion. What do you think?

2 comments: to the radio said...

"Truth lies in knowledge and not majority opinion."

Why is that so hard to deal with?
Galileo knew the Earth was not the centre of the universe.
Einstein's theories faced great resistance from the British Newtonian establishment.

But they are as close to the Truth now as we can know.

I think Truth on that scale is a never ending quest to find out where the goalposts are.
And on a smaller scale it's just figuring out if a tree falls in the forest.

And if someone says two plus two equals five when we're stoned I am just gonna want to truthfully punch them.

Anonymous said...

William in Ajax said..
It's a simple true or false question!

The answer is True.

Why?..because a majority opinion isn't necessarily the truth, that opinion could have been arrived at through manipulation,
whereas knowledge, attained through individual research (provided the researcher uses known factual reference material)will allow the truth to present itself.

If the truth your looking for is of a religious/nature, well all bets are off, the truth can be anything you want it to be, as witnessed by all the different truths (religious opinions) the world has to offer.

Good luck..