Is There Truth and How Could I Know?
Occasionally I run into Relativists who insist that nothing is constant, the world is in a continual state of flux, and therefore there is no Truth; certainly not absolute truth – nothing is absolute. What was thought to be true 50 years ago now seems quaint and erroneous. Not only is this the case for the progress of science and technology, it is also the case for our culture and its view of values and morality. In fact, nothing in the physical universe is the same, moment to moment, as particles move, are created and destroyed, masses move, and energy is deployed.
This idea of change over truth is so ingrained that it is used as an axiom, a basis for an entire panoply of beliefs. This axiom is a statement of complete variability, randomness and instability. “Whatever we think now will seem quaint and obsolete in the future; we cannot predict what will be ‘truth’ in the future”. This, then, justifies the idea that there can be no absolutes and that those who claim otherwise are irrational, or at least misguided, at best. At worst they are dangerously deluded, needing to be isolated for the good of all.
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The previous two posts deal with rational thought and logic, and the need for a solid, permanent foundation on which to build ones ideas, a foundation known as the First Principles. I have made the case for the absolute need for consistency in order to produce coherence and stability in thought. Because without consistency and coherence there is absolutely no stable logic in our statements: it would all be untethered and irrational.
While there is much of our thought process that is merely functional daily activity oriented thinking, our worldviews are definitely in need of a rational, logical foundation. What could be worse, we might think, than an irrational worldview? Empirical science requires consistency in its axioms, or researchers would be wasting their time taking data in an inconsistent universe. Empirical science also requires that its axioms be valid, at least in the boundaries of the field that is being investigated. So some of the axioms of science incorporate the known variability of the universe, such as entropy, for example. But mostly empirical science depends on the invariability of physical laws across time and space, within our universe…
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