Total truth

by Paul Lewis

The truth is a timeless topic of interest, not just for me but for many others throughout human history. This is a common pursuit—as soon as we are aware of our surroundings we begin to question how, why, and what we know.

In other words: is what we believe an accurate reflection of reality?

Grasping the whole truth

A friend recently quoted a popular illustration about blind men feeling an elephant to describe its essence, each grasping a part and presenting it as the whole. This poem is used to describe the pursuit of truth, with each blind man being partly right and each being partly wrong. According to this friend, we each have a part of the truth and nobody has a whole handle.

While this idea sounds nice—promoting the ‘can’t we all just get along’ mantra—there is a key problem. In his book, Mere Apologetics, Alister McGrath quotes a popular thought the theologian Francis Schaeffer held on worldviews and—by extension—truth. Schaeffer stated that each person has an internal world engaging with the external, he says:

Every person lives with a foot in each of two worlds—the real, external world, characterised by its depth and complexity; and an internal world of thought, shaped by a longing for understanding, love and significance. If these two worlds stand in tension with each other, an individual cannot live meaningfully. There must be a correspondence between our experience of the external world and our internal world.

It’s nice to speak about all being right; but is that view both logical and consistent? According to Schaeffer, when we hold a view that is not an accurate reflection of reality, this is not without consequence…


Total truth