Are you in search of the truth? That is the question that I normally asked when I am in a dialogue with believers, and although one will most often conclude, after conversing with believers, the he or she is not interesting in truth, they, will try, however, to convince you that they are indeed seeking the truth. What I find to be true, however, is that many believers have no knowledge on what truth is. They don’t realize that what we call truth is divided into category – subjective truth and objective truth – and, as a result, conflict them both.
What is mean by subjective and objective truth? How do they contribute to this confused notion of truth hold by believers? First, let’s define the word truth. According to Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary – Revised Edition, Truth means
- Accordance with knowledge, fact, or actuality
- The real state of affairs: fact
- Actuality: reality
- A statement that is or is accepted as being true
- The state of being truthful: honesty
If you look at the many definition of truth, the two types of truth is demonstrated. First, there is the real state of affairs; the reality of things. Then, there is the acceptance of a statement as true, religious belief, for example.
The first category falls into objective truth, and according to Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary – Revised Edition, objective means:
- Of or pertaining to a material object rather than a mental concept.
- Having actual existence
- Not influenced by emotion or personal opinion
Objective truth is not just, what you “believe” to be true, which is what religious people do. It is what can be verified by providing empirical evidence. It is verifiable especially through the senses, and it makes logical sense. For example, we know, by observation, and it does not matter which part of the world you are, that the sun appears to rise and set every morning and ever evening. The appearance of sunrise and sunset is an objective truth verify by the senses. Moreover, it is also a known objective fact that the sunrise and sunset is a phenomena base upon the rotation of earth on its axis, and is not literally happening. The sun does not literally move across the sky.
On the other hand, there is subjective truth, and according to Webster’s II New Riverside Dictionary – Revised Edition, subjective means:
1. Of or existing within an individual’s mind rather than outside: personal
2. Of, pertaining to, or being a subject
This type of truth is whatever you accept as such. It is in the mind of the individual and religious belief falls within this category. An individual’s religious belief holes true to that individual only. For example, Jesus’ story of being crucified and rising from the tomb is a subjective truth. True only to him or her who believe it; true only within believers’ mind. Why? Because it a story that have no prior evidence; it cannot be verify. It’s just that, a story.
Next time you are in a discussion with a believer, and he or she claims to be looking for the truth, ask them what truth. Let them make clear their motives, and you will soon find out that they are not after any real (objective) truth. Instead, they are trying to verify something they were taught and had accepted. They are not interested in objective truth. To most what they already have accipted is the truth, and that is why their answer is always NO, when asked, ‘are you willing to change your mind if you are proven to be wrong’. They are just trying to conform their prior belief, and, most of the time, when it comes to religious belief, proving them wrong normally makes their belief in the wrong thing even stronger.