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Discussing objective truth

Today we will continue the conversation about truth that we began two issues ago. I think it helps for us to understand that there are two kinds of truth. One is called “objective” truth. This means that the truth of a statement is determined by the object in question; the truth is not determined by the thinker (who is the thinking subject). In the case of objective truth I must go out from myself to find the truth, because what I think does not change the veracity of my statement.

It is not as complicated as it sounds. Let me give an example of a statement that is objectively true (or false): My car is gray. The truth of that statement is not determined by me, or what I think. Rather, it is determined by what? By the car (the car is the object of that sentence and thus the name, objective truth). If the car is in fact gray then my statement is true. If the car is blue then my statement is false. See, when it comes to matters of objective truth I can be right or I can be wrong. When my perception of the truth matches the reality then we say I am right. When my perception of the truth does not match the reality then we say I am wrong.

Here is where we need to make a clarifying statement or two: to say that someone is wrong, or that I think they are wrong does not mean that I think they are evil, or stupid or anything else.

However, when we are dealing with matters of objective truth and you and I have a different statement of what we think is true, then the reality is that at least one of us must be wrong (it may be that we are both wrong).

So, going back to our example of a car color: let us presume that I think a car is blue. You think it is red. If the car is blue then I am right and you are wrong. If the car is red then you are right and I am wrong. If the car is yellow then we are both wrong.

After Easter we will continue this conversation.

— Pat Arensberg is the Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life.  Email him at parensberg@mobarch.org

For more information concerning the events of this office, visit us at mobilefaithformation.org

 

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