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Truth and opinion

Where can we find absolute truth?

  • Nowhere

    Votes: 7 33.3%
  • Abstractions detached from reality

    Votes: 1 4.8%
  • Physical reality

    Votes: 3 14.3%
  • Ethics

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Religion

    Votes: 10 47.6%

  • Total voters
    21

Eriol

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This is not a religious topic, but I think it is fitting for this place. There are a lot of threads at this Guild in which the concept of "relative truth" is embraced by some people. "Relative truth" may be defined as a truth that is applicable to some circumstances/times/persons, but not to ALL circumstances/times/persons. "Absolute truth" would be a truth applicable to any and all circumstances/times/persons imaginable.

That said, I have a few questions to throw around :D

Is there absolute truth at all?

Is there absolute truth only in abstractions ?(like Mathematics)

Is there absolute truth also in reality? (like Science)

Is there absolute truth in ethics?

Is there absolute truth in religion?

This is not a fighting thread :(. I just want to gauge how people feel about this issue; and again, it is not a religious issue, it is a philosophical issue. I believe (but I'm not sure) that I listed the possibilities in a hierarchical order -- that means, if you choose the last you believe in all other kinds of absolute truth. So, if some of you do not believe in this hierarchy (if someone believes in "truth in ethics" but not in "truth in reality", for instance), please post the reasoning behind it.
 

Celebthôl

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Hmmm, Eri, you know my beliefs....which one (if any) is approriate for me :eek:

Anyway; my beliefs are that there is truth, that its with God, but not through religion. (kinda hard to explain. . . )
 

Eriol

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Thôl, your beliefs would probably fit best with option 2. Though, as I've said to you, they are self-contradictory and don't really fit anywhere; and this is another hint about their self-contradiction...
 

Celebthôl

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Hmmm, okay, thanx Eri. I guess it would be bes if i didnt vote then, as im in between beliefs and my old one wouldnt fit...ill vote when im clearer.
 

Snaga

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I voted 'nowhere' more as a default to avoid worrying about this! That probably sounds strange... but I have thought about this from many angles and the only sure thing is that someone else will disagree. So then it isnt absolute any more!

Descartes: 'I think therefore I am' is a pretty solid truth.

Many philosophers have tried to go further, but without great success. Ontological proofs of the existence of God all fail, and just as well cos that would deny faith! So too do attempts to prove that the real world is 'really real'... But if I deny the information provided to me by my senses I deny the existence of everything other than myself. So, practically, I assume the information from my sense is correct and try to order it and validate it... and this is called science. So I believe in science, but I know it is founded on an assumption of the validity of sensory information. For the moment, since the edifice of science continually enlarges rather than falling down, it seems robust so far.

Of course I am being very rationalist in how I am approaching this question... so implicitly I am using lots of tools of 'pure reason' ... logic and the like. When you start to examine such things you find even more wondrous truths... for example in mathematics it proven that no matter what axioms you assume, it is always possible to construct a theorem that cannot be proven within the confines of those axioms. It seems to me an amazing thing, a thing of beauty, that there is always a question you cannot answer.

OK that's not really an answer as such... *voice trails off into mumbling silence*
 

Eriol

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I thought hard about making it a multiple choice poll, Sarah... but I still think that if you believe in one of them you should believe in those above it. So if you disagree with this assumption of mine (about which I have no certainty, I don't take it as absolute truth :D ;) ), can you explain?

And Snaga, you are absolutely right, a great post! If you want something to chew on while you're in a mumbling silence, what about this: can pure reason work without sensorial input?

I think your position is perfect, if you take a strict rationalist view of the matter; but is taking a strict rationalist view of the matter a reasonable thing to do?

A very knotted problem... I suppose I'll join you in that mumbling silence, at least while I try to answer this last question of mine...
 

Gothmog

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Hmmm. 3 for nowhere and 2 for religion. It seems that it is ALL or NOTHING.

I do not find this surprising. There are two choices that are at each end of the scale with all the others being only parts of the whole. Since each of the mid choices are only parts, Absolute Truth could not be found there as they do not cover a wide enough area.

Unlike Snaga I have no problem with the actuality of reality. I know that what I call reality is my interpretaion of that abstract of What Is that my senses reveal to me. This allows me to accept and interact with others and with the world around me. However, this does not mean that what I sense and what I am sensing are the same.

There is a great danger in using the tools of "Pure Reason" and "Logic". These can narrow your field of view rather than enlarge it. The spirit is just as important a tool in the search for "Reality".
 

HLGStrider

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I guess it is hard to believe in absolute truth on ethics without absolute truth on religion. ..I voted for religion, but I'm sad to see no one has voted for ethics.

All non-religious people don't have to reject right and wrong, do they?
 

Niniel

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I think there are absolute truths in science, e.g. a bowl of water can have a certain temperature, and even though different people may experience the temperature differently, it's still the same temperature.
IMO there are no absolute truths in ethics; they depend on the culture of a society (including its religion). Of course there are things on which almost everyone in the world would agree, such as 'murder is bad', but there are also people who would say that in some cases murder can be allowed and even be a good thing. So no, there are no absolute truths in ethics.
 

Idril

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I voted that there in no absolute truths anywhere. The boundaries of science and maths are being pushed and moved and therefore not constant. Ethics depend on your socio-cultural background, someone mentioned murder being a universally accepted 'wrong' and yet some 'states' are allowed to murder criminals. And the most abstract of all is Religion, how many different religions exist (including all the various Christian ones)? and they all believe they are right.

The absolute truth is there is no absolute truth, which is therefore not an absolute truth at all,... no that makes it an absolute truth after all. Argh!!!! I better stop.:confused:
 

Ithrynluin

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Originally posted by HLGStrider
All non-religious people don't have to reject right and wrong, do they?
Why would they do that? Not being religious does not mean not having standards and a sense of right and wrong.

I'm also of the opinion that absolute truth is nowhere to be found.
 

HLGStrider

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Why would they do that? Not being religious does not mean not having standards and a sense of right and wrong.
I was just wondering because no one has voted for just ethics. Everyone who believes there is truth in ethics is willing and able to take it a step further and say there is also truth in religion. No one who believes in scientific reality is willing and able to take it up a step further and say there is also truth in ethics.
 

Snaga

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Hehehe Elgee you're funny!:D You don't like to be too logical do you?

When you said 'everyone' you mean't yourself... and when you said 'noone' you meant noone that you had listened to.

There are plenty of atheists who believe there is truth in ethics. And even if people don't believe in 'absolute truth' that isnt a rejection of right and wrong. It just means that there is room for doubting things sometimes and being willing to listen and learn from others. You could try that sometime.;)
 

HLGStrider

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You're in a mood lately. ;)

Hehehe Elgee you're funny! You don't like to be too logical do you?
When it suits me.

When you said 'everyone' you mean't yourself... and when you said 'noone' you meant noone that you had listened to.
When I said everyone I meant everyone who had voted on this poll. I'm sorry if I did not make that clear.

When I said no one I meant the fact that no one had voted for ethics on this poll without going up a notch and voting for religion.

That shows an extreme gap. I was expecting someone to come out of the wood work with an absolute morality of some sort without a god, because as you say, they do exist, but they aren't showing their faces.

And even if people don't believe in 'absolute truth' that isnt a rejection of right and wrong. It just means that there is room for doubting things sometimes and being willing to listen and learn from others.
Just because something is doubtable doesn't mean that it isn't absolute truth. When I was younger I very much doubted that 0x1 was 0. It didn't make sense to me that you could have a one become nothing. That didn't make it any less true.

That is the absolute truth we accept for mathematics. Why doesn't it also apply to ethics?

When I say it is wrong to kill a little baby I mean it is wrong to kill a little baby and I believe it is always wrong to kill a little baby. I don't think it changes.

Why doesn't it also apply to religion? I believe there is a god. Just because I believe there is a god doesn't mean there is. If there isn't a god, there isn't a god, and that is truth. I don't believe it is truth, but that doesn't mean it isn't truth. ..just as if you don't believe there isn't a god it doesn't mean there isn't a god.
 

Niniel

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Originally posted by HLGStrider
When I say it is wrong to kill a little baby I mean it is wrong to kill a little baby and I believe it is always wrong to kill a little baby. I don't think it changes.
To you this never changes, and almost everyone in your culture (and mine) will agree with you. But there have been, and still are, cultures where it is allowed to kill a baby, in certain circumstances. And there is noone or nothing that can tell us that killing babies is absolutely wrong, as there are for certain scientifc and mathematical principles. 0 x 1 is always 0, even if nobody believes it or if there are no humans left on the world to see if it is so. So for science there are standards of absolute truth, while for ethics there are none. Ethics come from humans themselves, they are not made by nature, and thus they end when humanity ends, or when people don't agree with them.
 

Starflower

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you're right Niniel, there still exist cultures where it is acceptable to kill a newborn baby , often thye are baby girls in a culture that favors boys, but as often it is places where contraception is forbidden/unknown and there are too many mouths to feed already. so in their eyes it is more merciful to kill the baby than let it live in misery .

I myself don't agree or disagree with this, as who am I to judge them , I don't know their circumstances



Starflower
 

Eriol

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Originally posted by Niniel
Ethics come from humans themselves, they are not made by nature, and thus they end when humanity ends, or when people don't agree with them.
That is not proven; it is contrary to instinct; and it means that the Nazis could kill Jews, since they did not agree with the proposition "you should not kill Jews".

The relativization of ethics is the end of ethics, and the beginning of the rule of the mightiest. What is the difference between 100 people agreeing that it is right to kill Jews, or 1 million, or one person only? At which point does this behavior become ethical?

Sure, cultures killed babies, even cultures we considered enlightened (like ancient Greece). Were they right? That is the question. If they were right because the custom was prevalent, this means that the Nazis were right too. I think they were wrong... and this is not just because I am a religious person. I believed in the universality of ethics way before I went back to the Church. If it is wrong today, it was always wrong, and it is wrong in every culture. Of course, this puts a tremendous weight on the word "wrong". I don't think etiquette codes, or dressing codes, are "wrong", and I think it is unfortunate that people call breach of these things "immoralities". They are simply breach of conventional agreements between humans; these are examples of conventions.

But not murder. Forbidding murder is not a convention. It emerges from our own nature; and I don't have to invoke any religion to make a case against murder that is both universal and compelling.
 

Starflower

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But not murder. Forbidding murder is not a convention. It emerges from our own nature; and I don't have to invoke any religion to make a case against murder that is both universal and compelling.
you say it is wrong to commit murder, I agree. But how may murders have been done in the name of religion? And christian religion in particular? Remember the Crusades? The Spanis Inquisition ?

So truth is always objective, I'm sure the people who burned witches thought they were doing what's true and right in God's eyes....


Starflower
 

Eriol

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The only way you can condemn these things is by comparing them to an absolute standard ;). If you don't believe in absolute truth in ethics (as I interpreted Níniel's post -- forgive me if I'm wrong), then all of these things were as justified as the killing of infants in other cultures.

To say that crusades, inquisition, etc. are wrong, you have to have an objective, absolute standard of what is right.
 

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