What is truth?

When Jesus faced Pilate being tried for his life, Jesus explained that he was the truth and in response Pilate asks the questions what is truth? It is a question at the heart of us all. It includes, I believe, the quest for meaning both in ourselves and in the Universe. Is there such a thing as truth and if there is where do we find it?

I think the answer to the first part of that question is easy, we understand the answer in a very intuitive way. Maybe this is the only way we can understand this question – yes there is such a thing as truth. We see it in the world of Mathematics of course – who would want to doubt that 1 + 1 = 2. I know some will say, ah yes but what is 1. We could debate it but I would want to maintain that everyone who can think knows intuitively what one is – no one really needs to explain it we know it. If someone takes away our 1 we know about it. If we manage to double our 1 we understand what that means. Anyway, I’m not writing a book here. Truth does exist, we know it deep down and we are desperate to find it.

So where do we find this truth? I’ve already claimed that part of it is just known to us, but this does not satisfy does it. What we know intuitively is suspect and we are searching for truth here.

At one time people sought truth in Philosophy. A noble cause and maybe a good place to look – everything we know (including maths) has some Philosophical root – you can’t do science for instance without having a Philosophical set of rules to enable you to do it. But Philosophy leaves us feeling confused. People disagree on the simplest of things and can’t work it out. If we want truth then Philosophy leaves us cold – hence Pilate’s question to Jesus.

We then turned to religion but we found religion wanting. Not only was there contradiction in religion but it seemed to multiply superstition – which ultimately leads us away from truth.

We then turned to science. Surely a dedicated examination of the world using the Scientific method (that bit is Philosophical by the way) and trusting only to verifiable facts will show us what truth is. At first the quest was exciting and promised so much. But then we discovered that scientists can’t agree on a whole host of things and sometimes they agree only to later tell us they were in fact all wrong. The idea of what is right or wrong was left open and it seemed we could believe almost anything – all from science. It’s apostles will tell you otherwise – that one day they will indeed discover the truth and they are willing to die for the truth they believe they have already found but ultimately we face up to the fact that is fails us in the search for truth – indeed it leads down so many dark paths that it demonstrates on its own it cannot guide us.

So we turned to academics – perhaps the Universities can help. They explored the problem and read what others said and concluded – there is no such thing as truth, it is all subjective. Wait, what? You can’t be serious. Intellectually they make the argument and teach this nonsense to our children and they end up more confused that all the rest of us. What an easy answer though – there is no truth. When we look for an answer they tell us stop looking and just accept the inevitable – ‘live, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die’. Presumably they would add study to that list. But as the Bible tells us (where that quote comes from) that people’s search for truth using human reason will always take us to this fatalistic response. Rubbish – there is such a thing as truth and existence is defined by our search for it.

When Pilate searched for truth he did not understand that truth stood in from of him. Truth is found in God and more particularly in God’s revelation of himself to us. The answer to the search for truth is Jesus and not anything else.

We must step beyond human reason to find it – our minds fail us, they are just not big enough to find the answers and it is clear – in case you are a science fiction buff – that no super computer will find the answers for us, the truth is that artificial intelligence is actually developed in the human mind and the human mind is not clever enough to find such answers.

To find truth we must learn to trust our only source of truth. Jesus.

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