2 + 2 = 4.
This is true. Right? I mean, I think it is. But what if I think that it isn't true? Does my thinking it is not true all of the sudden change its true value? Hmm....good question. I'm glad you asked.
On long road trips, my dad loved to ask us kids really tricky yet simple philosophical questions. I have a distinct memory of my dad asking us the question, "what makes something true?" In my middle school mind, I thought that was such an easy question to answer. I'm sure I answered with something along the lines of, "well something is just true dad! You just know if something is true or not!" Being the excellent devils-advocate that my dad is, he proceeded to challenge everything I said about truth until I finally asked (probably shouted), "then what is true?!". He answered so appropriately with the questions, "that's exactly right Maria, what is true? Where does your standard of truth come from?".
The philosophical conversation had set a trail of thought into motion that I still wrestle with today. Where does truth come from? Does my perception of reality ever change whether something is true or not?
I live in a world of mathematics as a high school math teacher. Before diving into any geometry at the beginning of the school year, we have to establish some very important facts. We establish that in order for a statement to be true, there can be no counterexample. As soon as there is one, only one, example to show that the previous statement is false, the entire statement is considered false. This isn't to say that the statement can't sometimes be true, but always true? Nope.
Let me give you an example: When it is raining outside, the sky is gray. Okay, generally speaking, yeah, can't argue with you there. But is that always true? If you're argumentative like me, the second you hear someone say a statement, you become the professional of counterexamples. For our sky example? What if it is night and it's raining outside? The sky is obviously not gray then. The claim made earlier is not absolutely true. It is only true sometimes, maybe even most of the time. But not always.
Living in this world of absolute truth on a daily basis often gets me thinking of absolute truth versus relative truth. Usually inside the walls of classroom 103, we've got right answers and wrong answers. There is not a whole lot of in between.
Interestingly enough, I get plenty of arguments regarding a right or wrong answer. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how many times I prove something to be true, I end up hearing comments such as "well that's dumb" or "I don't like it" after walking through a multi-step problem on the board.
A phrase I find myself saying quite often, especially amidst solving quadratics, is: I don't need you to like it. I need you to know it.
I remind them that despite how they feel regarding the problem at hand, the problem remains true.
Last week I wrote an article focused in on how are feelings cannot be our source of truth. If you haven't checked it out yet, I encourage you to do so. It will help you understand the rest of this article. Go ahead, pause, and read it. I'll be here when you return.
Here's the thing, if our feelings become our source of truth, then truth is relative only to our feelings. Truth then become unstable.
I mean, look at it practically. What if you all of the sudden felt like 2+2 should equal 5, but it still equaled 4 for me. So many things would drastically change. Both of us would have a different standard for adding, for building, for comparing budgets, for basically anything involving the simple addition.
How we felt about the situation didn't change anything regarding the fact that 2+2 still equals 4. In fact, the only thing that changed was that addition became more complicated and less useful.
Us not liking something does not disprove its truth value. Just because I do not like using the quadratic formula by hand does not dis-value its purpose or the fact that it exists and is useful. The same can go for a lot of truth. Just because I don't always feel good when coming head to head with the truth of God's word does not disprove or dis-value the truth of what He has revealed to mankind.
I have learned a few things since that initial road trip with my dad. I have learned that there must be a standard of absolute truth, that my feelings or perception of reality does not change whether something is true or not, and that my standard of truth is God's word.
My question for you is this: have you thought much about truth? Do you struggle with the concept of truth? My challenge to you is this: try and seek THE truth. The enemy is on a mission to muddy God's truth and he is doing an excellent job of it. I'm telling you, there is absolute truth out there, and you don't have to look very far.
Let me let you in on a little secret of what the simplicity of truth is. Jesus loves you. He gave His life to redeem yours. This is unchangeable, it's foundational, and absolute.