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Is Truth Absolute or Subjective?

“I believe that everyone has the right to believe what they want to,” says Whitney, a dental hygiene assistant. “What is true to one person doesn’t have to be true to someone else. We all have our definitions of truth and we should each choose what to believe.”

This may be a common thing you’ve heard from others over the years or even say yourself. Many people today are convinced that truth can be whatever we want it to be while also not compromising the truth of other people. The My Truth movement aims to normalize people making decisions based upon their desires rather than the reality of the world in which they live, and I find that concerning.

The thing about truth is this: truth is absolute.

Let me make clear, though, that I do believe that there are subjective truths. For example, if you were to ask my wife if black beans taste good, she will argue emphatically that black beans taste amazing. If you were to ask my father instead, he would assert that black beans taste terrible. There exist some subjective truths – that is, that something can be true in relation to that which is involved; in this case, the subjective truths around found in the preferential tastes of my wife and my father.

But not all truths are based upon preference and therefore not subjective. There exist truths that are true regardless of preference, time, space, location, and any other situational factor. For example, it is an absolute truth that two plus two equals four (2+2=4). At no time and in no place will two plus two not equal four, regardless of the preferences of any person. This truth has existed prior to humanity and will exist after humanity; no human preference or awareness of this truth can compromise it’s validity.

Some may still argue with me in saying that there is no such thing as absolute truth, but in doing so, they make a self-defeating argument. If one says, “There is no such thing as absolute truth,” that person has invoked what they believe to be an absolute truth – that there is no absolute truth. By their own logic, we cannot even believe that statement because all truth is subjective (in their eyes). They are invoking an absolute truth in order to argue that absolute truth does not exist; they have become the very thing they swore to destroy, as Obi-Wan would say.

Belief in the existence of absolute truth is necessary for Christians.  Christians believe that God created both absolute truth as well as subjective truth, but they both have their respective places within the universe.  Absolute truths in the bible can be found within God-given commandments or truth statements made by him.  For example, God said, “Do not murder” in Exodus 20:13.  This is an example of an absolute truth; no matter where at, what time, or who is involved, murder is always wrong.  Another example of absolute truth is when Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” in John 14:6.

By recognizing the fact that absolute truths exist and that rights and wrongs are reflected in them, Christians possess the greatest argument for the fight against issues in our world like human rights violations. In the Christian worldview, God has declared that all humans have inherent value through his creation of them; it is an absolute truth that humans are valuable and violating their rights is wrong. This is why we wer able to justify ending chattle slavery in 19th century America. This is why we were able to justify our interference in WWII against Nazi Germany and put an end to the concetration death camps which Hitler and the Third Reich used to murder millions of people. This is why we are able to justify the call for banning abortion of babies within the wombs of their mothers. We were/are able to justify these things because we affirm and acknowledge that there is an absolute truth that humans are important, valuable, and should not be mistreated. But for those who insist that truth is determined by each person or community, there remains no justifiable reason why we should have intervened in the affairs of other nations (or even our own) because those communities determined that what they were doing was right and true.

So how do we move forward with this? Simply put, we must recognize that there exist truths in this universe established by the creator of the universe and that we are either in line with those truths or we are not; no amount of ignorance or disagreement will compromise the validity of these truths, so it is best that we work to understand them rather than creating our own.

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