an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

What is Truth?

Ol’ Circular Sye, Bullshitter-in-Chief at Sinner Ministries’ risible and misnamed ‘Proof That God Exists’ website has recently been repeating, to anyone who’ll listen, that I said ‘I don’t know’ when he asked me what ‘truth’ is during this conversation.

When I answered, honestly, that I could not define ‘truth’ it was only because I have never stopped to really think about HOW I would define something I instinctively know. Being aware of the way Circular Sye ‘debates’, I refused to be drawn into giving an answer that was not properly considered. My Fundamentally Flawed podcasting colleague, Jim Gardner, had a similar problem on a recent show (one that he has subsequently addressed, as you can hear in this lengthy discussion)

I have now considered my answer, and am willing to give it. Truth is that which conforms to reality or actuality. There may be objective and subjective truths, but at it’s most basic, I would say the definition given above is perfectly functional.

So, there you go, that’s my answer.  Hopefully that crap-hawking, fraud, and lying for money, bullshitter Circular Sye will now shut the fuck up.

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19 thoughts on “What is Truth?

  1. Alex,Thanks for clarifying that you hold to the correspondence theory of truth as I noted based upon your comments in our last debate. However, whose version of reality? The Hindu's, who believes all is illusory? The Marxist atheist who believes that all is matter? The New Age mystic who believes that we're all part of the universal oneness and we need to do transcendental meditation to subsume back into the universal oneness? Worse, the correspondence theory of truth speaks of correspondence with abstract entities (i.e., states of affairs, "facts") that cannot be explained and individuated apart from reference to propositions that are already considered to be true – which is the very thing that the theory is supposed to explain in the first place!

  2. No, that's not what I've said. My ONLY statement is "Truth is that which conforms to reality or actuality"I don't subscribe to anything more than that. Truth matches that which is real.Take this statement, if I say 'Peas are disgusting' that is subjectively true for me (I'm not a fan) but it is not objectively true (as a lot of people like them) – however, that doesn't alter the fact that if I said 'Peas are defined as vegetables' it is a factual statement and objectively true. If anyone said 'I believe that Peas are a form of meat' they may hold that to be subjectively true, but they are factually wrong, so their statement isn't 'truth'.Not very clear, but I hope you get what I'm saying and will reassess your strawman.

  3. So, I'm saying that whilst some subjective truths are also objectively true, that does not make ALL subjective truths factually truthful.

  4. Once a subjective point of view comports with reality then (I think, I'm not a philosopher!) it becomes objective

  5. Alex,Everything you just said doesn't answer the self-refuting nature of your correspondence theory of truth. Tell us, out of all the views of reality out there to be had (1) whose version of reality should we correspond to, and (2) if your view of truth is supposed to tell us what corresponds to the actual state of affairs, then how do you explain and individuate what is true vs. what is false apart from reference to propositions that are already considered to be true – which is the very thing that your theory is supposed to explain in the first place?

  6. Truth is that which conforms to reality or actuality

  7. Sometimes, dealing with Sye is fun.

  8. "Truth is that which conforms to reality or actuality."Hindu: "The truth is that all is maya."Marxist: "The truth is that all is matter."New Ager: "The truth is that we're all one, you just don't know it yet."Christian: "Truth is that which corresponds to the mind of God."Whose "reality" should your "facts" correspond to Alex?

  9. Truth is that which conforms to reality or actuality. I don't know why you're having such an issue with this.

  10. Dusman:The view you attribute to Marxists is a blatant misrepresentation, since Marxism is a political and economic theory with nothing to say about these issues. Leaving aside your cartoonish interpretation of Hinduism and New Age beliefs, it is also inaccurate to claim that it is a specifically Christian view that "Truth is that which corresponds to the mind of God". This is a view which is held almost exclusively by presuppositionalists such as yourself, but not by other Christians.

  11. "The view you attribute to Marxists is a blatant misrepresentation, since Marxism is a political and economic theory with nothing to say about these issues.""The ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought." —Karl Marx, Das Kapital, Vol. 1.

  12. I think the problem you're having, Dustin, is your inability to stop thinking like a Christian.

  13. Yeah – that would be from the Afterword, Dusman, not from the central thesis of Marxism as a project. A more careful reader might have noticed that, in that paragraph, Marx is contrasting his view with Hegel, and specifically referring to his dialectic method. Since I'm not sure that would mean anything to you, we can cut to the chase:"With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought"is not by any stretch of the imagination equivalent to"The truth is that all is matter"and if that relatively simple point eludes you, the discussion probably won't get any further.

  14. Yo A,If it eluded me then why does Bethell say that Marx admired Darwin's book, "‘not for economic reasons but for the more fundamental one that Darwin’s universe was purely materialistic, and the explication of it no longer involved any reference to unobservable, nonmaterial causes outside or “beyond” it. In that important respect, Darwin and Marx were truly comrades . . . ." [Bethell, T., Burning Darwin to save Marx, Harpers Magazine, p. 37, December 1978.] Or since I'm completely clueless why did Barzun say this?". . . like Darwin, Marx thought he had discovered the law of development. He saw history in stages, as the Darwinists saw geological strata and successive forms of life. . . . both Marx and Darwin made struggle the means of development. Again, the measure of value in Darwin is survival with reproduction—an absolute fact occurring in time and which wholly disregards the moral or esthetic quality of the product. In Marx the measure of value is expended labor—an absolute fact occurring in time, which also disregards the utility of the product. Both Darwin and Marx tended to hedge and modify their mechanical absolution in the face of objections." [Barzun, J., Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage, 2nd Edition, (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1958), 170.]Better yet, since the nature of Marx's historical materialism eluded me, I wonder why he himself said this?"Darwin’s book is very important and serves me as a basis in natural selection for the class struggle in history. . . . not only is it [Darwin’s book] a death blow . . . to “Teleology” in the natural sciences but their rational meaning is empirically explained." [Zirkle, C., Evolution, Marxian Biology, and the Social Scene, (Philadelphia, PA: University of Philadelphia Press, 1959), 85-87.]Moreover, it looks like the communists recognized the importance of Darwin to their movement and therefore vigorously defended him:"The socialist movement recognized Darwinism as an important element in its general world outlook right from the start. When Darwin published his Origin of Species in 1859, Karl Marx wrote a letter to Frederick Engels in which he said, '. . . this is the book which contains the basis in natural history for our view'. . . . And of all those eminent researchers of the nineteenth century who have left us such a rich heritage of knowledge, we are especially grateful to Charles Darwin for opening our way to an evolutionary, dialectical understanding of nature." [Conner, C., Evolution vs. Creationism: in defense of scientific thinking, International Socialist Review (monthly magazine supplement to the Militant), November 1980, Ref. 23, pp. 12, 18.] The importance of Darwinism/philosophical materialism in the estimated 100+ million deaths caused by communism in the 19-20 centuries was partly because,"Clearly, for Marx man has no 'nature'. . . . For man is his own maker and will consciously become his own maker in complete freedom from morality or from the laws of nature and of nature’s God. . . . Here we see why Marxism justifies the ruthless sacrifice of men living today, men who, at this stage of history, are only partly human." [Eidelberg, P., Karl Marx and the declaration of independence: the meaning of Marxism, Intercollegiate Review 20:3-11, 1984, p. 10.]

  15. Dustin, does using an idea of tool for evil mean that the idea or tool itself is evil? The Bible has been used to excuse countless atrocities, does that make your Bible evil? Capitalism has caused untold suffering, is Capitalism evil, Dustin? Computers are used by some to spread child pornography and arrange criminal activity, is your MacBook evil?

  16. 'or tool', not 'of tool'

  17. Dusman,I fear that you may be confusing philosophical materialism for historical materialism. While the two draw on the same currents in intellectual history, and have a certain amount of overlap, they are not the same. Historical materialism is concerned with social development, not the nature of truth. This is why your claim that the Marxist position is that “The truth is that all is matter” is not supported by the evidence – including the quotations you so kindly provided. None of those quotes appear to provide any indication that Marxism as a political project has ever presented the position that “The truth is that all is matter”, but perhaps you see gold where I see dross.

  18. "I fear that you may be confusing philosophical materialism for historical materialism." No, I'm demonstrating that part of the philosophical backdrop for Marxism's historical materialism is philosophical materialism. Even the abomination of misinformation recognizes as much: "While the "historical" part of historical materialism does not cause a comprehension problem (i.e., it means the present is explained by analysing the past), the term materialism is more difficult. Historical materialism uses "materialism" to make two separate points, where the truth or falsehood of one point does not affect the others.Firstly, there is metaphysical or philosophical materialism, in which matter-in-motion is considered primary and thought about matter-in-motion, or thought about abstractions, secondary.Secondly, there is the notion that economic processes form the material base of society upon which institutions and ideas rest and from which they derive." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_materialism#Marx.27s_materialism]

  19. "While the "historical" part of historical materialism does not cause a comprehension problem… the term materialism is more difficult."In your case, ne'er a truer word was spoke. Since that Wikipedia article carries no citation whatsoever, it carries little weight. In any case, we don't need it to settle the point.You stated that Marxism proposes that "The truth is that all is matter", which is the proposition of philosophical materialism. While I agree that philosophical materialism was a current of thought at the time, "Marx actually took a firm position against a philosophical materialism" (Fromm 1961, Marx's concept of man).As a result I dispute your claim that Marxism as a political theory has anything to say on the subject of philosophical materialism. All I need from you is some primary evidence from any of the key Marxist texts that disproves this. Simple, really.

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