Michael Horner's Blog

    Are You a Truth Seeker?

    Written by Michael Horner

    photo by Chris Devers

    I’m a self confessed truth seeker! Are you? I discovered this about myself when I realized what a strong drive I have to be right. I am aware that this can sometimes be a problem in relationships. No one likes a know-it-all, the person who just has to be right about everything even when they aren’t, you know, the person who just has to have the last word.

    I get that – and though there may be occasions when I lean in that direction, I think my desire to know the real truth of a matter, for the most part, is a virtue. It motivates me to be diligent. It motivates me to be as intellectually honest as I can be with the evidence. It motivates me to listen to people and to hear both sides of an argument.

    I have found that if you only hear one side of an issue, it will seem right, until of course, you hear the other side. It is like those TV courtroom dramas where the lawyer gives their closing arguments and it just seems so persuasive, until of course, you hear the other lawyer’s close and it seems even more compelling.

    It makes sense to me that to flourish in life we should try to maximize our number of true beliefs, while at the same time minimize our number of false beliefs. Now, blind faith can do the former – if we blindly believe everything, then we will believe all true beliefs. Woo-hoo! But unfortunately, we will obviously believe all false beliefs as well.

    On the other hand radical skepticism can minimize our false beliefs. If we are a radical skeptic, then we will not believe anything. But of course that means that we will be lacking any true beliefs as well. It seems that it might take a little work, therefore, to achieve a maximum number of true beliefs and a minimum number of false beliefs.

    But does truth really exist? Philosophers like me define knowledge as warranted or justified true belief. Notice what follows from this. If you, or anyone for that matter, know anything, then truth must exist, since truth is part of the definition of knowledge. I would suspect that you probably think that you know some things, or if you don’t, surely some really smart people must have attained knowledge about some things. If so, then you must acknowledge that truth does exist.

    But what about the skeptic and the relativist who deny that truth exists in any objective sense? Notice that they think that their view about truth is objectively true, since they think that others should agree with them.

    The radical skeptic who denies that knowledge or truth exist, thinks that he knows his view on this is objectively true and that others should agree with him. He believes that it is objectively true that there is no objective truth!

    The relativist who says “what is true for you is not true for me”, is saying that it is objectively true that truth & knowledge are just relative to individual or cultural opinion and that everyone should agree with him about that. So he too thinks it is objectively true that there is no objective truth! He thinks that what you believe is true only for you, but what he believes is true for everybody!

    I’m sure you can see that both the skeptic and the relativist are caught in acts of self-contradiction. The way they make their claim refutes the claim being made.

    The point is, everyone believes their view is true, even if their view denies the existence of knowledge and truth. They still think that they are right about that, and that others should agree.

    On this subject of truth, I recently heard an outstanding lecture by the philosopher J.P. Moreland. (available here) He argued that in the history of western culture, religious and moral claims used to be considered knowledge claims, even in the church. But as a result of intellectual attacks on Christianity beginning in the mid 19th century, and a “feelings oriented” anti-intellectual response from the church, that both religion and ethics have come to be thought of by our culture as non-cognitivist.

    That is, religion and ethics are no longer thought of as being about knowledge but rather only about speculation, feelings, wishful thinking, or faith. I agree with Moreland’s analysis and his view that religious and moral claims are actually about knowledge.

    Join me in taking a closer look at some religious and moral claims and concepts over the next little while with the keen eye of an honest seeker of truth. I suspect that you may be surprised at what we discover.

    11 Responses to “Are You a Truth Seeker?”

    • Jamie Jamie says:

      Hi Craig, thanks for having the courage to ask for help. I would love to do what I can. How has being a truth seeker caused you so much pain?

    • craig torcaon says:

      if always been a truth seekeer and it has caused me much pain, i need help

    • Raymond Mowla says:

      Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqRueMotIfQ

      In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines
      Proverbs 18:17

      Trust Jesus!

    • Seeker says:

      I thank you for referencing me in your comment Troy, I’m grateful to have touched you with my comment. When you’re done defending and challenging you’ll discover the place to which I refer. To quote another authority, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” ~ Peace

    • Elkay says:

      Troy, I truly appreciate the phrase “sacred truth that we value” that you coined. Throughout history, God has been speaking sacred truths to mankind in various ways. His prophets and apostles were moved by the Holy Spirit to proclaim and write His words, and His ultimate expression came through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus declared that He was the Truth (John 14:6) and that Satan was the father of lies (John 8:44). These are clearly opposed to one another and so we have no choice but to follow one or the other. When the author observed that “to flourish in life we should try to maximize our number of true beliefs, while at the same time minimize our number of false beliefs”, he was calling truth seekers to follow Jesus if we want to avoid being deceived.

    • Troy says:

      I am also a truth seeker as well as a truth depicter. Where ever I confront lies, bigotry and prejudice based on generalisations, I challange those flawed, irrational and biased views. I disagree with the comment posted by “seeker” where he says “truth does not need to be defended”. Where slanderous rumours and malicious generalisations are concerned, “defending the truth” is critical. Especially when lies are quickly adopted by other bigots and used to instigate hate crimes and opress minority groups. If us truth seekers don’t stand up for the sacred truth that we value, then we allow the deceitful, dishonest, liars and corruption to flourish and humanity will collapse as the wicked prevail.

    • Aldo says:

      Mike, I tend to agree with you somewhat. Forty-one years ago I was seeking the truth also, and I found it in the person of the “only begotten” son of God, Jesus Christ. He is God’s Word to mankind. The Bible tells us in the gospel of John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It goes on to say in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

      Now, you might ask, What has that got to do with truth? Well, in that same book of John, chapter 17, verse 17, it says, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” So, if Jesus Christ is the Word of God that became man, and the Word of God is truth, that makes Jesus Christ truth. I accepted and received Him as such, therefore I personally know the truth.

    • Mike says:

      I am glad that my mind opened up to seek for the real truth, 1 year after 911.
      It is discourouging to let other people see the facts, but they only believe their tv.
      Once you know the gov. does not want you to succeed in life and creates all kinds of things to hold you back, you can get soooo disappointed in all those country traitors.
      The first thing we need to do is fight against the greed of money.

    • Paul Miller says:

      I have discovered over the years that I am, at heart, a healer. In order to do that, I, too, need truth, but the kind that opens up the secret closets and doors that are tightly bolted by fear. As I read your blog, I am reminded again of the wonder of something that has been called “the body of Christ” — the Church. Your efforts to help us understand the nature and facets of truth are critical and most appreciated. We work in tandem, and I sense, from your blogs that we have a passion for the same thing: that people may come to know the One Who truly has the power to change us. I am glad you encourage us to seek and know truth. Thank you for what you do to also help those of us who use that truth to bring about restoration in all its dimensions. May you see more and more fruit from all your labours.

    • Doris Beck Doris says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post seeker!

    • seeker says:

      Thanks for your post! … I too am a seeker and feel srongly that the missing componant in our world is openess to love. More than to understanding as such. We all get our views from data input, logic and our society influence. Truth does not need to be defended. Love is the ability see beyond our own conclusions and embrace the other person, especially one with whom we disagree.

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