“Truth is that which corresponds to reality.”
Now, you might wonder why it took The Truth Project an hour to come up with this answer, but that’s really not the main problem I have with the first lesson.
The main problem that I have with the first lesson is that it isn’t where I would have started were I to do a comprehensive “worldview tour.” I think the place that I would start, instead of veritology, would be epistemology. Before we can know exactly what truth is, we must first know how we can know anything for certain at all. Although, given a serious discussion of epistemology, it seems like people are more likely to come up with a definition of truth (or reality, for that matter) that is not quite as cut-and-dry as The Truth Project would like.
At any rate, the second problem that arises for me in their statement that “Truth is that which corresponds to reality” is this: What is reality?
Don’t get me wrong, I believe (on my own faith assumptions, of course) that there is such a thing as reality, and that we all live there (some more or less so). That said, I think it important to discuss how we can come to a consensus on what reality actually entails. For instance, when I think “green means go” while looking at a traffic light, I am asserting that the reality of the light being green is a truth. Unfortunately, were I colorblind, I would not “know” (or, perhaps more accurately: I cannot observe) that the light is green, I would just have to know that the position that corresponds with where everyone else tells me the “green” light is means go. So what is reality in this case? Is it that the light is green? Or is it that the light is merely a light without a discernible color, but whose corresponding position on the traffic signal signifies to me that it is in fact the “green” light that means I am to go? Do we then have to arrive at reality by a majority? Is reality a democracy?
Hopefully you’ll understand why that last question is a scary one to think on. For instance, in the deep south, before the mid-nineteenth century, it was a majority belief that people of African descent (and oftentimes any other descent than European) were not actually human beings at all and were therefore within the sphere of objects to be owned, much like a tractor that has to be fed every day (and sometimes not even then). This majority consensus, I hope we can see, was wrong. And we believe that to be an absolute truth that slavery is wrong, just as they believed it was an absolute truth that they had the legal and moral right to own another person.
All of this to say that reality is not based upon a consensus of opinions, but neither is it based upon what we, individually, think is real. Rather I might argue that Reality (and by extension, Truth) is based upon something other than that which we, as human beings, have access to. Perhaps you might label it as the Divine.
Acknowledging this is a hard thing to do–I mean, who wants to give up on the idea that they are right about everything? I know I don’t. But perhaps acknowledging that we can’t know the whole truth leads us somewhere better. Perhaps it leads us to learning more about the world and other people because we see that they too may have a link to the Divine and can show us a part of that Reality that exists beyond any one of our knowledges.
So what is Truth then? Truth is the great mystery that we all search for. It is something we all know parts of. And it is something that is beyond humanity’s ability to know fully. Knowing this truth then, we find that the postmodernist and the modernist have something to offer, as well as the conservative and the liberal, or the “crazy” Unitarian Universalist who believes the only thing that is true is that all truth is relative, which begs a whole lot of other questions, but whose answers may just guide us into more truth.