Quid est veritas?

What is Truth?

Merriam-Webster defines truth as a (1) : the body of real things, events, and facts : actuality (2) : the state of being the case : fact (3) often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality b : a judgment, proposition, or idea that is true or accepted as true c : the body of true statements and propositions

Cultural Truth

I would like to propose the following question: Does truth change with the culture? For example is pornography less sinful or shameful today than it was in 1950 because of cultural differences?

If you answered yes to that question, then the opposite should also hold true. Meaning that because it was part of the culture during that time what Hitler and Nazi Germany did was okay. Now we will all agree that nothing could be further from the truth, Hitler’s actions were deplorable and evil.

What is truth?

So that begs the question what is truth? Is truth absolute? Or is truth relative to my situation?

In John 18:38 Pilate ask “Quid est veritas?” or “What is truth?”

A true statement is one that accurately describes the way the world is. Or as St. Thomas Aquinas put it in Summa Theologica “Truth consists in the equation of mind and thing.” So Hitler’s actions just because they were culturally acceptable are not an accurate representation of the way things really are. In the same way abortion and pornography just because they are socially acceptable are not an accurate representation of what they really are.

True for you

Subjective truth refers to feelings about the world, and depending on who is speaking determines the truth of those statements. For example I can say bacon is the greatest food in the world and it taste great! But to you it might taste horrible and be the worst food in the world. We are both right even though our beliefs about bacon are contrary to one another. That is because we are actually not making statements about the nature of bacon. Instead we are making subjective statements about the feelings we have about bacon.

True for everyone

On the other hand objective truth relates to the world itself rather than feelings about the world. Objective truths do not depend on who is speaking them and describe the world as it really is. For example the statement “West Texas A&M University is a university in Canyon, TX” is true no matter who says it because that is where the university is located. Or going back to our bacon example, the statement “Bacon is good for you” is either objectively true or objectively false. This fact does not change based on your feelings about bacon. In other words whether you like bacon or not does not change the fact that it is not good for you.

Universal (or Catholic) truth

Statements about the existence of God or the authority of the Catholic Church are objective truths. They describe facts about the world, and so they are true or false regardless of how we feel about those facts. We get these facts such as murder, stealing and adultery are wrong among others from the spoken word of God, the Bible. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the whole truth.

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