Senate Does "Absolute Truth" exist?

Discussion in 'Community' started by ophelia, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    For @Moviefan2k4, so he can stop hijacking other threads with his arguments.

    I think that if absolute truth exists, it's impossible for human beings to know most or all of it on our own. If it were just out there like low-hanging fruit, you'd expect everyone to avail themselves of it. If that happened, all codes of law would be the same, and it would be impossible to have disagreements about anything important. (Or perhaps about anything at all. How much absolute truth is there? Is there an absolute apple out there, against which we must measure the color and tastiness of every apple?)

    Now, I think it's also possible to believe in revealed truth--secondhand information about absolute truth given to us by a higher being. This being would have a different perspective on life--as if looking down on a maze while the rest of us are in it.

    Believing in revealed truth is fine, so long as you do so with humility. You and I are only human, and thus capable of getting God's intentions wrong. In particular, it's very easy to create God in your own image by deciding to over- or under-emphasizing certain aspects of revealed truth--even if you're correct in your belief that God has revealed it to you.

    So I think the following statements are possible to make:

    1) Absolute truth may exist, outside of human cognition
    2) Revealed truth may exist as relayed knowledge, tailored in such a way that humans can understand
    3) It is possible to lie to yourself about the nature of revealed truth, or about whether you've received any at all

    All of which lead to

    4) Announcing that you are in unique possession of absolute truth is arrogant, silly, and not particularly supported by any religious worldview I know of
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  2. Moviefan2k4 Jedi Grand Master

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    God revealed His intentions regarding human behavior to us at Sinai, and again through the compassion and sacrifice of Christ. Because of that, Christians can confidently and honestly claim they know God's stance in such a regard. We didn't reach Him; He sought us out.
  3. harpua Chosen One

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    Can you possibly use a different argument, for those of us who are not Christian? Your absolute truth is pretty limited in scope, for being so absolute. Shouldn't an absolute truth be somewhat universal?
    Last edited by harpua, Feb 12, 2014
  4. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    What do you make of other people who are just as confident that no such thing happened? Perhaps they believe in another religion, or in no religion at all.
  5. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    It's interesting how you keep treating your fiction as though it is reality, @Moviefan2k4.
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  6. Moviefan2k4 Jedi Grand Master

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    No, because absolutes are built on permanent separations between true and false. Religion;s not even necessary to know this; basic logic says no two concepts can be equally true, in the same way simultaneously. Either murder's always wrong for everyone regardless of personal belief, or its not. There is no halfway.

    Confidence and belief don't define truth. There's people in this world who confidently believe that one minute before a baby enters the mother's birth canal, killing the child is perfectly acceptable. They're wrong because its the selfish taking of a human life, court decisions be damned. People often cuss out Christians for being judgmental, but demanding anything of anyone is a moral judgment. Some folks - regardless of what they believe - routinely attack and condemn others personally, even using the name of Christ as a shield...but Jesus Himself stressed that hypocrisy's not of God.
  7. Moviefan2k4 Jedi Grand Master

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    What absolute basis do you have for claiming its fiction? History has shown there was nothing to gain by the apostles lying about Jesus; the Jews hated them as heretics while the Romans wanted them dead for insurrection. There was no money, fame, or anything else positive to gain from them proclaiming Christ as Lord.
  8. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Talking snakes. Talking donkeys. Dragons. Seven-headed beasts. That sounds like fiction to me.

    And then take a look here.
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  9. EmpireForever Force Ghost

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    I guess the only question I have, in light of this statement:

    is how you can claim to have "absolute truth" when your own religion(i.e. Christianity) is divided--and I'll give you the most conservative number I can find on this--some 40 fundamentally different ways? As you say, "there is no halfway", so who is right? You? Why?
  10. slightly_unhinged Jedi Master

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    Oh Holder of Objective Truth, what's God's stance on poop?
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  11. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Ezekiel 4:12 "And you shall eat it as a barley cake, baking it in their sight on human dung"
    Judges 3:21-22: And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. And the hilt also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not pull the sword out of his belly; and the dung came out.
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  12. slightly_unhinged Jedi Master

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    This plus Jim Bowen is the new Pope... guys, I think there might be something in this Jesus **** after all.
  13. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    Okay . . . let's take this one step at a time.


    Okay, that much makes sense. Let's keep going:

    I think you mean no two opposite concepts, like "a square circle." I agree that you don't need religion to know that much. But true logical impossibilities don't come up often, and they're not very useful. You don't need religion to know that 4 doesn't equal 5 or that a triangle doesn't have eight sides. But so what? That sort of analytic knowledge doesn't tell you how to live.

    I can accept that Christianity is one answer to the question, "How do I live?" However, "How do I live?" is not a question like "What is 2 + 2?"

    "How do I live?" is a question with many plausible answers. Even "How do I live as a Christian?" has many plausible answers. If that weren't true, there would be no sects or denominations, all pastors would be out of a job, and those "WWJD?" bracelets wouldn't have caught on.

    (In case anyone is curious about the tag change--I screwed up and didn't make this a Senate thread in the beginning, and Ramza changed it for me. I have no idea whether the tag thing will make any difference.) :p
    Last edited by ophelia, Feb 12, 2014
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  14. dp4m Chosen One

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    Also, it should probably be noted that if G-d provided "absolute truth" at Sinai and, for the sake of argument, it was 100% properly recorded as Torah... then people picking and choosing whether to get tattoos to condemn homosexuality makes about as much sense as the duck-billed platypus.
  15. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    He likes the smell. If he didn't like the smell, he would not have made it smell like poop.

    And apparently he likes people who eat bean burritos from Taco Bell since those produce the most poop.

    (If there really were a God, poop would smell like vanilla. That is all.)

    On "absolute truth," I'd say it exists as long as it is provable by cross-referenced peer-reviewed studies.

    Moral rules are not "absolute truths," they just help us live on this Earth with seven billion other people plus animals and plants.
    Last edited by Jedi Merkurian, Feb 12, 2014
  16. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    hey you got your ophelia philosophy-nerd thread in my moviefan krazy kristian thread!

    hey you got your moviefan krazy kristian thread in my ophelia philosophy-nerd thread!

    ITS THE OPHELIA-MOVIEFAN KRAZY KRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY THREAD! HOORAY!!!

    its not even the point really, but who are these people you speak of? i havent met them
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Feb 12, 2014
  17. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

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    Does the existence or nonexistence of absolute truth actually affect anything tangible?
  18. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    It's a curious coincidence that this got posted today, I was literally just in a meeting with one of my professors discussing an issue related to this.

    Without going into too much detail, in the mathematical logic world we have this notion of set theory axioms, typically Zermelo-Fraenkel + Axiom of Choice (ZFC)*, and those are considered more or less immutable. My issue cropped up with some stuff from last semester, where we proved some things by throwing in an altogether new axiom, called ◇, which implied some properties that are definitely not results from ZFC (The continuum hypothesis, if you've heard of it, follows from ◇ despite its being independent). That's odd, certainly, possibly alarming even.

    Then it gets weird.

    So I asked my prof about this bizarre ◇ thing, and his response is that there are, in fact, schools of thought that posit infinitely many set theories. What this would mean, IMO disturbingly, is that there are infinitely many kinds of math, all of them totally valid, all of them indistinguishable from the point of view of any known sort of physical intuition. In particular there's something called Martin's Axiom which you can take together with "The continuum hypothesis is false" which will imply that ◇ is not true, and our most fundamental notions of logic cannot distinguish between the validity of either system. They both work despite being wholly contradictory. More egregiously, the more I think about it, the more this doesn't seem to actually interfere with traditional ideas of mathematical Platonism because nothing precludes the notion of the existence of multiple maths. So you don't even need a Formalist bent to get to this wacky world of contradictory mathematical truth, and that leads me to really only one conclusion, with two possibilities:
    1. There is only one set theory and half my field is off its rocker.
    2. Absolute truth of any sort, even mathematical, is necessarily impossible. Also, half my field is off its rocker.
    Both of these options suck. So what I'm getting at is right now I don't know what I think I know.

    Edit: Forgot my footnote:
    *Some mathematicians don't really like C, because both "Choice holds" and "Choice does not hold" are true with respect to ZF, but generally the results are way too nice to disregard.
    Last edited by Ramza, Feb 12, 2014
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  19. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    if by tangible you mean NOT BURNING IN HELL FOREVER then yes

    yeah well i spent a good half hour in my anthropology of turkey class arguing that fascism combined with a louis-napoleon/sihanouk move could have arrested the decline of the ottoman empire until at least wwii so suck it
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Feb 12, 2014
  20. Mortimer Snerd Force Ghost

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    Burning in hell is a very real thing. We know this because it has been observed and documented.
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  21. anakinfansince1983 Chosen One

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    I've experienced it personally, for about six months of the year. It's called "summer in North Carolina".
  22. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    and the answer to the thread is "maybe, i will probably never know, i dont need to know to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, and i dont care to seek it out because im not a matrioshka brain"
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Feb 12, 2014
  23. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    I won't lie and say I understood most of your post, but this idea is definitely disturbing.

    I will now proceed to use big words I don't entirely understand. Could this be a kind of Gödel's incompleteness thing? I have this fuzzy idea that all mathematical systems contain at least 1 paradox.
    Last edited by ophelia, Feb 12, 2014
  24. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper

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    Quoted because I cannot like this post enough. Also, multiply this by every other religion and each sect of every religion [face_hypnotized] Interestingly enough, the religion I belong to puts it this way, at least to my understanding:

    Is there Absolute Truth? Yes.
    Will mortals ever comprehend Absolute Truth? Never.
    What about religion? Religion is a method given to mortals by God with which to improve themselves. Religion is geared towards mortal comprehension, so no religion will ever come close to comprehending Absolute Truth, not even this one.
    Last edited by Jedi Merkurian, Feb 12, 2014
  25. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    No, Gödel's incompleteness theorem says that in any sufficiently sophisticated system you are guaranteed either gaps or contradictions, so we opt for gaps (The idea with Gödel's theorem is that if you have "enough" primes you can encode the logical statement "This statement is unprovable" into them, and since you can arrive at such a number in any "good enough" system, you're always going to have statements to which no truth value can be assigned once you get too interesting). This phenomenon is unrelated but no less irksome; though, amusingly, the independence of the continuum hypothesis was demonstrated by Gödel himself. And I definitely agree on disturbing, I'm currently pouring over papers to try and get my brain to accept this as a possibility.

    Basically
    [IMG]