Ed's Rants

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"The truth isn't easily pinned to a page. In the bathtub of history the truth is harder to hold than soap, and much more difficult to find! "
-Terry Pratchett

Anyone seeking the Truth faces one huge and immediate task. Truth must be defined. What is Truth? Is Truth universal or does truth, like beauty, lie in the eye of the beholder? If it is universal, is it immutable or can it evolve? One way of trying to answer that question is by observing the searches of others and the truths they have found.

Religion -

Religion has one advantage of all other forms of inquiry; it offers a complete and universal truth.

  • Q. Why does it lightning?
  • A. Because the god of lightning is having a fight with his wife.
By referring all questions to a higher authority it becomes possible to explain everything without actually knowing anything. The problem is that religious truth is dogmatic by nature and therefore is not adaptive to new understandings.

An example is Galileo's experience with the Catholic Church -
The church had determined, based on the best information available at the time, that the Earth was the center of the universe and everything revolved around it. When Galileo uncovered proof of a helio-centric solar system, the church was stuck. To admit the truth would be to admit that their version of the truth did not come directly from God. It was much easier to just slap poor Galileo around.

It has been suggested that religion might be well advised to limit itself to religious truths and not attempt to extend their truths to the physical realms. Therefore, while religion might contain some answers, it leaves many questions unanswered.

Here is the first rule of Ed's Definition of Truth. Rule #1, Truth does not require blind faith. If it cannot withstand rigorous questioning, it cannot be true.

Science -

Science is a systematic discipline designed to find empirical truths. As such, science does well at making sense of what we can see and hear and touch.

There are two obvious problems with science.

  • The first is that something can be important and yet not be something that can be seen or heard or touched.
  • The second is that science can only work with the evidence available to it.
The overwhelmingly vast majority of our universe is too distant to be witnessed. There are things that we can know about distant galaxies, but they are insignificant. Even on our own planet we are limited to the present and a handful of clues about the past with no knowledge of the future and little of the vast area below the surface.

Science also does no good at all at helping us to understand a purpose or a meaning for our existence.

Here is the second rule of Ed's Definition of Truth. Rule #2, Truth is all-inclusive, careful analysis of a single segment or facet of reality will not reveal the greater truth.

Philosophy -

Philosophy attempts to use a number of different approaches to understanding Truth.

  • Rationalism attempts to define truth by the application of reason.
  • Transcendentalism attempts to apply intuition to discover truth.
  • Innatism tells us that we are born with the truth within us *while*
  • Aristotle tells us we were born a tubula rasa(blank slate).
Philosophy is like searching for a Lost City of Gold by spinning a bottle and then heading in that direction. It only works if your bottle luckily points in the right direction. The act of choosing a philosophical discipline determines the outcome. If you choose to be a Nominalist and Truth turns out to be abstract, you are doomed to failure in the same way as a bottle spinner whose bottle points north when the Lost City of Gold is to the south.

Here is the third rule of Ed's Definition of Truth. Rule #3, The Truth can only be discovered by those who are willing to look where Truth happens to be.

So, what have we got? Not much, just three rules.

Am I going to follow those rules? Absolutely not.

Here is the last rule of Ed's Definition of Truth. Rule #4, we must be true to ourselves.

No matter what I said before, deep down inside of me I want the Truth to be universal.
I do not want the Truth to be dependent on the day of the week or which side of the road.
Nor am I willing to accept a Truth that is contingent on the whims of popular opinion.

So I will seek that Truth which my heart says is right. Wish me luck... or don't.

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