“The truth is like a lingering fart…everyone can smell it, everyone knows it’s there, but no one wants to admit it.”
While this is just a silly quote, it’s also an attempt to show that the truth is hard to follow and even harder to acknowledge.
Today it’s become popular to reject absolute truth in lieu of the mantra “follow your truth.”
But what would our world look like without absolute truth? Where do we find the truth? What even is truth? And why isn’t it up to us to define it?
Definition of Truth
Truth is defined as that which corresponds to reality. Reality is perceived differently by every person because of differing opinions, so people think that truth is subjective. But reality is created by God and therefore, cannot be changed by the differing opinions of man.
Since truth is defined as that which corresponds to reality, that is the definition of absolute, complete truth.
But what makes truth absolute? What makes it true no matter what? Why is it important? We should start off by defining reality because if truth is what corresponds to reality, we need to know what reality is.
Definition of Reality
Reality is how things are no matter what you think they are. It’s true or false, black and white. Reality is the world we live in. Reality cannot be altered or changed.
People get confused about truth because they get confused about reality. Since reality is perceived differently by every person because of differing world views, some people think that truth is subjective, but God created only one objective reality. That means there is only one objective truth.
Truth > Best Opinions
I’ve heard some sources say truth is “whatever feels right”, or “whatever you want it to be”, and “you can have your own truth.”
Psychology Today, a popular website says, “If the best opinion is all that we can have or hope for, then best opinion is as good as truth, and the truth is a redundant concept.” Well, the issue with this definition is that good opinions differ from each other. One person might think the Earth was created by the Big Bang and that’s their best opinion, but that doesn’t make it true. Another person’s best opinion might suggest God created the Big Bang and that opinion might be closer to the truth, but that does not make it true either. Truth is unchanging, and it is not defined by human opinion.
People also tend to get mixed up about opinions versus facts and truth, mixing up black-and-white with gray. The black-and-white would be true versus false, right or wrong. The gray would be a matter of opinions, something that isn’t right or wrong, or it’s right for one person and wrong for another. What people call “subjective truth” or “my truth” falls into the gray area. The issue with this thinking is we take ideas that can only be black-and-white (does God exist or not?) and judge them according to our feelings, making them gray. But just because we feel like something is true does not mean it corresponds with reality. Our black-and-white thinking needs to be based on the Bible, which is a solid rock, rather than on our shifting feelings. Psalm 119:160 (NLT) tells us, “The very essence of Your words is truth; all Your regulations will stand forever.”
When people say, “my truth,” they’re talking about following their opinions and opinions come from the heart. It’s easier to follow our hearts than the truth—truth requires hard work to follow. But we are cursed with a sinful nature, so our human ideas are often sinful as well. Following ourselves leads us astray. As Jeremiah 17:9 warns, “the heart is deceitful above all things.”
Laws of Absolute Truth
Reality depends on truth so that it doesn’t erupt into chaos. Within the reality God created are established laws regarding the universe, morality, and God Himself.
Would we be freer if absolute truth didn’t exist, and we were not held to obey its laws? The answer is no. Here is why.
1. Laws of the Universe
What would happen if the laws of gravity were subjective? What if they could be changed or protested? What if they were up to everyone to maintain?
If the laws of the universe were up to the best opinion, our world would not be suitable to live in. We wouldn’t survive. Laws of nature can be discovered but not invented by humans, and they function best when they operate as God created them to.
While most people do not try to change the laws of gravity, many try to change the laws about morality and God.
2. Laws of Morality
When we impose our sinful ideas onto something God has made to be perfect, we ruin the system. Such is the case with morality. People can question laws of morality but the truth about them is not up to us. If there were no absolute truth, and morality were subjective, there would be no such thing as fairness or justice, no need for punishment. If nothing was right or wrong, people would be free to hurt themselves and others however they pleased. The world would be a dangerous place to live in if there were no absolute truths, placed by God about morality.
3. Laws of God
In the Bible, we learn all that is true about God. That truth is not dependent upon what we think about Him. God is who He says He is. He is the only One who cannot lie (Titus1:2), and therefore, is the only One we can be certain is telling the truth.
If the laws about God were up to human opinion, God would not be God. He cannot be love and hate or good and bad at the same time. He is consistent in His character. The truth about Him never changes (Heb. 13:8). This is such a relief! We do not have to oversee defining truth because God defines truth—He is truth! He is good, so His truth is good.
Crookedness Proves the Line is Straight
C.S. Lewis said, “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.”
Because we live in a fallen world, there are lies and confusion despite there being truth. So, while objective truth is the standard, subjective truth (opinions), are what is usually lived out. Satan is the father of all lies and ever since the beginning, has made us question what’s true. By nature, we are sinful and cannot follow the truth on our own.
Thankfully, we know Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life to save us (John 14:6, NLT). Instead of trusting relative truth, we should acknowledge our tendencies to follow ourselves, admit our need for the absolute truth of God, and strive to follow Him. Without God we are helpless.
The question is not whether there is or isn’t absolute truth; the question is whether you will follow it or not.
Grace to Live in Truth
It really comes down to the gospel message that without God, we are without hope, without truth. We need Jesus to save us from sin and the lies of the enemy. And that’s exactly why He came—to shine the light of truth and rescue us from the dark. We will not always follow His truth perfectly, but by God’s grace we can rest in the fact that He is perfect truth. We can take comfort knowing that following His absolute truth leads not to confusion, chaos, or destruction, but to a full life.