Sunday, 8 July 2007

The 'Truth' of the Matter

The truth is an epistemological concept, rather than an existential identification of reality. What that means is, that the truth for one individual may well contradict that of another. For example, a Christian believes in the God of Abraham and holds it as true. An atheist on the other hand believes it to be untrue.

It was a long held believe throughout history that the Earth was flat and this was held up as the truth. In the Dark Ages people believed in witches and believed in them as true entities.

How many of us have gone to find something in a drawer and believed with true conviction that it is there. We discover when we open the drawer, that it is not there and we immediately recall taking it out of the drawer the previous day, that becomes a new truth that replaces the old one. Or, perhaps it was true at the time we put it there, but without our knowledge someone else moved it.

Looking back through history, we know that scientific progress often gets stultified by holding on to the truth too dogmatically. It took centuries to overthrow the geocentric view of the universe and deflate that truth, replacing it with the truth that we live in a heliocentric universe. Of course, this old-world view was convenient to the priests of the Church in holding onto an up and down, heaven and Hell, view of existence.

Politicians are very good at telling the 'truth'. They are especially good at it coming up to election time... the truth that their policies are good and the oppositions policies are bad. Spin doctors make a living out of feeding the media that which they want the public to believe is the truth.

Of course what we believe to be true as an epistemological concept, is not the same as what is actually true as a universal constant within reality. There is a political party called The UK Natural Law Party, who believe that through meditation that they can float and they can be seen sitting down, with legs folded (yoga style) hopping up and down on mats; like 'space hoppers' (does anyone remember those toys) on their posteriors, this of course is held as true for them, but is there any scientific evidence that anyone has ever suspended the know physical constants and defied the laws of gravity?

One can specify two kinds of truth, they are:

1) A truth as an epistemological concept. Such 'truths' are not objectively verified, through deductive and inductive scientific methods, with reference to known universal constants and are simply believed to be true. An example of such a 'truth', which was held to be true for a long period of history; is that the 'the Earth is Flat'.

2) Truth as an existential identification of reality. Such truths are objectively verified, through deductive and inductive scientific methods, with reference to known universal constants and are believed to be true, based on those known constants.

Within the scientific method, identifications of reality are built up on a hierarchy of knowledge. One starts with a model and builds a hypothesis around that model. When more and more facts have been identified, through deductive and inductive reasoning, a hypothesis moves up the hierarchical ladder and becomes a theory more facts are discovered, the theory is either strengthened, if the facts do not contradict the theory; or weakened and even overthrown if they do.

Scientific truth as defined in terms of a theory, such as the Theory of Relativity, The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, Quantum Theory et al - Such scientific 'truths' are never held as absolute truths, such as the absolute truth of the 'true believer in the God of Abraham'. Rather, such truths are always classed as tentative scientific truths. This basically means that the highest prize is given to anyone who can overthrow a well grounded theory, with contradictory evidence that would lead to a new theory, taking its place. Such as the historical example of: the overthrow of the geocentric view of the universe for the heliocentric.

The most important thing to be aware of then, when someone claims to hold the truth, is to at the very least, hold a healthy degree of skepticism that they really do, unless evidence is presented to back up their position.geocentric,heliocentric, UK Natural Law Party, laws of gravity, TheDark Ages, yoga,God of Abraham

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