The following was taken from Apologist Dan Story’s book on
“Christianity on the Offense”
Truth is a fact that, by its very nature, is immutable—it cannot change. As James Sire put it, truth is “propositional: a statement is true if what it says is so is so, or if what it says is not so is not so.” This means that whatever is true must be in agreement with and conform to reality. What is reality? It’s what’s real—“the way things really are.” It is what exists independent of people’s personal opinions and beliefs. Let me illustrate this.
Let’s say I misplaced my dictionary. I think it’s on my desk (what I believe is truth), but actually it’s on the kitchen table (reality). So the truth of the situation is that the dictionary is on the table independent of my belief that it’s on the desk. Thus, truth (the location of my dictionary) corresponds to reality (where it actually is). It doesn’t matter what I believe; it’s a matter of what is true.
The “correspondence theory of truth” holds that what one thinks is true is true when it matches what is real. We possess true knowledge about something when what we think is true agrees with what exists outside our minds. If I think my dictionary is on my desk and it is on my desk, then what I hold to be true matches reality—my knowledge of the location of my dictionary corresponds to reality.
Truth, then, must correspond to reality. The alternative (which is not truth) is that actual truth is non-existent. What people perceive as truth would depend upon their personal feelings or their particular worldview. In either case, whatever seems to be true relative to one’s particular beliefs or opinions becomes truth, and whatever does not fit with one’s beliefs is non-truth.
Obviously, if truth is bound to one’s private beliefs, it may differ from person to person or from culture to culture. This means that universal and unchanging truth is impossible to discover because it does not exist. This in turn means that statements of universal fact are also nonexistent and ultimate reality is unknowable. In short, all truth, if it exists, must correspond to reality. You may find comfort in knowing that most of science operates according to the correspondence theory of truth.
Truth Depends on First Principles
There is a second concept that needs to be understood before we examine criteria for determining truth. There exist universal “first principles” (or “universal givens,” or “fundamental laws of human belief”) which govern how all people in every culture throughout all of history reason. (Some religions and philosophies deny the existence of these universal principles, but they live and behave as if these principles do exist.)
Examples include such concepts as I exist, other people exist, what I see exists, the past existed, there is a real, material world outside my mind, what I hear are real sounds, and the laws of nature are real and will endure. Also included are the “laws of logic,” which we will look at more closely in a moment.
It is because of these first principles that we can determine that truth does correspond to reality and that it is universally applicable. These principles are foundational to all thought and knowledge. They need no confirmation because they are necessarily true—that is, they are undeniable and self-evident. They must exist. Their veracity rests on their own premises rather than on external evidences—although they are certainly confirmed by our everyday experiences. If they needed any proof, they would not be first principles. They stand alone.
Here is an analogy that may help you to see this clearly. Everything in the universe is contingent; it depends on something else for its existence. A tree depends on minerals, water, and sunshine. Canyons depend on erosion. Living things depend on other living things from which they are born. This implies that there must be a first cause—something from which all else springs. Christians claim that this first cause, on which the entire universe rests and has it being, is God. He is, if you will, the first principle. While everything has a cause for its existence, He has no justification for His existence because He always existed God is self-existing. He had no cause.and is the source of everything else.
In like manner, universal first principles are necessarily self-existing and self-justifying. They are the “first cause” of all contingent thought and knowledge. Just as God is the ultimate source of the universe, so are self-evident first principles the foundation of all truth-claims. No truth can violate them because all truth depends upon them. If a truth-claim violates these first principles, by definition it is false.
Actually, if you think about it, I am not saying anything remarkable or anything you do not already know. We instinctively use these first principles all the time without realizing it. We just take them for granted. They are the necessary principles that govern all human reasoning and communication, and without them we would be unable not only to discern truth but also even to think.
The Laws of Logic
The most fundamental of these first principles are the laws of logic, in particular the “law of non-contradiction.” It states that something cannot be two different things at the same time and in the same sense (“A” cannot be both “A” and “non-A” at the same time and in the same relationship). For example, it can’t be both raining and sunny outside at the same time in the same spot. My dog can’t be both sleeping under a shrub and chewing a sprinkler head on the lawn at the same time. If it were possible for contradictions to mutually exist, there would be no difference between true and false, black and white, up or down, and so on. Truth would be impossible to discuss, and facts would forever elude us.
The law of non-contradiction is particularly important in determining religious truth. Simply put, it prevents two contradicting religions from both being true. I will illustrate this in just a moment.
Other foundational laws of logic include the “law of identity” (“A” is “A”—my dog is a dog), the law of excluded middle (either “A” or “non-A”—if I declare I’m petting my dog, I’m either doing it or not), and the law of rational inference (assuming my premises are correct, I can derive logical or true conclusions).
Besides these basic laws of logic, there are also self-evident propositions (statements of truth) that are equally foundational to all thought and knowledge. (These propositions are also first principles.) They include: something can be known, opposites cannot both be true, everything cannot be false, something exists, nothing cannot produce something, everything that comes to be is caused, as well as self-defining tautologies such as all husbands are married and all triangles have three sides.
Without these universal laws of logic, it would be impossible to make heads or tails out of the world, let alone discover truth. To deny them would be to sacrifice a rational world and to prevent any meaningful communication. Indeed, it is because of these universal laws of logic that people from different cultures and with different languages can communicate with one another and come to an agreement on what constitutes truth and reality—religious and otherwise.
For example, it is logically impossible for contradicting religions to all represent truth. The true nature of God is either monotheistic, pantheistic, or something else. God cannot be both monotheistic and pantheistic. Likewise, the resurrection of Jesus. The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus rose from the grave. The Koran denies it. Both cannot be right.
Let’s tie this all together. For something to be true, it must reflect the facts as they really exist. It is not enough to say that such-and-such is true because it agrees with the facts as I understand them to be. Rather truth must agree with facts as they really are. It must correspond to reality. Truth does not change. As Geisler and Watkins put it:
Truth, like ethical laws, is universal and corresponds to reality. Truth does not spring into existence, neither is it dependent on individuals, on cultures, or on what works. If a statement accurately describes or explains a state of affairs, then its meaning is true for all people, at all places, and in all time periods independently of anyone’s knowledge or verification of the statement. Truth is timeless and absolute, and it corresponds to what is, not to what is not.
Truth, then, is synonymous with reality. If you have truth, you have reality. This implies that if something was true in the past, it is true today whether I recognize it or not. Likewise, if something was false in the past, it is false today because truth is not affected by the passage of time or by personal opinion. It exists outside human beliefs, worldviews, cultures, or circumstances.
Always keep Jesus in your heart and on your mind.
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I praise You for Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your grace in sending Your wisdom about “Truth Corresponds to Reality” through apologist Dan Story. This article really gives hope as well as insight into truth. Please bless all those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth and understanding.
May God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights for eternity. Let it be Your will Lord not mine. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit,