What is Truth?

Jack loved ideas. That got him in trouble sometimes, because most of his friends liked things like money, pretty girls and nice cars, and having fun. They didn’t want to think about life, they just wanted to enjoy life.

Jack was different. If he could find someone else who enjoyed discussing ideas, he was in his glory. But one day while he was walking in the park, he met Abe, an old friend he hadn’t seen for several years. They chatted for a few minutes, and Abe challenged Jack with a question he had never considered before.

“What is truth?” Abe looked at Jack expectantly. Jack was a little taken aback.

“Truth?” Jack looked puzzled. “The opposite of a lie, I guess. What are you getting at?”

“Well, I think that to be Truth a concept needs to be an absolute,” Abe replied. “Sort of like gravity. So, Truth—at least when you spell it with a capital T—is a set of ideas and principles that are always right and never change.”

Abe really had Jack’s attention now. “I’ve never thought of that,” he said. “It would take a pretty smart person to come up with a complete set of ideas like that and not miss any. We should try to put together a list like that, just for fun.”

“Suits me,” said Abe. “But we’d better define a bit better what we are talking about, first, so that we don’t get sidetracked. So, what does truth mean, in general terms?”

Jack pulled out his smartphone and did a Google search for the word truth. “According to this, truth is something that is true. I guess that’s pretty obvious.” He chuckled. “But it does give two other definitions. First, ‘that which is in accordance with fact or reality.’ That makes sense.” Abe nodded his agreement. “So, something like gravity is a truth, because it is reality.”

Jack grinned. “It sure seemed like it when I fell out of bed the other night!” He rubbed his head ruefully at the memory. “I hit my head a good one against my night stand.”

Abe laughed before asking “Are there any other definitions?”

“Yes, there’s another one,” said Jack. “It’s a bit tougher. It says that ‘truth is a fact or belief that is accepted as true’.”

He pondered that one a little. “So, is something a truth as long as I believe it?” He scratched his head dubiously before continuing. “My father knows this person who really believes that it is wrong for the government to make him pay income taxes. He’s quite vocal about it. He won’t pay his income taxes and they are taking him to court because of it. So, is that truth?”

Abe sat down on a park bench close by before answering, rather dryly, “Somehow, I doubt it. I think that definition is talking about facts or beliefs that are generally accepted as true. Not paying taxes doesn’t really strike me as fitting that definition.”

Jack sat beside him on the bench, as Abe continued, “I think that definition is okay, but it doesn’t go far enough. There was a time that many people believed that black people weren’t human. You wouldn’t consider that to be truth, would you?”

Jack shook his head vigorously. “For sure not. They’re just as human as you and I are!”

Abe nodded his head in agreement. “I think that for something to be Truth, it has to agree with a general principle of truth put together by an authority who understands it.”

Jack looked puzzled. “That makes sense, I suppose. But who would be able to put together a statement like that? Aristotle? Plato? Buddha?”

Abe reached into his pocket and pulled out a little red book. “You missed one person,” he said, with a smile. “When I think of truth, I usually think of the Bible,” he said, handing it to Jack.

“Only God has the authority to make a decision on anything as important as truth. And the Bible tells us about it.”

The discussion was beginning to intrigue Jack, now. “I don’t know that much about the Bible,” he said, opening it curiously. “Or God, for that matter. Does the Bible talk about truth?”

“Yes, it does,” Abe replied. He reached over and took the book back from Jack. He opened it and searched for a passage. “Here, read the first part of this,” he said, pointing to John 14:6.

Jack read the verse, then reread it. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’” He looked up, puzzled. “How can that be true? Jesus was a man, wasn’t he? How could he be the truth?” He paused to gather his thoughts, while Abe waited for him to continue. “I mean, how could he prove a statement like that? That’s a real mouthful.”

Abe nodded. “It sure is. But he said more than that. He told the Jews that he would give them a sign that he was who he said he was. He said that he was going to be killed and that he would be dead for three days and then he would come back to life.” (See Matthew 12:38-42, and Mark 10:32-34)

Jack looked at Abe as if he were going crazy. “That guy must have been a lunatic! What did he do? Pull a fast one on them?”

Abe shook his head. “No, he didn’t trick them. It happened just like he said it would. The Romans arrested him and crucified him. The Jews put some Roman guards at his tomb so that no one could steal his body and claim that he came back to life.”

Jack was looking at Abe as if he doubted his sanity. Abe grinned. “I know, it sounds incredible,” he said. “That’s how I reacted too, when I first heard about it. But I did a lot of research, and it’s historically sound.”

“The Bible says that he appeared to his followers several times after that. In fact, Paul wrote that he appeared to a group of five hundred people at once, and that most of them were still living at that point.” (See 1 Cor 15:3-7)

“So, it would have been easy for someone to come along and refute what he said,” Jack said thoughtfully. “Five hundred witnesses. Wow.” He repeated it quietly. “Wow.”

Abe handed him the Bible. “Why don’t you read the whole story, in the Gospels. There are four of them, written by four different men, so you can see it from different perspectives. Then maybe we can get together next week and talk some more about it.”

“I’ll do that,” Jack said. “This is going to be interesting. I’m warning you though. I’m sure I’ll have lots of questions. You’d better be ready for a long discussion.”

About Lester Bauman

Free lance writer and editor. Author of a dozen books, husband of one wife, father of six, grandpa of ten.
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