Is Truth Relative? Greg Koukl at THRIVE Apologetics Conference 2013

See also

  1. Greg Koukl – Moral Relativism lecture to University students
  2. Apologetics PAGE

photo via http://rogueuniversity.com/musings

When you think about it, there are a lot of ways to show that christianity is false. Look at our story, it starts with „in the beginning God…”  If the atheists are right, we don’t get a beginning, we don’t even get started. Our case is based on Jesus of Nazareth. If He never existed we’re out of business. If He wasn’t the one reflected in the Scripture, if that’s just a bunch of legends, we’re up the creek as well. No soul. Why is that important? Because if there is no soul , there is no thing to go into the afterlife. And since the afterlife is an important part of christianity, we’re sunk again, if they can make the case there’s no soul. On the resurrection, Paul himself said that christians of all people should be pitied if there was no resurrection.

Christianity can be falsifiable in principle, and if it can be falsifiable and falsified, it can also be supported. It can be demonstrated that it can be true. But, the minute you say something like „can be demonstrated to be true”, you run into another obstacle, that is very popular and very in play in our culture. It’s also very unusual to me, because taken at face value, which strikes me as a pointless challenge. The other challenges that I mentioned, and by the way, every one of those areas I talked about- the existence of God, the existence of Jesus, the existence of the soul, the resurrection, and a whole bunch of others, there’s a full course press on all of those right now. And that’s why I’m glad you’re all in this conference. All of those, I would say, are intellectually noble ways of going after christianity.

Relative truth – pulling the rug from underneath the  christians

This next thing, that I want to spend my time talking about, I don’t think it is intellectually noble. I think it’s a foolish way of going after christianity, but it is very popular. Everybody’s fighting over what they think is true. Well, the truth of the matter is in this world truth doesn’t exist- it’s not unusual to go into a campus society in general and begin to talk about these kinds of things. And, as you advance christianity, if you’re doing it properly, you’re doing it as a picture of reality. This is true in the deep sense of the word. That’s our view; that’s our claim. That’s what we’re offering. And people want to dismiss it and say, „Well, there is none of that kind of stuff. Truth doesn’t exist in this world. Maybe it’s true for you, maybe it’s relative to your beliefs. Everybody has different beliefs that are true for them. But, no one can say that what they believe is true, that it applies to everyone.” In one sense it’s a kind of end around  all of the conflict. It’s a kind of a saying, :Well, everybody’s right.” It has a tolerant feel, but, at the same time it’s kind of like saying everybody’s wrong, too, „You are wrong in all your individual beliefs on what is actually so; you are just right for yourself.” And so, it’s an odd kind of „everybody’s right, but, in the background, everybody’s wrong, at the same time. A lot of folks haven’t thought about that particular point.

Truth on this view, then, is relative, is subjective, it is just up to individuals. And, I hope you can see how, when a culture is deeply convinced  of that idea, it’s a complete end around all the arguments. It’s a pulling the rug from underneath the christians. It’s a very clever move, in terms of spiritual warfare.

Notes continue under the video-

Professor Greg Koukl answers the question, „Is truth relative?” at the 2013 Thrive Apologetics Conference, held at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California.thrivingchurches

…and I think of spiritual warfare in the area of ideas and how ideas are being used to dissuade people. That’s why Paul says that the weapons of warfare are divinely powerful of destruction of forces which are tearing down speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of  God, taking every thought captive through the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 The point here is this is an idea that is a fortress, that a lot of people can’t get past: The idea that christianity claims to be true, but are convinced there is no truth. I wanna deal with that challenge. If you’re a skeptic, I just wanna get you thinking about this. I think that the claim that there is no truth is obviously false, and I think that everybody in this room knows that it’s false.

The definition of what we mean by truth – If belief is what made something true, there would be no difference between belief and make belief. When we say a thing is true, we’re not saying we don’t mean by that that we merely believe it, because we could believe false things. We don’t say that we see it or we have discovered it to be so, because that’s just how you find out whether a thing is true. if we’re just working with the concept of truth, what we mean when we say a thing is true is that our statements match up with the way the world actually is. Or our beliefs match up, or our thoughts match up. The philosophers call this the correspondence theory of truth- or that christianity matches up to the real world. That is the standard definition of what is truth.

Does that kind of truth exist? Is it possible for us to make statements about the world, and have some confidence that our statements actually match up? Can we know things about theology, about ethics? Can you actually know these things? Is it just not a leap of faith or a mere assumption, or a mere assertion? Can we have good reason that this is something we can count on? My answer to all of those things is: Yes. And I wanna show you how that can be the case. (23:00)

How can we know that the claim: There is no truth is false?

and that therefore, the claim that there is truth is a true statement.

  1. First problem: It’s suicidal, self refuting. The first reason that I reject the idea that there is no truth is that it is obviously false. When I go on campus, I am actually mystified  that this has gained such favor among people at university campuses. The minute I want to acquiesce to their view I run into a problem. The problem is that I am being enjoined to believe that it is true, in the sense I just described it and defined it, that there is no truth. Somebody says, „There is no truth.” You say, „Really? Is that true?” You’ve got to tell me what you expect me to do with your statement. Accept or reject. This is the way people are: When they say there is no truth, they don’t see the inherent contradiction in their own statement. I actually had a debate on this issue with Marv Meyer. The debate was titled: Is truth true? Meyer was arguing that there is no truth, and I was arguing with this question: There’s no truth. Is that true? That’s one of the ways to show that the statement „There is no truth” is false, it’s just obviously self refuting, and there’s no way around that. There’s just no way out of that problem.
  2. Second problem: That every single person knows things to be true. And you know that because you took an idea that you had in mind, and you compared it to the world, and you matched it up to see that there was a fit, and when your thoughts matched the way the world is, that’s a truth relation. If we are able to take statements or beliefs and in some measure match them against the world, to see if our beliefs are accurate, well, then we can find out what the truth is there. And, indeed, we do this every single day. In fact, if we could not determine truth about a whole bunch of things, we’d be dead in a day. Our lives depend on our ability to determine whether there is truth or not.

Now, I have just given you 2 reasons to believe that the statement „There is no truth” is false. (34:00 there are still 15 minutes left of the video where Koukl gives 2 examples)

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