Is absolute truth attainable? In an age where there is information overload and the ability to find and only absorb facts that supplement what we want to believe is becoming more and more prevalent (AKA the post-truth culture), can we really ever know that we have the truth? On the silly/harmless end of the spectrum, there are people who truly believe the earth is flat. On the other end, there are some Muslims who believe that one guaranteed way to paradise is to physically harm/kill unbelievers. Both of these groups are absolutely certain in their own minds that they have the truth.
My thought is that something that meets an existential need can be a powerful test for truth (I.e. taking antibiotics that make you feel better confirm the truth about the effectiveness of antibiotics) but it alone is not sufficient to know if it is truth. I know that there are other tests for truth: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, correspondence theory, etc. However, it occurred to me that the information I get (admittedly the majority from speakers from RZIM ministry) is obviously biased. Even if I do my best to study other worldviews, I still run into this problem: how do I know that I’m actually getting the absolute truth and not just building the case for whatever I want to believe. This becomes especially hard when you realize there are people who equally and honestly wrestle with the questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny but come to a different conclusion.
@Davidd Great question. The Bible’s epistemology contains a caveat not commonly understood by the modern mind. Scripture is clear that knowledge of God requires not only intelligence, but integrity of heart. Immorality obscures knowledge of God. In addition, it is God’s Spirit who is able to reveal God to us in Christ Jesus. The truth of Christ is spiritually discerned.
If we read John and 1 Corinthians, these two truths stand out very clearly. I highly recommend reading both books with this question in mind and highlighting things that stand out. John is clear that even though light came into the world in Jesus Christ, people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. And in Corinthians Paul explains the importance of God’s Spirit in attaining true knowledge of God.
Yes, we can know absolutely, for sure that we have the truth in Christ Jesus. But having this assurance requires not only rational assessment of the facts, but also the testimony of the Spirit of God in our hearts and lives.
A few ways we can know with certainty that we have the truth are:
faithfulness of God over time as we trust and obey
the testimony of the Holy Spirit in our hearts
the logical consistency of the Christian worldview
the testimony of the lives of many saints who have sacrificed all for others in love
Additional resources at bottom of thread. Christ grant you wisdom by His Spirit
John 3:19-21- This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 1:9-13 - The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
1 Cor 1:20-25 - Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
1 Cor 2:10-14 - The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[c] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.