All Truth is Absolute Truth: There is No Relative Truth

Many today believe that there is no objective truth…… truth that is true for everyone. Most people think that it is possible for something to be “true for you, but not for me.” However, this is false.

Objective truth means that when something is true, it is true for everyone in all places and times. Objective truth does not vary according to perspective. An objective truth is true for everyone, whether they agree with it or not.

All truth is objective truth, there is no such thing as subjective truth. If a speaker in front of a room were to say “the door is on my left” and someone in the back of the room, facing the speaker, say “the door is on my right” is this not a case of subjective truth? No, it is not. It is always true that when you’re in the front of the room the door is on the left. The statement “from the front of the room the door is on your left” is true for all people, places, and times. Likewise, the statement “from the back of the room the door is on your right” is equally true for all people, places, and times.  

Thus all truth is objective truth. It might be possible that we cannot agree on some definitions, such as what height constitutes tall, or what temperature constitutes cold, but even if the room were 70 degrees, and Bob says “I am cold” and Mary says “I am hot” then it is always true that at 70 degrees Bob is cold and Mary is hot. This would be true for everyone that Bob is cold at 70 degrees. The same concept applies to tallness…..If one person says “Bill is tall” and another sya s”Bill is short” then we have to determine what tall and short mean……..we have to clarify the term. Taller than a midget? Shorter than a basketball player? We might not agree on what makes up tall or short, but once we do, it is very easy to measure Bill and determine if he is tall or short. When we set the boundary for tallness and shortness, we will know objectively that Bill is taller than a midget and shorter than a basketball player.  These statements are always, objectively true for everyone.

Thus all truth is objective truth, and no truth is perspectival or subjective. Thus the statement “True for you, but not for me” is never the case. And in reality, we do not truly believe this. If we go to the bank, and the bank teller tells us that we only have $4.27 in our account, I can never say “That’s true for you, but not for me. My truth is that I have $2,000.” The teller will say, “Can you please step out of line so I can help the next customer?” In reality, the “true for you but not for me” is a way of trying to dodge the truths that we do not want to face.

So if the statements in the Bible are true, they are true for everyone in all places and times.


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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7 Responses to All Truth is Absolute Truth: There is No Relative Truth

  1. llondy says:

    Taking it another step further, if the statements in the Bible are true and you have one interpretation of a passage and I another then one of us is wrong. There is this idea going around today in Christian circles that we can have two different interpretations and both be right.
    If it is not concerning essential doctrine, for example something like infant baptism vs. believers batpism, then it is ok to have two different views that are Biblical since a case can be made for both. Believers baptism is clear in the NT but a case can be made that circumcision was carried over from the old covenant to the new in the form of infant baptism. We can hold to one view or the other but we must recognize that God intended it to be one way and that the other way is wrong. It is not ok to say that we can both be right and walk away from it.
    If God is the source of absolute truth then what he intends is the truth and everything that we discern differently is false. It is up to us to continually work towards understanding what that truth is and no to stop at thinking two truths are possible

  2. Patrick says:

    I came across this blog by accident and read it in its entirety. I can only say that you seem to only have a grasp of “subjectivity as truth” as (metaphysical) nihilist concept that is you only understand “subjectivity as truth” in the concept of people denying empirical fact. Other philosophers, like Soren Kierkegaard, have argued for subjectivity from non-nihilistic positions.
    To show the subjectivity of truth we need but imagine yours, or mine, own life. Undoubtedly you have experiences, which a meaningful to you, that I can never experience and vice versa. If you tried to explain your life to me there would be, undoubtedly, parts you could not objectively explain. This is because these are subjective experiences which are none the less meaningful. Indeed it is these private experience which are “the most real” to you.
    Another way to understand subjective truth is to look up at the stars at night. Many people experience a sense of awe when viewing the stars. Is this sense of awe, or the feeling of immensity that results, any less real than the star itself? Yet these are subjective experience but in some ways they have truth. You could never really explain this feeling you get of viewing the stars. Imagine trying to explain this concept to someone who has never seen the night sky. It would be impossible. Indeed if we take a closer look at this example we can see that often the objective truth is less real than the subjective truth. The star that you saw may have already died and all you see is the light that remains yet it still inspires awe. I really encourage you to read Kierkegaard’s “Philosophical Fragments” and “Unscientific Post Scripts to Philosophical Fragments” to really get a grasp of this subject as more than simply nihilism.

    • humblesmith says:

      Thank you for the response. I have Kierkegaard on my list of things to read.

      Regarding your comment, your description of truth is supposed to be an accurate description of “how things are.” You either hold this description to be true, or not. Presumably you pick the former, in which case the description you give, if accurate, is an objectively true description of how truth works. For if the system you describe is only subjectively true for you, then it would not apply to me. Yet from your description, you hold this system to apply to all people, all times, all places. You hold the system you describe to be absolutely, objectively true for everyone. In short, you are saying “it is true for everyone that truth is subjective” which is a self-refuting statement.

  3. llondy says:

    I like Kierkegaard a lot in certain areas, especially in his writings on the Church, but he is off base here. The experience I have when I look at the stars at night has nothing to do with objective truth. An objective truth about the star can be it’s size, or the distance it is from our galaxy. These obervable facts have nothing to do with the way it’s light makes me feel when I look at it. My feelings are subjective, truth is not.

    • humblesmith says:

      Even with these subjective situations that you describe, remember that we are dealing with truth statements. If Patrick is awed by the stars, and Llondy not, then the statements “Patrick is awed by the stars” and “Llondy is not awed by the stars” are true statements. Both these statements are true at the same time. Further, both these statements, about what Patrick and Llondy are feeling, are true for everyone in the world (that Patrick and Llondy are feeling certain ways).

      Just because I cannot determine what someone else is feeling does not make it false that they are feeling that way.

      Any statement, if true, is true for everyone, in all places, in all times.

  4. Bumblebee says:

    “Objective truth means that when something is true, it is true for everyone in all places and times”

    Seems like to notions of ‘objective’ and ‘absolute’ are interchangeable. From the link you have referenced previously, one of the definitions of ‘absolute’ is “something that is not dependent upon external conditions for existence or for its specific nature, size, etc. ( opposed to relative ).” Also, from the same links, absolute means “something that is independent of some or all RELATIONS.”

    It seems to follow, truth is not dependent on any relations or external conditions. If, as you say, statements are not just true, but are absolutely true, without qualification, then the statement “Ronald Reagan is dead” is not just true, but true regardless of any relationships or external conditions.However, the statement “Ronald Reagan is alive” is also not just true in the time he was alive, but absolutely true, regardless of any relations or external conditions, for all people, in all places and all times.

    The problem with your notion of “truth = absolute truth” (TAT) theory is that we have two absolutely true statements that entail opposite meanings. We cannot allow this as it would violate non-contradiction. Keep in mind, the statements are ‘true for everyone in all places and times’.

    Another problem concerns statements made about objects or states of affairs that did not occur at some time in the past, but would be considered true now. “Bill Gates is the richest man in America”, while true today, was not true 50 years ago, nor will it be true 50 years from now. But according to TAT, the statements have always been true, regardless of relations, or external conditions, like people, places or times.

    TAT seems to allow for describing “how the world is”, but is not dependent on external conditions, like “how the world is”. How can truth even be compatible with the definition of absolute? Truth has the relation of demonstrating “how the world is”, but is also absolute, which means that it has no relation with “how the world is”. TAT is, therefore, self-refuting.

    Perhaps, you might retort by saying the statement “Ronald Reagan is alive” is true if we add the condition of a specific time he was, in fact, alive! However, this violates the definition of absolute that you provided as reference for me earlier. Absolute, remember, means without condition or relationships, to include people, places, or TIMES.

    As a result, the TAT theory is inconsistent at best, self-refuting at worst, and should be re-examined. Truth is not equivalent to absolute truth.

    • humblesmith says:

      The key here is in the definition “not dependent on external conditions” and “independent of relations.” Statements about Ronald Reagan being alive or dead is therefore not dependent on relations of other people or facts outside of Ronald Reagan. The time that he was alive and dead are not external to him being alive or dead, but are internal to the statement about him. His being alive or dead is not dependent on you or I, or Nancy Reagan, or the time that we learn of his life. The statement “Ronald Reagan is alive” is an imprecise statement to the time that he was alive or dead. We can always make imprecise statements (“Bob is tall”), and some statements may not even be able to be measured (“The center of the sun has a small hollow spot”) but when we clarify the terms, and speak in the same sense, all truth statements are absolutely true for all people, places, and times.

      The first principles of logic (law of identity, law of non-contradiction) are always defined as only applying when the terms are in the same sense. Time is an example of the same sense, as would also be if we changed the meaning of alive or dead. Toward the end of his life, Ronald Reagan was said to have bad Alzheimer’s, and some would say he was not really ‘alive.’ It would not be allowed if we were to use ‘alive’ in more than one sense, then say truth statements were contradictory or did not apply. For truth statements, time and sense are not external relations; rather, everyone recognizes that the sense changes over time. First principles of logic only apply when the sense is the same. I would agree that “Ronald Reagan is alive” made in 1960 would be true for everyone, and false if made in 2010. If this is as far as you go, then I agree.

      If your most recent comment were true, especially the conclusion, it would seem that the concepts of non-contradiction, inconsistency, self-refuting, and the definition of truth you give, would all seem to apply to all people, places, and times. According to the law of non-contradiction, the statement “Truth is not equivalent to absolute truth” would either apply to all people, places, and times, or it would not. If so, it is absolute, and if not, then it has not refuted absolute truth.

      I think part of your comments are dealing with the nature of how language relates to the world. Whether or not our statements relate to an external world is a factor of language and meaning, and what relations our statements have regarding an external world. This is another topic, not truth theory. Assuming 1) the external world exists, and 2) we can make statements about it, then we conclude our language has some relation to the external world. Our language does not determine the external world, but is either accurate or inaccurate in describing it. Wittgenstein, I believe, championed the view that the external world only had meaning when we made statements about it. I would reject this; our statements are either accurate descriptions of the world, or not. Truth, in this sense, is what corresponds to the external world. Whether or not we can accurately tell anything at all about the world is another topic, one of epistmology, not truth theory.

      Thanks for the respectful comment.

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