Essays

Truth and Knowledge

truth

by David Sims

THERE IS A branch of philosophy called “epistemology.” An epistemology is a rationale by which someone claims to have knowledge, or to know truth. Epistemology isn’t what you believe to be true. It is, instead, how you justify your claims for knowing what the truth is.

Every group holding to a dogma has, as part of that dogma, the belief that they are infallibly and with utter certitude correct in holding to that dogma. The circularity of that reasoning, and hence the logical invalidity of it, however obvious it might be to others, is lost on them. A good example is the way in which Christians believe that they’re going to Heaven, but nobody else is. Most of the time, this sort of attitude is pure presumption. However, there can be exceptions. Sometimes one group’s point of view is right about something, while all of the other groups are wrong.

Christians say that the New Testament is God’s word on certain matters, such as what happens to people after they die, and the conditions for having good Afterlife circumstances rather than poor ones. But someone of a different religion will disagree, and I don’t see how aligning my thinking with the beliefs most common in my native land is a valid way of answering metaphysical questions.

Truth is not something that authority can create by decree.

Truth is not something that you can find by the method of voting on what the truth is.

There’s another, and a better, way to find truth. Use an empirical method, such as the scientific method. It might take a while to work, but when it does work, it works for everybody. Anyone with the intelligence and the material prerequisites can do the same research, carry out the same experiments, get the same results, and usually reach the same set of conclusions about what the truth is. You might need a microscope, a telescope, or a chemical laboratory. But you won’t need a priest.

Because, really, there is no “my truth” and “your truth” and “their truth.” There is only the truth. And opinion is either in accordance with the truth, or else it’s simply wrong. The only question worth arguing is: How do you know when a method for seeking the truth actually does succeed in finding it?

You know that a method for seeking truth works when it can, really can, cause a light to spring forth and banish darkness. Not an imaginary light, such as a delusional fanatic might pretend to see, but a real light that can show anyone with normally functioning eyes the way through an unfamiliar and otherwise dark place. You know that a method for seeking truth works when it can, really can, heal the sick. Or when it can reveal what would have gone unnoticed because of distance or smallness, or for some other reason. Or when it can enable people to communicate with each other across thousands, or even millions, of miles.

In summary, you know that a method for seeking truth works when it has a history of giving to people powers that they did not have before.

Valid methods for seeking truth do this because useful truths are a subset of all truths, and it is a subset in which people have a particular interest and to which they devote a considerable amount of their time. Any efficacious method for pursuing truth, used by human beings, will uncover a significant proportion of useful truths over time.

The only method for seeking truth that actually works, so far as is known, is empiricism augmented by logic. In other words: science.

Religious metaphysics cause factionalism because God doesn’t really exist, except as an abstraction that different groups of people have defined in different ways. But you will notice that the nature of gravity or the nature of electricity has not caused any similar factionalism. That’s because the principles behind those forces were discovered by empirical methods, which give the same knowledge to Europeans, to Arabs, to Chinese, or to anyone else who uses them.

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Source: White Biocentrism

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3 Comments

  1. Cosmotheist
    May 21, 2015 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    Indeed, this article does fit well into the
    Cosmotheistic approach to both philosophy
    and religion except for this:

    “because God doesn’t really exist”….

    A Personal God doesn’t really exist but “God”
    for Cosmotheists is an IMPERSONAL FORCE or
    URGE or CONSCIOUSNESS within the WHOLE of
    COSMOS that is metaphorically THE CREATOR
    and is the SPIRITUAL BASIS for the WHOLE
    of it all.
    In other words, “God” is ALL REALITY and
    it is ALL EXISTENCE, ITSELF,
    as a UNIFIED WHOLE!

    Best regards,
    Cosmotheist

  2. aa
    May 21, 2015 at 8:51 pm — Reply

    The truth is philosophical which makes it unstable. I want the facts. The facts are incorrigible, same as the laws of nature.

    There is no colder heart than nature when its guests have over-stayed their welcome. Dinosaurs…

  3. Cosmotheist
    May 22, 2015 at 1:09 pm — Reply

    Yes, aa it is as even the facts do change
    with the increases in knowledge over time.
    Only the search for truth remains stable.

    We ourselves will become extinct-as did
    the dinosaurs-if we do not “evolve” and
    both in knowledge and well as in spirit!

    Best regards,
    Cosmotheist

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