Wednesday, July 29, 2009


The great philosopher's have asked the "absolute truth" question for thousands of years. I don't expect to write anything prophetic on the subject here. I merely attempt to give my own perspective as it stands at 1:18 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29. My ideas continue to evolve as I reflect internally and discuss externally and so this writing only stands true at this moment in time. I cannot predict how my thoughts will evolve in the next few minutes, or the next few decades.

I used to believe in absolute truth. That there was, somewhere out there, the perfect answer to every question; absolute right and absolute wrong; black and white realities, universal truths that will always stand. I suppose I haven't really abandoned that thought, but I am shedding my dogmatic beliefs in art, truth, and God. That is to say, I am not convinced that humans have reached a point where we can identify those absolute truths.

This all started with a discussion about Bob Ross. Over the weekend, some friends and I sat around my porch and talked about the definition of art and if Bob Ross was an artist, a hack, or a merely a participant in craft. Is there such a thing as a concrete definition of art? My boiled down answer was this:

Art cannot be defined so clearly. We can determine characteristics of great art, but that true art is really defined by the individual and not the establishment. Something like that.

My friend Paul argued that art must be transformative and have a message and that art is also defined by the intention of the artist. He also believes the notion that there is absolute truth and that we can discover it.

I think there may be absolute truth out there, but that we really have no way to discover it as a society. We can merely find our own personal truth. I think what is true for me may not be true for you, and that we can look upon the same scene, same issue, or same circumstance and come to different conclusions.

For Christians, we look to God and the Bible for guidance and inspiration and for our path. However, it is clear that even within the Christian belief system, there are drastically different paths and approaches to God. Some are minor and some are significant. Sometimes what I deem a minor and inconsequential detail is a significant and defining criteria for Christians.

An example includes my grandmother and her church. Her denomination believes that communion must be taken every Sunday and that everyone must drink from a single cup. My church takes communion every Sunday but we use individual cups. My childhood Baptist church only took communion at Christmas and Easter (as best I recall). For me, the procedure is inconsequential. For my grandmother's church, it means the difference between salvation and eternal flames.

For some all abortions are always wrong, regardless of the situation. For others, there are some circumstances where abortions are permitted, but they are rare. Still others find that abortions are always a personal choice of the individual.

The truth depends on an individual's point of view, history, and belief system. If one approaches the situation from a literal biblical perspective, then one might argue that the Bible is the absolute truth. That's merely a person's opinion and it is not, as of yet anyway, an arguable fact. applicable to all persons. It is a belief. Perhaps it is true and perhaps it is not. We really don't know for sure beyond what our conscience and belief system tell us.

If there is absolute truth, then I don't think it is possible for our society to discover that truth. Part of me is contemplating the idea that there are multiple ways to seek and find truth or God or both, and that different approaches may all be acceptable so long as one follows his or her own true path.

1 comment:

Busplunge said...

so true, so true.