Truth: Absolute or Relative? - 1087 Words | Essay Example (2022)

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Truth
  3. Conclusion
  4. Works Cited
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Truth is a complex aspect that has been debated for ages. Truth can be defined as the state or quality of being true or rather that which is considered to be true or in accordance with reality or fact. Truth is a contentious element that is influenced by a variety of aspects. It could also be defined as that to which a given community eventually settles down.

A community is therefore a key element in the search for truth. The definition of truth, its pursuit as well as its discovery forms a critical part of human intellectual activity. Truth could be found in religion or cultural beliefs (Erban 47). This piece of work gives a critical look at the concept of truth and the aspects that surround it. Much emphasis will however be given to the issue of whether truth is absolute or relative and the theories about truth.


Truth could be understood through having a deeper look at the various theories that have been put forth with respect to the definition, origin, and pursuits of truth. Another way of understanding the concept of truth is through looking at it on the grounds of whether it is absolute or relative.

This issue has been controversial with the popular postmodern view stating that truth is relative while Christianity stipulates that truth is absolute and that the teachings of the Bible are universal and should always stand. A majority of people go by the fact that there is nothing as absolute truth.

Absolute truth can be defined as something that is deemed to be true for all people, at all times, and in all places (Erban 42). Absolute truth possesses the following characteristics; it is discovered rather than being invented, it is knowable, it is not affected by the individual that profess it and it does not change and thus it can be conveyed across time. Absolute truth is also trans-cultural meaning that it can be conveyed across different cultures and it is founded under the premise that all truths are absolute.

Relative truth on the other hand is built on the understanding of truth on the basis of the naturalist world-view. It states that there is nothing like absolute truth and that truth originates in man. The beliefs that are attributed to relative truth include the fact that truth is created rather than discovered. This therefore follows that there is no universal truth since truth is mainly invented.

Different individuals and cultures are thus expected to define truth in a different way depending on their background and perspective. In relative truth, absolute truth is not knowable, truth changes and an individual’s belief can change a truth statement. Relative truth is also affected by the attitude of the person professing it (Williams 112). Anything can therefore be true irrespective of its origin.

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There have been a lot of critics of relative truth which state that it should be rejected and absolute truth be adopted. First, relativism is founded on a world-view of naturalism. This could only hold if God does not exist and man is the measure of truth. Relativism is also self-defeating, without standards.

Relativism also rejects reason as a way through which truth can be determined. Reason is very crucial in coming up with truth and thus, it should never be underrated. Although everyone has a right and freedom to believe in anything, absolute truth seems to carry more weight as compared to relativism. This does not however mean that relativism is absolutely wrong.

There are various ways through which truth could be determined or tested. They include the following: Logical consistency; this test on the availability of proper reasoning as opposed to contradictions in statements. The other test is empirical adequacy; this entails looking for evidence in support of what is being said. Evidence could be in the form of data. The other way of ascertaining truth is having a livability test. This entails looking at how consistently one can live with the belief in question (Williams 174).

Some of the theories that have been put forth to explain the concept of truth include; correspondence theory that stipulates that true statements and beliefs ought to correspond to actual state of affairs or reality.

This shows that there is a relationship between thoughts and objects. The other theory is the coherence theory. It states that truth calls for an appropriate fit of elements within an entire scheme. A system or rather a statement should reflect some elements of logical consistency. Truth is considered to be a unit of whole systems of propositions.

It can be attributed to individual proposals only according to their lucidity with the whole. Constructivist supposition on the other hand says that truth is constructed through societal progressions and is shaped through the supremacy struggles within a given group of people. Truth is also considered to be culturally and historically specific. Consensus presumption holds that truth is anything that is concurred upon by some explicit group. The group could consist of as few as two people or even the entire society (Schmitt 102).

These are just some of the theories that try to explain what truth is. The fact that many theories have emerged is enough justification that the concept of truth is controversial and complex. Various critics have been raised with respect to the different theories. It is therefore difficult to come up with a clear cut definition of what truth is but rather ideas should be drawn from the various aspects that have been raised.

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From the above discussion, it is evident that the concept of truth is complex and surrounded by a variety of issues. It is a concept that has been debated for a relatively long period of time with an aim of coming up with an answer of what truth is.

Truth could be understood through having a deeper look at the various theories that have been put forth with respect to the definition, origin, and pursuits of truth. While looking at the Bible teachings and human logic we can say that truth is absolute and not relative. Truth is narrow as it does not entail its opposite.

It is also knowable and unchanging. Absolute truth is founded on God who is Supreme and eternal while relativism is founded on naturalism. This makes facts put forth for absolute truth to be stronger than those supporting relative truth. Relativism ought to be handled carefully because evidence indicates that we live in a theistic universe. It goes against biblical teachings. However, people have the freedom to choose whichever way so long as it does not affect others.

Works Cited

Erban, Joseph. What Is Truth? London:, 2008.Print

Schmitt, Fredrick. Theories of truth. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004. Print

Williams, Christopher, John, Fards. What is truth? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976. Print

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