Thursday, May 10, 2007

"What is Truth"

Our understanding of the English word "truth" fails to do justice to what is described in the Hebrew Scriptures. To the Hebrew mind, emeth "truth" means: firm reliable, solid, faithful, tested, perceptible, and lasting.

There are two understandings of “truth” however: Abstract (or a priori) truth is derived from outside of experience and is absolute. Empirical (or a posteriori) truth is derived from experience and is not absolute. To the Hebrews, truth is a posteriori.

David Hume believed that “false religion” is based on priori, a prior knowledge of ethereal things by metaphysical means, while “natural religion” is based on posteriori, the knowledge gained after the observation. Hume concluded that the order and purpose that were observable in every part of the world about him testified of a Creator. In other words, Hume felt that a religion based upon an abstract God was "false."

Hume highlighted the fact that our everyday reasoning depends on patterns of repeated experience rather than deductively valid arguments. For example, we believe that bread will nourish us because it has done so in the past, but this is not a guarantee that it will always do so. As Hume said, someone who insisted on sound deductive justifications for everything would starve to death.

It is not very well acknowledged that the Hebrew Bible, as well as the New Testament support this idea. But, how can this be true? Does the Bible not teach that "God is truth?" Of course it does, but the Bible does not teach that God is abstractly truth. That is to say that God is not considered to be truth apart from particular cases or instances of being true.

In John 18: 37, Yeshua is quoted as saying, “For this I was sired, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth understands my words."

To the Hebrew mind, Yeshua bore witness to the truth, thus demonstrating it. And, as Yeshua said, (John 8:31) ... if you remain in the word, truthfully you are my disciple; you come to know the truth and this truth frees you.