What is Truth?

!The most important
question of all!

question of all!

(under construction)


  • “Truth will set you free.” John 8:32.
  • “You have to start with truth. The truth is the only way that we can get anywhere. Because any decision making that is based on lies or ignorance can’t lead to a good conclusion.” Julian Assange
  •  “Always do good to each person and all people.” 1 Thess 5:15.
  • “The truth will set you free, but first it may make you miserable!” pastor Rick Warren
  • “Truth is the beginning of every good thing…to man”. Plato
  • “The object of the superior man is truth.”  Confucius
  • “Buy the truth, but never sell it.” (African Proverb)
  • “The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.”  Terry Pratchett, English author, atheist
  • “The best jihad (determined struggle) is saying the truth in the face of a dictator.” أفْضَلُ الجهاد كلمة عدل عند سلطان جائر
  • “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” Confucius (wisdom is the most important type of truth)
  • “Truth is the first victim of war.” (African Proverb)
  • “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” Stephen Bantu Biko
  • “Once truth has been devoured, people swallow falsehoods whole. Without confidence in the concept of truth, listeners are disarmed against lies.” Oxford professor Felipe Fernando-Armesto in “Truth, A history and a Guide for the Perplexed”, Felipe Fernando-Armesto, p. 165.
  • “Embrace the truth and hold it close. Don’t let go of wisdom, instruction, and life-giving understanding.” Prov. 23:23 (TPT) (the NCV version says: “Learn the truth and never reject it.”)
  • “We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and propaganda…A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically.” King, Martin Luther, Jr. “The Purpose of Education.” 1947, www.drmartinlutherkingjr.com/thepurposeofeducation.htm.


Nothing is more vital to life, freedom, preventing pain and tragedy than truth and following it. Jesus said truth sets us free (John 8:32) and countless wise people from all cultures have said the same. Dr. Sean Illing from Yale said that the best way to enslave people is by smashing truth and this is what totalitarians have always tried to do.

How fast people figure out and follow truth has made the difference between success and failure long term, and in many cases life and death. In some cases, destinies can be determined forever based on decisions made in minutes or even seconds and whether they are rooted in truth or not.  Delays in following truth can cause major lost opportunities at a minimum, and sometimes lost lives or even lost nations.

Throughout history, God and many wise people from many cultures have said that truth describes reality accurately. This means truth can have many aspects, rational, scientific, personal, relational, emotional, supernatural, material, objective, subjective, permanent, temporary,  valuable traditions can be truth in some cases while valuable new modern ideas can be truth in other cases and more.  Some of the most respected scholars who specialize in figuring out how to identify truth fairly, say that there are 3 effective ways to find truth: correspondence truth, pragmatic truth, and coherence truth. There are ~7 specific aspects of these 3 methods.

If they are correct and God is the origin of truth as Christians believe, then we would that God invented and pioneered these three methods and 7 aspects of truth long before any humans did. And that is precisely what we find in the Bible. Not only this, people use these methods as the basis for the best decisions in daily life often, sometimes every day. They use them in deciding what food to eat, what health habits to follow, where to study, what job to do, who to date and marry, what causes to support, how to raise children, how to spend free time and a myriad of others. To use these methods of truth in daily life and ignore them at the worldview level or in controversial topics is a tragic double standard and causes damage to lives.

Here is a very short overview of the 3 methods of truth with the 7 aspects (more details from the Bible, science and common experience are below to show that they are used at all levels of reality, from individual experience on up to being used by God Himself repeatedly to prove truth:

Correspondence truth tries to gather evidence from people’s experiences so we can understand reality accurately. It does this in 2 major ways.
1) Correspondence truth treats all experiences from everyone as evidence (assuming innocence unless lying or some other deception is proven) whether they are rich or poor, old or young, educated or uneducated.
2) Correspondence truth treats all observations in scientific experiments as evidence (assuming innocence unless lying, corruption due to greed/pride, mistakes in setting up experiments is proven). 

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? Many wise intellectuals from many cultures and worldviews agree that truth is accurate descriptions of reality. To know reality accurately is crucial for being able to stay safe in many ways such as driving safely, to find real and true science vs. bad science, to choose the best restaurants/schools/spouse, to know how to spend your money and free time best, to promote successful individuals, communities and nations and everything else. In quite a few cases it means the difference between life and death. 

3) True claims have the best track record of accuracy in describing reality over time.
4) True claims have clear (or the best) cause and effect mechanisms.
5) True claims makes predictions that are confirmed by observations.
6) True claims explain and harmonize all evidence from all categories best. This often is called a theory, like the theory of relativity or germ theory.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? Sometimes we can’t see whether something is true with our eyes directly, or an issue covers long periods of time or covers many types of evidence and truth is not simple to figure. In these cases, we often use coherence truth methods like the above to help us make the best choices.

7) Pragmatic truth uses information gathered from correspondence and coherence truth to help people make choices that brings the best quality and quantity of life at all levels of society, from individual to community to nation and worldwide, as well as nature. It also helps us make choices that enables us to contribute the most good to our world and benefit everyone the most.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER? We know from history, science, experience, the Bible and many religions that our choices have major effects on our lives, the lives of others around us and future generations. So people who are moral, people who are godly, people whose care about others want to know what choices we can make so that reality will be best for us, our families and communities and also future generations, as well as the environment and natural world that sustains our lives. This is called pragmatic truth and it is arguably the most important truth, the point and purpose towards which all other truths should point. 

Usually the view with the majority of evidence is considered truth, but in a few cases, both sides of a contradiction can be true. For example, Jesus is both God and man. Light is both a particle and a wave, and others.

The most important truth is to figure out which ideas/worldviews bring the most benefits to all levels of society, to the whole world, to nature and enable us to contribute the most good to our communities and world. Jesus said it simply, that all laws God gave are based on love to God and man (Matt. 22:37-40). For the Hebrews and Christians, love wasn’t just a feeling, it required generous action, treating the needs of others as equal to our own, after we have taken care of our family needs (1 John 3:17).

Many academics, like Dr. Wilson at Harvard have found that altruistic societies which protect the rights to a decent life for the weakest members of society always end up beating societies that are selfish. So as God said, “Righteousness makes nations great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Prov. 14:34

In the past, it was usually easy to see what actions would help or harm people. You could see the effects in the village or community around you easily. But because of technology, globalization and other forces, buying choices now can have major impacts for good or for harm in countries far away from us where we can’t see them.  For example, the 5 part series of “Corporations on Trial” shows how toxic chemicals were dumped in 3rd world countries, killing 1000s, and the Chiquita Banana company hired militias to torture and kill dissident workers who were asking for health protection and decent wages:
(see esp. “Part 1 — Dumping Ground and “Part 5 — Chiquita: Between Life and Law”)

Documentaries like “The High Cost of Low Pay” and many others show that many corporations depend on forcing families off their land to work for very low wages that keep them in debt long term, that they force many  independent small businesses to close and many products are made with slave labor, or that corporations are involved in inciting wars and brutal suppression of democracy.
“Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism” is a good article that shows the problems clearly, but also how growing and buying from local small businesses is a very powerful solution to stop many problems.

So we need to have a more comprehensive way to determine what is true now than in the past.  I suggest that because God said His laws are always based on love and are intended to do good for all levels of society that the best way to find truth with some checks and balances is:
1) Study what God said, because He has far more knowledge than all humanity and what He says has throughout history always been best for the most individuals and also communities, nations and the world.

2) Check our understanding of God with research and science to be sure it is as correct as possible.  Why? Because much history shows that many have misunderstood God. For example some religious people tragically supported the horrific forced chattel slavery which the Bible strictly forbids in the original languages as a capital crime (see Ex. 21:16, 1 Tim. 1:8-10).
This is often because:
A) linguistic changes: The Hebrew word for slave, ebed, could refer to forced slavery,  voluntary indentured service, or working for a boss.
B) Because God in certain cases changed His laws because times or society changed and a law intended to do good was no longer helpful. For example, God forbade shaving corners of beards because it was a pagan religious ritual, but that religion has disappeared now. So it’s no longer helpful. Sacrifices of course are no longer required because Jesus, the real Lamb, died.

The Bible tells us all God’s laws are based on love and aimed at doing good for all people…that is what godliness is too (Matt. 22:37-40, Neh. 9:13, 1 Thess. 5:15). So research in various fields can in some cases help us correct our misunderstandings of God and make choices to do much more good.

Look especially at systematic reviews of all evidence and studies done to get the best overall picture.

Jesus demonstrated that looking at all evidence on a topic is crucial in Luke 24:25-27. And systematic reviews are a great way to do that.

3) But we should test claims of scientists too as well as our understanding of science. The goal of all science that relates to humans is also supposed to be to do good to all levels of society.  But because humans do science, it can be very fallible at times for various reasons:

A) CORRUPTION: Harvard mathemetician Samuel Arbesman and others have found that up to 50% of “facts” in academia are found to be partly/wholly wrong within 50 years (see his book “The Half-Life of Facts”). This is partly because greed and bribery (often from corporations) can corrupt scientists just as they do anything else.

B) FALLACIES: False ways of reasoning like the a priori fallacy of materialistic methodological naturalism (which denies that any evidence can point to God) or theistic presuppositional apologetics (which denies that any evidence can point away from God or away from one’s denominational beliefs) can also pervert and end a genuine search for truth science because these are fallacies that predetermine their answers and discard anything else as “not evidence” or anomalies. The real result of this is that it stop those who hold these views from changing any of their pre-determined beliefs. It makes people immune to any evidence or change to follow truth and chains their minds.

So we need to critique scientists and what they say.. And of course test everything that atheism/secularism says, because almost nothing has failed or caused more loss of human rights and justice than these ideologies.

4) After you have read what God says, tested your understanding of God by research, read research, and tested your understanding of research by what God says, you should come to the same conclusions in almost all areas, at least 95% of the time if not more because God is the author of all real doctrinal truth and all real scientific truth.
“Rightly understood, science and the written word agree, and each sheds light on the other. Together they lead us to God by teaching us something of the wise and beneficent laws through which He works.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 426 (1913). {2MCP 739.3}

If there is still some disagreement, go with what your best understanding of God and He will wink at your ignorance (Acts 17:30) and in time lead us to the full truth (John 16:12) as we are humble and give up pride to follow the majority of evidence wherever it lead.



A Christian intellectual, Ravi Zaccharias, says something that I think nearly everyone from every worldview and background can agree with.

“The single most important question any human being can ask is the question, ‘What is truth?’. Truth is the most valuable thing in the world.”[1]

Whether it is deciding which school to go to, who to marry, how to raise well rounded children, what to spend money on,  what economic system is best for nations, how to spend your free time,  what/who to blame for injustice in the world, how to solve crises/injustices best, or probably most importantly what worldview to follow, or a myriad of other decisions we make, knowing what is truth is the most important thing to enable the best decisions at every juncture in life.  Julian Assange established, wikileaks, an organization that whistleblowers from any nation can send their government’s secrets to so that they can be published and people can know the truth about what is being done, has said:

“You have to start with truth. The truth is the only way that we can get anywhere. Because any decision making that is based on lies or ignorance can’t lead to a good conclusion.”

If you aren’t convinced that truth is the most important thing in life that yet, consider these stories (and there are millions more like them in every topic of life).

Emperor Qin Shi Huang dreamed of living for ever (as well as ultimate power to rule the universe). To achieve this, he dispatched a minister overseas to find the elixir of eternal life, but the minister never returned.  So, looking for another way, he started drinking wine sweetened with honey and laced with mercury because he had heard of ancient kings and sages living 10,000 years or more by ingesting cinnabar (mercury sulfide).  He and his doctors thought this was the true way to everlasting life…or at least a far longer one. But the consequence of this was that he not only did not achieve eternal life or a long life, he died decades younger than he could otherwise have lived. Why did he die so early? He had had very wrong beliefs about reality. Because his views were not based on and did not align with truth, he made very wrong decisions. The effects were lethal. This illustrates something crucial. Truth matters, a lot, in every decision we make.

*The Army that conquered the world. “

Centuries later in America, Lewis and Clark were traveling around America making their map. Their doctor was one of the most renowned doctors in America, Benjamin Rush (he had also been a US surgeon general for the government). He gave them the best medical instructions and pills he knew about for illnesses they encounter on their journey. What medical advice did this brilliant doctor give?

“Chief among these instructions [of Dr. Benjamin Rush] was the technique of bloodletting, which at that time was the favorite medical treatment for numerous ailments. Lewis also purchased a large supply of Rush’s Pills, which consisted of a powerful combination of mercury, chlorine, calomel, and jalap [up to 50% of these pills was mercury].” Encyclopedia of the Lewis and Clark Expedition https://books.google.com/books?id=8vYA0zDFy_IC p. 233

Medicine has certainly progressed from that time in quite a few areas. Scientists say it adds about 7 years to people’s lives now. But medical mistakes are in our time the 3rd leading cause of death in America (and similar in other countries). More people die from medications and prescriptions from doctors in America than die from cocaine and other drugs every year.

“Analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S… translates to 9.5 percent of all deaths each year in the U.S.”  Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.”


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. long ago talked about a very major challenge in society:

“To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and propaganda…A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically.”[6]

Many secular intellectuals and academics speak very openly about the sophisticated methods that are being used to manipulate people’s choices and the harm it is doing to them, families and society. Examples are Dr. Susan Linn of Harvard, Dr. Noam Chomsky of MIT, Dr. Jerry Kroth of Santa Clara University[2]Dr. Miller of NYU[3], Adam Curtis (director of a seminal BBC documentary, “The Century of the Self” on how some governments and corporations use sophisticated methods in media to manipulate the views of most people[4]), Dr. Cornel West of Harvard, Chris Hedges, John Pilger and many others. Susan Linn, professor of psychiatry, Baker Children’s Center at Harvard warns about the how some corporations use sophistication manipulation on children in the documentary “The Corporation”, saying,

“Comparing the marketing of yesteryear to the marketing of today is like comparing a BB gun to a smart bomb….”

When a few people control most media and use celebrities (like scientists, singers, athletes, doctors, etc.) to make viewers think that some idea is the “status quo” or popular, it will usually enable these powerful people to control the minds of the majority of populations and change their views over time. Bernays repeatedly used these methods to do exactly that for many corporations and the US government and wrote several books teaching others in media how to do the same. He wrote,

“If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.” Edward Bernays, Propaganda, page 37-8,71.

The Bible predicted similar things, saying that that there would be very sophisticated deceptions of many kinds in a time when knowledge, transportation and the speed of life would dramatically increase and deceivers would try to deceive even sincere believers (Daniel 12, Matt. 24:14) and it lists some of the major kinds and we can see these happening on the news nearly every day. The most translated woman author in history, Ellen White, tells us,

“Every species of deception will take the lead to divert the mind from God through Satan’s devices.” (Selected Messages volume 3, p. 387).

Knowing how to figure out truth is essential now more than almost any time in history. Jesus simple but crucial statement about how freedom protects us from slavery has never been more important than now.

“Truth will make you free” John 8:32

Oxford professor Felipe Fernando-Armesto explains that lack of truth enables people to be exploited by lies.

“Once truth has been devoured, people swallow falsehoods whole. Without confidence in the concept of truth, listeners are disarmed against lies.”[5]

 Ayn Rand, an atheist wrote,

“When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.” “The truth is not for all men, but only for those who seek it.” – Ayn Rand.


Yale professor Sean Illing confirms that truth is essential for freedom.

“Truth is required to act freely. Freedom requires knowledge, and in order to act freely in the world, you need to know what the world is and know what you’re doing. You only know what you’re doing if you have access to the truth. So freedom requires truth, and so to smash freedom you must smash truth.”[9]

**Ellen White similarly said,

“It is a matter of the highest importance and interest to us that we understand what the truth is.” The Review and Herald, February 7, 1888


In the last few years, I have heard insightful scholars, many who work to help suffering and mistreated people, many pastors and other wise and concerned people say that they have never seen a world with more division and conflict in it in their lifetimes. Whenever you turn on the news, you can see numerous reports of conflicts between nations on all sorts of issues as well as conflicts between political parties inside each nation. People at many levels seem to be splitting up into all sorts of smaller and smaller micro-groups. As will be explained more below, these divisions are a direct consequence of most people not having a clear understanding of how to find truth fairly. I have to confess that for years I myself did not know the principles of how to find truth fairly, even though I was a teacher, professor and worked as a pastor as well.

And this is a very major reason for so many of the conflicts that exist today, such as these below and many others.

**WORLDVIEW: theist vs. atheist, Christians vs. Muslims vs. Buddhists vs. shamanism (and 1000s of other religions) vs. agnostics vs. atheists vs. apatheists (~17+ versions of rejecting/absence of belief in God exist at present)

**HEALTH: health advocates vs. lobbyists and addicts of various drugs/fast food. GMO vs. non-GMO.

**ECONOMICS: people who think greed is evil vs. those who think it is good (supporters of Ayn Rand), capitalists vs. socialists vs. communists (God’s Jubilee economics is better than all three combined.)

**ENVIRONMENT: corporations vs. green activists, global warming activists vs. global warming skeptics, consumers vs. minimalists.

**SCIENCE: objective science vs. methodological naturalism, creationists (~8 kinds) vs. Darwinians (gradualism vs. modern synthesis vs. punctuated equilibrium vs. extended evolutionary synthesis vs. evo-devo, etc.), intense battle like debates in some scientific conferences, etc.

**POLITICS: democrat vs. republican vs. green vs. libertarian (and many others), pro-war vs anti-war, pro-life vs. pro-choice, small govt. vs. big government, supporters of individual freedom vs supporters of equality and basic rights for all.

**SEXUALITY/GENDER: men against women, husbands vs. wives, heterosexual vs. homosexual/transgender/LGBTQI(+++), pro-sex ed vs. anti-sex ed.

**FAMILY: children vs. parents, 1 spouse vs. in-laws, families vs. banks and more.

**CRIME/VIOLENCE/LIFE: pro-gun vs. anti-gun, restrictions on violent media vs. fewer restrictions on violent media supporters of more laws/protection vs. supporters of fewer laws.

**NATIONALITY/ETHNICITIES: citizens against immigrants, white vs. black vs. Asian vs. Hispanic vs. Koreans vs. Japanese vs. Chinese, etc.

**LOCALITY: city dwellers vs. rural people

**HOME OWNERSHIP: home owners vs. renters

**ATHEISTS: militantly anti-religious/religion friendly, feminists vs. anti-feminists*(http://sjwiki.org/wiki/Thunderf00t),

**THEOLOGY/CHURCHES: Sunni vs. Shiite, anniliation vs. eternal hell, Sabbath vs. Sunday, trinity vs. anti-trinitarians, pro-ordination vs. against ordination, red carpet vs. blue carpet in the fellowship hall, and many others.

and many others.
There are even debates and arguments about how to find truth itself. Some claim we have to presuppose our views before  looking at evidence, while others claim that our conclusions should always be based on the majority of evidence or all of the available evidence whenever possible.

Some of these conflicts many remind you some of the divide and conquer strategy that the Romans used long ago. And you would be correct. Some scholars have talked about a strategy called non-linear warfare** which basically adapted the Roman divide and conquer strategy to politics and other areas of life. While some issues above are quite important, some are used as a way to consume time and distract attention and in many cases the debate is about superficial solutions while ignoring the most foundational primary cause of all evils, greed.  So many people are playing a sort of whack-a-mole game about all sorts of issued, when both religions and science agree that the primary cause of pretty much all evil is greed.  We live in a time when the super wealthy 1% control more than 50% of the world’s wealth, more than the 99% combined and by 2030, they will control ~2/3rds of the world’s wealth. , using corruption, cronyism, tax havens, carried interest and other tactics to make laws that help them earn trillions per year for no work done and that enable them to manipulate govt. decisions, to drastically reduce or avoid paying taxes, and a myriad of other loopholes to bend laws to highly favor them, their families, businesses, etc. This has produced the worst levels of economic injustice in history, levels 2 times worse than in Roman times and by 2030 it will be 3 times worst. According to the Bible and science, this is the cause of pretty much every evil on earth.

This article comments on this problem insightfully:

“the ruling class is laughing and the working class is ensnared in what I would call Societal Autoimmune Disorder (S.A.D.)…we have been cleverly steered away from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy One Another…Americans are busy fighting each other….Igniting sectarianism and turning one group against another is really easy for the elites, whether it’s 500 BC or 2000 AD; whether it’s a third-world country or a developed nation…social engineers have developed new ways of dividing the society – men versus women, straight versus gay etc. These are new divisions that have never existed in the political realm of human history….

[deceptions] are far more sophisticated now. They devalue the currency and tell you that you got a raise. They feed you poison and then bankrupt you with expensive treatments that only cure the symptoms. They destroy Syria and Libya and tell you that they are “humanitarian wars”; they pulverize the homes of 20 million people, accept 1 million as refugees, and tell you how compassionate the system is. They enslave people with debt and mass media, and tell you that slavery was eradicated long time ago…”

Let’s not succumb to this perilous disease. Let’s not get manipulated into fighting one another. Tune out mainstream media, get out of your bubble, and reach out to your neighbor, colleague, family and friends. America as a nation is at crossroads, and the next decade might very well bring in unprecedented changes and challenges. The only way forward is for Americans to come together, set aside ideologies, discuss and debate issues in a logical and constructive manner, and synthesize the foundation for a prosperous future.”
Manufacturing Dissent – the New Culture War


I would like to suggest that the worst enemy of truth is not lies, it is pride. Why? Lies can be exposed and rejected. But when people follow pride, then are not willing to accept evidence that produces change and societies are fractured more and more as the above authors say.

I don’t agree with Ayn Rand on quite a few things she says, but this was a wise idea.

“When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be the final arbiter. If I am right, he will learn. If I am wrong, he will; one of us will win, but both will profit.” Ayn Rand, atheist.

Speaking about current dangers in society, cosmologist Carl Sagan said,

“We’ve arranged a society based on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology. And this combustible mixture of ignorance and power, sooner or later, is going to blow up in our faces.”[10]

Research shows this is true in various ways.  A meta study by the National Institutes of Health and researchers at Columbia University,

“found that poverty, low levels of education, poor social support and other social factors contribute about as many deaths in the U.S. as such familiar causes as heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer… the number of deaths the researchers calculated as attributable to low education (245,000) is comparable to the number caused by heart attacks (192,898), which was the leading cause of U.S. deaths in 2000. The number of deaths attributable to racial segregation (176,000) is comparable to the number from cerebrovascular disease (167,661), the third leading cause of death in 2000, and the number attributable to low social support (162,000) compares to deaths from lung cancer (155,521).”

Estimated Deaths Attributable to Social Factors in the United States  https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2010.300086

God said that there would be many lies and much suffering due to greed, narcissism, people following emotions instead of truth in the period before He comes (2 Tim. 3:1-5, Rev. 18:3-19) and that deceivers would attempt to deceive even the elect (Matt. 24:24).

Researchers and people from many backgrounds agree that there are many deceptions in society from politicians, from media, in education, in business, in science, etc. (blog.truth-is-life.org/rights/howfree/media-propaganda/). Harvard professors like Susan Linn in the documentary “The Corporation” say that propaganda in the US now compared to the time of the Nazis is like a smart bomb compared to a BB gun pellet. For decades, marketers have boasted that they can control the minds of most people without them even knowing it (the atheist Edward Bernays was the American father of propaganda and wrote the book “Propaganda” to teach corporations and politicians how to manipulate people’s minds. An intro to his tactics is here: https://growth.me/book-summaries/propaganda/ or http://stormcloudsgathering.com/rule-from-the-shadows/).

So how do we find truth? Some years ago, I was writing a proposals for teaching a class on life skills and realized that the most important skill for my students in a rapidly changing world would be how to distinguish between truth and false claims, deceptions, exploitation, propaganda. This article and the ways to find truth are a short summary of what I have written for university students, but is essential knowledge for everyone.

Prof. Paul Copan has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Marquette University, is chair of philosophy and ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University and has written a book on truth called “True for You but Not for Me”. He says:
“Truth is a match up with reality…Reality makes something true. To say the earth is flat or the moon is made of green cheese is false. Why? Because it doesn’t match up with reality.” [But in much of education and media] people speak of ‘my truth’ or say it’s true for me, or your reality as if truth is merely a matter of opinion or perspective. [But] There is only ‘The Truth’..’My truth’ undermines the idea of shared common facts.”


Truth matters, a lot, in every decision we make and in every area of life, for us and future generations. Scientists studying epigenetics tells us our daily choices are a very big deal.

“everything we do—everything we eat or smoke—can affect our gene expression and that of future generations…Epigenetics tells us that little things in life can have an effect of great magnitude.”[11]

The Bible tells us that the choices we make have significant and sometimes critical effects on our own future as well as that of at least the next 3-4 generations and sometimes far more as well as friends, co-workers and others. But that they can be reversed if we or others make different choices with God’s forgiveness and help (Exodus 20:5; 34:6,7, Numbers 14:18, Ezekiel 18:20, Leviticus 26:40-42, 1 Chron. 7:14). The Bible and findings of science explain why Ellen White, the most translated female author in the world and a woman who focused attention on preventive health by diet and lifestyle choices, improving the health of millions, tells us

“Every act of life, however small, has its bearing for good or for evil.” (PP p. 158) and

“There are but few who have an appreciation of the grievous character of sin, and who comprehend the greatness of the ruin that has resulted from the transgression of God’s law.” (FE p. 135).

Although most people use some principles of truth to make some choices in daily life and don’t realize it (when choosing the best restaurants, best school, career, spouse, etc.), many people often ignore/neglect them when discussing worldviews or when they get into conflict with people who have other views in favor of traditions, emotions, or what their “tribe”/ideological group and people they like say is truth. This unfortunately includes most people from amateur to Ph.D., nearly all atheists as well as many devoutly religious religious people. Dr. Noam Chomsky from MIT has said for years that while there are some exceptions, dissidents with integrity, many intellectuals are some of the easiest people to manipulate (partly because their jobs and salaries depend on doing what those with power and wealth want).  Dr. Lynn Margulis lamented about this reality to Denis Noble (a leading Darwinian who says the modern synthesis needs to be replaced).

“people are always more loyal to their tribal group than to any abstract notion of truth. Scientists especially tend to be loyal to the tribe instead of the truth.” [12]

So what is this “truth” and how do we find it fairly and avoid harmful deceptions and exploitation?

Ravi  Zacharias argues that we test truth in three ways, Logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance. [7] He and many others suggest that a satisfactory worldview must explain origin-how life originated, purpose-why you are here, morality-how you should live life, and destiny-what will happen when you die. [8]

Those are valuable ideas, but how exactly do you determine what is logical, empirical, and relevant as well as the answers to those 4 gigantic questions? How do you find truth as quickly as possible since as Colin Powell has said, if we delay following evidence too long, we lose many opportunities. I think it would help many people if there were more practical and usable answers, especially ones that can help people make decisions about truth as rapidly as possible to experience the best life possible on this earth and for eternity and also to be able to convince others of how to do the same because no man is an island as the saying goes, and our choices and that of others have effects that will ripple throughout time as the Bible and science both concur.

Dr. Julian Dodd at the University of Manchester says the “favored candidates” in the area of theories of truth are: “correspondence truth, coherence truth and pragmatic truth.”[13] Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty, a Christian philosopher, talks about these as the main function, effective ways to find truth, saying that they, “seem to be the only three tests of ‘truth’.”[14] If they are correct, then God would have taught these methods in the Bible. It’s no surprise that the Bible repeatedly demonstrates/instructs people to use these 3 methods of truth long before scholars existed. If they are correct, other insightful people in various cultures would say similar things. And we find this too. Here is a brief overview of how to find truth objectively to minimize conflict and experience the best life that God has for us!

A) PRAGMATIC TRUTH: Pragmatic truth tells us to test everything, consider the effect of your choices on individuals, community, nations and the world (as well as nature, the environment, wildlife) and make the choice that is best for the good of all to the best of your knowledge, but keep on testing your views, changing as necessary to make the world the best it can be.


Harvard health scientists used pragmatic truth to criticize the government’s MyPlate food recommendations (that are influenced by business) and recommend more beneficial science based health habits (these not incidentally confirm principles given by God in the Bible and through Ellen White).
Skerrett, Patrick J. “Harvard to USDA: Check out the Healthy Eating Plate.” Jan. 28, 2016.

BIBLE PRECEDENT: Jesus taught people to live according to love (which to the Hebrews meant a willingness to give, not just an emotion) and the golden rule.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself…All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:37-40

Paul said,

“Test everything that is said…always do good to each person and all people.” 1 Thess. 5:21, 15. (see also Lev. 19:18, 34, 1 Tim. 4:8*, and numerous other verses.).

 Pragmatic truth is extremely important in every area of life, from daily choices to the stability of nations. Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson pointed out that individuals can sometimes “win” in some areas of life by being selfish. But at the group level

“A group of altruists will beat a society of selfish individuals every time.”[15]

God, epigenetic science and history show that our choices have major consequences. Making choices based on pragmatic truth has a crucial impact on whether your group/church/nation and also next generations and friends we influence stays free, thriving and experiencing the best possible lives.

B) CORRESPONDENCE TRUTH: Correspondence truth is claims/statements that accurately describe reality. This is crucial to figure out what the best choices are. We need to gather as much evidence about reality as we can. How do we do that? We get evidence about the real world through our senses, empirical evidence. The word empirical comes from a Greek word, ἐμπειρία (empeiría), which literally means experience.

Sense/experiential/empirical evidence can come in various ways. It can come from experience of many people (Ex. 14:31/Acts 2:22, 26), scientific experiments (Daniel 1:8-18), from many cultures and nations (since because of globalism, choices in one country have dramatic effects in other countries), from the past and present and more. Those who trust God study evidence from His wisdom since if He is real as Christians believe based on evidence, He has far more experience than all humans combined.

Most intellectuals throughout history have agreed that the only way we can detect reality accurately is through our senses.
Many atheists from Friedrich Nietzsche to the present have said,

“All evidence of truth come only from the senses.”

God, Jesus and godly people in the Bible frequently told people, if you don’t believe our words, test it for yourself.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8 NLT

“…believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me.” John 10:38 (NLT) (see also Malachi 3:10-12*)

Pastors, philosophers  and intellectuals like Dr. R.C. Sproul say the same thing.

“I cannot have any [accurate] thoughts about you or about the world outside of my mind, except through my senses. So as imperfect as my senses may be, that’s the only avenue to reality outside myself” (~0:00)

“…the only link I have from the interior chamber of my mind, my thinking, to the external world, the only link I have from me to you is through my senses.”(16:00+).[16]

As we all know, our senses are limited. Eagles, owls and telescopes see better than we do. Elephants can hear better than we do. Mantel shrimp have far more knockout for their size than we do. We don’t naturally have radar senses like bats do. So the Chinese say, “Two thirds of what we see is behind our eyes” because what we see about reality is based on what our brains are designed to detect. Each form of life has been designed with unique functions to help them survive and thrive. But if we abandon the evidence of our senses that are reasonably accurate, we remove the only anchor to reality that we possess.

Many materialists though have tried to disconnect senses from reality, partly because this helps them escape responsibility for their actions. Discovery Science has a brilliant clip on this:

“The most important part of being human is immaterial. Love isn’t just real, it is the most valued aspect of humanity….It is our consciousness, our sense of self that gives us the ability to love. But [many] materialists say,

“The self is an illusion. The sense of being an ego, an I, a thinker of thoughts…a locus of consciousness inside the head…is an illusion.” Sam Harris 

Philosopher Jay Richards comments,

“The thing that we all know most directly and most certainly, that is the existence of ourselves, is ultimately incompatible with materialism…My argument would be that any argument that entails the view that you don’t exist, is a view you ought not to entertain…

 Frustrating is that in the modern age, people often try to identify this philosophical idea of materialism with the practice of natural science itself. But there’s no reason to suppose that these two things should go together.” [17]

This effort to detach senses from reality is not just a problem for Christianity, it’s a huge problem for rational thought, every worldview (including atheism) and it literally makes science impossible since there is then no way to test any hypotheses without our senses being reasonably accurate. We just can’t get any information into our brains from the outside world. Dr. Sproul points out that Hume did not prove the law of causality false, just limits of perfection of human senses. If the law of causality goes, not just Christianity but science goes too*.[18]

**We believe that the earth is a sphere and not flat because the majority of observations, mathematical evidence, etc. all point to it being spherical.

**Historians record that Admiral Lee Soon Shin beat ~133+ Japanese ships with only ~13 ships at Myeongnyang sea because of witnesses from 3 nations, historical records/diaries as well as some archeological evidence.

  • **“Moses…said: ‘Your eyes have seen all that the LORD did in Egypt…you saw those great…signs and great wonders’” Deuteronomy 29:2-3.
  • **“We saw him [Jesus] with our own eyes & touched him with our own hands.” 1 John 1:1.
    **”We saw his [Jesus’] majestic splendor with our own eyes…We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.” 2 Peter 1:16-18 (see also John 10:38 (NLT), Deuteronomy 29:2-32,
  • **Scientists say Daniel was the first person to use the scientific method with a control group (Daniel 1:8-18).***

God pioneered the scientific method in the controversy with Satan, giving the universe a chance to see the difference between God’s way of altruism/love/giving vs. Satan’s way of selfishness/greed/pride.

C) COHERENCE TRUTH: Coherence truth deals aspects of the universe that are not easy to figure out with our senses by direct testable experiments, but still are reality and therefore truth. It studies what has the best track record of accuracy and pragmatic good in the short term, long term and for eternity (for those who believe in God). It looks at which view can explain/harmonize most/all the available evidence that we have best. It helps identify truths that we can’t detect easily with our senses (such as gravity, relativity and what habits cause diseases over decades), often by making predictions and investigating to see if they are confirmed. One good example of coherence truth is that taking drugs is fun for a short time, but long term it is harmful/lethal to many.


**The sun looks like it goes around the earth. But if we look at all the evidence, including math and astronomy, the majority of evidence shows that the earth goes around the sun.

** Isaac Newton is often considered the #1 most important scientist in all history. He tried to figure out how gravity and motion and other things in science worked. He wrote out many scientific explanations. They were better than past scientists. But they had a few problems. Einstein studied them and he made a new theory, the general theory of relativity. Einstein’s theory made basically 3 predictions about:

  1. the perihelion precession of Mercury’s orbit
  2. the deflection of light by the Sun
  3. the gravitational red shift of light

To confirm relativity, scientists had to view an eclipse of the moon. The first scientist, Campell, didn’t see what Einstein predicted. But in later eclipses, Campbell, Eddington and others found very precise confirmations of Einstein’s predictions. Einstein’s theory has been tested many times. It’s more precise. It has better evidence OVERALL. It is now about the most tested theory in physics. Because of this, it beat Newton’s theory and is considered true. [19]

Relativity has been confirmed by confirmations of other predictions in recent times and is one of the most confirmed theories in science. NASA’s Gravity Probe B confirmed two more predictions a few years ago.

“If gravity did not affect space and time, GP-B’s gyroscopes would point in the same direction forever while in orbit. But in confirmation of Einstein’s theories, the gyroscopes experienced measurable, minute changes in the direction of their spin, while Earth’s gravity pulled at them…NASA’s Gravity Probe B (GP-B) confirmed two of the most profound predictions of Einstein’s universe.”[20]*



  • “Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.” Proverbs 12:19


  • “Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 (see also Isaiah 41:21-24, 44:6-7)
  • “When a king sits in judgment, he weighs all the evidence, distinguishing the bad from the good.” Proverbs 20:8
  • “The first to speak in court sounds right–until the cross-examination begins.” Proverbs 18:17


“If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message.” Deuteronomy 18:22


All the truths above are great and wonderful. But how do you figure them out as fast as possible so you and people you love and others you meet and influence can benefit as fast as possible?  Are you going to travel around the world, interviewing everyone to see what is in their best interests? Are you going to travel into the past and interview what was best for people then? And how will you investigate the future to know the impact of the choices you make every day on that? Furthermore which laws of God are permanent and which are temporary (such as the sacrifices, circumcision and others) and how do you distinguish between them rightly?

A) For Christians, listen to what God says since He is the source of all truth.

B) Test everything. God says,
“Test everything that is said.” 1 Thess. 5:21 by anyone, religious or secular, conservative or liberal or whatever, and our own understanding.

Nobody is infallible. Not the media, teachers, politicians, scientists, pastors, atheists, skeptics, critics, you or me or anyone. Many people unfortunately have very different ideas about what God has said we should do, and what truth is even in our own church at times and much more outside it. So test everything.

  1. Test what media from every political perspective says, test the claims of every non-believer, atheist and critic says for accuracy (1Thess 5:21) since most don’t have much of a knowledge or basis in fair truth seeking. Test what every religious person and Christian says as well.
  2. Test what every pastor, scientist, teacher and other professional says.
  3. Check and test your own understanding of what God has said to be sure you have correct understanding.
  4. Investigate history/culture and linguistics to be sure you are understanding God correctly since some word meanings have changed dramatically over time. Check the Bible carefully to eliminate errors, corruption and fallacious ideologies which sometimes cause scientists to come to wrong conclusions (one of the worst is the a priori fallacy of methodological naturalism which undergirds most materialistic deceptions).
  5. Look at systematic reviews of all evidence on a topic in science to see if it is doing good for all people as God’s laws consistently do (Nehemiah 9:13).

Compare what any Christian, pastor, scientist, atheist, Buddhist or whatever claims with what God says in the Bible (or through prophets in the Bible or after the Bible since God says prophets are a gift of God to the church). It is also crucial to test your thinking of what the Bible says. Many words have changed meaning and what modern people think they mean is very different from what the Bible author meant (esp. word like faith, love, perfection, slavery and others). Language changes and cultures now differ greatly from Bible times. There are also errors of ignorance. Corruption/greed/pride exists in all groups. Smart and godly people also have many conflicting views, etc. So you need to test everything.

C) A good way to test if people’s understanding of God is correct and accurate is by looking at academic research (esp. systematic reviews). The Bible repeatedly says that God’s desire and all His laws are meant for the best good of people and nations long term (Jer. 29:11, Deut. 4:1-8). Sometimes individuals do have to sacrifice for the long term better good of many people as Jesus did. But if the majority of scientific research shows that an idea is not helping people’s lives on earth become better in various ways, then that idea is probably not God’s truth, since the whole point of godliness is to bring benefits to people’s lives on earth as well as for eternity (1 Tim. 4:8).  Jesus said that God’s laws will stay in effect as long as they are fulfilling their purpose (Matt. 5:17-19). And all over the Bible we see that that purpose is to bring the highest quantity and quality of life to the most people long term…in eternity and on earth.

D) But we must also test academic research by what God has revealed because scientists such as Harvard mathemetician Samuel Arbesman have found that up to 50% of “facts” are found to be partly/wholly wrong within 50 years (see his book “The Half-Life of Facts”). This can be due to ignorance and mistakes. It can be due to greed and pride. It can be due to fallacies and bribes of business. Pay special attention to the a priori fallacy of methodological naturalism which insists that no academic evidence can point to God and is the foundation for many materialistic deceptions (this fulfills 2 Peter 3:5-6).

When carefully checked understanding of God’s word and the majority of academic evidence align with a claim/doctrine/worldview, etc. that is about the most sure we can be that the view is true and the wisest to follow(only a direct revelation is better). If there is still any conflict, trust what we understand God’s word to say since God has more evidence than all other sources combined and He is the only one who has the power of eternal life and He winks at ignorance (Acts 17:30). But keep checking it since even long held traditions have been wrong as history shows and EGW advises us to keep checking even old traditions. Always follow what is best for each person and all people as well as you know how. That’s the way of truth and the golden rule.

With God’s help I have been able to convince quite a few people to become Christians in a fairly simple way. I tell explain that the fastest way to find truth so that we can experience the most benefits in this life and for eternity is to find what worldview has brought the most benefits to the world in history and which has the best evidence for eternal life. Then follow that. I then share a lot of scientific evidence about why the Bible and SDA views are best in those areas. One example is an award winning engineer, formerly atheist, became a Christian and joined the SDA church. He said the below (but I told him it’s based on an adaptation of 1 Tim. 4:8, so it’s God’s genius that I borrowed J.)

“surprisingly in all of my studies of Collins, Keller, Lewis, etc. the best most succinct summary of information comes from one of my facebook friends: Bryan Bissell. Bryan is a genius in terms of boiling down historical proof and probabilities. He was able on his website to put into words what continued to escape me.” Bill G

If you don’t have time to do all the things above, then just study as much as you have time for and “Always do good to each person and all people.” 1 Thess 5:15.

Follow the principle that does the most good for individuals, communities and the world and keep making better choices as you learn more. God will wink at your ignorance in areas you don’t understand perfectly yet (Acts 17:30).


[1] Zacharias, Ravi. “Is Correspondence & Coherence Reality Necessary Ravi.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CUOCVmkv2g.

[2] “Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions”. Jerry Kroth.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfo5gPG72KM; collectivepsych.com (based on his book “Duped! Delusion, Denial, and the End of the American Dream”).

[3] “Propaganda and Engineering Consent for Empire”. Mark Crispin Miller. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7HmFH-Wo1s

[4] “The Century of the Self”. Adam Curtis. topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-century-of-the-self/.

[5] Felipe Fernando-Armesto. “Truth, A history and a Guide for the Perplexed”. p. 165.

[6] King, Martin Luther, Jr. “The Purpose of Education.” 1947, www.drmartinlutherkingjr.com/thepurposeofeducation.htm.

[7] Zacharias, Ravi. “Is Correspondence & Coherence Reality Necessary Ravi.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CUOCVmkv2g.

[8] Zacharias, Ravi. “Is Correspondence & Coherence Reality Necessary Ravi.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CUOCVmkv2g.

[9] Illing. Sean. “How fascism works.” Dec 15, 2018.

[10] Sagan, Carl. “A Way of Thinking”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1cNaFG1VII.


[11] Watters, Ethan. “DNA Is Not Destiny: The New Science of Epigenetics.” November 22, 2006,

[12] Mazur, Suzan. “Replace the Modern Synthesis (Neo-Darwinism): An Interview With Denis Noble”. May 9, 2014,

[13] Dodd, Julian. Recent Work on Truth.” Dec. 17, 2002, www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/1468-0149.00270.

[14] “Criteria of Truth.” Wikipedia, Dec. 6, 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criteria_of_truth.

[15] “#3: E.O. Wilson’s Theory of Altruism Shakes Up Understanding of Evolution”. Pamela Weintraub. discovermagazine.com/2011/jan-feb/03. Thursday, April 28, 2011.

[16]Reliability of Sense Perception, Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul, Defending Your Faith, https://www.iheart.com/podcast/263-renewing-your-mind-rc-29468555/episode/reliability-of-sense-perception-30820544/

[17] Realism vs. Materialism (Science Uprising 01).

Discovery Science. Jun 2, 2019.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fv3c7DWuqpM.

[18]Reliability of Sense Perception, Renewing Your Mind with R.C. Sproul, Defending Your Faith, (see ~16:00+) https://www.iheart.com/podcast/263-renewing-your-mind-rc-29468555/episode/reliability-of-sense-perception-30820544/

[19] “Einstein (Documentary from the History Channel)”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWeFRdNaFvA

[20] Perrotto, Trent. Gravity Probe B-The Relativity Mission. May 4, 2011. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/gpb/gpb_results.html