FINDING TRUTH #7: The Most Effective/Objective Way to Determine Truth (intro for Christians)

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 expect 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 in the next article 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.

Many leading intellectuals, Christian and non-Christians agree that about the only way to get information about the real world into our brains is through our senses. Christians believe that God created them for this purpose. 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 testimony from witnesses, experiences from everyone as evidence whether they are educated or uneducated, rich or poor, old or young, etc. It uses the court standard of assuming innocence unless guilt, lying or some other deception is proven. Except for unusual cases, it’s just too exhausting and expensive to travel everywhere people have testified about to check.
2) Correspondence truth treats all observations in scientific experiments as evidence. And again it here too assumes innocence unless guilt, lying, corruption due to greed/pride, mistakes in setting up experiments is proven.  Except for unusual cases, it’s just too exhausting to run all over the planet checking and rechecking every single fact every scientist claims.

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. 

DANGERS: When people start to dismiss experiences of other people as evidence, they are unwilling to acknowledge, detached from or rejecting a significant part of reality. That’s a good sign that there views are not the full truth or they are mostly/completely false.

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.

DANGERS: When people refuse to acknowledge that a few with a good track record, good cause and effect mechanisms, confirmed predictions, and/or good explanatory power of the facts as evidence for their worldview, you can know that these people do not have a solid grasp on reality. Their views are not the full truth or they are mostly/completely false.

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.