Correspondence Theory of Truth

Correspondence Theory of Truth

“Schrödinger’s Cat” is a thought experiment that sought to repudiate a certain theory in quantum mechanics (whatever that is). Very simply put, though, it was posited that if you place a cat in a box with a time-released poison, as long as the box is closed, the cat is both alive and dead (in our knowing) at the same time. It’s a sort of “no news is good news,” depending on whether you want the cat to be alive or dead. Today’s “who’s to say?” crowd would applaud this unknown as a useful weapon against objective truth.

Common sense tells those who have it that the cat is either dead or alive, not both. Just open the box.

Concisely, this is the Correspondence Theory of Truth. “Truth” is whatever corresponds with reality—quite apart from our desires or beliefs, or our awareness of that reality. Some who dabble in mental gymnastics might beg to define truth differently, but everyone, in daily practice, uses this common sense approach to truth.

That’s not to say that there are no subjective truths, like favorite flavors or descriptions of “cold” in Minnesota and Miami. But those are examples of preference and relative truth—quite apart from objective truth which is true for everyone.

Objective truth (“Truth” or “true truth” in the words of Francis Schaeffer) has lost favor in our day where feelings often trump facts. “My truth” and “your truth” need no such correspondence in order to be considered true. Political correctness, especially, for instance, in the form of the “transgender” movement, forces those who follow its absurd rules to twist rationality past its breaking point.

To make “Truth” to conform to the subjective feelings of an individual flies in the face of thousands of years of human wisdom and experience.

Jesus speaks of objective truth when interacting with Pilate (John 18:37). In doing so, he uses the definite article “the,” speaking of “the truth.” In so doing, he eschews alternative, optional “truths.” Pilate foreshadows today’s deniers of objective truth when he asks, “What is truth” (38)?

Earlier in John, Jesus spoke of the truth to which he was “bearing witness” there in chapter 18 – himself. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (14:6). This tripartite claim is the warp and woof in which the gospel is enfolded. Now, I’d hope that all my friends and family – and even my enemies – would agree that this is the Truth. Perhaps I’ll make that case another day. My point here is that Jesus’ claims and claims made to the contrary are mutually exclusive. Both cannot be true.

The same can be said for a number of biblical claims about the person and work of Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God or he is not. He was born of a virgin…or not. He rose from the dead or he did not. There is a necessary diminution of biblical claims when one tries to posit “all religions lead to God.”

In fact, “many paths” theories seem to be “inclusive” (in the common vernacular), but they actually exclude all who have specific convictions contrary to others, which almost all historical religions do.

There are either multiple gods, one God, or no god(s). Agreeing that there is one God, as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism do, does not, scripturally speaking, mean that “we all worship the same God.” Regarding God, Christians and Orthodox Jews share extensive overlap in our view of the one God, but we see our shared Scripture differently since Christians view it through the lens of the New Testament. We can’t both be right. And Christians’ triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—shares very little with the God of Islam.  

There are dire ramifications to denying the Correspondence Theory of Truth. Science, law, civil government, and religion all rely on objective truth. While there are always challenges, especially to historical claims, it incumbent on us all to hold fast to a rational treatment of truth, and to differentiate truth from preference, desire, or simple belief.

Steve Post is a Tallahassee resident, armchair theologian, and past local ministry lay leader. Contact him at sepost7678@gmail.com.

5 Responses to "Correspondence Theory of Truth"

  1. Avatar
    Rosemary N. Palmer   February 2, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    So who says all faiths, no matter what they call Him, cannot be praying to the same Being? Whatever the details of the different scriptures (not to mention the different actual and philosophical interpretations of the words), and different representations of Him, aren’t all people looking to converse with whomever governs the universe and can guide them to rich lives of meaning and comfort them in sorrow? And isn’t our Creator the creator of all mortals and animal life, not just those who know His name?

    Seems to me that our Heavenly Parents (my faith’s understanding of those who organized intelligences into Their spirit children, and loved and taught us as we progressed to needing a body to complete our purpose (see Jeremiah 1:5), and chose Jesus Christ to help in creating the earth and become our Savior) and our Savior Jesus Christ would answer every prayer seeking the help God can give, no matter what name or even how little the penitent understood or how much they misunderstood about Them.

    No doubt in my mind that everyone who seeks good in the world, to be kind to others, to be honest, to serve others, to do their personal best, and to honor God, is living the principles of discipleship of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father that their Spirit remembers from the pre-existence. And our Heavenly Parents and Savior hear, guide and comfort every single one, whether someone know all or any truth or not. God is not as exclusionary as the author above suggests.

    Rosemary N. Palmer can be reached at rnprnp@gmail.com

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    • Avatar
      Steve   February 3, 2020 at 10:55 am

      Rosemary, thanks for your response. One of my points is that “God” might be perceived differently by different religions, but if there is a God, the parameters and attributes of that God are not variable by perspective – there is a set of true attributes about God (that we may or may not know) and the rest are false – no matter how sure we are that they are true. You’ve posited a God that doesn’t care if He’s considered one of many, or singular, or a cosmic force, or that he has a “one and only Son” or not, etc. That does not describe the God of the Bible.

      sp

      Reply
  2. Avatar
    Gabriel   February 3, 2020 at 1:28 am

    Rosemary N Palmer you took a good bite of that apple! Kudos!

    Reply
  3. Avatar
    DeepStateProvacateur   February 3, 2020 at 10:33 am

    The part you have left out regarding Schrodinger’s thought experiment is that the poison is only released if a mechanism operates, which only happens ~ 50% of the time.

    > Political correctness, especially, for instance, in the form of the “transgender” movement, forces those who follow its absurd rules to twist rationality past its breaking point.

    I think we can all agree on the truth that Jesus would want people to discriminate against transgender people. Only loving specific people is pretty much Jesus’s entire thing, right?

    > We can’t both be right.

    What about the possibility that you are all wrong though? That can happen!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Steve   February 3, 2020 at 11:06 am

      (Ah, only the bravest commenters want to hide in anonymity!)

      DSP (may I call you DSP?),

      “The part you have left out regarding Schrodinger’s thought experiment is that the poison is only released if a mechanism operates, which only happens ~ 50% of the time.”

      — The point remains, open the box.

      “I think we can all agree on the truth that Jesus would want people to discriminate against transgender people. Only loving specific people is pretty much Jesus’s entire thing, right?”

      — Wait, are you being sarcastic? Mischaracterizing an argument is an old, tired trick. Jesus would accept a person who believed they were the other sex, but who trusted in his person and work as readily as he would accept me or you for the same reason. This, in spite of our sin.

      “What about the possibility that you are all wrong though? That can happen!”

      — Absolutely! I could be wrong…and so could you.

      Reply

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