“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 firstname.lastname@example.org.