Friday, April 27, 2001

Straight thoughts 68

Apr 27th, 2001

In a presentation at the Metamode Institute (U.of T.) by Peter Van Loan, former President of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, several points were made on the subject of democracy.

Necessarily during the question and answer period the subject turned to the question of populism versus principles. (The Canadian Alliance populist ideas have spread to the provincial conservatives as well).

The philosophical question at the basis of this discussion was sparkled by a statement by Mr. Van Loan that there is more than one absolute truth, according to different people.
Thinking that this statement was an oxymoron (i.e. that this is the exact definition of the opposite concept: "RELATIVE truth") I asked for clarification.

This time not only the presenter, but some people in the room echoed that "(they could not entertain the concept of absolute truth because) who will be the judge of what that is?"
I.e. According to some people "absolute truth" is "relative" to "each person" or relative to an unattainable impartial "judge".

I started my previous message (Straight thoughts 67) last week with the following statement: "The moral relativism of the hippy generation has been transmitted and amplified, through the school system and the media, to the next generation."

I realize now that relativism has been so engrained in today's society that even within a group of learned individuals who understand about philosophical ideas, it is hard to entertain the concept of "absolute truth".

Of course I am not talking about "my opinion", "someone's opinion", "perceived truth", or even "Truth". The qualifying adjective is "absolute".

Statements were made that "absolute truth is relative." (which, as Dr. Samuel Gregg pointed out, is an "absolute" statement, thus defeating itself).

Indeed you may argue that such (absolute) truth might not be possible to find, or that it might not be easy to define… but here we had some intelligent people arguing that absolute truth does not exist.

What is the truth?
Absolute truth can be shown to exist (in nature) through moral (or theological) arguments and through scientific arguments.

The moral argument would be rejected (on faith) only by "orthodox secularists".
Given that a person rejecting truth as a matter of "personal belief" will accept no moral arguments, I am going to follow through with the scientific argument.

Since Galileo defined the scientific process to be used in order to discover and prove natural laws, science's major objective has been to arrive at such "natural truths": Newton's laws of gravitation, the absolute speed of light, the laws governing electrical currents, mathematical and logic principles.

The process of discovery of the absolute laws of nature has led to scientific progress and the unleashing of the power of nature, with some limitation.

1. Physically, the principle of indetermination of Heisenberg showed us the limitation of our knowledge of atomic particles imposed by an absolute principle (indetermination). This limits our KNOWLEDGE of an electron's position in time (not its existence).

2. Mathematical logic (number theory) has shown us, through the work of logicians such as Gödel, that not every mathematical theory can be proven as "false" or "true". There are mathematical theories that, although they can be formulated (as concepts) that are formally shown to be UN-DEMONSTRATABLE.

Neither limitation has to do with the EXISTENCE of absolute truth in nature nor limits the process of discovering it (science).
Yes, science has shown us that absolute truth does exist, although in some rare cases it cannot be known or proven.

Our secular society is particularly fond of applying the scientific process to any question.
However, secular humanists contradict themselves when they reject their own process of discovering and defining truth and hide behind statements such as "I am free to believe what I want to."

For example, when talking about the socially "divisive" issues of the day, such as life issues, we can scientifically find whether an organism is alive or not. We can also scientifically determine, by using modern DNA inspection tools, whether a tissue is human or not.
Hence we can scientifically determine whether a subject under investigation is a "human being" or not. This truth is as absolute as possible, under the umbrella of science. Still it is rejected by the same social engineers (including politicians and lawyers) so fond of scientific proof.

In the same way political philosophers put populism ahead of reason when they reject absolute truth on the basis of "democracy" or "popular belief". They make Galileo, Newton, Heisenberg, Gödel, Einstein and every scientific mind cringe!