Challenge: Doubt Those Who Say They Found Truth

Posted: June 5, 2012 by Amy Hall in Etcetera, Weekly Challenge

We received this question on Facebook from Clark:

How would you respond to this saying: “Support those who seek the truth. Doubt those who claim to have found it.”

I have been given this response in two separate discussions, and I have some responses to it, but I’m hoping you might have a more strategic approach. Thanks!

So that’s your challenge this week. How would you respond to this saying? Any strategic ideas for Clark? We look forward to seeing what you come up with! And check back on Thursday to see how Brett tackles this.

  1. I can see being skeptical of truth claims that are unsupported by reasons and facts, but this statement seems to be a bit broader.

    I don’t know how I would respond, but it seems that the person making this statement thinks that the pursuit of truth is a valuable thing, but that truth itself is too elusive to be had, and claims to truth are doubtful. and thus not valuable.

    I think I’d need some clarification on what the person was getting at before I could respond much further. I’d ask why I should doubt someone’s truth claims. I’d also ask why — if truth claims are to be doubted anyway — is supporting the seeking of truth a worthwhile activity? What exactly does it mean to “support” those who seek the truth? Support them how?

  2. Albert says:

    “Support those who seek the truth. Doubt those who claim to have found it.”

    What is truth?
    By definition it is: The true or actual state of a matter.
    And true is defined as: In accordance with fact or reality.

    So I would first ask them if they agree with these two definitions.

    Also, find out if they know the difference between objective and subjective truth. If they don’t, then you could spend a lot of time spinning your wheels depending on the truth that is being questioned.

    One question I would ask the person that would post this type of comment is, “Do you believe that truth can be known?”

    If they say no (to truth being known), my second question would be, “Then what is the point in supporting someone who is seeking truth if it can never be found?” and, “Why do they believe that truth can never be known?”

    Then after they answer, I would ask them, “Is that true?” :O)

    If they say yes (to truth being known), then I would ask them, “How do they know when they have found truth? What does it look like?”

    This, I think would open the door to getting a better understanding of what they consider truth and what criteria they are accepting to for truth.

    This will help later in discussions if they start side stepping good evidence that meets what they would have accepted as truth from their earlier explanations.

    If they continue to side step, you review what they understood to be truth. At some point they would need to concede that something is true if it is.
    If not, then they are either just not wanting to accept what is true or are incapable of knowing what truth is. But more than likely it’s the first one, not the latter.

  3. Mark in Columbia, MO says:

    Go with it — agree with them wholeheartedly. THEN use the common ground to discuss: Truth, Seeking, Doubting. Gain clarity by asking the Columbo questions about each topic. What they are describing is essentially the scientific method: posit a truth position, seek to prove or disprove, test and question. FINALLY, communicate the truth!

  4. Clark says:

    Thanks for all the great responses! Mike, my reasoning with them followed much of what you are saying. I particularly question the logic of a philosophy that seems to prize the journey over the destination. It would be like sying that it’s better to take an endless drive home from work rather than actually getting to your house.

    In both situations, those who brought this up viewed truth as relative and , in one case, the statement was a derogatory remark that Christians are arrogant because they claim to have the truth and stop searching. The implication being that they are close-minded I assume. Of course my response internally was (Duh!, if a Christian has the truth, why would they continue to search for it?), but the direction I would take the conversation in the future would be more with Albert, in narrowing down wha tthey mean by “truth” to begin with, and if they feel it can even be attained.

    In some ways, it reminds me of Freud and Nietszche (sp?) in that they said that anyone who claims to have the truth is merely attempting to take power. Of course that statement itself is a truth claim, and ultimately would, by their own reasoning, mean that they are trying to take power. In the same way, the person making the above statement is making a truth claim about how to deal with those seeking truth, and in a sense is claiming to have the truth about this issue, and therefor should be doubted. In the end, it seems self-defeating to me.

  5. Matt J says:

    He claims to have the truth, so, according to his own rules, we should doubt it. As it has been said, he saws off the very limb on which he sits!