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VERITAS and other truths as words, concepts and actions –does truth really exist & does it matter?
© Donald Reinhardt, October 14, 2013
Truth some have said must exist somewhere, somehow for someone in some way – does that sum it all up? We are prone to ask these questions: What is truth? Where is the truth to be found? Who knows the truth? Who cares about the truth? If the truth is known, or can be known, then why does not everyone accept it? And finally, and most importantly, does truth really exist, or is it just some elusive ideal or wish and a pure figment of the human mind and its imagination?

The “Emperor’s New Clothes” lies, truth and child-like innocence – the truth be told

One of the strangest and quite humorous stories for children and adults is the Hans Christian Anderson tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. It is a simple and clear story of two conniving clothiers who promise the king great splendor in the new clothes they will fabricate for him from some very special and unique thread which only the incompetent and the stupid cannot see. Shown the “invisible fabric” the Emperor then had his experts and advisors verify the fabric’s quality. And, of course, they affirmed the exquisite beauty and did not deny the quality of that invisible fabric, for to do so appear would make them appear stupid or incompetent. In this story we see a a simple theme and a simple conclusion. Soon we are told about and see a naked Emperor who is paraded out and about with his newly-fashioned-special-threaded clothes. To him and all about his entourage – his admirers and his followers (shall we add here and say "sychophants"?) – it is as if he were clothed. Everyone concurs with this amazing concept during the beginning of the Emperor’s march in the parade. Yes, indeed, these are fine, new garments. Fearing stupidity accusations or rebuke from others, the crowd conforms and affirms the new clothes as the parade progresses.
Hans Christian Anderson reminds us that conformity, even to lies, is often a core and solid part of human nature and community. One boy, however, remarks in simple innocence and truth during the parade this one thing about the emperor who he sees – “he has no clothes”. Soon this new, real truth, this obvious fact, opens the onlookers' minds and their eyes. There is release from conformity, freedom from servitude to a lie and release to proclaim the truth. Quickly the word spreads among all – the Emperor has no new clothes and, in fact, he truly is naked and this becomes "the naked truth.".Soon almost all who exclaimed otherwise, now affirm and testify that the emperor is very naked and all because one boy simply saw and proclaimed the truth – the evidence that was there all the time. Nevertheless, even though the crowd laughed and affirmed the lack of clothes, the Emperor, while knowing and hearing the derision and mocking, marched on as though finely clothed – it was too late, too embarrassing, and too hard to face the truth. For the Emperor, and no one else, it was better to play the role through the whole parade and to the very end of that parade. This is a case of actually living a lie, despite the overwhelming facts being otherwise.

Does objective truth exist and how can we know truth if that truth exists and is real?

In science, we can use the scientific method and verify a hypothesis by experiments which scientifically verify or disproves a particular hypothesis. Gravity, the speed of light, temperature and molecular movement – these and hundreds of other scientific facts or truths are shown and verified time after time. So, most everyone agrees scientific facts are verifiable truths.

Now, we can proceed to other truths and lies (untruths). There is hardly anyone alive who has not been accused of lying or actually lied and knew it. If someone exceeds the speed limits, runs through a stop sign or crashes a car, then cameras or witnesses (persons who actually observed the event) can affirm those truths. If someone lies about speeding, crashing or stealing or injuring, they are straying from the truth, especially if other evidence contradicts those lies. But only some, not all, truths are physically verifiable by cameras or persons who serve as witnesses. Now, what about the proposed existences of God, evil, sin, adultery – are these realities?
Some say evil is the absence of good, the failure to do what is good or what one should. Evil may be looked at as an act or situation that destroys or removes good. Some say sin is the failure to do what is right – to wrong, injure, harm or destroy another person, thing or object. Therefore, society, as a rule, condemns and punishes various sins or acts of evil. Stealing, robbery, assault, murder are just such examples.
Thus, C.S. Lewis said we seem to recognize that there is a certain truth or standard of right that is paof our very core being and nature. C.S. Lewis said this very core feeling and belief within humanity and humans universally means that there is a standard of conduct, a something above and beyond just a mere coincidence and that this standard or morality exists and is real. And as C.S. Lewis thought and analyzed all of this, he felt and believed that this conscience and sense of right and wrong in humanity proved to him there was a God. He came to believe in that God and he believed in God as a truth.

Are there eternal and unchanging truths?

What a question this is as a header and topic. What a difficult question this is – eternal, everlasting truth, does it exist? Or, is it  possibly not that difficult to find truth? Good, evil, trustworthy, honest, reliable, handsome, beautiful and more are concepts, ideas, "truths" –choose your concepts and words and analyze the criteria.  
Good music and beauty certainly may be in the ear or eye of the beholder for sure. What some societies consider good, others may consider bad.
In politics it is all about compromise and balancing things out. In fact, many think  there is not much truth to be found in the political world, where persons are on opposite ends of a very broad political spectrum and they all often work their way towards a common and compromised center.  Can truth be compromised, shaded and changed?

Perhaps, the best thing about all these questions is that it forces us to think more and seek additional information. And that thinking causes us to ultimately research and verify what is fact and what is fiction.

We all need the best information, the best facts. We need clarity and clarification; we need fact-finding people seeking truths of one sort or another. If we constantly, operate in this way we can think better and live better and our goal should always be to think well and live well. In one sense, thinking well and living well may be a universal truth.

This road sign actually shows a "slippery when wet" warning and you can believe that sign and statement or not believe it. Is it really slippery when wet?   Photo/art credit: