Subjective and Objective Truth and Knowing the Difference

I said in one blog that people can handle different situations in different ways and that that’s sometimes okay, and then in another blog I talked about standing for the truth and “closing your mind”. So what gives? Am I being inconsistent?

Plot twist: I’m not. I just probably should’ve started out with today’s blog first for clarity. Buuuuut, I didn’t, so I’m going to backpeddle a little bit just to be sure we’re 100 percent clear. I talked before about relativism and how that kind of thinking falls apart if you apply it across the board, and that there absolutely has to be an overarching kind of truth. That’s a fact. We call this overarching truth that is true in every situation for all people “objective truth”.

There’s another kind of truth, though. This truth varies from one individual to another. We call this kind of truth “subjective truth.”

So how can we have both? Objective truths are things that are true for all people, and they are facts. Since subjective truths depend on the individual, they have to do with perceptions and opinions. Let’s look at some examples. If I said 2+2=4, we know that this is an objective truth. Ask any little kid who can add, they’ll tell you that’s the sum. Ask any adult. Anybody who knows very basic math knows that 2+2=4, and even if you don’t understand basic math, it does not change the fact that 2+2=4. It’s objective. It doesn’t change and it’s always true. If I said that 4 is my favorite number,  you might say, “No, I don’t like 4! 7 is my favorite!” Someone else might say, “I think it’s stupid to have a favorite number. They’re just numbers.” In this situation, none of us are wrong. We probably have different reasons for choosing our numbers, and we have differing opinions. Those opinions are “subjective.”

Here’s another example. If I said, “It is 40 degrees farenheight outside,” that would be objective. We can look at a thermometer and see the temperature and know that in this particular place, if you walk outside, it is 40 degrees. If I said, “Boy, it sure is cold outside! It is 40 degrees,” I might really and truly think that that kind of weather is cold. I grew up in the south, and it doesn’t get too cold here MOST of the time, and I’ve been cold-natured recently. To someone who is not as sensitive to cold, or to someone who grew up in a place where the temperature is very different, like Alaska, they might say, “Wow, it’s 40 degrees? It’s kind of warm for this time of year, isn’t it?”. If we don’t have a definition of “this temperature is warm, this temperature is cold”, then warm and cold are pretty subjective terms. How we personally define warm and cold would depend on what we’re used to and the environments that we live in.

There are clearly two kinds of truths that we can look at, but J. Warner Wallace, author of the books God’s Crime Scene and Cold Case Christianity, claims that people start having trouble with the idea of objective truth when it comes to spiritual claims. Wallace explains that if you try out a different claim like “God exists” then people seem to think that since that is a thing you could agree with or disagree with, it is subjective. However, our disagreement about the existence of God “does not change the reality of God’s existence,” Wallace elaborates. Both parties cannot be right. God cannot exist and not exist at the same time. It’s not subjective. Only one can be true, and we can believe that God exists or that He doesn’t, but it doesn’t change the truth.

As I mentioned in several previous blogs, relativism falls apart. When you try to apply the idea of subjective truth to objective truths, it just doesn’t work.

Subjective and objective truths can be seen in our actions, speech, and writing every day, so carefully analyze statements to determine what the implications are.

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Author: Unboxing Faith

I'm a college student who loves Pinterest, Netflix, macaroni & cheese, doodling, and studying and writing about religion, philosophy, and Christian apologetics. I know, I usually lose people at that last little bit. My hobbies are a little different, and I'm a little weird, but I'm cool with it. Enough about me, though. Let's talk about Jesus.

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