Christians stand on an interpretation of reality known as the Correspondence Theory of Truth. Plainly stated, the theory proposes that a thought or belief is true if it matches with the way things are in reality.Truth is not, itself, an object that exists in reality; rather it is a relation between two things. So, for example, when someone sees two houses and says, “One house is bigger than the other,” then the phrase bigger than describes a relation between both houses in the same way that truth describes a relation between my thinking that the sky is blue and the sky actually being blue. Many other writers have already expounded on this definition so, for the purposes of this post, I will move on. For more on the Correspondence Theory of Truth see Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview or go here.
There is another view of truth that has recently become as fashionable as hipster moustaches or Instagramming your meal. This newer interpretation, known as Postmodernism, essentially states that, if a social group believes something, it’s true and, if they don’t believe it, it’s not true. Postmodernism trades on the relativistic notion that there is no such thing as truth that is true for everyone. This is why the average relativist on the street will make statements like, “There is no truth,” or “That’s true for you but not for me.” Of course, that last phrase works if you’re talking about favorite movies but, when discussing objective reality (like whether too much sugar actually makes a diabetic sick) this proves to be quite a problem.
The task of deciding which view of truth is superior actually isn’t that hard when one focuses on the fundamental issues of both theories. First, the Correspondence Theory of Truth builds from a careful examination of experiencing reality. For example, let’s say Gary receives a phone call from a nurse informing him that his brother, Pete, is in the hospital. At this point Gary now believes that Pete is in the hospital. So Gary gets in his car and drives down to the emergency room. Upon arriving Gary sees that indeed Pete is in the hospital being treated for injuries from a car accident. Gary now knows that his belief that Pete was in the hospital is true because his belief matches reality.
Postmodernism, on the other hand, trades on the notion that truth is constructed by social groups that share a narrative and, therefore, is only a reflection of a particular community’s linguistic practices. And, since truth is merely a creation from a particular community’s narrative then (to follow the analogy in a slightly clumsy manner) if everyone in the community believes that Pete is in the hospital, then it is true. But if no one agrees that Pete is in the hospital then it is not true.
The problem with this view is that Pete actually could be in the hospital regardless if everyone in the community decided he wasn’t. So, the postmodern exercise reveals itself to be denying features of reality that necessarily exist separate from our beliefs. Of course, the attempt by Postmodernism to assign truth as nothing more than a subjectively interpreted construct of language must rely upon the Correspondence Theory of Truth in order to work. And this fact alone acts as a ticking time-bomb built into the system itself. That is, in order for the postmodernist’s view of reality to be true, it must match up to the way things are in reality. Another way of stating this is: The Postmodern view of truth is true as long as the Correspondence Theory of Truth is true.
And therein lies the superiority of the Correspondence Theory of Truth.