Truth is not a subjective inclination of an individual’s heart. Truth is that which is real, no matter what our personal preferences may be. In this brief clip, R.C. Sproul interacts with John Locke’s discussion on the nature of truth.
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One of the most important things that John Locke gave to us was a theory of truth. He’s not the only person to hold this theory, but his name is often linked with it, which is called the Correspondence Theory of Truth. And in simple terms, the theory says this: Truth is that which corresponds to reality. It’s a very simply idea. In our day and age, it’s an idea that is under attack every moment, because this concept of truth says truth is that which is real. Truth is therefore objective. What is really out there is not dependent upon how I feel about it or even how I perceive it, because I am not the author of truth; I am not the one who creates reality. I encounter reality. I meet reality, and I have to respond to things that are really out there apart from me. And the pursuit of science and the pursuit of truth is the pursuit of discovering the “real,” rather than the imaginary or the fictional. Today we hear people embracing relativism and subjectivism, saying truth is whatever I think it is or whatever want it to be. Locke would have no time for that kind of thinking. That would make real science impossible because the world would then be “according to Garp.” That is, it would be one thing for you, another thing for you, and a third thing for you—whatever you want it to be. I’ve told the story before about the woman I was discussing the existence of God with, and she said to me, “Do you believe in God?” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Do you find that meaningful?” “Yes.” “Do you pray and sing hymns?” “Yes.” She said, “If you find all that stuff satisfying and meaningful”—she sounds like a modern day Pascal—she says, “then for you, God exists. But for me, I don’t find any meaning in worship, or in singing or in praying. That stuff leaves me cold. I’m not interested in it. I don’t feel any psychological need for it. So, for me, there is no God.” I said, “I’m not talking to you about religion and its emotional impact on me or you. I’m talking about the question of the existence of a Being who exists apart from you and apart from me. If there is no such Being in reality, all of my praying, all of my singing, all of my emotional satisfactions surrounding it does not have the power to create such a Being. And likewise, if you’re indifferent or cold toward that Being and turned off by prayer and music and all the rest, your personal attitude toward this Being does not have the power to destroy Him. We have to, at some point, come to the question: Is there a God out there or not? Is there an objective reality that we call God?” Now see, Locke would understand what I’m saying here. He’s saying truth is not preference. Truth is not a subjective inclination in an individual’s heart, but truth is that which is real—real apart from me.