In this post, I'd like to talk with you about Truth: What is Truth? Is there always a truth, or is Truth a relative value? Why should we tell the truth? Why do we lie sometimes? Do we always want that other people tell us the Truth? What my personal experience has taught me about all that?
So, what is Truth?
Truth is defined as conformity with facts or reality.
In the past, everything was simple: God was Truth. There was no distinction between to know and to believe. However, there were already skeptical people. For instance, when St. Thomas tells the other Apostles, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." This sentence is summarized as: "I believe only what I see." Of course, only a few people (if any) have seen or heard God. So, other people are reduced to believe.
Now, more people "believe" in Science. But Science doesn't provide us with an absolute criterion to determine whether what it says is true. Its theories can be considered as true as long as there are not contradicted by facts. When new facts obviously contradict its theories, we replaced them with better ones. This leads us to be anxious because we cannot be sure of anything. This is the reason why religious people claim that there is, nevertheless, an absolute Truth, that is only partially revealed to a few of us. And the existence of such a Truth means that the Word of God is absolute, so we shall behave as He says. However, if I can understand the motivations of religious people to think that way, I don't agree with them. I believe that moral is like the scientific facts: it is true… until most of the people agree about something else. There are lot of examples: colonization, death sentence, abortion, divorce, homosexuality… About all these subjects, the moral (= what most of the people define as "good") has evolved. Sometimes, I agree with this evolution, sometimes not, but I cannot deny it.
Is there always a Truth, or Truth is a relative value?
True is not relative. It is subjective. It depends on our senses. Everyone perceives things differently, so there is no absolute Truth. Look for movie critics in the newspaper: there are about as many opinions as there are critics for one film. But you may ask: what about mathematical Truth? It doesn't depend on the senses. So, isn't it absolute? The answer is: No! It has an internal logic, but its theorems are based on axioms that we accept without any proof. For example 2+2=4, which is often given as a model of something obviously true. It is probably true to most people but not for the mathematician: 2+2=4 if and only if the plus operator has been defined, for example, on the integer numbers, if we count in base 10, if we accept the Peano axioms relative to the integers. Otherwise, two plus two can equal anything. For example, 2+2=10 (in base 4), 2=2=0 (modulo 4), 2+2=1846387 (in a system I have just invented, in which it is the first axiom).
I will now address the moral questions related to Truth.
Why should we tell the Truth?
The nature of man, his curiosity, and his wish to please push him to tell the Truth most of the time.
Why do we lie sometimes?
The most common motive for telling lies is avoiding punishment. Other typical reasons include protecting ourselves or others from harm, maintaining privacy, and avoiding embarrassment, to name a few. Sometimes people lie for nothing: to harm other people or simply because they enjoy the fact of lying.
There are circumstances in which lying is can be tolerated and even justified. In law, lying is not an offense, except in very specific cases: false testimony, fraud, misleading advertising. In most cases, it's rather a question of morality. To lie may be useful for a while to avoid problems, but as we say: "The Truth Will Always Come Out," lying will make things worse for you.
In my opinion, we should try to tell the Truth as often as possible.
For example, thirty years ago, I was living in France and was looking for a job. Knowledge of English was a very appreciated asset. My English was very bad, even worse than it is now. But I wrote in my CV: English read, written and spoken. The result is that I indeed found jobs like that, but I wasn't able to do my job properly because of my bad knowledge of English, and I lost these jobs. Most of all, I was not happy with my lie. I also didn't mention in my CV the jobs where I didn't stay a long time. I don't regret this kind of lie: without it, I would not have been accepted at all, and it didn't prevent me from doing my job correctly.
I don't like to give my opinion about clothes or say something about something that someone has done, such as writing a book. But if I give my opinion, I do my best to make it sincere. When someone gives his opinion about something I have done, I also prefer to receive a sincere one. If the opinion is negative but sincere, the positive attitude tells me that I'll have learned something about improving myself from it. Of course, I am happy when people like what I have done, but I hate hypocritical compliments, even if there were made to please me.