How do we get to know the Truth?
We know that our minds can apprehend the truth by our own personal sense experience. Examples: Fire burns. Without oxygen, you die. Red is different from green. Chocolate ice cream tastes nice, sewer water does not. Deaf people do not hear your nonsense talk, etc., etc.
Now let us see the other three ways:
By simply reasoning
In our days of constant internet, texting and less personal contact among people, sometimes reasoning is an ability in short supply.
But it can be done, of course, and by reasoning we can know the truth. Example: You find a watch in the sand. Immediately you know that someone dropped it there. You know that it did not come out of the sand all ready and ticking, let alone that it made itself. No argument from anyone will ever convince you that nobody made the watch.
You know too that a monkey did not make it. Nor did an Australian Koala bear. So, simple, clear reason tells you that only a being with intelligence could make it. You know that the watch was made by a man or a group of men.
Thus, reasoning is a good way to know many important truths.
By merely understanding a truth
Some truths are so self-evident that they do not require an argument to prove them. We simply know them. We know that they are true, as soon as we understand them. They themselves show us that they are true. Hence, they are called self-evident truths.
Example: once you know what a whole pizza is, and what a slice of that same pizza is, immediately you know that the slice will always be smaller than the whole pizza, and the pizza will always be larger than any of its slices.
No reasoning is required here. No looking outside the truth itself for proof. The whole is always larger than any of its parts. It bears within itself its own evidence. It is a self-evident truth.
By accepting the truth on the authority of another
Many truths we have to accept on the authority of others. Every day to accept scores of truths on authority. History is based upon this kind of knowledge. Your wife calls you at work saying that your son is seriously ill and has taken him to hospital. You believe her. You call for a taxi, and the man tells you that it will be there is fifteen minutes. You believe him. You take his word for it. You know the date of your birthday on the authority of your parents. It is the same for countless other truths that you learn from our parents, authorities, historical events and so on.
The Principle of non-contradiction
It is a typical sign of mental sanity to know that a thing cannot be and not be at the same time and from the same point of view.
Your teacher marks a sum wrong. Why? Because it cannot be right and wrong at the same time. If it could, it would violate the principle of non-contradiction. Then it would not be an answer but an absurdity, a contradiction in terms, like a brick with a headache or an angel with false teeth.
If a politician seriously thinks that he is a horse growing tomatoes in outer space while commanding the Persian troops against Canada, he is put into an asylum. Why? Only because he is breaking the principle of non-contradiction which makes it impossible for him to be a man, yet not be a man, at the same time and from the same point of view.
The principle of non-contradiction is a universal law of sanity. It is a self-evident truth. We have a metaphysical certitude concerning it. And to try to deny it is to make all further thought and speech absolutely impossible. It is to commit complete mental hara-kiri, the destruction of any form of science and knowledge.
People today often fail to apply this principle in their search for truth. The result is most alarming. It is heart breaking. It is the mental anomaly called relativism. Never before, perhaps, in history have men yearned more ardently for truth than they do today. But, through ignoring this first principle, they have made it impossible for themselves ever to find the truth, or to recognize it when found.
Next article: The order of the universe proves the existence of God.
Raymond de Souza KM is available to speak at Catholic events anywhere in the free world in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese. Please email SacredHeartMedia@Outlook.com or visit www.RaymonddeSouza.com or phone 507-450-4196 in the United States.