I’ve already written a general review of the new Completely Updated and Revised Edition of Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth For a Skeptical World by Josh and Sean McDowell. This book goes on sale tomorrow (October 3rd). On Amazon, it is already the #1 New Release. I highly recommend this book, even if you have a previous edition, as it truly is completely updated and revised.
Truth Matters to Us in Personal and Practical Ways:
Not only do we intuitively search for truth, but many everyday actions depend on using and realizing the truth. In his book Truth Considered and Applied: Examining
Postmodernism, History, and Christian Faith, Stewart E. Kelly lists five ways truth matters practically. He writes that (1) truth matters for daily life; (2) the pursuit of truth is correlated with happiness; (3) science is a truth-seeking enterprise; (4) knowledge is a veritistic enterprise; and (5) truth is intrinsically valuable. (Kelly, TCA, 262–267) Of particular relevance:
“Our jobs require us to perform, hopefully successfully, a number of tasks. If the boss wants to know whether you’ve sent the package to Boston, talked to a client in California, and read over the relevant memo in preparation for a meeting later in the day, your chances of being promoted and/or appreciated are greatly enhanced if you bring it about that all of these states of affairs actually obtain. In other words, it matters to the boss, the company, and to your continuing at the job that, by the end of the day, it is true that all three of these things have happened.” (Kelly, TCA, 262–263)
“Our medical situations require a grasp of the truth. Suppose we are not feeling well, we go to the doctor, and the doctor recommends that we begin a course of antibiotics. You ask if there are any alternatives and the doctor suggests that you could take a placebo for the ten days instead of (e.g.) amoxicillin. Amoxicillin has a proven track record of truly responding to some kinds of infections, while placebos (e.g. a sugar pill) are of little value here. . . . It is not merely the doctor’s opinion or the opinion of the medical establishment but rather such a proposition is true because it picks out an actually obtaining state of affairs. In other words, the truth of the proposition somehow corresponds with the objectively real world (in this case, our physical bodies). Modern medicine is committed to the idea that some medicines truly work (and can be verified through careful research), while others are of less or no value.” (Kelly, TCA, 263)
Kelly further explains that “the pursuit of happiness, like many other human activities, is enhanced by veritistic or truth-seeking beliefs and practices” before also showing that the realm of science, and even the pursuit of knowledge itself, requires assuming truth to be a real thing. (Kelly, TCA, 264–265) Regarding knowledge, he explains, “Knowledge . . . requires that the belief in question be true if it is to be marked off from lucky beliefs and guesses.” (Kelly, TCA, 265) Finally, Kelly reminds us that we seek truth because we intuitively know that truth is valuable. It is worth quoting him at length again:
“As Lynch argues, “We want more than illusion [however nice it may be]. We want the truth, warts and all.” Convenient fictions are nevertheless fictions, and most people want more than that. This point is nicely illustrated in the popular movie The Matrix. Here the main character is given a set of choices, each involving a particular pill. Pill 1 will give him a life of perfect illusion. He will not even remember that he ever chose such a pill. But if he chooses pill 2, then he will find out about both his life and reality, “a truth he is warned will be unpleasant. He chooses, unsurprisingly to the audience, the truth.” Pill 2 is the better option because, in part, humans are truth seekers. But another key reason is that knowing the truth is ceteris paribus, an intrinsically good state of affairs.” (Kelly, TCA, 267)
We innately know that to live in reality, to live a life in truth, is better than to be fooled or to fool ourselves forever. Truth is a worthy goal for its own sake. Recently, I (Josh) had just finished my opening address at the National Apologetics Conference in Charlotte, NC. A student approached me as I was leaving.
“Dr. McDowell, why does truth even matter?” I thought for a moment and replied, “Do you want the truthful answer or the false answer?” Then I smiled slightly, turned, and walked away. Glancing back at the young man, I could see his bewilderment. I don’t think he got it.
Adapted from the Completely Updated and Revised Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, pgs 606-607, digital Launch Team edition.