7 Questions - How Do You Know What's TRUE?

Welcome to the 7 QUESTIONS!
These are the questions people commonly ask about Spirituality in general and Christianity in particular. They were designed as discussion guides, and you can find all seven guides on Truthbase.net in the Finding God section (upper left).
I'm working on elaborating upon them for this site, and just have the first one done in draft form below. Stay tuned for updates or go to Truthbase for the guides. There are audio sermons on the various topics (in one form or another) if you can't wait. I've attached a sermon outline to the end of this post on the topic of truth.

How do you know what's True??
Is there a supernatural being and can He Walk and Talk?
Can God communicate? Are the Scriptures reliable?
How can a Good God Allow Suffering

Rite or Right? Comparing major religions
Is Christianity better?
Is Jesus the only way?
How do you get your sins forgiven and yourself to heaven?
The Bridge to Life



What is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?


  • Aristotle posited 3 laws as basic to all logical thought.
Having the same meaning for, or understanding of a word is essential for understanding each other.
    • 1. The law of identity (A is A); We can't communicate unless we have something in common.
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich exists in most minds as two pieces of bread spread with peanut butter and jelly. Bread is usually thought of as a baked and leavened food that comes sliced and labeled “sandwich bread”; but it could be an unsliced loaf, or a roll, donut, biscuit, or bagel; or an unleavened saltine or cracker or matzo; or a panfried pancake or flatbread; or an unleavened and fried tortilla. You could even go so far as to conceive of a PB&J sandwich as the PB&J sandwiched between two pieces of banana, or apple, lettuce, seaweed, steak, or even hamburgers. But that would not be the image in most people's minds when communicating about a PB&J sandwich, though logically permissible. If you asked Aristotle what was a PB&J sandwich, he would have responded: “Ti?” (Greek for “what?”)
    • 2. The law of contradiction (A cannot be both A and not A);
A modified peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with bananas or fluff replacing the jelly, would not be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. An understanding of this law changed my life.
    • 3. The law of the excluded middle (A must be either A or not A).
The sandwich in question must be either a PB&J, or it is not a PB&J. A PB&J is not a modified PB&J. It can not be both a PB&J and a modified PB&J at the same time. If you licked all the jelly off a PB&J, it would no longer be a PB&J; it would be a modified PB&J; specifically, it would be a PB and saliva sandwich. Yummy!


  1. Concepts that you've collected or adopted along your life's path?
  2. Conclusions that you've reached as a result of research and reasoning from verifiable and supportable facts (evidence)?
  3. Convictions you hold as a result of determining that the things you don't know or haven't been able to research could in no way overthrow/undermine the level of certainty in the conclusions you've reached?

WHAT KIND OF PROOF do you have/require for your beliefs?

If you believe something, does that make it true? Does believing in flying carpets make them real or create their existence?
If you're really sincere about your beliefs, does that make them valid? Does clapping for Tinkerbell bring her back to life after she drinks the poison? What if you really, really, really believe it will happen? Does sincerity create reality?
If the majority of people believe something, does that make it true? If most people believe the world is flat, do ships fall off the end of the earth?
If you experience something, does that make it true? You went to the mall, asked Santa for a train or doll, and it showed up under the tree on Christmas morning; and the milk and cookies were gone! Obviously we've discovered a truth that also happens to majority of kids we know, who sincerely believe it, so it must be true.
Thirty students are listening to an introductory lecture in a criminal justice class. The classroom door bursts open and two guys tumble in the room yelling and fighting with each other. The prof rushes over and herds them out of the room, slams the door and turns to the class: “Take out a sheet of paper and write down everything you saw.” Eyewitnesses give thirty different accounts of what happened. Each with a different perceptual filter, and value system. Which is true? Now something did happen, and aspects of the eyewitness accounts agreed with each other. Reason applied to experience helps determine the reality,

  • Scientific proof: Observable and Repeatable in a Controlled environment. You can see it happen, repeatedly, with no smoke, mirrors, wires, or outside factors influencing the experiment. And even then some folks will argue correlation can't prove causation. You can't scientifically prove Napoleon existed. You'd even have a hard time scientifically convincing a skeptic you were born.
  • Legal/Historical proof: Based upon eyewitness accounts, depositions, hard evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the proof presented to a jury so they can reason out what really happened.
Some questions to ponder:
  • Do we have to experience something in order for it to be true?
  • If we experience something, does that make it true?
  • If something can be experienced subjectively, does that make it objectively untrue?
(Quotes by famous writers, philosophers and theologians to spur your thinking; you can't agree with them all.)
The object of philosophy, but not always of philosophers. John C. Collins
The aim of the superior man. Confucius
Patient, cooperative inquiry operating by means of observation, experiment, record, and controlled reflection. John Dewey
As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand. Josh Billings
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Not having to guess what a candidate means. Gerald Ford
Truth is many. There are as many truths as there are things and causes of action and contradictory principles at work in society. William Hazlitt
Whatever is reasonable is true, and whatever is true is reasonable. Georg W. Hegel
The opinion that still survives...A prejudice raised to an axiom....That which serves us best in expressing our lives. Elbert Hubbard
The heart of morality. Thomas Henry Huxley
A property of certain of our ideas. It means their "agreement," with "reality."... True ideas are those that we can assimilate, validate, corroborate and verify. William James
A relation between two things, an idea, on the one hand, and a reality outside of the idea, on the other. William James
Two kinds... those of reasoning and those of fact. The truths of reasoning are necessary and their opposite is impossible; the truths of fact are contingent and their opposite is possible. Gottfried W. Leibnitz
The measure of knowledge, and the business of understanding. John Locke
Where you find the general permanent voice of humanity agreeing with the voice of your conscience. Joseph Mazzini
A word which each one understands in his own way, according to his own needs, as it suits him. Mendele
Truth means facts and their relations, which stand towards each other pretty much as subjects and predicates in logic. John Henry Newman
The opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to by all who investigate it. Charles S. Peirce
The one thing that nobody will believe. George Bernard Shaw
The system of propositions which have an unconditional claim to be recognized as valid. Alfred E. Taylor
The rarest quality in an epitaph. Henry David Thoreau
Man discovers truth by reason only, not by faith. Leon Tolstoy
Something that is stranger than fiction, but not as popular. Not truths... not conclusions... not even premises, but in the nature and parts of premises. The truth depends on, and is arrived at, by a legitimate deduction from all facts which are truly material. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition:
truth n., pl. truths 1. the quality or state of being true; specif., a) orig., loyalty; trustworthiness b) sincerity; genuineness; honesty c) the quality of being in accordance with experience, facts, or reality; conformity with fact d) reality; actual existence e) agreement with a standard, rule, etc.; correctness; accuracy 2. that which is true; statement, etc. that accords with fact or reality 3. an established or verified fact, principle
true adj. truĆ¹er, tru'est 1. faithful; loyal; constant 2. reliable; certain [a true indication] 3. in accordance with fact; that agrees with reality; not false 4. a) conforming to an original, pattern, rule, standard, etc. b) exact; accurate; right; correct 5. rightful; lawful; legitimate [the true heirs]

TRUTH = That which best explains all the facts and accurately expresses reality across time and culture.


  • Are birth and death universal experiences?
  • Does where we came from when we were born and where we're headed when we die change if we were born 1000 B.C. in Asia or A.D. 2000 in Africa?
  • If the information about where we came from, why we're here, and where we're headed transcends time and culture, is it infinite?

HOW CAN A FINITE Being KNOW INFINITE TRUTH? Observation and extrapolation have their limitations.

There are some assert that we can't know truth, or that there is no absolute truth. Both assertions are self-defeating propositions, for in order to make the assertion that there one can't know truth or that are no absolutes, one makes an absolute assertion, claiming to know something about truth. Others might say truth is relative, as in: that's true for you, but not for me. Granted that one's understanding or experience of the truth can be relative or subjective, but if it is true for me is that relativism is false, then, in reality, is relativism false? If you agree, then case closed; relativism is false. If you disagree that what is true for me is not true, they you are denying the basic premise of relativism. One has to conclude, whether you're you or me, that relativism is false.
Ergo, logic is on the side of there being Truth, and it being knowable. To assert otherwise is to be unreasonable.
So here's the thing to remember: The only way a finite being can know infinite Truth, is if an infinite being reveals it to him/her. Anything else is sheer speculation or fantasy. Then the question becomes, “Is there an Infinite Being, and can such a Being communicate or reveal truth?”, discussed in the next topic.
Pretend human life consists of being in a room with a window and a little door. You can't see out of either of them. Life begins for an individual when the door opens slightly and a bassinet with a baby in it is pushed into the room. Life ends when a person falls or jumps out the window. All you know is bounded by the walls, floor, and ceiling. The only way you can know anything about existence beyond the room is if someone from outside the room comes back in through the window or breaks through the ceiling or floor, and reveals to you information about the world beyond your immediate physical perception.

Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. Go back and put a “+” by the quotes you agree with, a “-” for disagreement, and a “?” by those you're uncertain about. What mechanism or thought process did you use to make your determination?
2. Are your thoughts about life and Truth: a) a conglomeration of concepts you've uncritically adopted, b) defensible conclusions from purposeful study, or c) convictions you've reached from objectively pondering the alternative explanations of the facts? What's the likelihood of discovering something that could invalidate your conclusions? Why do some folks think otherwise?
3. Why would someone say that it doesn't matter what you believe, or that you can't know truth with certainty? Is Truth relative (can mean different things to different people) or absolute (has a universal meaning independent of one's perceptions)?
4. Does Truth make a difference in a person's life? If so, how? If not, on what basis are decisions made?1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Acts 26:25 But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.

John 18:38 Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews...

How Do You Know What's True? Santa and the PB&J © 2011 WF Cobb Truthbase.net
What's more reasonable?
I. How do you know what's true? Concepts, Conclusions, Convictions. Is Truth unknown, unknowable, relative, or irrelevant?

A. Belief, sincerity, tradition, majority opinion, and experience can be right, but are incorrect determiners of Truth. Cx true Material/Immaterial+/-

B. We let our experiences in the world form our understanding of Truth, instead of letting Truth form our understanding of the world.

C. To say that Truth is unknowable or relative (non absolute) is to make an impossible “knowledgeable”, absolute truth statement about the Truth.
Ac 26:25 speak the words of truth and reason Laws of Logic: Identity A=A; Non-Contradiction Aa'; Excluded Middle Aa'

D. The only way a finite being can know infinite Truth is if an Infinite Being reveals it to them. Scientific vs Legal/Historical evidence

E. A Creator with the power to create would have the power to communicate so His creatures could understand, and preserve that communication. If all around and within us has purpose, is it reasonable to think that we have one too, and that God would tell us it?
Jn 1:17 grace & truth came thru Jesus 16:13 when the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth 1Cor 2:10 us-apostles

F. Truth best explains ALL the facts (found at the convergence of: supernaturally authenticated Revelation, logically consistent Reason, pragmatic Reality)

II. Basis of a Relationship with God 1Tim 2:4 Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Js 1:18..He brought us forth by the word of truth Eph 1:13 In Him you trusted, after you heard the word of truth...
Jn 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Jn 4:23 true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth Eph 5:9 fruit of the HS is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth
Basis of future hope Col 1:5 the hope which is laid up for you in heaven...heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel

III. Vital for Sanctification Jn 17:17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth 19...they also may be sanctified by the truth
Jn 8:30 As He spoke these words, many believed in Him 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 34...whoever commits sin is a slave of sin cf Rm 6

2Th 2:13 salvation thru sanctification by Spirit and belief in the truth, 1Pt 1:22 purified your souls by obeying the truth thru HS...love
Basis of Spiritual warfare Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth (Replace dark lies w/ light of Truth)

IV. Basis of Ministry Eph 4:15 speaking the truth in love, may grow 21...taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus...25 Therefore, putting away lying, Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another Gal 4:16 enemy if tell T?
2Tim 2:25 in humility correcting those in opposition, God perhaps will grant them repentance, to the acknowledging of the truth
Js 5:19 anyone among you wanders from the truth, someone turns him back 20 sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death...

To Obey or Disobey Gal 3:1 bewitched you that you should not obey the truth 5:7 ran well..who hindered you from obeying the truth?
Rm 2:8 to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth...Rm 1:18 who suppress the truth in unrighteousness 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie 2Tim 3:7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 reprobate concerning the Truth 4:4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth 2Tim 2:18 who have strayed concerning the truth, 2Th 2:10 they did not accept the love of the truth, that they might be saved 12 they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness 1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 2:4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Learn, Live and Love others w/ Truth Titus 1:1 knowledge of the Truth which acc godliness 1Jn 3:1 love...in deed and in truth.
1Ti 4:3...who believe and know the truth. 2Pt 1:12 established in the present truth.
3Jn 1:3 For I rejoiced greatly...you walk in the truth 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Questions for Reflection/Discussion/Response:
1. What mechanism or thought process do you use to make your determination about what's true and what isn't?
2. Are your thoughts about life and Truth: a) a conglomeration of concepts you've uncritically adopted, b) defensible conclusions from purposeful study, or c) convictions you've reached from objectively pondering the alternative explanations of the facts? What's the likelihood of discovering something that could invalidate your conclusions? Why do some folks think otherwise?
3. Why would someone say that it doesn't matter what you believe, or that you can't know truth with certainty? Is Truth relative (can mean different things to different people) or absolute (has a universal meaning independent of one's perceptions)?
4. Does Truth make a difference in a person's life? If so, how? If not, on what basis are decisions made?
5. Are all believers sanctified? Do all believe and practice Truth? How do you sanctify and purify yourself with the Truth?