Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we’re diving into the ocean of truth. We’re going through the doctrine of God right now and our guide for the journey has been the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas. If you want to read the work online, you can do so at newadvent.org. We’re on the topic of the nature of truth right now and we’re going to wrap that up tonight and start studying the converse of falsity tomorrow. Tonight’s question is if truth is immutable.
By immutable, of course, we mean unchanging. Aquinas again gives us two different answers. In the case of the divine intellect, truth is most certainly unchanging. This is the way that a fallable and finite mind can know immutable truths. The truths are greater than the mind is actually and the mind is subject to the truth. If truth resided only in our intellects, then all truth would ultimately be mutable and nothing could then be true.
This is why I often tell people in debate that when truth is properly understood, it is immutable. It is always amusing to hear someone say the truth of “I am sitting down” is not immutable because it is subject to change, as if such a counter has not been thought of in advance. When properly understood, that statement is tied to what one person said at a specific time and place. While it is tied to a specific time and place, it is true for all people and all times and all places. Thus, it is true that at this time, I, the Deeper Waters blogger, am sitting down. That will be true for all people in all times in all places even if they don’t believe it. The fact that I can stand up in the next minute has no bearing on the fact that I was sitting.
Truth in our minds is quite mutable however as we are subject to change. I was told earlier today that it is impossible for me to change my opinions and become a Muslim because I would not go counter to my experience and data. It’s simply false. It’s highly unlikely that I would do that. However, we all know that there are times that we have taken an opinion that we had previously seen as contradictory to our experience and data. Any time we change our minds, we do that. We say that new data or new experiences or some combination thereof has made itself known that we can now see the prior opinion we held was in fact false.
Once again, our effort should be to try to get to the divine mind and would that more Christian counselors would realize this. For instance, if all human beings could realize that God looks at them and says “You bear my image and I want to conform you to the image of my Son”, imagine how much better we would be!
The philosopher after the time of Christ named Epictetus who was a stoic had this to say in his ninth golden saying. Put it with Christian language and oh if we could realize it!:
If a man could be thoroughly penetrated, as he ought, with this thought, that we are all in an especial manner sprung from God, and that God is the Father of men as well as of Gods, full surely he would never conceive aught ignoble or base of himself. Whereas if Cæsar were to adopt you, your haughty looks would be intolerable; will you not be elated at knowing that you are the son of God? Now however it is not so with us: but seeing that in our birth these two things are commingled—the body which we share with the animals, and the Reason and Thought which we share with the Gods, many decline towards this unhappy kinship with the dead, few rise to the blessed kinship with the Divine. Since then every one must deal with each thing according to the view which he forms about it, those few who hold that they are born for fidelity, modesty, and unerring sureness in dealing with the things of sense, never conceive aught base or ignoble of themselves: but the multitude the contrary. Why, what am I?—A wretched human creature; with this miserable flesh of mine. Miserable indeed! but you have something better than that paltry flesh of yours. Why then cling to the one, and neglect the other?
Realize your heritage Christian! You are a child of God and that is an immutable truth!
We shall continue tomorrow.