Saturday, March 25, 2017

Truth Is Not Dead

In 1966 Time magazine published one of its most famous covers ever. 

Image result for time is god dead magazine cover
April 8, 1966
The answer to that question was, and is: No.

I went to the mailbox today to get the recent edition of Time, and here is the cover.
Image result for time is truth dead magazine cover

If the answer is "No," then truth is not dead.

If the answer is "Yes," then truth is not dead.

Because if the answer is "Yes," then the following statement is true: Truth is dead. But that statement cannot be true, because if it is true, then it is false. In other words, the statement Truth is dead is logically incoherent. 

Therefore, Truth is not dead

Further, "truth" is not some living thing that can die. Truth cannot die. That statement is true.

So, what about the feature article? It's written by an atheist, Michael Shermer. I've read some of Shermer's stuff. My truth antennae go up. The article is entitled, "Can Trump Handle the Truth?"

OK. Time is playing mind games. The 1966 "God Is Dead" issue was actually about whether or not there is a God. Of course, the statement God is dead is misleading, because if there is a God (I believe there is) then God could not be dead, since God necessarily exists, and a being that necessarily exists never came into being and could never go out of being. And if there is no God, then the statement is sheer nonsense, since only existing living things can die. You have to be alive, and contingently so, to die. (When Nietzsche uttered "God is dead," he was speaking figuratively to mean "I [Nietzsche] have ceased believing in the existence of God.")

Shermer's question is: Can Trump Handle the Truth? This question affirms that truth is not dead, and that there is such a thing as objective truth (true for everyone) that, presumably, Trump cannot handle. If there is no objective truth, then Shermer's question makes as much sense as Can Shermer ride a unicorn?

Truth and falsehood, admits Shermer, are binary opposites. This is exactly what I teach in my logic classes. Shermer accuses Trump of blurring the binary distinctions between truth and falsehood. Shermer states that Trump utters many untruths. The core and bulk of his article intends to substantiate the truth of this statement.

The cover of the new Time aroused the philosopher in me. I took the bait. The fact remains: Truth, like God, is Not Dead.