A: So what things, specifically, are eternally true?
B: A natural question. But just a second, buddy; I need to emphasize something about our preceding discussion. I will now assume that these truths that we’ll specify, whatever they are, never change (and from now on, when I say “truth” I’ll generally mean the eternal kind, unless I explicitly state otherwise). Nothing and nobody could ever change them. For instance, no dictator could decree a change in eternal truth, nor could any group of people vote to change one, and actually have it be changed. Even God, if there is One – and we’ve assumed that there is – is subject to eternal truth. More on that later.
And by the way, it’s important to distinctly make this assumption, not just for the purposes of understanding what I’m talking about and what my logical procession is, but also to refute any future arguments that may be made along the lines of “that may have been true before, but is no longer.” While I can believe that some truth may be viewed as a kind of “temporary truth,” we have to remember that some, if not all, eternal truth applies even to contemporary issues. You might hear, for instance, the question “this is still happening in the 21st century?”, used as an (inadequate) argument against truth which is eternal: the truth still applies to us, even in the 21st century, just as it did to our predecessors of the 20th, or of the 19th, and so on, back through the unknown number of all the centuries of time before ours. And it will likewise apply for all future centuries.
OK. Back to your question. To determine what things are eternally true, we must seek them from the source of the knowledge of them, which, as I said before, could only be God. There are plenty of others that offer their own suggestions for what eternal truth is – and it might happen, in some cases, that they are right – but each of their proposed candidates for truth can be checked with the one and only ultimate source thereof, and that is God.
As an emphatic caution, if we don’t take God to be our source of truth, then we must be relying on what one might describe as “somebody’s best guess” of what truth is. After all, if you take a moment to think about it, you find that this is exactly what it is. You might have a person searching inside himself for what he would think truth should be. Or you could have a bunch of intelligent people getting together for a lengthy discussion about the matter. Certainly this has been tried before; the Council of Nicea comes to mind as an example. It also comes into play in sessions of courts of law such as the U.S. Supreme Court, when human rights are being discussed. But ultimately it’s still just thoughts, i.e., “guesses,” made by a bunch of men, all of whom have their flaws, limitations, biases, etc. It’s quite possible – and perhaps even probable – that they’ll make an error somewhere.
No matter how clever, wise, or powerful the formulating group of people may be, and no matter how sensible their proposed explanation or however good their intentions may sound, they are yet merely human, and therefore subject to mistake, as has happened countless times in the past. Therefore, their conclusions can still never amount to anything more than just “somebody’s best guess.”
B: Indeed it is, unless he claims that his explanation came from God, in which case it would presumably be his own best guess about what God says truth is.
Consider, then, when you might have a question about a certain philosophy or habit. In order to know whether it is true or good, you’ll have to consider the source, whether it comes from God or men. It doesn’t matter how entrenched that philosophy or habit may be in contemporary society, it still may be simply an urban myth. If you don’t know that it came from God, then it’s to be taken with a grain of salt: not to be blindly dismissed as impossible, but to be “put on the shelf;” i.e., to be tested as you try to determine its actual verity from the One True Source.
A: How do you find out truth from God?
B: Buddy, I gotta go. We’ll talk about it later.