Originally Posted by Woodrow
This perhaps gets to the heart of the matter and I have no issues with anyone who is willing to accept that it is mostly a matter of belief not absolute and indisputable fact. If this is understood then I think there is room for debate and discussion without the need for heat. I might offer some ideas here.
- this is a hard idea to define and there are innumerable books that discuss it. Truth can be simply defined as a fact that has been verified or more loosely as meaning a statement is accurate. One must be aware that many great questions have no proof as such: the existence of God, why we are here, is there a creator, why is there a past and future and so on and although unanswerable we all it seems need to think about them and they are of course worth thinking about.
There is an old saying that a bell that has been rung cannot be "unrung", the very annoying problem with this is that once you know something, you cannot “unknown” it even if it turns out to be wrong. Often therefore truth is defined as the problem of being clear about what you are saying when you make some claim or other to be true.
Broadly speaking there are two strands of thought with regard to truth. There are the “absolutists” where they largely rely on dogma (someone tells you what the truth is) and the relativist that see truth as a changing quality. Typically the absolutist is happy in his own convictions and may not care or sympathise with those of others. So absolutism gives a sense of security and self-assurance (sometime spilling over into bigoted self-righteousness) whereas the relativist sees it as unthinking, irrational innocence.
- we all I suspect know what this means but perversely it is very hard to know when you have attained it. For example, Sherlock Holes was famously deductive but how many people really understand what it means to be deductive? One can of course learn a definition but understanding only comes when you use a concept not just memorise it, practice what you understand.
- We use the idea of “fact” all the time; so what is a fact; how do you know when you have a fact? For example, if I say there is a thing called gravity is that a fact, if I say that 62% of students on the course passed is that a fact also? If I look at a fact like "gravity" (called a natural fact) and a fact like "62% of students passed in the May cohort" (called a nominal fact) - is there any differences between these two kinds of fact?
So is it possible to prove a fact; decide whether it is true or not. The answer is that I can find proofs of gravity and I can find proofs of the pass rate. Therefore, a fact can be independently checked in some way. Now for nominal facts you may find that some people will not accept your proof. To take a perhaps extreme example, suppose I say that the existence of God or Allah or Krishna is a fact then I might cite proofs and you might or might not find them convincing but I think you will see that such proofs are not falsifiable (put simply we cannot work out how to test the proposition) and clearly not accepted by all as true. Whereas gravity is always true, can be tested and cannot be ignored by anyone.
Nominal facts are important because they crop up all the time and we can in principle do something about them, change them in some way. For example: With a nominal fact I can ignore it, try to forget about it or just regard it as of no value (consider that we cannot do that with natural facts like gravity)
This last point is important because it means that what you do with a nominal fact, what actions you take is not fixed, it does not force you to do anything and any given fact may cause one person to do something and another the opposite.
I think the major issue to yourself and probably to all non Muslims is expressed in your sentence: "One understands this is a Muslim Board but does that mean its only purpose is to proclaim Islam perceptions of truth as if there are no mother possibilities and it has to be accepted? "
The simple answer is yes. The issue is how can we keep this from becoming a barricade to you and other non Muslim members. I do not want this to be something that makes non Muslims feel unwelcome here. This is something we can use input from non Muslim members about.
This is fine, you can proclaim Islamic doctrine and principles and I have no issue with that. The point if we are to be open is that you allow critical comment to be voiced and never assume that an answer is in some sense absolute and all critical comment can be refuted and so often we simply end a debate by agreeing to differ.