The thing about truth and opinion

My colleagues were discussing about truth and opinion yesterday. It started from discussion on LKY's book on hard truths. As in my history class sometimes back, I was a bit dismayed by the inability to distinguish the difference between truth and opinion. Such is the impact of postmodernism in our present day society. 'Thou shalt not kill' is your opinion while 'thou shalt commit adultery' is his opinion, thus we all have our opinions and as long as you feel that your opinion is true, it's good for you.

But is that the way? How can we even begin when people's mindset is that you have your own truth and I have my own truth? Just like that idiot director from MOE who insisted on this... as a civil servant, I grieve the fact that we have such people in the service, but that is another story. The thing is how do we even begin?

Citing from Ravi Zacharia, truth by definition is exclusive. It is possible for all the worldviews to be wrong but they cannot be all true at the same time. If my truth is different from your truth, but all are correct, then there can be no falsehood. If there is no falsehood, then there can be no right or wrong, and how can truth in that case be possible? Truth, by definition, defines and describes our experiences, explains and expose our reality as it is and should force us to think about how we respond to the world and to the reality before us. Take for example, it is a truth that the world is ending. This is not my opinion. The second law of thermodynamics states that the world is running out of energy and what happen when the universe runs out of energy? The state of entropy ensures that our universe's future is dark and bleak... thus the truth reveals a lot of things, like what I am typing now will not exist in the future no matter how well the record is being kept, or the work that I do now will disappear even if the impact can last a thousand years. The question from there is then why are you still living?

Of course I'm leaping a lot here in my argument but I'm merely making a point that truth describes and define our reality. It is not an opinion when I say that I am typing on this laptop. It is not opinion when Hinduism talks about reincarnation and Buddhism talks about karma and Christianity talks about judgement. They are proclaiming to know the truth in this world. You are free to pick and choose and give your opinion, but the fact remains, they cannot be correct at the same time and the false ones will not become true even if you believe it to be true. It's just like I believe that I struck lottery yesterday even when it didn't happen. The truth is that reality don't work that way.

What is my point here? Truth and opinion are two separate things. I can have my opinion on how Singapore should be run, but it is true that given Singapore's limitation, I dun have much choice in determining how it can be run. I can say that Singapore should have minimum wages, but is this a truth or my opinion? I can say that Singapore has no natural resources and therefore will always need to rely on foreign sources, is this a truth about Singapore or my opinion?

As Pilate asked, 'what is truth', we need to ask the same question. But it will be good if we can keep our feet there and wait for the answer instead of walking away.


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