Truth, Epistemology, and Baseball

  Since I like baseball and certain philosophical discussions, I thought this was a good illustration that shows a few different ways people view truth.  (And I’ll refrain from explaining how calling strikes is tough because the strike zone is more like a cube than a square.)  Is truth objective, subjective, or a social construction?  Os Guinness illustrates it this way. 

“A simple way to illustrate lies in the story of the three baseball umpires debating their different philosophies of umpiring. 

‘There’s balls and there’s strikes,’ says the first, ‘and I call them the way they are.’

‘No!’ exclaims the second umpire.  ‘That’s arrogant.  There’s balls and there’s strikes and I call them the way I see it.’ 

‘That’s no better,’ says the third.  ‘Why beat around the bush?  Why not be realistic about what we do?  There’s balls and there’s strikes and they ain’t nothing till I call them.

The first umpire represents the traditional view of truth – objective, independent of the mind of the knower, and there to be discovered.  The second umpire speaks for moderate relativism – truth ‘as each person sees it’ according to his or her perspective and interpretation.  And the third umpire blatantly expresses the radically relativist, or postmodern, position – ‘truth’ is not there to be discovered; it is for each of us to create for ourselves (p 13).”

Guinness’ book, Time for Truth, is basically a discourse that argues “truth is far from dead.  It is alive and well and, in an important sense, undeniable.  And it is far from inconsequential.  Truth matters supremely because in the end, without truth there is no freedom.  Truth, in fact, is not only essential to freedom; it is freedom, and the only way to a free life lies in becoming a person of truth and learning to live in truth.  Living in truth is the secret of living free (p. 14).”

This is a great book on the topic of truth.  The subtitle explains it well: Living Free in a World of Lies, Hype, and Spin.  This book will help you wrestle through Jesus’ words: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32 NIV).

shane lems

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