How the Belief in Unknowable Truth Results in Centralized Power



Because we are discussing the results not only of an individual belief in unknowable truth; but also when a society holds to this shared belief and the effects it has socially, we must look at both briefly.  I hope to provide a brief explanation of why some believe in unknowable truth.  Next, I seek to flesh out the practical out play of this belief on a corporate level because of the inherit presuppositions of that worldview.  The result being, I believe, centralized power.  I will seek to demonstrate how such a presupposition is ironically not only self-refuting in corporate practice of its fundamental presupposition but also intrinsically hypocritical in its goal.


When an individual buys into the philosophy and religion of Secularism of the Existentialism/ Postmodern [1] stream truth gets relegated to the individual.  Truth may or may not exist but knowing whether we have it is impossible.  To provide an example, imagine there is truly an apple in a room filled with observers.  The observers all encounter the same reality but each individual interprets that same experience through their own lens of beliefs, presuppositions, and reasoning faculties.  The result is, you can and may have as many distinct interpretations of that same reality as there are observers in the room.  Whose interpretation is superior, right, or more right?  This type of Postmodernity is presuppositionally trapped in a world of endless human faulty interpretation resulting in a spiral of never truly knowing if she has truly interpreted Truth correctly (I believe the Apostle Paul warned of this kind of teaching to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:7).   Such a perspective or teaching believes that knowing that we know truth is impossibleWe may hold to the right one but we will never know that we do. The only thing an individual can know is there interpretation of reality which may or may not be true.  Truth by nature is authoritative.  And when we believe the only truth we can know is our own interpretation.  We inherently are presupposing we (our interpretation) are a law unto ourselves.  The latin for this is autonomous (auto- self and nomous- law). This results is a pragmatic approach to life.  What works for me is bestThat last sentence now becomes the basis for morality.  And it will have profound implications for society.  This belief system is really nothing new.  It is just ancient paganism dressed in new clothing.  We see God’s interpretation on a similar society in Judges 21:25 which states, “In those days there was no king (read: authority outside the individual) in Israel.  Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Note: Though the records of that time is filled to the brim with sins of all kinds and rebellion against the covenant they had made with God, the narrator states that from the perspective of the individual they were doing what was “right” sadly the basis for their “right” was “his own eyes.”


So what happens socially when a society holds to the presupposition that the only truth I can know is the interpretation I have of reality?  Two possible options are available.

The first is absolute Anarchy.  This is a possible result of a society believing in unknowable truth.  However, it isn’t really appealing to the majority.  For one reason, we are social people.  And so we desire community.  But societies are based on holding to a similar shared value.  Secondly, we know that Anarchy doesn’t really in the end suite us best anyways.  To be pragmatic, it really isn’t sustainable.

So how can an individual live in society while still holding to the premise that the only truth I can know is my interpretation?  Easy, you build a society in which the field is completely and entirely level.  My interpretation is just as valid as yours.  The society builds itself upon the presupposition, “the only truth we know is that we don’t know the truth.”  Those who claim to know public truth, or true Truth as Francis Schaeffer called it are not allowed.  They too must submit to the creed of “all truth claims are equally verifiable.”  In this society the individual’s moral, “what works for me is best” on a social level becomes, “what works for us is best.”

This begs a lot of questions, including how is the society defining or interpreting “works” and “best.”  But because of the shared beliefs this is left up to the majority.  In other words, we have a pure democracy form of government.[2]  That is, a government ruled entirely or solely by the people.  The people are a law unto themselves.  There is no practical higher authority.  A pure democracy believes that the people decide what reality and truth is.  The only thing the individual is accountable to on a social level is the people.

What is incredibly lacking in this government, people, and worldview as a whole is the existence of God.  But then again, in such a worldview, God has no place in social realm.  He is relegated to the individual’s private preferences and beliefs.  And he (if they choose to call such a being that) is only shared by those who also voluntarily choosing to believe that such a being exist in their world.  But note carefully, this god does not truly exist in any realm other than the one created by the person’s interpreted reality. In other words, this god is a god created in man’s image. The result being that this god is powerless over the individual and is subject to the individual.

Such a society, which does not believe in an authoritative God who is LORD over them, cannot allow for such a being to dictate right and wrong.  For it will be argued, “Which God?” or “Whose Interpretation of that God?” etc.  Instead, society builds laws (ethics or morality) upon the shared premise or creed, “what works for us is best.”  In such a society socialism is the most plausible model to “work best” equally for all.  But such a model requires quite a large administration to regulate and implement everything.  Therefore, there will inevitably be a large government. The resources will have to be pooled and then distributed equally.  Thus giving supposed equality to each person. In order to keep the appearance of authority/power in the hands of the people, the government officials will have to be voted in by the majority of people.  The people and their government can choose to make whatever laws they want and then undermine those laws whenever they (the people) choose with no accountability.  For there is no authority above the people in such a worldview.  The power will thus be centralized to the government.


Ironically, the beginning premise moral “what works for me is best” presupposed originally by the individuals within the society can no longer be shared logically corporately.  For, when we define truth limited to the individual’s interpretation and then allow for the majority to exercise another law outside the individual we undermine the first.  The majority may be pleased as was the case in Nazi Germany with even morally killing those who are a threat to such a society.  But it is done at the expense at undermining the minority and the individuals who make up that minority.  In other words, a pure democracy quickly becomes a mob where the goal is no longer to discern the truth and submit to it but rather to create for society some arbitrary Utopia defined by the mob. Another irony is that, often times socialism today is touted as the best system for the weak and minority groups.  But at best it is really left up to the majority’s perception of the minority’s needs and desires.  And at worst, a wonderful structure in which to silence and cripple minorities into conforming to the mob’s perceived reality and morality.  In the end, we see how such a worldview is not only self-refuting, it simply doesn’t work.  Therefore, in the end we can know that such a presupposition is a false interpretation that no society should build itself upon.  For as our LORD and Savior taught, we want to build our house upon the rock.  How much more so ought we to build society upon the Rock.

[1] A philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.

[2] I use the term pure democracy to distinguish between republics and other governments  which may have a democratic voting structure.


2 thoughts on “How the Belief in Unknowable Truth Results in Centralized Power

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