Essay Question for Week Two, Chapter Three, “What Is Truth?” Chapter 3 is attached to this question please use citation from the book
Examine the five claims below. In a paragraph each for THREE of the five, first, explain what might be necessary to determine the truth of the claim. Give special attention to whether the evidence is based on reason and/or sensory experience. Second, assess the degree of certainty which you would attach to each claim and explain your decision. You may use the following scale or create one of your own: (1) definitely false; (2) likely false, but can’t be proven; (3) possibly true, but uncertain; (4) highly probable, but still uncertain; (5) definitely true, but certainty could not be guaranteed; (6) proven and absolutely certain. Finally, rank the statements in the degree of certainty you attribute to the statement, from strongest to weakest.
- “William Shakespeare wrote King Lear.”
- “God exists.”
- “I exist.”
- “Childhood vaccines can trigger autism.”
- “Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of JFK.”
Here’s an example paragraph for the truth statement “Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.”
It would be almost impossible to prove this statement. One would need an “autograph” or original copy of the books along with corroborating evidence, outside the texts, that Moses was the author of them. This evidence would be experiential (seeing the manuscripts and the evidence that he penned them) but would also have to comport with reason. (Moses writing about his own death in Deuteronomy 34 would not be rational, so that section of the Pentateuch would have to be written by someone else.) Jewish and Christian tradition ascribe the books to Moses. Most contemporary scholars argue that Moses may be responsible for some of the writing, but there’s evidence for several layers of editing by others. I would rank the claim as a (3) “possibly true, but uncertain.” The traditions which are hundreds of years old argue in favor of the truth of the claim; modern scholarship’s challenges would argue against certainty. I would rank it below “William Shakespeare wrote King Lear” but above “Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of JFK.