“Truth” – a Christian Trojan Horse

Over the years, I have run into Christians saying variants of “I believe in Truth” during an otherwise non-religious conversation. If you remember, I am a former Christian and thus can more easily see when the use of this abstraction (“Truth”) contains sneaky hidden assumptions — intentional or otherwise.

The English noun “Truth” (intentionally capitalized) is a common Christian trojan horse used to smuggle their god into a discussion – intentionally or often unintentionally. For Christians skilled in apologetics1 it is usually very intentional, for Christians who are transitioning out of their exclusive faith2 have usually been programmed by apologetics preachers and thus their use of it can just be an unintentional anchor in their former identity.  

Most people would agree to these uses of the word “true”:

  • It is true that 2 + 2 = 4 (a math truth)
  • It is true that George Washington was the first US president (an event truth3)
  • It is true that dropping a barbell on my bar foot will hurt my foot (a physical truth)

Religious and Religion-Free people can all comfortably say “those are truths” or “those are true statements”.  But when you take the “s” off of “truths”, we start having problems.

For instance, I think all readers can feel the difference between these two statements:

  • (A) There is Truth
  • (B) There are truths. (Read: “There are true statements”)

When a Christian says (A), “I believe the is Truth”, they do not mean something as simple as “I believe there are some statements we can be OK calling ‘true’ ” because that would be trivial and no one would disagree.  Instead, it is their trojan horse in which hides one of their pet phrases: “The author of all truths” — their god. Whereas (B), “There are truth statements. (There are truths)” can simply be what we discussed in our second paragraph.

Corollaries of this hidden thought inside of the word “Truth” can be particular Christian “truth claims”:

  • There is a god
  • Jesus was god
  • Morality is impossible without god

These claims are also obviously problematic but a little more direct and easier to discuss. Ever softer versions of “I believe in Truth” for Christians can be that “I believe the following truths”:

  • Morality is not totally relative
  • Things happen for a reason
  • Each person has a purpose

Those softer versions still have a Christian god tucked inside but at least they are even more easy to discuss that the huge blanket claim of “I believe there is TRUTH”. For example, in discussing these softer claims, a religion-free person may offer the following alternatives as true statements:

  • Some behaviors are far better than others.  I’m OK calling that principle “morality”.
  • Some statements are better approximation of reality (what is the case) than others.
  • It is possible to have suffering in one’s life and survive it using a deeper meaning than just happiness.

Again, the word “Truth” is a sneaky abstraction — keeping an eye out for these types of words is important, as I have written about extensively (see here). I hope I have illustrated that above.

Question to readers: Do you embrace using the phrase, “I believe in Truth”?


  1. Apologetics” is a technical religious word for the use of (polished) systematic arguments to defend one’s religion
  2. “Exclusive Faith” — it is an ideology/religion that believes only their view is correct and in Christianity and Islam it goes further saying that those who don’t believe are bound for eternal torture.
  3. Event Truths: While most people would not disagree with this claim of George Washington, some folks disagree with the “truth” of the US moon landing, the holocaust or Jesus/Buddha existence. Here, evidence weighing is important and debate is possible, Some of these debates are silly (the moon landing), are evil (the holocaust) or a reasonable (Jesus or Buddha’s existence). But I think most agree that their is a reality against which to stack the evidence for these candidates for truths. (see my post and diagram here “Truth vs truth(s)“. See also my post on “Types of Truths“. My suggestion is not to buy into a single thing called “Truth” as I explained above, for if you do, then the conversation turns the proper us of an unreal abstraction. In this early post I wrestled with 7-8 models of using the single concept of Truth.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

4 responses to ““Truth” – a Christian Trojan Horse

  1. Question to readers: Do you embrace using the phrase, “I believe in Truth”?

    No, I don’t. I’m more likely to say that “Truth” doesn’t actually exist. I’m even more likely to say that searching for Truth is like searching for the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. You will never find it.

    As you say, there are true statements. But there isn’t any mystical “Truth”.

  2. @ Neil: I couldn’t agree more. Hello!

  3. When religious people talk about their tribe’s unsubstantiated claims, I tend to write it like this “Truth™” I would not use the phrasing “I believe in Truth” because that plays into the equivocation that they make between truth and Truth™. I like the phrase I got from the ACA “I prefer to believe as many true things and as few false ones as possible.”

  4. @ Ubi: We agree. However, religion is much bigger than its doctrines — doctrines are a cover for the deeper functions it serves: community, identity , politics etc… So I like discussing this “Truth” issue but also try not to forget that believers themselves don’t actually believe what they confess (though they are unaware that they don’t believe.) Ironic, eh? BTW, what the heck is “the ACA” (though I have heard that saying many times in the past).

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