The Nature of Truth Group Guide

Volume VI, Number II

Artwork by Calvin Larson

How do we know what’s true, and how do we distinguish truth from belief? Is truth valuable in and of itself? These are some of the many questions asked by KidSpirit writers in an issue devoted to a perennial philosophical theme.

1. Does truth have inherent value? This is the Big Question posed by the KidSpirit Ed Board. Sofiy Inck answers that there is a difference between what she terms “observable” and “personal” truths and that we should respect both as valuable in their own ways. Read her piece as a group and discuss what she means. Do you agreee that there are two different kinds of truths and that they are equally valid? Try to think of examples in which people acted on observable truths and a personal truths and decide whether their actions were justified.

2. Zoe Miller and each of the Interfaith Connections writers grapple with the connection between truth and belief. Zoe describes how stories can turn into truths simply through the collective beliefs of others, and how beliefs in general can give us a sense of control — even save our lives in dangerous circumstances. In Interfaith Connections, Gracie Griffin describes how her Quaker faith helps her evaluate truths, while Fareeha Shah describes how Islam informs her search for the reason we exist, and Melynn Oliver narrates how Catholicism helped her identify her true self. How do you experience truth and belief in your life? Do the two come into conflict with one another or are they complementary?

3. In his PerSpectives article, Rabbi Rami Shapiro contends that in order to access truth we must be free. What do you think he means? Can his message apply even to contexts that are strict and rule-bound, like science or math? Research a favorite scientist, philosopher, explorer, poet, or other person who uncovered deep truths and find out what led them to their discoveries.