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Single Source of Truth

Christian, tell me why do you insist that your truth is better than mine?

Because…Two conflicting “truths” may both be wrong, but they cannot BOTH be right. To decide between them requires the authority of the “single source of truth”: God.

I spent my career in IT development work. Part of the job included designing databases and the programs that keep them updated. It also included being able to present that data in different ways.

For instance, one of my main responsibilities was a system that tracked property-tax bills, payments, and balances for a municipal government. One would think that the question “How much tax does so-and-so owe?” would be easy. Not so much. The balance due depended on several things:

  • The original bill
  • Any adjustments made to that bill (assessment changes, etc)
  • Payments made
  • Adjustments or refunds on those payments
  • Any interest accrued/paid/adjusted, if the bill was not paid on time

The database stored all of this information, of course. To present a balance for a given bill, the program sorted through everything, adding and subtracting to come up with any remaining amount due.

The problem occurred when the question was not “How much is owed on a single bill?” but “How much is owed for all 80,000 bills for the year?” or even worse: “How much is owed for all bills for all years since the beginning of time?” That became a slow-running program that had to calculate through millions of records each time the question was asked.

The solution was a separate database to provide summary information. It did the long calculation (which ran for several hours each night), and stored only the balances. The summary could be used whenever the detail was not needed for the question at hand.

That then became a separate problem. What if the summary database didn’t match what the detail calculation showed for the same bill? Maybe the summarizing program had a bug 🪲 or was skipped one night or something changed about the bill after the summary was done. Now we had two different answers and needed to know which was correct.

The new solution was to designate one file as the “Source of Truth”. In the case of a discrepancy, the detail file trumped the summary one. The summary was a sideline; only the detail was the “real” bill-and-payment information.

What is the Source of Truth for Life?

The even-bigger industry standard is Single Source of Truth. This database design contains not only the property tax data, but also fire, police, court, public works, business licenses, building permits, anything that deals with City business (or any other large organization and its multiple business areas). It theoretically ensures that all business is conducted from the same one accurate version of the data.

Why am I telling you about my computer problems? Because… If having multiple sources competing to be the “correct” answer will make a mess of a computer system, just think what it does to a person’s life. If the definition of “good behavior” or “the purpose of life” or “what happens when we die” can have multiple choices, and those choices are in conflict, how do we decide between them? Those choices have real consequences. It is important to find the truly correct answer. But what is the “single source of truth”?

Who Says?

For the questions that matter, pretty much every religion ever known — including atheism or other “no religions” — has purported to have the answers. Many times those answers agree with one another: “Don’t commit murder”, for instance. But sometimes they disagree even on that. Is abortion murder? Or euthanasia? What about war? Or self-defense? Or capital punishment? Under what circumstances, if any, is it OK to take another life? Religions, governments, and cultures have all come up with different answers. Which is the truth? Based on what authority? What gives that authority the right to define truth?

It seems to me that a simple way of pursuing this issue, with any truth and any authority, is the childish question, “Who says?” For instance,

  • A potential truth presented is “Humans are simply advanced animals”.
    • Who says?
      • Humans!
    • What authority do humans as a group, or any one human individually, have to say that we have no eternal soul and no value beyond animals?
      • The very fact that we can have the argument says that we are different from other animals!
  • Another potential truth is “Everyone has their own truth. What is true for you is not necessarily true for me.”
    • Who says?
      • The person who wants their own truth.
    • What authority do they have to say what truth is, or that it varies from person to person?
      • Imagine the City’s response if someone said “That tax balance on my property may be true for you, but it isn’t for me. My truth is that I don’t owe any taxes.” How far would that get?
  • Another is “We can’t know truth. It’s too vague and too far beyond us.”
    • Who says?
      • A finite human being.
    • Does any human know everything there is to know?
      • If not, then how can they know what we can’t know? (Weird sentence, but I mean exactly what it says.)
      • If they do know everything, then “everything” would include truth, also. Isn’t that true?

The point is that every claim — including the claim that there is no truth — is claiming to be true. If there is a real truth to the amount of tax I owe, how much more must there be real truth to life’s existential questions?

God Says

Getting back to why Christians believe we know the true truth, it’s because God is the Source and He has revealed His truth to us.

  • Who says?
    • He does…in nature, in the Bible, in Jesus and His resurrection.
      • In nature: “…that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
      • In the Bible: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
      • In Jesus: “Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)
      • In the resurrection: “To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)

Why believe that the Bible, or Jesus, or His resurrection are more than just fairy tales? Each of those has a long history of evidence. Some of that evidence is presented on this site, in these articles among others. Much more evidence is available from scholars far more knowledgeable than I am. Look for any of Lee Strobel’s “The Case for ….” books, or Josh McDowell’s “Evidence that Demands a Verdict“, to name just a couple of examples. Or try C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” for evidence from logic rather than Strobel and McDowell’s physical or historical evidences.

Truth is Revealed in Many Ways

This is not to say that study of science, or history, or art, or most anything else can’t reveal some truth. They most certainly can: They are among the many ways that God communicates His truth to us. What it does say is that “If it’s true, then it ultimately comes from God. If it contradicts God, then it’s not true.”

I can’t remember where I heard this story, but it has stuck with me for years.

A little girl was in a building full of large, beautiful windows. She was told that “The windows are like the different religions. Each one lets in a different part of the sun’s light.” She thought for a moment, then replied, “Jesus isn’t a window. He’s the sun.”

While different religions and philosophies may each convey some portion of truth about the important questions of life, they are at most simply windows. God is the source of all the light that is available to show through those windows. He’s the sun, the Single Source of Truth.

Build Your Life on the Truth

All around us, we see people who are floundering in a sea of false “truths”. They try to make their own truth, mixing and matching among the different worldviews available, no matter how illogical or contradictory those are. As Paul said:

For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator

Romans 1:25

But eventually they come up against something that can’t be faced without real Truth. They need God. They are searching for Him, whether they realize it or not. They are like Pilate when he had Jesus right there in front of him:

For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?”

John 18:37-38

My prayer is that no one stays as stubbornly stuck on lies as Pilate did.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.