# 6 Can Truth Change? #1055

From Volume II writings of St. Maximilian Kolbe ( in the Rycerz Niepokalaney, 1924)

It was on March 13 of this year.  I was on my way to Warsaw.  In front of me sat a good Jewish woman, and beside her a man, also of Mosaic faith. To his right sat an intellectual, whose origin was betrayed only by the fact that she was deeply engrossed in reading a newspaper written in an unintelligible language. I finished reciting the breviary, glanced at the newspaper, and inwardly invoking the Immaculata, I began to look for an excuse to start a conversation.  Finally I turned to the young man:

“You are an Israelite, are you not?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Which political group do you belong to?”

“I am a Zionist.”

“Could you please explain, then the goals of Zionism?”

“But you should know them already.”

“Certainly, I have heard many things about Zionism, but I would just want to learn it from the lips of a Zionist.”

The intellectual lady, who evidently shard the views of the young man, joined in the conversation to demonstrate the goal of the Zionists is the recapture of the homeland for diaspora Jews.

“But there could not possible be room enough for you all in Palestine,” I pointed out to her. “So Zionism must surely have set itself a more comprehensive program.”

            At first they both denied it, then they conceded that “progressive” Zionists are opposed to orthodox ones who are “pious” and “clerical.”

“And which of these is right?” I asked.

“You cannot establish truth,” that lady claimed, “because it changes over time. Thus, for example, it used to be held true that the sun revolves around the earth, but now, after Copernicus, the truth is that the earth spins around the sun, and we do not know what will happen later.  Truth is changeable.

“Indulge me, madam, what is two and two?”


“And what was it a hundred years ago?”

“Still four.”

“And what will it be in a thousand years?”

“ ..Yes, but that only applies to mathematical truths.”

            “And a hole is greater than or less than one part?”

            “Obviously, it will always be more, but that also is a mathematical truth.  Let us take instead something else:  We say that this sheet of paper is white.  Yet color is a sense impression reported by our eye.

“Pardon me, madam, but one thing is to explain what white is and another so say that this sheet of paper is white.  In the first case we point out the reason for it, and we cannot obviously make an offhand statement without due research.  Also, it makes sense to distinguish between things that are certain, very likely, probable, or doubtful.  Thus, for example the current theory or hypothesis on the vibrations of the ether, the bending of light rays, and so on, are quite likely, yet no scientist would dare assert that they are axioms of science.  The fact that this sheet of paper is white is a different issue of giving an explanation on the nature of whiteness or how it is that we see this paper as white.  And your example about the rotation of the earth around the sun bears upon this as well.  Nowadays no one would be surprised if an astronomer, having perused the starry sky all night, were to turn his gaze to the horizon that lights up in the morning and say: “How beautiful a sunrise is!” Indeed, it would be more strange if at that moment, without expressing his immediate observation, he were to say, ‘Oh! How well the earth revolves around the sun!’ The statement “The sun rises’ certainly indicates and will always tell you the same thing, although the explanation of the causes of such phenomenon may change until we reach complete certainty.”

            “But what other truths are similar to that one?”

“For instance, we are sitting here and we are talking.  That is a truth and so will remain forever.”

“Yet we will soon be gone from here.  So even that truth changes.”

“Not at all, because it will always remain true that at that particular time we were here, sitting and talking. And even though all men were to say and swear, or some of them even sing in four or ten parts that it was not so, despite all that they would still be lying.  What really happened would instead still be true.”


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