“The opposite of a fact is a falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth.” – Niels Bohr
Some truths are scientific. They are factual. You can get a tape measure out and verify that a basketball goal is 10 feet from the floor level. Or that it is not. That is a matter of scientific fact. To say that a basketball goal is 11 feet from the floor when it is only 10 feet from the floor is a simple matter of saying something that is not true.
But not all truth is of this sort. Consider this truth: Life is good. Would you agree with that statement? Is it true? Well, whether you agree with it or not, I imagine you see that it is a different sort of idea from the statement about the height of a basketball goal. The “goodness” of life is not something that can be measured with any scientific instrument.
Does that mean it is not real and true? Are only scientific facts “true”? I don’t think so, and I don’t imagine you do either.
I do believe that life is good. I think that is a true statement. And yet, what might we say on the other side? Is life hard? It most certainly is. Is life “bad”? In some ways, I think we would have to say that life is bad. There are some real problems and some real sources of great pain and heartache.
As in so many other cases, these are two complementary truths. The opposite of the first profound truth was not a falsehood, but another profound truth that helps to complete our understanding.
Forgiveness is very important. So is stern discipline. Which is more true?
Which is better, leisure or hard work? Is it one or the other?
Things are always changing. Things always stay the same.
This life pales in comparison with eternity. Yet this life is very important and worthwhile. Can both be true?
How many times have you found yourself strongly agreeing with a position only later to hear something on the other side and find you that you agree with this other side too? I have done that many times. Is this inconsistent? Not always. Life is full of complementary truths of this nature. Many times you will find that two sides of a matter are both true. It can help us a lot to remember that. If we don’t, we may become very one sided and imbalanced. We will not have as full of a grasp of the whole picture of truth as we could. We will make mistakes of judgment. Perhaps large ones.
Perhaps sometimes when we are thinking about matters and we have a strong emphasis upon a certain principle of truth, we would do well to stop and ask ourselves: Is there truth on the other side, too? It may help us to realize that there is. Let’s practice remembering both sides of truth.