Absolute Truth?

[Excerpted from comment to Bob Lewis' Advice Line column]

We all have slightly different views on ethics. It seems to me that to expect that it could be any other way is to invite bloody conflict. Tolerance, and making a supreme effort to understand and find some value in other beliefs matures our own morality as well as promotes peaceful coexistence.

Contrary to the assertions of almost every belief system I've encountered, I don't believe there is such a thing as "absolute truth". There are too many variables. "Truth" is a moving target. It's constantly changing in light of new knowledge and greater understanding. It's called a "search for truth" for a reason... It's a process, not a goal. Whether God created Man or Man created God, what greater meaning could there be to our lives than for that search for truth to lead us to exceed our expectations?

If God is the Father of Man, is not a parent's most profound wish that their children grow into better adults than they? If, on the other hand, Man created God to embody and personify the ideals we should strive for in order to better ourselves and our world, then too is not exceeding those expectations not only desirable, but required to fulfill that destiny?

Whether one is atheist, agnostic or devout, is not the struggle the same... to become more than we are?

We in information technology are at the forefront of the latest great leap our society's ability to understand the world. Unfortunately, it's become painfully obvious that those who don't understand these new technologies and how they've changed our perceptions and behaviors are making highly flawed and destructive decisions. Their ignorance prevents their grasping the ramifications that are all too obvious to the rest of us. Despite our discomfort with the chaotic world of ethics, philosophy and theology, who else is there to bring rationality and maybe even a bit of wisdom to this decision-making?

As technologists, we like certainty. We like absolute truth. But have you noticed that the more complex computers and software get, the more elusive certainty becomes? Is certainty (truth) an illusion... an approximation... a convenience used to simply problems? What happens when our margins of error don't cover the inherent uncertainty that we are masking? If we're flying space shuttles, people die. Thankfully, most of us don't have people's lives in our hands... or do we?

Enterprise Ethics - by Carlton Vogt, former Infoworld columnist

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