Opinion Versus Truth

Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of Namibia’s Constitution.

To have an opinion is an important right of any citizen. This is fine as long as it doesn’t alter perceptions of reality. The world is not constituted by opinions. Religious freedom is a similar right of any citizen. But religions are not constituted by the opinions of bystanders.

This would not be a big issue had it not slowly subverted the substance of democracies.

A nation can’t be firm if it regards itself as people with all manner of opinions.

As a first step to countering this perception we ask for an opinion to be transformed into an argument.

Reasons have to be provided for why one opinion is more valid than others.

We progress quite well through reasonable argumentation.

Nevertheless, such debates may go on forever. We face the risk of eternal regress: There is always another question popping up.

We have to discuss to the point where no more questions can be asked.

In Kantian philosophy, ‘liberty’ which can’t be questioned any further comes to mind.

Liberty is more than freedom of choice. It is the ultimate basis of moral autonomy.

It constitutes the ability to be human not only in a subjective, but also in an objective manner.

Thus, we can’t shy away from the fact that we humans need truth.


Goodness, truth and beauty are pre-conditions of our being – a priori as Kant would say.

We can’t be a people who worship malice and untruth.

This is relevant to religion as well. We know how much harm false prophets cause.

While we express ourselves through day-to-day opinions, we must not forget we are on a track towards the truth.

Through sacredness, religions strive to grasp the full meaning of this truth. Liberalism sees itself in defence of true freedom.

As we progress from opinions to arguments to an intelligible truth, we come close to where realism meets idealism, thinking and believing become identical, justice and freedom converge into peace. Hope will arise.

  • Andreas Peltzer is a Catholic theologian.
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