What is Truth and How We Know It?

Can We Agree to Disagree?

I think this is the all time’s most fundamental question if philosophy. Can we agree or disagree on anything? Without reaching agreement or disagreement, we cannot have a discourse, as we just talking pass each other. This shows up in a Plato’s dialog, where an example is give about two men arguing. One of them says that the horse is white and the other that the horse is black. Do these two men disagree? No as they can be talking about two different horses. One is talking about a white horse and the other one about a black horse. So they are not disagreeing, just talking pass each other. And even if it is turns out that the horse is white, they still not disagree, as one is talking about an existing horse and the other one about a non existent horse.

We can see that it is very important, that is crucial, that we have common ground, even to have disagreement, or any meaningful discourse. And what would be the most important and the most fundamental common ground, but to have agreement about what is truth.

What is Truth?

On the surface this seems a very easy question to answer, but it is very deceiving. It is deceiving because we all have this impression that  we know what is truth. But when we try to define it, we realise that it is harder than we thought. We may even come up with the conclusion, that truth is something which we know, but cannot define. Well for this reason, we better start with baby steps in order to find out what is truth.

Is Truth an Entity by itself, or a Property of something else?

The first step is to find out if truth is an entity, a thing by itself? That is, does truth exists by itself, and if it does, what is it? So what are we refer to, when we say: The truth is …? Or, what is it means to say: Jesus is the truth? Do we mean that truth is a person, in the form of Jesus? Or what we are referring to when we say that: The truth is hurt? Do we referring truth as an entity which causing us pain and suffering? Or, do we referring to a set of conditions which is painful? It is the later one. When we say something is true, we are not referring to an entity, but a property of something else. So what is that something else, that truth is the property of?

Does it make any sense to say: The house is true? Or, The colour red is true? No, it does not. So, we can see that things like houses, colours  cannot have truth as a property. We can phrase there statements like this: The house exists and: The red colour is vivid.  Now, we can say that these statements are true or not true. OK, so what kind of statement is: The house exists? It is a proposition, as propositions are statements about states of affairs, which either can be true or not true.

Sub Conclusion:

In conclusion, we can agree, that: Truth is a property of  propositions. Therefore truth is not an entity by itself. Further more, only propositional statements can have the property of truth.

How do We Know if a Proposition is True?

Now that we know that truth is a property of a proposition, here comes the hard part of working out, how can we know that a proposition is true. As we said, propositions are declarative statements about state of affairs.  That is statements about what is the case actually. So, a proposition has the property of true, if and only if it states what actually is the case. It is very obvious, that what makes a proposition true is dependent on the proposition. That is the truth maker of each proposition is dependent on the content of the proposition. For example, the proposition of: My House exists. Has the property of true, if and only if, the actual case is that my house exists. And the property of the proposition: The colour red is vivid. Only true, if actually that is the case. But, we would go different ways to establish that a house exists and a colour is vivid. While it is common to all true propositions, that they state the actual case. It is different proposition by proposition, how you establish the actual case.

Now, we arrived at the crux of the matter. That is, how can we establish what is the actual case, concerning each proposition. In short, we arrived at the problem of knowledge. How we know what we know. In other word we arrived at the field of epistemology. One would think, this is great. As, for thousands of years, hundreds if not thousands, of philosophers worked in the field of epistemology. So, they sure have an answer for us by now. Sorry to burst this bubble, but  this is not the case. After all these years and all the ink that was spilled over the issue. Philosophers reduced the justification of knowledge, to three unsatisfactory options, aka the Munchhausen Trilemma.

The Munchhausen Trilemma:

If we want to know that something is the case (true), we may provide proof. But the same question arrive of the proof itself and any subsequent proof. This is the problem of bootstrapping. We have the following three options.

  1. The Circular Argument. (Coherentism)  In this theory of proof, proofs are supporting each other. i.e. A is supported by B and B is supported by C … but at some point we return to A. hence it is circular.
  2. The Regressive Argument. (Infinitism) In this case we prove A with B and B with C and C with D … ad infinitum.
  3. The Axiomatic Argument. (Foundationalism) In this case, all proofs are based on axioms and certainty. Axioms are base assumptions, which are take as self evidently true, without giving proof for them.

As we can see, none of the three options is satisfactory, as they all have problems. But, some of the options are less unsatisfactory than others. The Regressive Argument is the weakest. But, Fallibilism in contemporary epistemology, redeems it a bit. Fallibilism states that we cannot prove things true universally, but we can prove them false. So, we can hold theories tentatively, until they are disproved, or become unnecessary.

The strongest of the three is the Axiomatic Argument. Especially in logic, mathematics and metaphysics. All formal logical systems based on axioms, some times called postulates. Metaphysical arguments also based on axioms, unproven assumptions, some times called principles, or properly basic believes. It is also called, arguments from agreed premises. Without these axioms, we cannot do maths or logic or debate or communicate.

  Main Conclusion:

Finally we have established, that truth is the property of propositions. And that we can find out if a proposition is true, in metaphysics, by starting form axioms. That is based upon agreed principles, bedrock  assumptions, properly basic believes. Without these we cannot even disagree to agree. (jk)  So, we need to agree about the axioms, before we start a debate. Without them we just talking pass each other.

I leave you with one more thought. This is going to be the subject of my next blog entry. When I have time and mood for it: Everything is true or false within its frame of reference. Taken out of its frame reference, it becomes meaningless. Including this statement!

I can Prove that I am Not Here

The Proof:

Lets try to work out if I am here or not. Am I in Paris? No. Am I in London? No. Am I in New York? No. Am I in Rio? No. Now, if I am not in Paris, London, New York, or Rio, than I have to be somewhere else. But, if I am somewhere else, I cannot be here. Conclusion: I am not here.

There you go. I conclusively demonstrated, that  I am not here, or did I? How is it possible to demonstrate that I am not where I am, that is not here. After all, where ever you go there you are. Is this a paradox, or just bad reasoning? There are paradoxes, so it is not impossible that this is not another one. On the other hand, there are bad reasoning too. The question also arises, are paradoxes just bad reasoning in the first place. Whatever is the answer to this question, there is something  wrong with this proof.

What is Wrong with This Proof:

There are statements we can make about others, but not about ourselves. I can make a statement about Joe, e.g. that Joe is in Sydney, but he does not believe it. But, I cannot make the same statement about me, that is I am in Sydney, but I do not believe it. This would be paradoxical, since the first part of the statement’s prerequisite is  that I believe that I am located in Sydney. That is by stating that I am in Sydney I am stating my believe about my location. So, this statement says, that I believe and not believe at the same time something. It seems to me, that this is not even a paradox, but a self contradictory statement, which is a meaningless statement, that is not even a statement of anything.

So, is this proof is a paradox? No, it is not, because it is not a statement about believes, but a statement about facts. I am not stating that I am here, but I do not believe that I am here. It is a statement about a fact of my location and not a statement about my believe about my location.

OK, so it is not a paradox, then it must be bad reasoning. But what type of bad reasoning? Lets investigate what kind of logical fallacies this comes under. I said fallacies, as there are a number of logical fallacies involved in this proof.

First of all, it comes under the fallacy of hasty generalisation. Secondly it tries to arrive at the conclusion via the negative. It tries to find my location, by excluding other locations. This is not an effective method, as it can lead to an infinite task, as we have to eliminate all the other possibilities, which can be infinite, when it comes to universals. This proof only offers a few possible other locations and not an exhaustive list of them. That is why it is a hasty generalisation. It jumps to conclusion too soon.

So What is The Big Deal:

OK, we can see this is not valid reasoning, form the start, instinctively. So, what is the big deal, why we need to work out, how it is faulty reasoning? Yes, the example I gave is very obvious, but it is not so obvious in many cases, especially when it comes to Christian or other theistic apologetic.  In many, if not all, theistic arguments for God, they use this type of logical fallacies. Most of the time it is very hard to see that there are logical fallacies in their arguments. Theist usually try to establish the existence of their God by giving some negative attributes, that is what their God is not, and use hasty generalisation, to show God exists.

In conclusion, it is a good thing, a wise thing, to check every argument for logical fallacies first. I will save us a lot of time and trouble, if we notice any bad reasoning in the argument. Most importantly, we should check our arguments too. It will save us from a lot of embarrassment.

Epicurean Epistemology and Presuppositionalism

Atheists are being attacked by presuppositional apologists, like Sye Ten Bruggencate and Eric Hovind, telling us that in order to know anything, we need God. Telling us, that the atheist worldview (whatever it is) viciously circular, as it uses our senses and reasoning to justify our senses and reasoning. While the theists have God to justify their senses and reasoning. So we have to presuppose God in order to make sense of the Universe. In other words, they are attacking the very bases of atheist epistemology. They asking questions like: tell me something for certain and how do you know it. And questions like: can you be wrong about everything you claim to know. These questions can be intimidating even for a seasoned atheist. But do not fret, here comes Epicurean Epistemology to the rescue.

Epicureans were one of the four Hellenistic schools of philosophy. They were hedonist of the sophisticated type, not like the Cyrenaics. Epicureans had comprehensive metaphysics, including epistemology.

In Epicurean Epistemology knowledge is based on the senses. Why on the senses? Because they cannot be wrong!
One could bring up the classical objection, a stick, or an oar put into water half way, looks bent. But we can feel it with our hands, that it is not bent. One could say, look your eyes are deceiving you, as the stick is not bent, but it looks bent. As an Epicurean, I would say, not so fast. My eyes are not deceiving me at all, as they show me exactly what they should. Because in realty a stick put into water half way, should looks bent. So, my eyes are reliable, as they showing me what a stick put into water half way looks like. In fact, if I would see a straight stick, than my eyes would deceive me. Further more, I can use my senses and reasoning to find out, why a stick looks bent, when it is put into water half way. I could find out, that the reflecting index of air and water are different and that makes the stick appear to be bent. Please note, that I used nothing but my senses and reasoning to come up with the explanation. It was not an infallible all knowing eternal being, that revealed to me why a stick looks bent.
We could say the same thing about the other classical example of, why we should not believe what our senses tell us: The square tower looks round argument. Again, our eyes show us exactly what a square tower looks in a distance. And again we can and do use our senses to verify that the tower is square, by going closer to it.
Even the extreme case of dreaming, or being in the matrix, does not show, that our senses deceive us. As it is expected, that if someone in a deep dream, or in the matrix experience what is fed to their senses and brain. We may not have the opportunity, but if we would, we could use our senses to work out what was the exact cause of our experiences.

From the above, we can see, that our senses are rock solid base for our epistemology, that is our knowledge. Furthermore, we have no other way to get information about the world but our senses. Therefore the ultimate arbitrator about what is true, what exist etc, is nothing but our senses.

Euthyphro Dilemma, Trilemma…

The Euthyphro Dilemma usually comes up in refutation of the objective morality argument.
The Dilemma:
Is something moral because God commands it, or God commands it because it is moral? That is, are things intrinsically moral, or God assigns morality to them?
The problem for the theists is that it does not matter which option they choose, their argument for objective morality is defeated.
If they choose that something is moral, because God commands it. Then morality becomes arbitrary. As God, without any reason, wills things to be moral and immoral. Further more, God can change his mind and what was moral, can become immoral on the caprice of God. So there is no way to know what is moral or immoral, unless you have immediate access to God’s mind. This is not objective morality, but subjective, as it is subject to God’s mind.
On the other hand, if God commands something because it is moral. The morality of that thing is outside of God. God only recognises its morality, and that is why God commands it. God becomes a middle man and we can cut the middle man out, and still have access to morality without God. In this case objective morality exists, but God has nothing to do with it. In fact things could be and would be objectively moral without God.
The claim of the false dilemma:
In a seemingly brilliant move, theologians like William Lane Craig, claim that it is a false dilemma, as there is a third option. That is, morality is based in God’s nature. So it is not outside of God, nor it is arbitrary! It seems that you can have your cake and eat it too. But things are not what they are seem to be. In fact, the dilemma did not disappeared, at best, it became a trilemma. As now, theists have to show, that God’s nature is not subject to the same dilemma.
The dilemma of God’s nature:
Can God choose or change His nature, or God’s nature is set? Well, if God could choose his nature or God can change His nature, than God could and can change what is moral and morality is not objective. It depends on the caprice of God. If God cannot choose or change His nature. Than what is moral is not subject to God but subject to something else, or it is completely arbitrary. God just happened to have the nature what He has for no rime or reason.
To demonstrate this lets see God before the creation of anything. Here we have this God assigning morality to murder. If God have control over His nature, he could make murder moral or immoral. Remember nothing outside of God exist at this stage. So nothing can be examined or compared. So, God just on a whim makes murder moral or immoral. This is not objective at all. On the other hand, if God’s nature is set, in the way that murder is immoral. Than, it is something apart from God, which sets the immorality of murder, or murder arbitrary set to be immoral, without any reason or explanation. If we look at other “moral truths” like lying, cheating, stealing … etc. We can see that we could ended up with wast different combinations of there moral truths. In one instance, murder is immoral, but cheating is moral and stealing is moral or any other combination of these.
In summary, we can see that the Euthyphro Dilemma is not resolved, but pushed back one stage. The dilemma is still there, not only concerning the moral nature/attribute of God, but with all the other nature/attributes of God. In fact, the theist cannot account for why God is the way God is. The theist cannot account for why God exists, instead of not exists. Why God powerful instead of not powerful. Why God is effective instead of ineffective. Why God is good instead of evil. … etc.

Dialectic on Order and Random

About the Dialectic Materialist Method
The “dialectic” part of Dialectic Materialism refers to the method used to figure things out in materialist philosophy. To start we have to set our “Thesis” and “Antithesis”. These should be one word statements, to capture the essence of the subject at hand. You need to make a lot of effort to distill the issue to a pair of words. Then we have to do the analysis to come up with the “Synthesis” of the thesis and antithesis.

The Thesis
Our thesis at hand is “Order” as it refers to the Observable Universe (in future, for brevity I’ll refer to it as Universe only. ) around us. Order refers to the patterns, regularities, rationalities we come across when we observe the Universe.

I think we can all agree that we find lots of regularities around us. These patterns seem to make up the world around us. Even animals and early man noticed these regularities. We use them for survival. To make predictions about the future. Take for example the sun. It apparently rising in the morning and setting in the evening. Also, the tide coming in and going out. No miscommunication, as silly Billy Bill O’Reilly puts it.
This order gives one of the basis for science. We look for them everywhere and try to find out how they come about. So, we can agree that we have a great deal of order in the Universe, as it is self evident.

The Antithesis
Even so we see a great deal of order. Not everything seem to be in order. There are things which come about seemingly for no particular reason, out of the blue. These things we call “Random” and this is our antithesis.

One could argue that chaos would be more suitable antithesis of order. I do not think so, as chaos denotes complete disorder, utter confusion. We cannot see complete disorder or utter confusion around us. That is why chaos used, to refer to formless matter before the “cosmos”, the ordered universe appeared, in classical myths and legends. Random is unpredictable but not utter disorder, as we can see this in mathematics.

The Analysis
Lets look at our thesis “Order” first. As noted above, we can observe order in the Universe. But if we examine these regularities a bit closer. We notice, that not everything is what it appears to be. For example, the apparent movement of the sun in the sky. While on one level, or frame of reference, it seems to rise in the same place every day, but not exactly. If we observe those small differences every day, another pattern emerges. If we examine that even closer, we notice more small differences. In a same way if we examine any cyclic event, we notice that they are not completely cyclic. That is an object never ends up, at the end of a cycle, in the same place where it is started. We can see that in the movement of the Earth orbiting the sun. One would think that the Earth ends up in the same place in space where it started, but this is not true. See Perihelion Precession:
So, is the Earth’s orbit a cyclic? Take this a notch up. That is change the frame of reference and look at the Earth’s orbit at the galaxies level. Our Sun is located on one of the arms of the Milky Way Galaxy. Our galaxy rotates and in a collusion course with the Andromeda galaxy. Add to this, that the Universe, that is space itself expanding. How can the Earth end up at the end of its cycle in the same place? It cannot! We can see that the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is not a true cycle at all. It is a cycle in a certain reference frame only. But, this reference frame is arbitrary. We have set it up for our convenient. Anywhere you look you cannot find a “true” cycle.
This has been noticed by Heraclitus (535-475BC) the originator of “Logos” (No, it was not “John” the Gospel writer). He said: you cannot step into the same river twice.
Think about this for a moment. What does this means for science? There are no truly repeatable experiments! Each experiment is unique. Where this leave us? Well, it leave us where we are. That is why we cannot be 100% sure about any theory we have. They are subject to change due to new data. We can be highly confident in a theory only in a given reference frame.

As a side note: This blows WLC’s Kalma Cosmological Argument right out of the water. WLC states that there could not be an infinite number of events in the Universe. Well, since there are no true cycles. You can view the history of the Universe as one continuous event. So no need for infinite number of events.

How all these things affect our thesis? Is there Order in the Universe? I will try to answer this later, but now we have a look at our antithesis.

What is random? It is a good question, because it is very hard, if not impossible to answer it. Random is when no apparent pattern emerges from a series of events. Can we have true randomness in reality? Well, just as with order, we cannot seems to find true randomness. This is well demonstrated when we want to generate random numbers. These random numbers needed in some, if not most of scientific experiments. So far, we have not discovered a way to generate true random numbers. We can only generate pseudo random numbers. Scientist use a quantum events, a decay of a radioactive isotope, which considered to be random. Even if generate numbers by this method, after a while, exhibit pattern. That is the Gaussian distribution or bell curve. This is a very important fact, as we have to take this into consideration, when making statistical analysis.

The Synthesis
From our analysis, we can conclude that the Universe neither orderly nor random. It appears to be a mixture of the two and depending on what frame of reference we look at it.
What can we say about the Universe? Well not much with absolute certainty. All we can say is that the Universe is what it is and our perception of it is inconsistent as a whole. We cannot say that the Universe is inconsistent, as we cannot dictate how the Universe should be. We cannot say that the Universe is illogical either. We only can conclude that our logic is not completely consistent with the Universe.

Why should this be? We have to examine our thinking, that is, how our brain make sense of the Universe. If we take into consideration evolution. It is clear that our brain evolved to enable us to survive long enough to produce offspring. We notice, that our brain have a very good representation of our environment at the macro level. At the level we need to survive. But, if we move to the smaller or larger levels, the brain is not reliable at all, to represent the word around us. That is when we need the scientific method to gain a better picture.

We can see that our brain is not working like computers do at all. It does not give us exact answers to our questions about our environment. But it is like a Bayesian probability computing machine. At the macro level close enough is good enough. We working on high probabilities. Most of the time we are right. It does not have to be perfect. As long as we can survive, it is OK. As long as the brain errs on the safe side no problem. This explain why we ended up with hyper agency detection … etc.

So the synthesis of the Order and Random is that our brain projecting order and randomness onto the Universe. This could be disturbing to some, but it served us OK so far. So we should and have to trust our brains and senses. It is not the best, but this has to do, as we haven’t got a better one yet. Only we have to keep in mind, that we working with an imperfect instrument and have to count on errors.

The Two Gospels

If we look at the New Testament carefully, we notice that there is not one, but two opposing gospels.  One is James’ (Jacob) gospel of the circumcision and the other is Paul’s the gospel to the gentiles. Preachers and teachers try desperately to harmonise the two. They try to make them into one, but they fail miserably. Nowadays if is almost exclusively Paul’s gospel taught, by being silent and or explaining away the gospel in the Gospels and in James, Jude and John. So for many it seems the New Testament (NT) is one gospel only.

The Gospel of James
You could call James’ gospel the gospel of Jesus, but we do not really know what Jesus actually taught. All we know what people wrote about what Jesus was teaching, as we do not have anything from Jesus himself! Well, we do not really know who wrote the Gospels, or the other writings in the NT. For the sake of simplicity, lets just take that all the authors were the ones traditionally ascribed. Even the so call pseudegraphical, that is forged writings of Paul and Peter etc.

It is clear from the NT and the early church fathers, also from Josephus, that James was the head of the Jerusalem church. (Was this James the biological brother of Jesus? Who knows.) Nevertheless, James was at least a leading figure in early Christianity.

(See: Gal. 1:19, Gal. 2:9, Gal. 2:12, Act. 12:17, Act. 15:13, Act 21:18, 1 Cor. 15:7, Jas. 1:1, Jude 1:1, Wiki: Josephus on Jesus )

Can we call the Jerusalem church, that is James’ mob, Christian? Not really, as Christianity started at Antioch (Act. 11:26). Lets not argue over the name, as we could never get a consensus about who, or what group is Christian.

So, what was the gospel of James? Galatians 2: 12 describe the men from James as “from the circumcision”. This was their defining characteristic. From this and other parts of the Letter to the Galatians, Letter of James, Letters of John and Letter of Jude and the Gospels, we can safely say, that James taught that you have to be circumcised and follow the Jewish Law (Torah) to be a Christian.

Lets start with the Gospels. In the Gospels, we do not find any indication that Jesus ever wanted to preach his message to non Jews. On the contrary, Jesus specifically expressed that he came for “only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. (Mat. 15:24) He was very clear about this, when he sent out The Twelve, that they should not go to the gentiles and Samaritan, but only to the Israelite. (Mat. 10:5) One can argue and I do, that Mat. 7:6 ‘Do not give to the dogs and pigs what is holy’, also refers to, not to preach the gospel to non Jews. We can see that from Mat. 15:26 where Jesus referred to non Jews as dogs.

Jesus also clearly, unmistakably stated that just paying lips service and doing stuff in his name is not enough. He will send them away “who practice of lawlessness”. (Mat. 7:23) He also said, that unless they keep the Law better than the Experts of the Law and the Pharisees. They will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat. 5:20) Jesus did not reprimand the Pharisees for keeping the law. On the contrary, he admonished them for neglecting the more important part of it. (Mat 23:23, Luk. 11:42) Jesus also said, that to love him is to keep his commandment. (Joh. 14:15) Now probably the most well known “commandment” of Jesus is Love your neighbour as yourself. When they asked Jesus:
Matt 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? (KJV)
Matt 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (KJV)
Matt 22:38 This is the first and great commandment. (KJV)
Matt 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (KJV)
Matt 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (KJV)
Note, what Jesus said here, if you fulfill these two commandments fulfill the whole Old Testament!

In the light of the above, we can look at the 1st Epistle of John.
Verses like these:
1John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (KJV)
1John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. (KJV)
1John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (KJV)

John is saying here, that sin is breaking the law, that is the Torah! A Christian does not sin, therefor a Christian keeps the Law. This agrees with Jesus’ teaching, to keep the Law.

Looking at the Epistle of James. We come to the same conclusion. James picks up the second of the great commandment:
Jas 2:8 If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: (KJV)
Then he points out:
Jas 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. (KJV)
Jas 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (KJV)

Then James points out that faith without work, that is believing in Jesus without keeping the Law, is dead:
Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (KJV)
Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (KJV)
Jas 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (KJV)

Then James directly refute Paul on Abraham’s faith:
Jas 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? (KJV)
Jas 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? (KJV)
Jas 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. (KJV)
Jas 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. (KJV)

Then James continues with Rahab:
Jas 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? (KJV)
Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (KJV)

It is clear, that James does not think that Jesus taught anything about the end of the law and salvation by faith alone. James taught faith plus work of the Law will get you to heaven. Not faith alone! That is the gospel James and his men went around preaching.

The Gospel of Paul
When it comes to Paul’s gospel, I should not need to write about it. Just point to what the majority of Christian evangelical churches teach. That is salvation by faith alone.

One could protests, this is not Paul’s gospel, but “The Gospel”. Well, Paul himself calls it his own:
Rom 2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (KJV)
Of course we can find many versions of the salvation by faith gospel. But the common factor is, that you do not have to be circumcised and keep the Law to be a Christian. On the contrary, if you try to get saved by following the Law. You are out of salvation full stop. At least according to Paul’s Letter to the Galatians:
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. (KJV)
Gal 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (KJV)
Gal 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (KJV)
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (KJV)

Well, Paul lays it on the line, for a good reason. He writes this letter, because his church is in danger to go to the other side. That is James’ side. That is why the Letter to the Galatians is good source to see, what was Paul teaching, compare to James. In fact one should read the Galatians and the Letter of James, side by side to get an even clearer picture.

I could quote Paul from Romans and his other (not disputed) letters, to show that Paul was teaching, proclaiming salvation by faith alone gospel. But I think nobody disputes that.

One could say that Paul was teaching the same thing as James and the others. One could quote the same Letter to the Galatians to show that James, John and Peter agreed with Paul’s gospel. (Gal. 2:9) But do not forget, that the letter was written by Paul and he want to convince the Galatians that his gospel is the genuine one from the start and James and others changed, not him. So Paul tells the Galatians in the letter, that he received his gospel from Jesus directly. He did not learn it from men. And that the apostles accepted his gospel first and then later they changed their minds about it.

Also, one can appeal to the book of Acts, so called Jerusalem council, where the apostles agreed that the gentiles do not have to be circumcised and keeping the Law. (Acts 15:1-29) Again, we need to remember, who wrote the book of Acts. Well, if we can believe what the book of Acts says, Luke. OK, it is questionable that Luke the writer of Acts, was the same Luke who wrote the Gospel according to Luke. But who knows, who wrote any of the books of Bible for sure. The main thing is, that the writer of the book of Acts, was a companion of Paul. (I personally do not believe that the book of Acts was written by one person, because of the internal inconsistencies.) So, what would a companion of Paul writes? Of course what Paul said. After all Luke was not present at the council.

The same goes for 2. Peter. While the writer of 2. Peter states that what ever Paul writes it’s OK, only some twist them out, because they are hard to understand. But now we know that 2. Peter is a forgery, or to use the euphemism of pseudepigrapha. It was not written by Peter and written much later, when the church tried to harmonise the two gospels.