We live in the era, our very own time, of what ethicists and metaphysicists term:
In short, the old notions, meanings and understandings of truth no longer exist, no longer apply to our lives and lifestyle. They no longer control our behavior, guide our thinking, structure our morality or in any other meaningful, life-giving way, influence our thinking or our behavior, so THEY say. Scary times, don’t you think?
If in fact there is no such thing as truth, at least absolute truth, how do we live? If for example our Constitution is a guide only and not to be applied in its exact, original and textual way, if our laws, statutes, rules and regulations are subject to interpretation or in fact not applied in every case, if our moral standards once governed by Biblical tenets and principles now are consistently changing as Obama indicated they would be and there is no absolute moral authority or governing laws such as the Ten Commandments, then how do we live? Obviously, it would then be a world of:
And it seems as though anything does go in this ever-growing immoral and truth-irrelevant age. Old standards and principles, old traditions and way of thinking have gone by the board. A new moral and even legal relativism now exists where what is right changes day to day. Right is defined as what is right for the times, the circumstances and of course the individual. We determine, so they say, what is right for us and at the time. Judges bend the law and over interpret. Juries nullify and can often reach prejudiced and wrong decisions. The clergy waters down the Scriptures, interprets away or ignores much of the Judeo-Christian fundamentals. And the era of POST-TRUTH grows and absorbs everything. This kind of new metaphysics, POST-TRUTH thinking surely invades the world of politics, even science. There are what many accuse the Trump Administration the so-called ALTERNATIVE FACTS, made-up, subjective and changing. In the world of the media, we the people now wrestle with FAKE NEWS, made up, sensationalized and offered with the slimmest of evidences or in some cases none at all. It is it seems a day and age where fear, insecurity, deep uncertainty and concern rule the day.
It is as though belief, whether group or individual, no matter how flimsy is elevated to the level of truth. We are living, said one, in THE AGE OF LYING. For in this POST-TRUTH era, a lie could have the very standing of truth itself. Many think, without absolute truth, it is impossible to define, understand or live by truth. Today, there are many definitions of truth and some think it is impossible to define. And so we wrestle with the age old question posed by Pilate of old as he questioned Jesus of Nazareth:
WHAT IS TRUTH?
For Pilate, there was no answer other than perhaps the Roman one that might makes right. Pilate never realized that he was encountering TRUTH INCARNATE.
In fact, that innocent man judged by Pilate told his world then and ours today that HE was in fact THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. To understand HIM and his moral code was in fact THE TRUTH.
The philosopher William James said of truth:
TRUTH IS WHAT WORKS BEST IN LEADING US
Leading us to solutions and practical problems. Such a definition as such must be always changing, never stable or absolute but only what society and individuals think is BEST. Such a definition would make it almost impossible to live a consistent and collective lifestyle, thirst for oneself and then for society at large, with others.
It seems as though we the people live on guard for the lie. Even in our very closest relationships, family and friends, we suspect that we very seldom ever get THE TRUTH, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We get some version, or spin, or individual interpretation, or rationalization or flat out lie even from our very own family. We seem so hardened to the lie that we are not surprised by it. Children can lie by omission or commission. Even husbands and wives do the very same when necessary or expedient. A business turns away from a wayward employee, failing to discipline, fearing to fire. Even the clergy lowers the bar on truth. We the people take it for granted that a politician lies and in fact, can not succeed in politics unless he or she does in fact lie. There is, it seems in this era of POST-TRUTH that there really is little or no trust, declining integrity and an ever creeping immorality without accountability. POST-TRUTH thinking is corrosive, degenerating and eventually may well destroy a once well-structured and traditionalist thinking society like ours.
POST-TRUTH era beliefs divide people into antagonistic camps, often any number of them. We, each side says, know the truth and we are right and you the other IS wrong. Democrats, progressives and liberals are right, the possessors of the truth and the Republicans, conservatives and constitutionalists, traditionalists are dead wrong. And ne’er the twain shall meet. There is no dialogue, little compromise and now in politics, might or majorities rule, no matter the means such as the nuclear option exercised by the Senate to make decisions (Gorsuch) or passed legislation. It will be done our way whatever it takes. Such a vision of truth then becomes isolated, its system of beliefs hanging together, ossifying, hardening and of course at times dead wrong itself. We are forced to accept that powerful version of truth whether we like or believe it or not. Such an end result of things political can be indeed disastrous for society.
But still, even today, there are many, millions upon millions who know, intuitively and intellectually, that there is truth, absolute truth, unchanging and eternal. They may not fully grasp the meaning of truth, all truth, but that understanding is buried deep in the heart, put there by THE CREATOR acting as a check and balance, a conscience, a sensitivity to right and wrong, an eternal guide for the lifestyle and decision making of mankind. It becomes visible to society in norms like:
THOU SHALT NOT KILL
And it especially admonishes us not to lie:
THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS
Which of course means that we live by and communicate the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We may ignore those lies but they are the right, the truthful laws whether we observe them or not. It is as though the heart acts as a lie detector, warning us we are off target that we have erred or in biblical terms sinned and a repentance and forgiveness should follow. There should be a course correction in behavior and return to the right moral norm. Such a moral sensitivity is even more powerful than the law itself and any discipline or punishment it metes out.
No matter how pervasive the new moral relativism is, no matter how morally compromised our society and we the people have become, there is in fact ABSOLUTE LAW, ABSOLUTE TRUTH AND AN ABSOLUTE MORALITY. It is not changing as men would wish, for the times, for the circumstances or for the individual. It existed from the beginning and it will still exist when all things end as they will. For the Christian, we find and know that truth for Scripture, the Bible our guide. We find it most clearly in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of Glory and all that he said and how he lived. We find it through prayer to the Father and as we are guided and comforted by THE SPIRIT. We can know by living in constant state of prayer, and meditation, and thoughtful communion with the divine and all things eternal. The process of understanding truth never ends and is always right.
The Apostle Paul told us that we see through a glass darkly. That is, we will never know fully and completely the truth. But there will come a time when, face to face:
WE WILL KNOW
But we can know enough now to know how to live, what is right and most especially, Pilate, WHAT IS TRUTH. It exists for all mankind in THE ONE who said:
I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE!
And that is for millions upon millions the only way.