What Is Truth?

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

“What is truth?” Pilate asked.

John 18:37-38

These days many can empathize with Pontius Pilate’s cynical retort, “What is truth?” Misinformation both intentional and unintentional abounds. With social media it is easier than ever to communicate, but there is very little to hold you to making your communication true.

Our doubts about even having the capacity to know an absolute truth have been around for awhile. It is the hallmark of post-modernism to discount such a thing as truth and to make any statement “our truth”. If it is true to us, that is the best we can do or need do.

Revelation from God has long been dismissed from the mainstream as a source of truth. Even science has been exposed as limited, flawed and prone to political bias. Where does that leave us?

Despite skepticism about truth, I think we all know that there is such a thing. We just don’t always have the tools to know it.

Take, for example, our questions about the coronavirus. Do masks help stem the spread? The answer has been yes, no, maybe, yes. A virus can get through the weave of a mask–no doubt. Viruses suspended in drops of fluid that has been aerosolized, maybe not. The answer is depends. Is a mask an absolute defense-no. Does it help enough to where one? Here is finally a personal truth question. What is your tolerance for risk? How much will you sacrifice for at least some protection of others?

Conflicting information about coronavirus is largely due to the learning curve on this complex foe. It is hard to get absolutely conclusive studies done on something that has many variable factors. That has always been a limitation of science. Assuming conspiracies because of the vacillating answers, is both uncharitable and uninformed about how scientific inquiry works. Quick claims of cures need to be cautiously questioned. That is just the nature of the complexity of human bodies and of nature.

Wisdom is understanding that sources of information have their limits and vulnerabilities. That said, we should not jump to conclude that they are worthless. Science is very good for learning from repeatable events where there are not many variables (It is best if there is only one variable) When there are more variables you can come up with “circumstantial evidence”. The bandwagon for hydroxychloroquine appears to be circumstantial. Broader study didn’t show any benefit, at least not enough to outweigh the risk.

Science can sometimes be used to gain information about the past. Here it susceptible to the wrong assumptions of the investigator. Science is much better in dealing with the present. Neither a “science is worthless” nor a “science can solve everything” stance is correct.

Any form of inquiry can be used for ill. If someone is merely looking for justification for the prior beliefs or feelings, you can ignore evidence, manipulate statistics or just plain lie. The same could be said for “revelation from God”. A person could be mislead or intentionally misleading; but that doesn’t mean that revelation or truth about God doesn’t exist.

Jesus claims to be the source for truth about God, life after death, the human condition and a few other things. Can you trust Him? In these areas, humans are ill-equipped to discover the truth with our own faculties. It does not help that some have active imaginations about these things and that there could be (and I believe there is) a superior being intentionally trying to misinform us. Without help from God Himself to know the truth, we won’t get there.

This is not grounds for becoming an agnostic. God can help you. He wants to. The process is slow and can have set backs, but God can teach you. Jesus is the teacher, and is as active as ever.

It is hard to be open-minded and guarded at the same time. That is what it takes in a complex world filled with active deceivers. Hard, but not impossible. Test everything. Ask God for help. What He can teach you through the words of the Bible can bring many things together and restore a confidence in truth.

P.S. Since the late 19th century science has unnecessarily been constrain to assuming that there is no such thing as God. That doesn’t mean that the evidence suggests the same. For an interesting interview on where the evidence leads, watch this:https://www.discovery.org/v/53068/

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