• David Flowers

Regarding truth…

What I’m about to write here is for my own self-indulgent fun. I’ll enjoy parsing through it and if anybody else would find it interesting, much the better.

I was thinking about the 60’s revolution and how it was a response to the influence of Christ. It was a a movement the baby boomers originated in direct response to the conceptions of God, church, Christ, and family held by their parents.

The foundation of that movement was a questioning of propositional truth. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” The hippies questioned whether truth itself could even be known and this was the basis for their rebellion against their parents and all that went with it. Of course this was nothing new, as Pontius Pilate predated their philosophy by a few thousand years.

John 18:37-38 (NIV) 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked…

G.K. Chesterton predicted the 60’s revolution with incredible clarity in his seminal book, “Orthodoxy,” about his religious journey. He predicted it would arise from a basic questioning of whether propositional truth existed (the question of which was being hotly argued among philosophers at the time), that it would begin in our universities, and then filter out to affect the entire society in a way that was so pervasive that things would never be the same in our culture again. It could be said that he was a prophet of post-modernism.

Now of course Jesus’ fundamental message was that God (truth) could be known, that he himself was the embodiment of God (and thus truth).

John 14:9 (NIV) 9 … Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Paul picked up on this in the Christologically astonishing book of Colossians:

Colossians 1:15 (NIV) 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

The Greek word for “image” is imago dei, which basically means “the exact likeness.”

The 60’s revolution which has led to our current post-modern mindset in America began among philosophers who were engaged in what they saw as a conscious battle to refute Christian orthodoxy and subvert the authority of the church. Until the Enlightenment, philosophy did not see itself as necessarily standing in opposition to Christian truth, nor did any other major area of study. It was the Enlightenment that brought on the notion that knowledge of God is irrelevant to being an expert in any given field.

This assumption is now so powerful that it has moved from assumption to presumption – from a consciously adopted mindset into the realm of unseen ideas that influence all the ideas which come from them but which itself is often not consciously seen.

Strangely we are now in the position of having universities that have a sign on one of their buildings with the word “Veritas” (Latin for truth – most major universities have this somewhere), and yet few professors in those universities even believe truth actually exists, therefore truth cannot be found. Therefore pursuit of truth is fundamentally a pursuit of unicorns, and it seems few see the irony. They make up for it by saying, “We’ll teach you to pursue YOUR truth,” but of course then they will expect you to answer math and science questions in a certain way, even though they claim there’s no such thing as objective truth. The whole thing is so flawed and circular and ridiculous I can’t believe all these smart people don’t see it. To use a phrase from Parker Palmer, there’s this enormous secret hidden in plain sight.

Why do universities keep the word Veritas around? Because they have to hold themselves up as bastions of truth in order to sell themselves to the public. We want to believe our kids are going to college to find truth. However, few of their teachers even believe in truth, and by the time their teachers get done with them, most of the students won’t either. By claiming to have the Truth (of course the truth to them is that there is no truth – which of course means that even the truth that there is no truth cannot be the truth, ad nauseum), they can maintain their position as the institution that holds sway over the way Americans think about matters such as truth and therefore, by extention, all fields of knowledge that make truth claims, such as religion, science, etc.

To quote a line from a song I love, “Took a class – big fun. Modern Ethics 101. First day learned why ethics really don’t apply.” Although facetious, this is the circular loonacy you’re left with once you abandon the notion that truth exists.

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