“Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.”
As I wrote yesterday, our generation is often described as the “post-truth culture.” This is because the worldview that currently dominates and directs much of our society is the terribly misguided belief that objective truth is a myth. The claim of this radically relativistic philosophy is that truth is not something that exists objectively on its own, instead it is something created through popular and prevailing narratives. They assert that truth is socially constructed.
Today, the very nature of truth is in dispute. The debate is not so much about what is true; the debate is about whether truth itself even exists. The consequences of this subjective worldview are catastrophic for everyone and everything in our society.
The post-truth worldview is an animating force in contemporary politics. For example, Michel Foucault and his followers claim that what is defined as “truth” is a function not of verifiable evidence or sound logic but of power-relationships that masquerade as neutral means of enforcing order. According to Foucault, impartiality and objectivity are impossible in science, politics or any other endeavor. All claims to knowledge mask a subtle strategy of a group trying to establish power and control over others.
I have noticed that the predominance of the post-truth mindset has produced a significant change in my conversations with non-Christians, especially on college campuses. In the former culture, when I presented the truth-claims of the Christians faith, college students would ask me, “What evidence do you have the Christianity is true?”
Now, however, the reaction from students is: “What gives you the right to say that?” What is offensive today is the mere assertion that there is such a thing as truth that is knowable. In reality, the fact is that most in the younger generation don’t even talk about truth any more. The existence or knowability of truth is a non-issue. Reality is non-important. Only what one feels is important. Students are no longer taught how to think, or even what to think. They are taught how to feel about what they think.
Belief in objective truth has been the foundation of western civilization. When something is objectively true (such as the existence of gravity), it’s true for everyone regardless of whether people acknowledge it or not. Objectivity understands that the real world exists, even though we may experience it differently or see different aspects of it or even have different beliefs about it. Those who believe in objective truth recognize that we have a common base from which to discuss what is true and what isn’t, because we all live in a real world where truth can be observed, discovered, evaluated, and known.
In other words, despite the claims of postmodern philosophers, the reality is that truth isn’t created by narrative and persuasion; rather, truth is discovered through discipline and effort. This is the nature of the world that has created.
In the first chapter of Romans, the Lord warns of the suppression of truth:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:18-23)
Such is the zeitgeist of the world in which we live. The Lord calls us to be agents and ambassadors of truth, and we must be equipped to engage the culture with the objective realities of God, the world he has created, and the good news of Jesus the Redeemer.
We will continue tomorrow …