Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Agony of Truth

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
they walk about in darkness . . .
(Psalm 82:5)

Knowing the truth about things can bring a certain satisfaction, but it can also be agonizing.

I am confident that I know the absolute truth about many things through exposure to evidence and the application of common sense and rational reflection to that evidence. Further, by these means I am capable of perceiving the truth in other areas that have not yet come within my field of concern. Indeed, I have no doubt about my ability to understand the truth despite the claims of postmodernists that truth is relative and each person has his own “truth.” (In fact, if you claim we can’t know the absolute truth, my question to you is, “Is that true?”)

But knowing the truth can result in severe discomfort. It’s annoying to have to deal with Facebook posters, for example, who are wilfully ignorant of the truth about certain political, economic, theological or scientific questions. People who actually know the truth are pilloried for their opinions that don’t fit into the politically correct falsehoods that make up today’s cultural paradigm.

Take the question of evolution. There is no way that “natural selection” could result in the rise of a new species, since the genetic reproductive information built into the DNA code is already present in every reproduced organism. Dogs can be bred for size or other traits because the genetic information for largeness, smallness, etc. is already present in every dog’s DNA. Breeding can produce a small dog by minimizing the genetic information for largeness, but the offspring will still be a dog. It will never become an octopus, and any mutation that would make a dog more octopus-like would kill it. But just try to persuade the willfully ignorant that evolution is a myth, and that belief in evolution isn’t science but a philosophical commitment. Because of their brainwashing they won’t understand you, and that’s frustrating.

The same applies to many other areas. In the field of the economy, the truth is that the more the wealthy are demonized and taxed the fewer people will be wealthy and able to pay the taxes that support people receiving government benefits. Eventually everyone will be poor, and there will be no tax money available to provide benefits for anyone. But the willfully ignorant, who support the policies of the current Administration, can’t grasp this truth because they have an ingrained prejudice against allowing some people to be wealthier than others — except people like them, of course, who are allowed to be wealthy because they’re the elite. Knowing the truth about the economy is discouraging, because there’s such mindless resistance to the truth.

When you know that Christianity is the only true religion, because the teachings of Scripture correlate with the design of the universe (see Romans 1:18-25), it’s disheartening to hear public figures apologizing for the accidental destruction of “sacred” texts of a false religion. Every religious movement that isn’t based on the Bible — and the Bible alone — is a false ideology. It is not the truth, and there’s nothing sacred about it. It’s painful to have to deal with people who refuse to recognize the Christian Scriptures as presenting the only true world view.

And, along those lines, when you know the truth about what a passage of Scripture really means it’s disconcerting to hear false interpretations from the pulpit, or from television or radio preachers. The meaning of a Bible passage is what it meant to those who first uttered it and heard it, in their historical and cultural setting. Twisting it to mean something else, because “that’s what we’ve always believed,” grates on the sensibility of those who know the truth.

It would be more comfortable to accommodate prevalent falsehoods and simply coast along in blissful ignorance of the truth. But I find I can’t sacrifice my understanding of the truth to my personal comfort. Like Jeremiah, I find the truth is “a burning fire shut up in my bones” (Jeremiah 20:9) that I can’t put out.

Some will accuse me of arrogance for claiming that I know the truth, while so many others are ignorant. It is not arrogant, my friends; it is agonizing.