What is Truth?

As Easter approaches, many of us will be reminded of Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate described in John 18. When asked by Pilate if he is the “King of the Jews”, Jesus confirms by saying, “My kingdom is not of this world….For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world — to bear witness to the truth.” Pilate replied, probably with more than a little contempt and cynicism, “What is truth?”

We live in an age where the truth is hidden from us more than ever.  Was Covid-19 a result of the natural mutation of a bat virus or the product of a lab in China?  Did the media and government agencies suppress the Hunter Biden (and by extension Joe Biden) Chinese influence peddling story because they thought it was not true, or because they were afraid it might allow Trump to win reelection?  Were the Twitter files conclusive proof that Big Tech colluded with government agencies to silence conservative viewpoints, or is that merely a conspiracy theory espoused by right wing extremists?  And how much does it matter whether we determine the truth to these questions?

I believe the truth matters a great deal.  It is clear that there is a fierce battle raging between the proponents of differing viewpoints on each of these subjects, and that the opposing views cannot both be true.  Basic logic holds that either one view is more true than the other, or both views are equally false and there is another explanation.  The easiest way to determine “the truth” is to allow as much “sunshine” as possible — giving all sides the opportunity to examine the available evidence in order to come to the right conclusion.  When one side insists that the evidence cannot be disclosed or examined for fear of jeopardizing national security or causing some other extraordinary calamity, then we should be suspicious that we are being duped.  

A couple of great quotes come to mind.  A U.S. Senator once cautioned as we entered World War I that “The first casualty of war is truth.” Truth is hard to discern in the middle of any battle, whether it is the smoke and commotion of a real war — or the confusion produced by a clash between opposing views. We are currently engaged in a philosophical war between staunch defenders of personal and religious freedom and those who favor more government and institutional control. 

While I’m strongly in the camp of more freedom, I’m aware that either side may be willing to say or do anything to prevail.  In that case, the second quote from Ronald Reagan should be heeded.  “Trust but verify.”  He is a fool who blindly believes that something is true without first putting it to the test.

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