The Death of Truth

Posted by Scott Palmer on 27 March 2017 | Comments

The Death of Truth

It all over social media, television and most news outlets the growing concern over “fake news.” There are articles written with concerns about whether the President, congress, news media outlets are actually telling the truth.  I agree that it is deeply concerning when you wonder is anybody telling the truth. Sadly, it has almost become a joke for the media to complain about people not telling the truth.

How did we get here?  The simple answer is we no longer live in a Christian nation that affirms a Biblical worldview.  We have replaced a Biblical worldview with a secular worldview. The foundational truth of a belief in God has been rejected culturally and now replaced by a secular materialistic view that says truth is basically how you see it or feel about it. In April of 1966 Time Magazine asked the question of our culture, “Is God Dead?” and now in April of this year they are asking the question “Is Truth Dead?” The logic is right on: a culture that rejects God also rejects objective truth. No God, No objective truth.

Let me clarify. I am not saying that secularists/atheists/materials cannot be moral or believe  in truth.  In fact, they can be and many are very moral and truthful people.  In fact, there are people who affirm a Biblical worldview who are not moral and not truthful.  What I am saying is that when one rejects God and embraces secularism, one rejects objective moral truth.  Truth becomes relative: it is simply your opinion.

James Emery White  in his 2016 blog called “A Post-Truth World” writes:

          Oxford's 2016 Word of the Year has just been announced, and it is equally reflective of our    day: "Post-Truth." "It is defined as an adjective relating to     
          circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals."

          Yes, it was born out of the recent political season that led to the U.K.'s "Brexit" vote and the    U.S. presidential election of Donald Trump. But it's actually
          been long in the making.

          A few years back we called it "truthiness," as inserted into our lexicon through the Comedy  Central television network, and specifically through the premiere of 
          The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert:

               ‘And that brings us to tonight's word: truthiness. Now I'm sure some of the Word Police, the wordanistas over at Webster's, are gonna say, "Hey, that's not 
               a word." Well, anybody who knows me knows that I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true, or
               what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that's my right. I don't
               trust books. They're all fact, not heart.’

The idea behind "truthiness" is that actual facts don't matter. What matters is how you feel, for you - as an individual - are the final arbiter of truth. "Truthiness" is the bald assertion that we are not only to discern truth for ourselves from the facts at hand, but create truth for ourselves despite the facts at hand.

It seems to me that you cannot have it both ways. If you want to affirm post-truth in which objective facts are less influential than emotional appeals then you have undermined objective truth.  If our culture is going to affirm post-truth then how can anyone be held accountable for what they say because they may simply be telling their version or feeling about the truth? In many cases,  our culture would say the loving thing to do is to not affirm that which we know is  objectively true as true but instead affirm that which is purely subjective and not based in truth.  Our culture defends a secular post-truth reality and then complains if people don’t tell the truth.  That is the problem with secularism: THERE IS NO OBJECTIVE TRUTH. (Sorry about being so redundant).

So here is the question? What is truth? Truth is what matches reality, truth corresponds to the facts, truth tells it like it is and matches its object. This has been called the correspondence theory of truth. The idea is simple: If I say, “I am writing with a pencil” that is only true if I am indeed writing with a pencil.  This is by far the most common understanding of the nature of truth and has left the strongest mark on evangelical theology. The correspondence idea of truth has not only been the foundation of evangelical theology but of western thought and this is what is at stake.  The foundation of what we have known as western civilization.

White closes his blog:

                  But this is precisely what we seem to be losing, and at risk is our sense of revelation itself.

This is, to be sure, the heart of the matter. It's the idea that truth exists, and that it stands above human experience. It judges human experience. Truth is, by its very nature, transcendent. It exists independent of our acknowledgment of it, much less our obedience to it. To deny this is to live in not simply a "truthy" world, but a "post-truth" world.

But it's not simply that "objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals." It's that we deny the existence of objective truth itself, and make emotion our authority.

Yet even a skeptic as hardened as Sigmund Freud had to maintain that if "it were really a matter of indifference what we believed, then we might just as well build our bridges of cardboard as of stone, or inject a tenth of a gramme of morphia into a patient instead of a hundredth, or take tear-gas as a narcotic instead of ether."

The bottom line is that truth matters.  Not just your truth or my truth but objective truth.  We need God’s truth.  Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32 (NIV). It is only when we embrace the objective truth of the Gospel that we will find real freedom and the life we were created to live. 

This is why the Biblical worldview matters. I want to encourage you to lovingly live and stand for the truth.  Live in such a way that “the Truth” Jesus himself shines through you.

Look forward to seeing you Sunday.

Pastor Scott


James Emery White  “A Post-Truth World”,  November 28, 2016

 Norman L. Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe, Reasons For Belief, (Grand Rapids: Bethany House

     Publishing, 2013) 16-17.