CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Death of Truth

Oct 11, 2018

Either truth is objective, universal, and independent of our personal opinions or it is not. If not, then it is no longer truth. For truth is that which exists above and beyond our preferences, tastes and desires. This is what is known as the correspondence theory of truth.

Truth is that which corresponds to reality. Truth corresponds to the way things really are. Truth is what corresponds to the actual state of affairs being described. Truth is ‘telling it like it is’. This is worth looking at in more detail. We live in an age which no longer is able to think straight, and which denigrates the very notion of truth.

So we need to reemphasise some basic verities that almost everyone took for granted until just recently. Christian philosopher Norman Geisler further explains what we mean by the correspondence theory of truth:

All noncorrespondence views of truth imply correspondence, even as they attempt to deny it. The claim: “Truth does not correspond with what is” implies that this view corresponds to reality. Then the noncorrespondence view cannot express itself without using a correspondence frame of reference.

If one’s factual statements need not correspond to the facts in order to be true, then any factually incorrect statement is acceptable. It becomes impossible to lie. Any statement is compatible with any given state of affairs.

In order to know something is true or false, there must be a real difference between things and statements about the things. But correspondence is the comparison of words to their referents. Hence, a correspondence view is necessary to make sense of factual statements.

Communication depends on informative statements. But correspondence to facts is what makes statements informative. All communication ultimately depends on something being literally or factually true. We cannot even use a metaphor unless we understand that there is a literal meaning over against which the figurative sense is not literal. So, it would follow that all communication depends in the final analysis on a correspondence to truth.

Let me try to make this as simple and practical as possible. If I say I am sitting at my desk now writing this article, that statement lines up with the real world, with what is actually taking place. Thus it is a true statement. And it does not matter if you believe it or not. It is true independent of your feelings or opinions.

On the other hand, if I claim that I am now surfing just off Waikiki Beach, that statement does NOT correspond with reality. I am not telling it like it is, but telling it like it is not. I am not telling the truth, because what I said does not correspond with reality.

But let me now turn to some obvious examples of this war on truth. We saw so much of this being played out in the recent Judge Kavanaugh hearings. Defenders of Christine Blasey Ford often made the case that truth is actually subjective, rather than objective.

For example, Democrat Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey kept referring to her testimony as “her truth.” In the same way, a recent move by the University of North Carolina to honour her with distinguished alumna award also ran with this subjective notion of truth.

As one faculty member said about the award: “This letter nominating Dr. Blasey Ford is not about partisan politics: it is about recognizing that the simple act of speaking one’s truth, especially when that truth involves sexual assault, is an act of bravery,”
mic.com/articles/191818/christine-blasey-ford-nominated-university-of-north-carolina-alumna-award#.DJ7NTFZQQ

Um, “her truth”? “One’s truth”? There is no such thing. There is only THE truth. And if we really want to play that game of ‘her truth’ then of course we should also talk about “his truth”. If Ford’s “truth” is to be applauded and championed, then Kavanaugh’s “truth” should also be.

If there is no objective truth, but only the “truth” of each person as they see it, then no truth is to be believed over any other truth. No truth is more important than any other. And we have seen far too much of such subjective and relative notions of truth.

The Nazis of course thought that their truth was what mattered, and the truth of Jews and others did not matter. Slave owners thought that their truth about Blacks trumped the truth that all people are equal and deserving of respect. Abortionists believe their truth that some human beings are not persons and can be disposed of at will.

Today we can just make things up as we go along. This is especially the case in the area of what it is to be a person. Thus someone born a biological male can now make up his own truth about biology, DNA and reality and simply claim he is female. Or a grown man can claim to be a toddler. Or a White woman can claim to be Black.

The list is now endless as to folks identifying with whatever, regardless of the complete flight from reality this entails. Truth no longer matters, and even reality no longer matters. This is the death of truth. And when truth dies, we all die. No culture can long last when truth is trodden under foot, reality is transformed into fantasy, and everyone does what is right in their own eyes.

Yet such is the culture we now live in – anything goes, including your own truth. However, to claim to have objective, absolute truth is the new heresy. As Charles Colson once put it, “The most scandalous thing that one can do today is make a truth claim.”

But even more scandalous is the fact that most folks do not realise this reality: when we deny truth, we become ripe for tyranny. Indeed, all tyrants have known the importance of this. To fully rule a people and keep them in complete submission, they deprive them of the truth.

As the Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, famously said,

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

In his 1994 Templeton Prize Address, “Awakening from Nihilism,” social commentator Michael Novak clearly laid out what was at stake here:

Totalitarianism, as Mussolini defined it, is . . . the will to power, unchecked by any regard for truth. To surrender the claims of truth upon humans is to surrender Earth to thugs. It is to make a mockery of those who endured agonies for truth at the hands of torturers.

Vulgar relativism is an invisible gas, odorless, deadly, that is now polluting every free society on earth. It is a gas that attacks the central nervous system of moral striving. The most perilous threat to the free society today is, therefore, neither political nor economic. It is the poisonous, corrupting culture of relativism….

During the next hundred years, the question for those who love liberty is whether we can survive the most insidious and duplicitous attacks from within, from those who undermine the virtues of our people, doing in advance the work of the Father of Lies. “There is no such thing as truth,” they teach even the little ones. “Truth is bondage. Believe what seems right to you. There are as many truths as there are individuals. Follow your feelings. Do as you please. Get in touch with your self. Do what feels comfortable.” Those who speak in this way prepare the jails of the twenty-first century. They do the work of tyrants.

Yep, and the jails are now starting to fill up. Truth really does matter.

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12 Responses to The Death of Truth

  • Thank you Bill – very informative regarding the expression of truth and I am mindful of the Kavanaugh fiasco where “her truth” was not corroborated and thus was not regarded as truth and was simply allowed to fizzle out. But in this, we have the direct course as to what truth is and as you yourself state, truth has the support of all associated events which is why we have a saying that when you lie you had better have a good memory as a lie has no corroborating ally and thus one needs to conjure up further lies to corroborate the initial lie and each lie then also needs to be corroborated with further lies and so on – eventually, it will all come tumbling down which is what happened to Ford.
    To the rest of your writings, the short story can be found in the fable of Pinocchio where he was told that to do what you like and see things the way you want to will end up with the enslavement of donkeys and jackasses.
    Presently, our children are being taught that what you think you are is what you are. That is the truth to a certain extend in that you are what you think you are. However, if we lose mind of the truth then you end up losing the reality of what you really are which is why we need to look up to a higher being for that is the bedrock of truth and as Jesus said – I have come to give witness to the truth: For God is the only truth that can be relied upon and those who reject that truth end up rejecting themselves.
    In short Those who do not look up to God look down upon themselves.
    John Abbott

  • My observation: most of the people opposing Brett Kavanaugh are exactly the same people who are rather silent of the domestic abuse accusations against Democrat Keith Ellison.

  • I have long believed that when a post-modernist talks about “my truth” what he means is, “What I find convenient”, which, of course, has nothing to do with objective reality.
    Also, if “truth is subjectivity”, then any view or idea is as valid as any other, including the view that “truth is NOT subjectivity”. This is a dilemma which no subjectivist has ever really dealt with, but it highlights the fact that no-one, repeat no-one, is or can be a true post-modern subjectivist.
    What it means in practice, as implied above, is the domination of whoever shouts the loudest, or can successfully intimidate all would-be opponents.

  • Yes quite right Murray.

  • Along these lines there is an excellent article in Mercatornet https://www.mercatornet.com/features/view/hoax-offers-hope-that-post-modernist-madness-is-fading/21811
    Well worth reading and watching the video but of course what these people were able to uncover is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the endless indoctrination and brainwashing that is occurring not only in educational facilities but also especially in the public media where propaganda techniques of only telling half truths, misrepresenting information and what it means, selectively emphasizing matters that suit way over their real importance, simply pretending that opposing positions do not exist plus a number of other very basic propaganda methodologies such as the one you mention, Bill, simply repeating lies until they seem true. The other technique gaining increased use is, of course, creating new terminology that is in itself a lie in an effort to control people’s thinking. An example of this is the term “homophobic” which is a self contained lie. The fundamental concept behind the term is a lie but if you make people think it is reality and a valid term you change their thinking to conform to your alternate “reality.” The ABC and SBS are experts in these and many other propaganda techniques that they and others have been developing over years and learned from overseas organizations such as the BBC and, as yet, no one has been able to bring them back to reality and the very basic principles of secularism that requires opposing views to be given a fair hearing. These sorts of techniques, of course, are the only way that truth can be overcome but only temporarily. I guess this is one reason why God’s people are told they will need to be patient. For the sake of the people and democracy, however, I would definitely like to see the propagandists in the ABC and SBS dealt with before the Lord returns.

    We definitely have major problems in the education system where naive young people are shepherded into selecting and studying subject that teach lies and thereby creating new “academics” that then can claim to be peer reviewing these lies and this, of course, has now has become a self perpetuating industry on its own.

    1Th 5:21 Prove all things, hold fast to the good.

    This was a basic principle of the enlightenment and while people thought that objective truth would lead people away from God they were happy to follow this fundamental principle. Now that the evidence is stacking up against the worldly view and “knowledge has increased” as was prophesied, it is becoming increasingly difficult to oppose truth except through propaganda techniques and the endless promotion of alternate “realities.” While the people of God must always be campaigning and promoting and publishing truth and giving people every opportunity to come to truth we should also understand that God is revealing the wicked through the allowed delusion:-

    2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie,
    2Th 2:12 so that all those who do not believe the truth, but delight in unrighteousness, might be condemned.

    God is not only in the business of doing justice but in ensuring justice will be seen to be done.

  • Dear Bill, I was so enamoured with this part of the Goebbels quote …

    If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.

    … that I went hunting online for an original source, for my own purposes. Alas, there’s controversy, because the earliest mention of it is 1946, and that is said to be a misattribution.

    But in one sense, no matter, because if not Goebbels, then someone else thought of it, and it’s a deeply insightful observation, certainly ringing true for the big lies doing the rounds today, e.g. evolution, millions of years, climate scams, transgender, etc. I would think the political/economic/military consequences of these lies will come home to roost one day!

  • Great article Bill. Thank you. One of your very best in my view.

  • Very timely, Bill! Thanks!

  • Thank you Bill! God bless you! Awesome article! Will be sharing with many!

  • Not sure where to place this but, the Ashers bakers in the UK have WON!!
    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-45789759

  • In “Screwtape Letters,” chapter 1, where C.S. Lewis has Satan coaching his demon nephew, Wormwood, he puts it well.

    “….are you not being a trifle naïf? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. But what with the weekly press and other such weapons we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false”, but as “academic” or “practical”, “outworn” or “contemporary”, “conventional”or “ruthless”. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous — that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.
    ….. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result? Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it “real life” and don’t let him ask what he means by “real”. Remember, he is not, like you, a pure spirit. Never having been a human (Oh that abominable advantage of the Enemy’s!) you don’t realise how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary. I once had a patient, a sound atheist, who used to read in the British Museum. One day, as he sat reading, I saw a train of thought in his mind beginning to go the wrong way. The Enemy, of course, was at his elbow in a moment. Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years’ work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defence by argument I should have been undone.
    But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch. The Enemy presumably made the counter-suggestion (you know how one can never quite overhear what He says to them?) that this was more important than lunch. At least I think that must have been His line for when I said “Quite. In fact much too important to tackle at the end of a morning”, the patient brightened up considerably; and by the time I had added “Much better come back after lunch and go into it with a fresh mind”, he was already half way to the door. Once he was in the street the battle was won. I showed him a newsboy shouting the midday paper, and a No. 73 bus going past, and before he reached the bottom of the steps I had got into him an unalterable conviction that, whatever odd ideas might come into a man’s head when he was shut up alone with his books, a healthy dose of “real life” (by which he meant the bus and the newsboy) was enough to show him that all “that sort of thing” just couldn’t be true. He knew he’d had a narrow escape and in later years was fond of talking about “that inarticulate sense for actuality which is our ultimate safeguard against the aberrations of mere logic”. He is now safe in Our Father’s house.”

    He is saying that what that the man in the street has come to learn is that cause and effect no longer operate in the here now. There is only a stream of consciousness and subjectivity.
    For Lewis’ “academic”, “practical”, “outworn”, “contemporary”,“conventional”or “ruthless”, we can replace with “forward thinking,” 21st century” “centrist/left/right wing” “Patriarchal” ” racist” and all the rest of the brain-dead mantras of useful idiot, cultural Marxists.

    David Skinner UK

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