Nothing but the Truth

truthby Deana Chadwell1/6/17
We are all, deep in our souls, disturbed by lies – even the left likes to complain about prevarications, if only at a surface level.  Instinctively we know that a society cannot function without some level of trust. If we can’t trust what our doctors tell us, what our children’s teachers tell us, what our newscasters, our pastors, our statesmen tell us, how can we function? If we can’t rely on our tradespeople, our manufacturers, our storeowners, how can we carry on? Yes – buyer beware, but if commerce and government is nothing but a free-for-all, everything collapses.

These last 8 years have brought us very close to that crumbling edge. Our entire federal government, which has now engulfed the 4th estate, has turned its back on truth and we are going to have to be most diligent in returning it to its proper place.

To do that we will have to be able to discern truth from smoke and mirrors, a difficult task for beings who can only “see through a glass darkly.” I’ve been reading J. Warner Wallace’s book Cold-Case Christianity and he makes some interesting points. As a cold-case detective he has had to deal seriously with this question, so I take his analysis seriously. He points out that truth has 5 attributes that we must look for. Truth is always:

  1. Feasible; we can imagine anything, but we all (unless we’re completely disconnected from reality) know instinctively what is not only possible, but plausible. The small truths will always reflect the big truths – about human nature, about nature, about the supernatural. Strange things occur, yes, but there is always a down-to-earth explanation – quantum physics, without realizing it, is now showing how it might have been that Jesus could have walked on water.
  2. Clear. Truth is simple, uncomplicated and fairly obvious.
  3. Thorough. It should answer all the questions, deal with all the arguments, and cover the bases – no loose ends left to trip on.
  4. Logical. God is not the author of confusion. I recently was part of a discussion involving an atheist scientist who tried to wiggle out of the corner he’d painted himself into by claiming that logic was merely a human construct, which can be employed when one wants to use it. No. Truth is always logical – though logic is not always truth.
  5. Superior. The truth is always of highest quality.

Now, Wallace is talking here in terms of the kind of truth one has to have to convict a person of a crime. What kind of proof is that? Proof beyond a reasonable doubt. There’s that pesky term reason again.

I love, and have quoted before, I’m sure, Ravi Zacharias’ line from Jesus Among Other Gods, that if God were to come crashing down into a room full of people “in all His Michaelangeloid glory” that half the people in the room would kneel in awe and the other half would wonder who had drugged their coffee.  He’s right. Proof doesn’t necessarily lead to acceptance and belief. Our sullied hearts are too hard for that.

The Pharisees of the New Testament were forever demanding signs (we modern, sophisticated people use the word proof). They wanted a demonstration that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but after he healed the leper (the first time that had been done in all of Jewish history), after he restored sight to the blind, made the paralytic walk, and cast out demons, these “devout” men merely claimed that the miracles were done with the help of the devil and refused to see that Jesus was the Son of God. Why didn’t they accept these things, which they saw with their own eyes and which had been prophesied throughout the Old Testament, as proof?

Why didn’t the left see all the evidence stacked against Hillary as proof? Why don’t they see all the odd and questionable things in Obama’s murky past as at least cause for concern? Why don’t the NeverTrumpers see the actions Trump is taking as evidence that he means what he says? Because they blindly choose not to.

But let’s return to the courtroom approach — we also have to look at another standard for proof – the civil case standard – the preponderance of the evidence – in other words, most of what we know has to point in one direction. A reasonable person will look at Fibonacci numbers and fractals, at the complexity of the human eye, at the clockwork precision of the galaxies and conclude that the preponderance of the evidence indicates a designer rather than random chance as the explanation for all things. A reasonable person would add up all the instances of voter fraud and conclude that there’s a problem. A reasonable person would want more than some computer models to believe in global warming. Preponderance.

Does proof in a legal sense have to be scientific? Does it have to involve forensics? Or can it be a pastiche of motive, location, availability, eye-witnesses, videos, tape recordings, etc.? (Actually, even “scientific” truth is in question these days because we have to realize that science takes money, lots of money, and money can buy results. A lab coat does not guarantee honesty and fairness; it is not synonymous with integrity.)

We expend a great deal of argumentative energy demanding scientific proof for everything from Hillary’s shenanigans to the creation of the universe but, truth be told (and pardon the pun), science will not solve those conundrums because data has to be interpreted and interpretation opens the subjectivity door.

I teach college writing classes and we talk about the need for a thesis – stated or implied, and the need to back up that thesis with examples, logical arguments, or evidence. We don’t, however, talk about proof. Very little can be proven in the absolute sense of the word, and certainly not in a 10-page college paper.  We can, however, stack up the evidence and at some point the scale on our side will outweigh the opposition.  But even that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve persuaded anyone, because stubbornness is also part of human nature. Most of those who loved Hillary to begin with, kept loving her even after the Wikileaks material came out.  Those who saw Trump as a misogynist still saw him that way long after the claims were debunked.

So my point is that as we move into this next phase of our national existence, we are going to have to work hard at this truth thing. It isn’t something we can pawn off on the scientists, the experts – whatever that means (I actually heard on the radio the other day the term “pajama experts.” Gees.) We know we can’t rely on the mainstream media and who knows which of the startup news outlets are news and which are circus sideshows? And since we’ve socially embraced all that is perverse and silly and outrageous, we’re going to have a lot of trouble sorting out the outlandish lies from the actual occurrences – remember the woman with green lipstick sitting in a bath of Cheerios?

This will require us all to think, to develop defensible values, to use those to guide our decisions about how to translate the mountains of raw data dumped on us daily into some meaningful conclusions and rational, unemotional opinions. We have our good sense to go on, the rules of logic to follow, and we have the standards of the Word of God to bounce things off of.  We’ll fail from time to time, but when that happens, we’ll have to shake the cobwebs out of our brains and be more aware next time around. Truth is also vigilant.


Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com and is a writing and speech professor at Pacific Bible College in Southern Oregon.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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23 Responses to Nothing but the Truth

  1. Anniel says:

    “Truth is also vigilant.” Those cobwebs in our brains do make vigilance a stern requirement. Thank you for this clear picture of where we are. God bless you this new year.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      Not to denigrate or downplay your thesis, but vigilance has always been necessary, even in times when we haven’t been beset by such a huge quantity of unsubstantiated information. I luckily took a year of Critical Thinking in college in the 80s, just to fill my schedule, and what a revealing wonder I found logic and clear analysis to be. Happy New Year, Deana!

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” “The truth shall set you free.” Truth is essential for a free government. For that matter, even the worst dictatorship needs some degree of it, at least among top officials (unless the nightmare of 1984, in which the few governments remaining are really allied against the people). Where the lack of it can lead the ordinary person, taken to the extreme, is seen at the beginning of 1984, when Winston Smith makes his first diary entry — and considers first the question of how certain he can be of the date (and even the year). We’re a long way from that degree of paranoia, fortunately.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      What? Free government? Fie! We want a bounded government ruled by free people. Happy New Year, Timothy.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        As I’m sure you guessed, that’s basically what I meant. As for your course on critical thinking mentioned above, I’ve had to rely on what I learned about logic in my various math courses (I started out as a math major with a computer science option), plus additional reading since then along with logic puzzles. (Much of this comes from various philosophers. One of my first reviews here was of Being Logical, by a philosophy professor.)

  3. Maddox says:

    Good and timely piece. Sometimes the truth can be a hard thing but it must be faced. It must be sought out and demanded if we wish to survive as a civilized society. It must be found if we hope to repair the damage that has been done to equal justice and freedom.
    Truth has taken a backseat to power and greed. It has been relegated to history in politics. If we do not require truth from our leaders we will lose our way, we will lose everything that makes our country what we wish it to be, America.

    • Tom Riehl Tom Riehl says:

      Agreed. A civilized society is an entry-level requirement for us. True success will ensue if we rescue the miracle that is the USA. We are unique and superior to all previous attempts at equitable and personal-freedom based governance. The Big Guy is watching over us, apparently. Hopefully. Happy New Year!

  4. Rosalys says:

    I am attending a Bible study on the Gospel of John. Our last lesson was on chapter 9, in which Jesus brings sight to the man who was born blind. Oh, how I love this story! The formerly blind man sees the facts as they are presented to him, follows the evidence, and and chooses to draw the logical conclusion. The Pharisees are presented with the same set of facts. They try first to deny the facts, then dismiss the facts, and skew the facts, but when the plain facts just smack them in the face, they choose to disbelieve in spite of the facts. Then they do what evil men always do; they resort to brute force and coercion and toss the young man out of the Temple. Out of sight, out of mind (except in this case it didn’t exactly turn out well for the powers that be.)

    So yes, the truth is indeed forthright and simple! Thanks Deana for another thoughtful piece.

    Happy New Year! May God richly bless you, one and all!

  5. My point exactly, Rose. It becomes so hard for the Pharisees to deny the truth that they have to kill Jesus rather than accept that He is who He says He and — more importantly from their point of view — they are not who they think they are and the world is not what they think it is. This is what we are up against now. The left is going to have to face the fact that they and the world they think they live in just went up in a puff of smoke and they aren’t going to be any happier than the Pharisees were. This will be quite a show.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Unfortunately, the leftist world didn’t quite evaporate. They just like a major election. But there will be other elections, and eventually the Demagogues will find another Slick Willie or Slick Barry instead of another Fire Witch. Even if Trump had run specifically against the Left’s evils (and won for that reason), they wouldn’t give up — and eventually people would forget. “There came a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph.”

  6. True, Timothy. Their ideas have flown the coop, but their adherence to those ideas is still strong as ever. That’s what makes them all so dangerous.

  7. Rosalys says:

    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” – Jeremiah 17:9

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Pontius Pilate famously said, “What is truth?” in reply to Jesus’ words of “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

    That’s the NIV translation.

    Whether talking Jesus or God, everyone wants to own the truth. Pilate may have been disingenuous. But when presented with, to all appearances, what looks like a human being — one claiming to be God — it’s not illogical to ask, “Is this true just because you say it is so?”

    The same goes with Donald Trump or any politician. Almost no one goes around saying “I don’t value truth,” although it’s true that one of the aspects of the Left is that narratives trump facts.

    Is the question therefore really one of truth? Or is it a matter of “Whose truth?” And do we distinguish between truth and beliefs? If not, what can quickly happen is that orthodoxy smothers the ability to ask legitimate questions. Just ask those who have some tough questions for the global warming scam or Neo-Darwinism.

    In my own summation, I designate truth as a method or a thing that can be used for good or ill. They say “God is truth” but I think there are many things that come prior to truth such as existence, creation, wisdom, and even love.

    Facts, like reason, are surely important. But what then do we do with them? Harder still, how do we determine those facts to be true? Certainly simply shouting “truth” doesn’t get it done. Nor is it any better to declare truth a function of “consensus.” Nor does it do any good to adopt the corrupt philosophy of the New Sophists who spout their scientistic beliefs when they say, “There is no truth for truth is always subject to revision or refinement.”

    I think it’ really doubtful that most people want truth. Truth is often quite inconvenient. Behind many firm exclamations of “Truth” is a lie, or half-lie. And here I disagree with Deana. Truth is actually an extremely complex thing. It may seem after-the-fact simple when you find it. But getting there is anything but simple.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Note the version of the exchange in Jesus Christ Superstar. Jesus says, “I look for truth, and find that I get damned.” Pilate replies, “But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?” I would answer him that they are the same if they really are truths, and not merely beliefs. Of course, the odds are very good that Pilate knew nothing of metaphysics.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?

        That’s a great line in regards to highlighting the problem of this subject. What Pilate is talking about in JCS is “narratives,” not truths. It’s the kind of “truth” we hear nowadays where everyone can have their own “truth.”

        The word has been bastardized, death by a thousand mis-meanings. It’s treated as a narrative, an identity, a custom, a tradition, and so many things. So…yeah…you have your truth and I have mine…in the customary use of the word today. What a mess when our language becomes sloppy (usually self-serving and manipulative, that is).

    • Anniel says:

      Funny, I was just going through an old pile of hand written notes and ran across a sentence without attribution, “Truth seems like hate to those who hate the truth.”
      I think the author Alan Bradley said it but just not certain.

      I tried reading one of the books you were reading Deanna, but found it awkward and tendentious and finally just quit. The author may have found Christian Faith, and good for him, but I was less than impressed.

    • Rosalys says:

      The trouble is that truth is, more often than not, confused with opinion. Truth itself is simple; it’s when we inject our own interpretation that things get complicated.

      The only Being we can take at face value and declare, “This is true because He says it is so,” is God, is Jesus. Jesus didn’t just pop up out of nowhere saying, “I am God and therefore what I say is true.” He fulfilled many, many OT prophesies, foretold for the sole purpose of identifying the Messiah when He should come. The pharisees should have recognized Him, but their opinions were of such value to them, that they were unwilling to revisit the facts and entertain any alternative interpretation.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Rosalys, it’s not my job to rob Christians of their faith. But what we’re inevitably talking about in regards to Jesus is miracles. If the miracles happened then this is good evidence that the guy is who he says he is.

        But if a Martian were to visit earth, never having known anything about it before, how could he determine which miracles were true and which were not in the long line of human history full of such claims?

        Faith ultimately and inevitably comes into the equation, and faith is not truth. And I would assert that hard, quantifiably truth isn’t the final and highest thing. What truth is there in a baby? What truth is there in a rainbow? What truth is there in Mozart? What truth is there in our minds?

        I think the hard case for any miracle-worker is a very tough one. By modern and very useful standards of truth, miracles are a tough thing to prove. I would say that Jesus could indeed be the third part of the Trinity, sent to earth to redeem us and then that others took it upon themselves (as is typical) to mythologize and exaggerate in terms persuasive to normal humans. Certainly the Jews themselves rejected any notion of a Messiah who wasn’t a warrior. Who would except the Son of Man who wasn’t a miracle-worker?

        My doubts about the written history stem from man’s propensity to shift facts to fit their own narratives. Goodness, Donald Trump himself is such a wonderful example of this. In my view, Jesus could be right now in Heaven rolling his eyes as we humans demand magic shows instead of perhaps missing the point of a Creator entering his creation. Or he did so and also put on a magic show. Who knows? The mystery is not solved, at least in my mind, by hard-stamping it with the word “truth.”

  9. Brad, I think I haven’t made myself clear enough here. I’m not just talking about variations amongst eye-witnesses, nor am I talking about differences in honest opinions, which is what we used to have between the two parties in this country. I’m talking about a complete loss of objectivity, and objectivity doesn’t allow for you to have your truth and I have mine. Truth is what is, not just what we want it to be. Can any of us ever be totally sure we have all the truth? No, which is one of the results of original sin. Yes, the boat has holes in the bottom, but we’ve been given a bucket to bail with and the exhortation to use it, “And you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free,” or “Study to show yourself approved unto God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” So we should, no matter how daunting the task.

    Truth may not be the only thing in the universe, but it is one of the attributes of God and as such is on equal footing with love, righteousness, justice, omniscience, omnipotence, and faithfulness.

    And people do walk around saying that they don’t value truth — “There is no such thing as absolute truth!” How many times have you heard that? When I hear someone talk like that my balderdash-detector flips on, because that person has then given himself permission to play fast and loose with the truth he claims doesn’t exist. It also gives him the option of opting out of deep, philosophical thought in much the same way the Calvinist leans on the sovereignty of God as his escape hatch.

    Searching honestly for truth is a frustrating and often frightening game, but my point is that we are in the game, whether we want to be or not, so we’re best off being on the field and not sitting on the bench. “Ask and you will find.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The people who deny the existence of truth aren’t advocating dishonesty, merely denying the existence of true honesty. It’s sort of like no one admits to being evil, though some claim there is no real good or evil. But those who think good and evil exist think they’re on the good side — though their standards for doing so may be peculiar to most people.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’m talking about a complete loss of objectivity, and objectivity doesn’t allow for you to have your truth and I have mine. Truth is what is, not just what we want it to be.

      Deana, I agree with that. I’ve also tried to touch on some of the peripheral issues and put truth in a larger context. I would add to all that I’ve said by pointing out the central fact that the very point of this postmodern/Leftist quibbling about truth is about undermining existing (or pre-existing) authority. However, I have absolutely no doubt that the Left believes very solidly in truths.

      Shall we subject what we believe to be true to whatever objective measurements we can where appropriate and in appropriate portions? Yes, we should. Is this a habit of thinking (and of character development) that has atrophied amongst today’s Left-bred yutes? Absolutely. “Truth” has become disconnected from fact, and the careful process to adjudicate what is fact and what is fiction — a mental discipline at the very least, infused by reason and integrity — has been replaced by “feelings” and a political-social-psychological program with threads of narcissism, strings of ignorance, and steel cables of grievance.

      I wouldn’t know how God prioritizes love, righteousness, justices, etc. But it’s my opinion that truth and facts are not the be-all end all. The world is not here because of truth. It’s here because of creative power…perhaps even love.

      And I say to those who say “There is no such thing as truth” that they have just made a truth assertion. So like I said, I do believe the Left, and the young skulls-full-of-mush they have indoctrinated, believe in very hard-and-fast truths. The problem becomes the Snowflake Syndrome. They will not subject their truths to rigorous, fair, and objective proofs. The Snowflakes melt when you try to do that. What one could then say about their “truths” is that they are personal beliefs or feelings that they try to give higher status by calling them truths instead of what they are: beliefs, preferences, or even prejudices.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Note that liberals have been reluctant for a half-century (if not longer) to put their theories (especially their policies) to the test. If the tests confirmed that the policies worked, they would gain nothing — they already BELIEVE that anyway. If they showed the policies did not work, or worse yet were counterproductive, they would face the emotional struggle between their need to impose those policies and their need to feel that they CARE more than we do. So best not to take chances by checking the validity of their notions.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          If they showed the policies did not work, or worse yet were counterproductive, they would face the emotional struggle between their need to impose those policies and their need to feel that they CARE more than we do.

          I’ve have never concluded that man is a rational animal or that “reason” was the main or primary way that people do, or should, run their lives. I’m pretty sure you think the same as well. That is, let’s put truth into perspective.

          The play is the thing. Or at lest the identity is the thing, if you will. Various forms of philosophy wonder if our subjective experience isn’t a grand illusion…little but a dream. Buddhism, for example, tries to escape the grand illusion, going to the extreme of not trusting the human mind. And that’s quite the extreme opposite of a society that says we must trust and ratify every damn impulse.

          But there seems no denying that we live in a semi-dream-like state…perhaps somewhat of necessity. It’s not wrong to have an identity, to have self-esteem, to have beliefs — so strong that we bristle at the difference between these things and facts or truths. But it seems the nature of human beings to have a concrete-like shell around ourselves that is a thing made up of several layers or pieces. And these shells are fragile. There’s a reason people such as Donald Trump must be so bombastic. It’s because their identity is fragile.

          A king’s identity of being the living embodiment of God (or at least of his authority) is fragile. It’s fragile because you can’t offhand tell the different between George III and some homeless man sitting on a park bench, at least if you striped them of their titles of conceit and uniforms of authority. This is why they need endless ceremony, must have the most costly uniforms, and be bowed to.

          Now, that doesn’t mean I’m for a Thomas Paine-like “New Man” and a Utopia society where all such conceits are shed and we are all “equal.” Frankly, the cost of eradicating normal bullshit is to institute even worse baloney.

          There’s a good reason that George Washington settled on “Mr. President” instead of “Your Majesty” for the proper way to address the president. It’s because, frankly, he wasn’t a Donald Trump. He wasn’t a man composed primarily of carefully stacked and ordered conceits free of substance. That’s not to say that the life of a Virginia gentlemen wasn’t full of all kinds of pretensions. It certainly was. But at the end of the day, Washington explicitly gave us the notion that he was not a god and that he put his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. If he was given deference it was because he earned it. And as history shows, he did not cash in on that deference.

          Now everyone wants to “be somebody.” We construct our little Snowflake-like shells of baloney and expect — nay, demand — that others not only acknowledge the act, but applaud the act.

          Living in any culture is going to bring a barrage of various manners, ideas, conceits, prejudices, etc. This is normal. But I think this present culture has taken conceit to new levels. We all want to be in some way “Your Majesty.” And that just can’t work in a society that values (or supposedly values) freedom, free speech, and a general meritocracy.

          In the end, better to have a gold-plated soul than gold-plated toilet fixtures.

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