We Abandon Truth To The Neglect Of Our Souls

wonder, universe, creation, ponder, cancer

wonder, universe, creation, ponderThe other day, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I noticed some disturbing comments on a friend’s pro-life post. The person making the comments was pro-abortion, and I found myself wanting to engage him in discussion. So I asked him a few questions and tried to find some common ground, as this typically is the best way to engage a person who disagrees on any given topic.

However, in this case, my attempts were met with vitriol and ridicule, as well as a string of poorly drawn conclusions ascertained invalidly from my questions. Since my attempts were going nowhere, I respectfully backed out of the conversation.

The whole exchange was disheartening in several ways. But since I always strive to have a take-away from my interactions, I’m going to tell you what I learned from this exchange. I’m not going to say that he was right, or that I was right. In this case specifically, that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that only one of us was interested in having a dialogue and pursuing truth. Only one of us saw the importance of meaningful discussion, and that’s not good.

There are some people in the world who simply don’t care about truth. I don’t mean to say that these persons are all liars, though some of them certainly are, but they are persons who are either unwilling or uninterested in seeking truth. When confronted by someone who is concerned with truth, or someone who disagrees with the veracity of their beliefs, they instantly descend to the level of ad hominem attacks and playground bully stratagems. It is maddening to dialogue with them because they are unwilling to consider alternative ideas.

Further, many people go so far as to claim that no such thing as truth even exists. These are the relativists, and they are rarely interested in discussing truth because they believe everyone’s “truth” is different. Even when they are interested in discussing truth, the discussion will not and cannot lead anywhere because when there are 7 billion different versions of “truth” in the world, it is impossible to come to consensus on anything significant. Wherever a disagreement exists between two relativists, each will appeal to his or her own “truth”, and that will be the end of the argument. This is also maddening in its own way because nothing of substance can ever be agreed upon and no minds need ever be changed.

When two people are arguing and both of them are attempting to find the truth, that is a good and useful argument. It is easy to tell when two people are trying to find truth. They ask questions, they consider alternative possibilities, they examine evidence. They don’t immediately categorize the other’s argument as wrong, hateful, or inane simply because they disagree with it.

On the other hand, when two people are arguing and only one person is attempting to find the truth, that is a fruitless endeavor. It is unproductive to seek truth in a discussion with someone who doesn’t care about or acknowledge truth.

What Is Truth?

Indeed, a man who does not believe in or care about truth is a man who steps out in the morning wearing a green shirt telling everyone it’s blue. When a passer-by has the audacity to comment on his green shirt, he launches into a diatribe about how he has the freedom to see his shirt as whatever color he likes, and how dare anyone impose their truth on him. But even if a man has the freedom to think his shirt is blue, the truth is that the shirt is still green even if he fails to recognize it. Something is true so far as it conforms with reality. So the truth is the truth whether the man accepts it or not, just as reality is reality even if he chooses to reject it. But if he is unwilling to even consider the notion that his shirt might be green, having a conversation with him will be futile.

Now it is one thing to argue over the color of a shirt; it is quite another to argue over moral truths. In the cases of moral truths, the conversations have greater implications and therefore, we ought to pursue truth in these cases with increased ardor.

Please don’t mistake this as me trying to remove the speck in my neighbor’s eye while ignoring the plank in my own. I’m wrong all the time. Even when I have occasionally been positive that I was right, I have been wrong. But the difference is that I want to know the truth. I will gladly admit when I’m wrong because I don’t like falsehood and I’d rather be truthful. I want someone to tell me when I’m drifting further from the truth so I can correct myself. If we are seeking truth, we can admit when we are wrong. If we are unwilling to admit we are wrong, we are not seeking truth, we are simply trying to win an argument. Thus, my approach is to seek truth at all times.

Truth Matters

The truth matters because a world without truth is a world without goodness, hope, virtue, purpose or direction. It is a world of depression and despair. It is a world inhabited by people on quasi-journeys who have no road markers, no street signs, no maps, and no destination. After a while, the misery and hopelessness of this journey begins to set in, and instead of trying to find a road, they just plop down in a heap and claim that it doesn’t matter anyway. And if there is no such thing as truth, plopping down in a heap is a perfectly acceptable course of action. If there is no destination, then the journey simply doesn’t matter.

Further, truth matters because if we cannot agree on the idea that there is truth to be discovered, then we have nothing left to even talk about. If we are not living in reality, then nothing else matters. How could we agree on anything at all if we don’t agree that there is such a thing as truth that could be sought or agreed upon? Without truth, all we are left with are opinions, and even if our opinions align, what does that matter? It might make for delightful discourse, but without truth, there is no end toward which to strive. Without truth, our conversation has no legs on which to stand and is essentially meaningless.

Most importantly, the truth matters because God is Truth. He created reality. He is the perfect ideal of Truth, and the closer we get to truth, the closer we get to God. Conversely, the farther we get from truth, the farther we get from God. Since the absence of God is hell, the farther we get from truth, the closer we get to hell. If we want to avoid hell, we need to seek truth.

I vigorously seek truth because I am actively avoiding hell. Moreover, the extent to which we abandon truth is the extent to which we neglect our eternal souls. If we decide that truth does not matter, then we have decided that our salvation does not matter. If we decide to neglect truth, then we are deciding to neglect God Himself. Obviously, if we decide to neglect God, then we are deciding to neglect our eternal souls. We are, quite literally, choosing hell.

The truth is that important. It’s worth fighting for. It’s worth talking about. It’s worth admitting when we are in error. But when we have asked questions, examined evidence and come to a logical and consistent conclusion, it is also worth standing up for what is true. It’s clear that our world has lost this attitude, and we need to help bring it back. We need to fight against falsehood and lies, and work to bring truth back to the world that has caught the plague of relativism.

The Battle for Truth

To be sure, this is a noble campaign. It is equal parts critically important and immensely challenging, but there are some real, concrete steps we can take to help accomplish our mission.

The first step is to engage the culture of relativism. Be open to and embrace meaningful dialogue with others. No battle has ever been won by screaming from the sidelines. We need to get out onto the battlefield and fight. We cannot idle in the back like spineless cowards and expect others to do the work. The number of people willing to stand up for truth is dwindling, which makes it all the more imperative that we embrace this calling and become prepared to stand for truth. I find myself saying this often, but if it’s not us, it’s nobody. The time to act is now.

Next, we need to listen and find common ground. As my Facebook exchange established, this can be extraordinarily cumbersome. It is true that sometimes even before we can discuss what is true, we need to establish that there is truth to be acknowledged in the first place. For example, a man might say, “I don’t care about truth, I only care about being good to people.” But this man has already admitted that he knows being good to people is the right thing to do. The fact that there is a right thing to do is a truth, and he might be willing to admit that. Always be on the lookout for common ground, as this is how conversations can both begin and progress.

Lastly, stand firm in the truth with an attitude of passionate charity. I am weary of tolerant, wimpy charity. This type of charity regards acceptance as a virtue and supposes no right or wrong. Passionate charity, on the other hand, is charity that is strong, cares about the well-being of the other and does not wish to see the other continue to live in lies and falsehood. It is charity that continues to want what is best for the other even when the other is not open to it. Passionate charity does not back down in the face of adversity and loves truth even in the face of hostility. I cannot stress how important it is that we cultivate this passionate charity. Tolerant, wimpy charity will not get us closer to truth.

Let’s remember that seeking truth is seeking God, and avoiding truth is avoiding God. We should seek truth because our eternal souls depend on it, and we should encourage others to do the same because their souls depend on it as well. It’s clear that the modern world is desperately in need of truth, so let’s arm ourselves with courage and forge ahead into the battle as though the world depends on it.

After all, that is the truth.

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18 thoughts on “We Abandon Truth To The Neglect Of Our Souls”

  1. Truth ? Let’s see if we can define it. Truth is an indisputable reality which is a constant for all people, in all places, at all times (pre-history to the present). Truth is independent of culture, time, place, or personal belief. Truth may not always be acknowledged as such a constant, but when examined by science it is so. I am at a loss to give examples of truth. I was going to say….the earth revolves around the sun, but that was only after the “big bang.”
    You say God is truth….truth or a belief…not the same thing. I cannot disprove the existence of God, neither can you prove the existence of God. God is a belief….beliefs are myriad and based upon personal not objective truths. If God is Truth, explain theodicy to me in a way that would be consistent with the qualities of a God…..because Truth is consistent in its ultimate definition.

    1. Phil, maybe you could fill me in on where you came up with that definition of truth.

      Also, theodicy is fairly easily explained by God giving us free will and not making us robots.

    2. The definition of Truth is mine…I was attempting to determine if we could come up with a common ground for discussion….do you disagree with it?
      Theodicy is NOT explainable by free will….Some people, like Catholics, attribute qualities to God, i.e. omnipotent, all loving, all merciful, compassionate, etc. How do you reconcile that with the reality that young children who have no free will are maimed, disfigured, suffer intractably and die after birth are allowed by a loving God. Theodicy has nothing to do nor is it explainiable by free will….Free will does not have anuthing to do with little children suffering and dying each day from disease…how can a loving god allow a child to be born with CP….and suffer for years unable to move or communicate? Is this explained by free will or is it a contradiction in the definition of God and of Truth? I would be interested in how you dispute my definition of truth….how is it inaccurate?

    3. I dispute your definition of truth because you made it up yourself. A quick reference to multiple online dictionaries will show the definition is pretty much the same as what I wrote in the article. The truth is that which conforms with reality; that which is, the actual state of affairs, etc… God is the absolute version of Truth (“I AM”), but your definition leaves no room for movement or change in the universe.
      For example, 10 minutes ago, it was true that I was holding my newborn son. That was reality, etc… Now, I am no longer holding my son, so if I said, “I’m holding my son”, that would not be true even though it was true 10 minutes ago.
      Using your definition, I would basically have to say, “there is no such thing as truth”, which I’m not going to say.
      As for the question of theodicy, there’s much too much to write regarding the topic, and I’m not going to go into any more than to say that disharmony entered the world through original sin, which was the result of free will. So in that regard, free will was the cause of evil/ disharmony, malfunction, anomaly, whatever you want to call it. But again, that’s a bit much for a comments section 🙂

    4. Cullen, your response is a descent into solipsism. There is Truth, truth and the Truth.
      truth in it’s most base form is define by dictionaries, like good olde Mirriam-Webster which you correctly identify as congruence with reality (at this moment, as you described in the example of holding your newborn)… another example is the profoundly erroneous and some might say evil Catholic Doctrine of Discovery which was enunciated in a number of Papal Bulls. true at that time? repudiated today. By on line dictionary standards true because it conformed with reality then, but not true today….cannot apply online dictionary stands to god, so I prefer my definition.
      Truth (capital T) is forever existent, permanent, unchanging and unchangeable. incapable of contradiction, all places and all times. Your example of the Catholic god “I AM WHO AM” Yah’weh or Elohim (if you prefer) should fit THAT definition ans he/she cannot change by self-definition. Now is the god of the OT, the same as the god of the NT. The God of the OT issues a warrant for genocide, for slavery, for bride-price, and the god of the NT is all-loving, healing, omnipotent, all merciful. Can this contradictory being be the Truth? Not by definition….
      Then we have the argument if theodicy which you unskillfully dodge. I ask how can a non-contradictory god allow children to suffer and die each day? You say free-will…a new born has no free will nor has my son free (a non-verbal spastic quad) will…free will means choice….some people have no choice in their intractable suffering. Having failed at the free choice argument you slip into the silly notion of original sin. Now just about everyone acknowledges that Genesis is a Jewish creation myth possibly written as part of the Pentateuch by Moses in about 500 BCE…Moses was a Jew and Genesis was a Jewish creation myth. The Jews have never in their history subscribed to the notion of original sin nor that a loving god would punish people about 65,000 years after the first evidence of human behavioral normalcy…Jews believe that the original punishment is death, in their mythology we all die so that is creation’s curse. Original sin was made up by Augustine in about in the 4th century based on one sentence from Pauline writings which was probably interpolated because Paul was a Jew. Hence we are left again with a god of contradiction: all good and kind but allowing innocents to suffer and die. Again, the Judeo-Christian God cannot be the Truth.
      What is The Truth…there is a force of universal energy which we can unite with but has no influence or involvement in human affairs. I cannot prove this, nor can you disprove this. All we are left with is not truth, the Truth, nor The Truth…we are simply left with belief and all belief is relative.

  2. ” But even if a man has the freedom to think his shirt is blue, the truth is that the shirt is still green even if he fails to recognize it. ”

    It is not green to someone who is blind and hasn’t the concept of color. It’s not green if a
    person is colorblind. It’s not green to a thousand developed species who see images in shades. Ditto for someone looking at it in low light, from another dimension. It’s not green
    like a crayola crayon that boasts many different kinds of green. It’s not green when its been
    washed a dozen times. It’s relative whether you like it or not.

    1. James, I see what you are trying to do, but I don’t think it’s working here.

      A shirt will retain its green-ness no matter what lens you view it through. You can argue that not everyone will be able to perceive the green-ness of it, but that won’t change the fact that it’s green.

      You say, “it’s not green “to” person A or “to” person B”, but you are here talking merely about perceptions of the shirt, and not about the shirt itself. The shirt will continue to be green even if viewed by a toddler wearing little glasses that make everything yellow. The green-ness of the shirt is not dependent upon any external factors or perceptions. Even in the dark, a green shirt is still green. You can’t change the color of the shirt just by dimming the lights.

    2. James, I see what you are trying to do, but I don’t think it’s working here.

      A shirt will retain its green-ness no matter what lens you view it through. You can argue that not everyone will be able to perceive the green-ness of it, but that won’t change the fact that it’s green.

      You say, “it’s not green “to” person A or “to” person B”, but you are here talking merely about perceptions of the shirt, and not about the shirt itself. The shirt will continue to be green even if viewed by a toddler wearing little glasses that make everything yellow. The green-ness of the shirt is not dependent upon any external factors or perceptions. Even in the dark, a green shirt is still green. You can’t change the color of the shirt just by dimming the lights.

    3. So very, very well stated!

      Thank you so much for placing “AD” before 2015. It was so disheartening to see “bce” and “ce” replace “BC” and “AD” in the vernacular. I use “AD” always because I believe it would be disrespectful to Our Lord and all He has done and continues to do for us, not to do so.

    4. It’s Cartesian dualism so of course the subject is perception. Truth is about the same
      thing, that’s why “sin” as defined, may apply to one person but not necessarily to all. This is why the 2nd condition for sin reads “you must know that it is a sin” or, it is not.

    5. Actually, a sin is still a sin even if the person doesn’t know that it is a sin. The difference is that the person who is honestly ignorant of the sinfulness of the action will not be held culpable for the sin.

    6. Same difference. And “honestly ignorant” is an action of reason and intellect and thereby a function of conscience.

    7. James, I’m not sure what this has to do with dualism, but here’s my response:

      A sin is always a sin, regardless of whether a person is aware of it. What is reduced in the case of an unaware person is not the sinfulness of an act, but rather the moral culpability for it. For example, envy is a capital sin, no matter who is doing the envying. But one person might be more morally culpable for the sin of envy than another, based on a number of different factors. But it’s still a sin regardless of how much culpability a person has for it.

      As for the “you must know it’s a sin”, or it’s not, same principle. You are talking about the second condition for a sin to be considered mortal (completely separating our relationship with God). The phrasing is actually “the person must be aware of the gravity of the sin” in order for it to be considered a mortal sin. This has nothing to do with whether the act is sinful or not, but rather with how culpable a person is for it, and how much damage it does to his/her relationship with the Father. The act retains its sinfulness whether we recognize it or not.

    8. Let’s go back to the “green shirt” idea. To the world, adultery is cheating on
      one’s spouse. To the CC it is getting out of a bad marriage without permission.
      We have a case of dualism where something is and isn’t sinful. Both states are
      somewhat valid even if they contradict the very nature of the word ‘adultery’.
      And with that said, I’m done with this thread..

    9. James, you are free to be done with with this thread. I don’t think we are going to see eye to eye. I don’t understand your interpretation of dualism or your interpretation of the Church’s teaching on adultery, neither of which are accurate. Best wishes, and… cheers.

    10. Not one of your responses is applicable to the fundamental nature of truth as discussed in the article. There is objective truth even if you choose to ignore it. Another truth for you to ponder- someday you will stand before Jesus and have to explain yourself. Still think your argument will work?

    11. Your opinion is noted. I would spell out the 4 human imperfections which affect human
      truth but feel it would be a waste of digital print on you.

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