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Post-truth is Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2016. Here is the definition: Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.
We cannot be surprised that we have reached this point in history. We have been taught that truth is not something extrinsic, but something to be sought after intrinsically. It may be that you find your truth through your interpretation of religion or science or simply personal experience. The important terminology in there is “your truth.” This means that truth can only be claimed by you to be for you in the moment. There are two important things we can draw from this defnintion, truth is intrinsic and fluctuates.
Truth can only be intrinsic in a population that lacks common concern and consideration. In the past, the need for basic life united us in many regards, for shelter, food, water. For example, in the early cave dwellers, the need to unite to form hunting parties was driven by the need for food, a common concern. Similarly, the French Revolution was sparked by the need for bread, as Marie Antoinette is famously quoted, “then let them eat cake.” In the United States, it is not difficult to find food, water or shelter. There are many soup kitchens and shelters across the country solving the basic needs of people in the United States. With basic needs taken care of (praise God) we are left to find other common cause, of which we find we have none.
Certainly, we have some things in common with some people, but we have not found a common denominator. We cannot even unite around our country’s government which no matter your affiliation, there is issue we take. The lack of commonality leads to us finding an intrinsic truth because no one thing holds true in all situations, but this is false logic. Truth by definition must be extrinsically applied. If it cannot be applied extrinsically then it is not truth. Thus we lie to ourselves thinking that we know better than the person next to us on the bus, at work or at home. Intrinsic truth is not truth. “Your truth” is not truth unless it can be applied extrinsically in a consistent basis.
This argument is valid because “your truth” fluctuates even on an intrinsic basis. It cannot be applied consistently even to you. This is because while we were taught to observe and question everything, we were never taught to be rooted in reality. Observing and questioning is the glory of science. It is something we should all do about everything. Rooted in reality is the disservice of science. Because we never stop questioning we always find more and always find that we are wrong. We are constantly wrong because we are human. Think about what you know of science. The things that are extrinsically true all the time are called laws. The laws of thermodynamics or motion are what commonly come to mind when I think of scientific laws. Take Newton’s Laws of motion, for example. They simply aren’t true when looking at really small things at the quantum level like electrons or quarks. Thus we cannot reasonably call them laws. Do they apply extrinsically frequently, of course? We base much of our lives on these laws. But, they aren’t always true so we learn that it is not wise to completely trust science since science will change its mind. Even the observable facts change when viewed from a different perspective. This is what I mean by truth fluctuating. It fluctuates because our perspective fluctuates which fluctuates because we fluctuate.
What is True?
So what is true? Well, we know that truth must be determined extrinsically from us because we do not hold commonality and we change. So to determine truth we must look to something that does not change and has commonality with everything. The only known thing that meets those requirements is God. Logically, we know that we cannot determine truth because we have been trying to since the Genesis 3 Fall, several thousand years. However, logically, it does not make sense to simply believe me, the writer, that God meets these requirements. So, I must demonstrate who is God that you should listen to him for truth. This is a question that we have asked for millennia as well even back to Pharoah of Egypt during the Exodus.
From the experience of Pharoah, we can learn that the gods we serve, be they mythological or manmade material or human, they cannot provide truth to us. In the story God, destroy’s each of Egypt’s constructs. He attacks their gods, commerce, currency and ultimately the idea that man can be god himself. Who is God? God is the creator, the alpha and omega, the Lord and the “I am.” Does not the creator of the universe who says “I am” not deserve at least an attempt to communicate truth to you. After all, if God created everything, then everything shares commonality with God, and God tells us “I am.” This “I am” is better translated to I be who I be. It means God is the same in the past, present, and future. Who is God that you should find truth in him? God is the only one that meets both the logical requirements of commonality and unchanging to find truth.
N.T Wright puts it like this in his book Suprised by Hope. “…in the absence of real hope, all that is left is feelings.” God is our hope. He is our truth. Feelings are a personal (intrinsic) truth. In a world swayed by feelings, we live in a post-truth world. We live in post-truth because we have no hope. We have no hope because we do not trust in “I am.” God is worth hoping in if for no other reason than He is truth.