Truthful truth and its truthiness


(Mervin Bitikofer) #1

Wow! I see my former topic “Pro-truth alliance” managed to get spun off the rails and shut down before I even got a chance to try to corral back to topic or even say anything summarily. I do take responsibility for how political the topic was even from the get-go, which alone may have given the moderators pause. But I don’t think it is profitable (within our U.S. arena anyway) to always be ignoring the elephant in our room that gives so much context and foundation for creationist issues held so near and dear here.

Let me just say to further clarify my earlier quote of a talk-show host: “Reality has a well-known liberal bias”. My response to that is as follows: where reality actually does have a liberal bias, I want to be a liberal. Where reality has a conservative bias, I want to be a conservative. In short, this isn’t about left or right for me, but about truth. And if one of those sides abdicates its responsibility to attend to truth, then I bid it a sad farewell as I will not, as a Christian, make a defense of falsehoods just for the sake of attempting non-partisanship. We all need to become truth-leaning partisans even while we disagree on exactly what those truths are. And that was my whole point in the last thread – not to open up specific debates about murder or abortion; very worthy and important subjects as they are, but not subjects for this thread or even apparently this site. Granted, nor are red and blue politics which I did launch with. But I did so because that was the context for the provocative article sited.

If the mods want to shut this down immediately too given that it is my shameless extension of the prior offending thread, I certainly understand. Or perhaps we can actually navigate this minefield and actually discuss the larger issues of Truth and the messiness of weird political alliances that might be enlisted for that “cause”, ill-defined as it is.

As a final summary thought (in case this thread is disallowed) I’ll just add this: I think there is a good answer to give to Paul’s somewhat rhetorical question “What do believers and unbelievers have in common?” (in 2 Corinthians 6) which he goes on to use as a call for separation. The obvious answer which probably did not need stating in Paul’s time but needs saying now is: Reality. Both believers and unbelievers, left and right, Jew and Greek, saints and sinners all have at least God’s physical creation in common, and it is best if we do not forget that.


(Jay Johnson) #2

Part of the problem is that so many people have bought into the conspiracy theory of everything. They see an article like that, and they are unwilling to consider whatever truths this man may speak, since he is obviously a secular humanist and must therefore be intent on destroying Christianity. This is the evangelical “baby out with the bath water” syndrome. You saw it in a previous thread about climate change. Since climate change is a cause of “the Left,” it must be opposed. Since “Black Lives Matter” is a cause of “the Left,” it must be opposed.

We have lost the ability to grant that our opponents may occasionally have a point. We have lost the ability to look at the opposition as real people with real concerns. We have lost the ability to empathize, because we have retreated into little corners of the cable TV and Internet spectrum that feed our fears and preconceived notions and turn them into political capital. I think this was a large part of what you were getting at with the article. It’s what I should have said in the first place.


(Phil) #3

What is truth? Villains sometimes ask good questions. Sorry to shut down the last post but as you state the topic of truth is at the heart of the what the issue of science and faith is about.
I have toyed with trying to do a Venn diagram of truth as viewed by the various groups, with perhaps the YEC view having a big circle called biblical truth, with scientific and all other truth being enclosed by it, whereas EC would have a big God’s truth circle with biblical truth one circle within it and scientific truth also within but with little overlap with the biblical circle. Perhaps someone with better graphics skills could do something like that, but I get bogged down.

In any case, I share your dedication to truth, and indeed feel that deny truth is very much to deny Christ, the Way the Truth, and the Light.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #4

You were just doing your job, and it’s a good warning for us to behave ourselves.

That nails it, Jay! Thanks.

And that is easiest to see when its my point not being granted. The challenge for all of us is to push to be “granters” at least as much or more than pushing to be “grantees”.


(Larry Bunce) #5

I have seen somewhere that if truth were shown as a circle, God’s truth would be a point in the center. Human’s views of the truth would be along the circumference of the circle, with liberals on the left (of course) side, conservatives on the right, and degree of extremism represented by up and down. The wisest humans might find a spot just inside the circle, but still a long way from God’s truth.
The thing I like about this model is that the extreme left and right are practically touching at the bottom of the circle, but yelling at each other the long way around, unaware that they hold almost identical views.


#6

When a group can’t even admit that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and that putting more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will capture more heat, then they aren’t in or on the circle anymore. They have left it.

The larger question is what can we do when we are faced with a group who rejects demonstrable facts simply because it doesn’t conform to what they want to believe.


(John Dalton) #7

It says “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” That might be pushing any alliance too far anyway :slight_smile: If we’re being literal, that’s not exactly saying we can’t go out for a cup of coffee or something.

Reality it is. I think there’s room enough for differences of opinion about its ultimate nature, while leaving open the possibility of cooperation in practical matters. Not everything is going to be agreed on, but agreement on the desirability of the pursuit of truth strikes me as very desirable. Paul wouldn’t have imagined our incredibly complex and interconnected societies, or our various abilities to destroy everything.

By the way, came across a couple of studies related to this topic today, which suggest that there is a connection between a desire for “uniqueness”–which would seem to be a pretty solid American characteristic–and a propensity to believe in conspiracy theories.


(Phil) #8

Interesting study. Probably has some application with the many denominations we see today, certainly those with Gnostic traits.


(Curtis Henderson) #9

attn: @gbrooks9


#10

(George Brooks) #11

yeah yeah… I get you @cwhenderson. @jpm 's systematic imagery is quite appealing to me. I’ll see what I can do…


(Curtis Henderson) #12

You’re the forum’s graphical expert, in my opinion. If you can make sauropods climbing up Egyptian pyramids, I’m sure you could handle a Venn diagram or two :stuck_out_tongue:


(George Brooks) #13

@cwhenderson, I think you are too generous with your kind words. That particular illustration was successful mostly because I took it right from an image found engraved in one of the Giza pyramids!

[man, I crack me up!]


(Mervin Bitikofer) #14

I agree with you that we seem to have one group who is probably more extreme in their willingness to “batten down the hatches” against any and all undesirable information (or “interpretations” they might insist). But I don’t think there is any clean “us” and “them” in all this, much as I may have sounded off that way in my former political thread. I think we all insulate ourselves to various degrees and more or less with varying times and venues. In fact I would say it is those who most vehemently deny any such subjective participation are the ones most in danger of being driven by their ideologies. As far as truth-pursuit is concerned, better the devil you keep front-and-center in your critical gaze than the smiling one behind you as you deny his existence.

But all that said, climate change denial does indeed seem to be one somewhat reliable measure of how extreme some are willing to be (at least along one axis important to us here). I think (from anecdotal observations) that a lot of former deniers may be circling back in closer to the circle again by dialing back their denial from “it’s not happening” or even “we aren’t causing it” just to the “proposed government policies aren’t going to make any good difference anyway.” While that might be progress over all, it does require short memories on their part to disconnect from all their prior thought processes. From the outside it looks like the story of the defense attorney who mounted a three-layer defense for his client, Smith, who stood accused of breaking Wilson’s kettle. His first defense: “The kettle was not broken when Smith returned it.” Then when that defense failed, his second defense was: “The kettle was already broken when Wilson loaned it to my client.” When that defense fell through, the lawyer went to strategy 3: “The kettle doesn’t exist.”

And so it goes, becoming apparent to everybody else that the lawyer has a greater interest in “defending” the client than pursuing truth.


#15

I agree. Those who voice doubt are often more trustworthy than those who voice dogma.

You are also correct in saying that we all suffer from bias in one form or another. None of us likes to be wrong.[quote=“Mervin_Bitikofer, post:14, topic:36476”]
But all that said, climate change denial does indeed seem to be one somewhat reliable measure of how extreme some are willing to be (at least along one axis important to us here). I think (from anecdotal observations) that a lot of former deniers may be circling back in closer to the circle again by dialing back their denial from “it’s not happening” or even “we aren’t causing it” just to the “proposed government policies aren’t going to make any good difference anyway.” While that might be progress over all, it does require short memories on their part to disconnect from all their prior thought processes. From the outside it looks like the story of the defense attorney who mounted a three-layer defense for his client, Smith, who stood accused of breaking Wilson’s kettle. His first defense: “The kettle was not broken when Smith returned it.” Then when that defense failed, his second defense was: “The kettle was already broken when Wilson loaned it to my client.” When that defense fell through, the lawyer went to strategy 3: “The kettle doesn’t exist.”
[/quote]

I have noticed that same trend. If you are always changing the goal, then you don’t have to worry about people scoring against you. The ability to hold multiple contradictory beliefs and still believe all of them is quite a feat.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #16

…or at least “believe in” the current one anyway. I think deniers may often come from a very pragmatic business-minded group that is quick to see cost (immediate $ cost, anyway – not quick at all to acknowledge environmental cost). What is the bottom line for this or that? This makes an interesting tension (one would think) with a Christian imperative to not squander resources belonging to others, including future others. Business-minded people, though, often only seem able to narrowly apply that to any tax money which they see as a theft from themselves. They suddenly go blind on the same principle however when it comes to exploiting others while [maybe] staying just within legal limits.

Conspiracy theorists would be huge with apocalyptic type of thinking which cultivates prepper-fear rather than long-term investment, care, or love.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #17

The question that remains from before is the nature of truth. Is Truth Absolute, Relative, or Relative?


(Mervin Bitikofer) #18

Both.

“That book is on the shelf to your left” is a relative truth.
“That book is 425 pages long” is an absolute truth.

Now we’ve been around the block enough times, Roger, that I’m pretty sure your question is rhetorical and you’re about to give the answer you’re looking for. (“relative.” Did I guess correctly? since you don’t like the word “absolute”. I’ll not chase down that hole too far with you.) But if you tie it in with how cultures un-tether themselves from devotion to truth, I’m listening.


#19

What history has taught us (e.g. Great Depression, 2008 economic collapse) is that business-minded people will sacrifice long term economic stability in favor of short term gains. They will also sacrifice long term damage to the environment for profits now. It appears to be a common human foible. If there is one thing government can be good at it is protecting us from ourselves through regulation and law. Businesses are not going to regulate themselves if it means losing out on short term profits. It’s a bit like making kids eat their veggies. If we left it to kids they would eat junk food for every meal. You need adults to step in and help them eat things they don’t like because it is in their best interest.


(Phil) #20

That seems to be the case, in which case the solution is to incorporate the cost into the action, which gets us into social engineering etc. High energy costs were great for the environment, in a sense, in that they made us look at other ways to produce and conserve energy, and made those ways more cost appropriate. Now, we have more of a disconnect between total costs, and economic costs.