America’s “Truth Decay”

A recent Rand Corporation report indicates we are experiencing a “truth decay” in our country, and the problem is systemic. There is so much “fake news” circulated on cable TV and on social media, we confuse fact and fiction, and lose our trust in those who are pledged to help us lead better lives. It only makes sense that a focus on telling the truth is the most effective way for a society to function, and, for this reason, a decay in truth is imposing a grave threat to America. We must combat this threat; but how are we to do it?

As always, we can most effectively address a cure by thoroughly understanding the disease and what is causing it. Pardon another dental reference, but the “root” of the cause of “truth decay” is a loss of virtue. Truth decay is only a symptom of a greater threat to our society, the decline in morality. Relativism (the belief that all truth is relative to our needs and experiences) has, over the decades, insidiously influenced our beliefs about right and wrong. We are told such moral beliefs change with the times we live in. Proponents of relativism would say we have “progressed” away from a belief in the absolute concept of morality laid out in the Ten Commandments. Truth decay then is a predictable consequence as we ignore the commandment to not “bear false witness against another.” As the Rand Report indicates, truth decay has reached epidemic proportions in our society today.

I have presented what we Christians think causes truth decay. What do unbelievers say is the cause? From the comments I’ve received in addressing this subject in the social media, and from what I’ve read, unbelievers don’t comment on the cause; they acknowledge the disease and claim that it is the social media, and cable news programs that promote it. They blame the disease on the lack of education in civics in our schools and at home. In not addressing the cause of the disease, as I have, they ignore the probability that there’s something else going on here; that truth decay might actually be the predictable collateral damage of an inadequate code of morality. Of course, if they were to acknowledge that cause, they can only respond by maintaining that their atheistic philosophies are just as effective as the Christian code of morality in determining an effective moral code. But, that dog won’t hunt because, for the past three quarters of a century or so, from the time relativism began to rear its ugly head, our moral code has been compromised and, in the words of songwriter Paul Simon, we have been “slip sliddin’ away” into the abyss of uncertainty and confusion. This “truth decay” is only the latest recognized indication that something isn’t working in our society in this day and age.

So then, why doesn’t a moral code based on philosophy work? Theologian John Calvin had a reason for why a godless, relativistic moral code based on philosophy comes up short. He said, “they (the philosophers), while doing their best to encourage us to be virtuous, have nothing to say except that we should live ‘according to nature.'” In ignoring God and telling us to live according to nature, philosophers ignore the reality that our nature is sinful; even unbelievers recognize that there is something very wrong with our world. Our sin motivates us to be lead us astray from the pursuit of a good and truthful life. Calvin goes on to say that “Scripture draws its encouragement from the true fountain. It teaches us to contemplate our lives in relation to God, our Author, to whom we are bound.” So, the question still remains; how are we going to fix the problem of “truth decay?”

Education is critical. It only makes sense to recognize how important a role education in civics plays in trying to stem the tide of “truth decay.” But that’s just treating the symptom. We must also educate people on morality. What institution do you suppose is best equipped to do that? Not our schools; Christianity has been ostracized from our public schools. The answer of course is our churches, and even unbelievers recognize that it only makes sense to rely on an institution that teaches God is truth and to obey his absolute moral law to combat the threat of “truth decay” and, for that matter, any other moral threat to our society.

Ironically, these same people who have expressed fear of Christianity’s influence in our government and in our society and have supported laws in reducing its influence, are now the ones who are advocating reliance on our churches to help out in preventing the spread of “truth decay.” Yes, it’s an irony, but, of course, it is the right approach, and we Christians should try harder in our churches and in our witness to emphasize what Jesus believed about the importance of truth. Many times he would begin a sentence, “verily, verily, I say unto you;” that means, truthfully, truthfully, I tell you this.

Only by introducing people to Jesus Christ, and exposing them to the gospel truth, can we effectively educate people on virtue and successfully combat the threat of “truth decay.”

 

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7 thoughts on “America’s “Truth Decay”

  1. As long as we see the world through the eyes of believer vs unbeliever . . . and our way as the only way . . . and our holy book as the only holy book . . . and that only if they (meaning the unbeliever) would believe the Christian way everything would be fine and dandy, we will never move anywhere but in circles.

    When we see exclusivity in the Christian cause . . . we automatically must exclude all others from the club as sinners in need of salvation . . . is that your truth? It’s not mine. . . .
    Right there is the problem with knowing the truth. . . . when you KNOW that means the other guy DON’T know and the seed of self righteousness is planted. That means that all other religious beliefs are beneath yours . . . that all doctrine is beneath yours . . . that the only worthy schools and churches are Christian schools and churches.

    One truth that I hold dear is that the state of being (we call God) is non exclusive. All matter is connected to all other matter . . . from the atom, to the cell, to the universe, all is connected and moving in unity. When a group of cells in the human body decide to break free and go it alone they quickly morph into a tumor and if not dealt with, cancer evolves to ultimately kill the host. The Christian has decided that they hold the high ground, and by doing so has created the us vs them syndrome. I believe, because of their exclusivity, there’s cancer in the Christian church.

    Though they have many great teachings in their bible, things all men should follow and do, self righteousness is killing them. This is not the robe the church should be adorning itself in. We need Christianity today, but today, finger pointing Christians are their own worst enemy. The fight is not with the unbeliever, the fight is within every person who calls himself a Christian to act like it by practicing the teachings of their leader.

    If that leader is an outward dwelling personality like Jesus, an inward dwelling Buddha, or whoever your religion espouses, follow his/hers basic teachings, stay away from doctrinal differences and you will automatically be following the basic morality line that will change and renew the planet both spiritually as well as environmentally.

    • Thanks for responding, Walter. I value your thought-provoking opinions. Responding to you probably helps me avoid atrophy of my brain. Like every other organ, the brain is a “use it or lose it” situation.

      Sent from Mail for Windows 10

  2. I don’t mean to sound self-righteous or judgmental, Walter, but I must say what I believe because I believe it to be the truth. There are of course doctrinal differences between us, and am drawn to engage in discussing my beliefs with others (all of my books are discussions among people of different beliefs), but, since it only makes sense that there can be only one truth, one of us is wrong. We each can respectfully agree to disagree, and, you are correct in saying self-righteous finger pointing is a no-no in any theological discussion. Of course, there’s also the practical aspect of which belief system best promotes decent, virtuous behavior best, and my point in this post is that this is where the gospel doctrine really shines. At least one unbeliever agrees with me on this point. Here’s what he said:

    John, “you might be surprised to learn that this particular godless agnostic agrees with much of what you’re saying here. While my personal defense against mendacity is to embrace critical thinking, I recognize that doing so doesn’t address the evil from which the lies originate. Changing the hearts of plutocrats, for example, is way above my pay grade – there’s little I can do about the evils they practice and promote. Yeah, that’s right – there’s evil in this world, and while your definition and mine might differ, we agree that it’s out there. And yeah, it’s based in human nature. Calvin’s solution was to overlay the religious teachings he embraced – that takes care of everything. Thomas Hobbes recognized that human nature unchecked would lead to a solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short life – but his solution was the social contract that a free people have with one another and their government. He believed that such a contract would keep the evil in check. Who’da thunk that John and Larry could reconcile the views of two such great thinkers – Calvin and Hobbes??”

  3. I don’t mean to sound self-righteous or judgmental, Walter, but I must say what I believe because I believe it to be the truth. There are of course doctrinal differences between us, and am drawn to engage in discussing my beliefs with others (all of my books are discussions among people of different beliefs), but, since it only makes sense that there can be only one truth, one of us is wrong.

    and I am not accusing you individually on that issue, I’m saying the church is. . . . where you and I differ is when you say there can only be one truth so somebody is wrong. . . . as in my truth vs your truth . . .

    I don’t see life as black or white but as varying shades of gray . . . nor anything much as being solid, but more liquid. It’s possible there is no anchor at all under truth and it’s all according to ones particular karma . . .that makes sense to a Buddhist.

  4. I know you’re not mocking me as I believe so many of my protagonists do, from time to time. And, most of the time when I refer to the church, I’m talking about the internal church, the doctrine of Christ.

    Regarding your first statement: In logic, there is a law philosophers refer to as The Law of Non-contradiction, which means one concept cannot contradict another and both of them are true.

    Regarding your second statement: For Christians, of course, the anchor is God’s Word, but even for those who don’t accept the Word, there is evidence of an anchor in the consistency of design in nature. Einstein said that without being able to rely upon a consistent universal anchor, he never would have been able to arrive at his theory of relativity.

    • I believe in singular truths and anchors in the natural world . . . gravity is a base anchor . . . many truths in science can be proven and there is no other truth for it . . . but I’m talking about spiritual truths and they are not so easy to anchor. . . you rely on the bible as the word of God . . . I rely on lessons from the natural world to be the word of God . . . most all parables of Christ referred to a spiritual teaching by using the natural world as his tool . . . . a seed, a fig tree, a rock, all these things were used metaphorically and can be studied in order to learn a deeper truth. . . . so I do that and you do that and although different we may both be correct in our truths. . . . . that’s a side issue though as my focus is on the believer and non-believer aspect of your essay. Because I don’t believe as you do does not make me a non believer.

  5. Yes, everyone has a belief. People who lead an examined life (like you are me) understand why we believe what we believe, and I think that’s more important than what we say we believe or how we express that belief. Epistemology is one of the main themes of discussions of Book One, and it is the only theme of “The Foundation of Belief.”

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