What is truth?

The headline is taken from John 18:38 where Pontius Pilate clearly didn’t think Jesus deserved the death penalty. He probably used one of the latin words that many people have heard, veritas. That is something we should always ask ourselves. I tried, without much success, as a teacher to train my pupils in critical thinking. I really think it’s necessary to watch, listen and read critically.

It’s been a while, but I have written about media’s somewhat creative relation to truth. There’s a lot of really bad journalism, but also quite a bit of journalism that is meant to be misleading. I have written about this several times, and the most relevant I can think of is the post A Peaceful Leader and Yellow Journalism.

I turned on the TV the other night and ended up watching the last 15 minutes of a program about the freemasons in the USA. I have seen a lot of bad journalism presented as something serious and objective, but I think this topped everything. They appeared to only interview people that were positive to this secret society, and when they mentioned conspiracy theories, it was only to riducule these. I noticed that in the last minutes of the program they had at least half a dozen statements about how the freemasons represented the light. They stressed the importance of fighting for the light and against the darkness. There was even one that compared these men to Jedis from Star Wars. They had to use the force to do something good, and make sure darkness didn’t win.

This sounds like a perversion of Christianity where everything is removed, and they don’t talk about God because it’s men doing this. There is no room for God. Evil wouldn’t be problematic if it was ugly and unable to trick people. When evil sounds attractive there is real danger, and that’s why we need critical thinking. There are also sects and organizations claiming to be Christian doing this. They are saying almost all the right words, but not quite.

fact and myth street sign
It’s an important skill to navigate through the jungle of information, and separate correct from incorrect.
Photo: Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

I have seen something similar from Discovery Channel before when they have Christian “documentaries.” They tend to interview scholars and authors that hold the view they want to present. They also present the alien astronaut theory as serious research. Together with series like Futurescape (hosted by James Woods) and Through the Wormhole (hosted by Morgan Freeman) it seems like the focus is to move the attention away from us as God’s creation. The version we’re being fed in popular culture is that an alien race created us, and that our only hope for the future is to turn us into machines. Scientists have for example successfully uploaded new memories to mice. That’s how they see us in the future. The successful people will be those that can afford an upgrade.

One of the most fascinating developments in science in recent years is that science is talking about an intelligent designer. That had many question whether atheist scientists had to give up their attacks on Christianity. It’s interesting that these slanted “science programs” started showing up next, and I believe there is a connection.

I have no doubt that we would hear a lot of creative explanations if they were accused, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the only possible explanation has to do with who owns the major news and “science” channels. There is no doubt that there are strong forces at work trying to convince us that God is an alien (which means there is no God), and that we can create life ourselves.

I think I have shared this quote before, but I’ll do it again. There’s a lot of good stuff in The Lord of the Rings. This is from a conversation between Frodo and Ganndalf.

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging though.

Frodo may not have felt especially blessed, but I agree with Gandalf. In the midst of evil and chaos there is encouragement to find from our experiences with God, and from the fellowship of Christians.

This topic will also be relevant in my book challenge-update at the end of the month.

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22 thoughts on “What is truth?

  1. In many “mystery” religions and “secret societies,” Lucifer is honored and exalted. I believe his name means “light bringer.” He supposedly brings “enlightenment” to those special few. Kind of like the lies he told Eve in the garden. “Your eyes will be opened and you will be as gods.”

    That dialogue between Frodo and Gandulf is my all-time favorite line from the LOTR series. When I watch “The Fellowship” on DVD, I play that scene over and over. It is so true in our own world. There have been times in my life that I felt just like Frodo. I suspect there will be many such moments for all of us in the coming days.

    1. I love LOTR, both the books and the films. I went to high school in a very small place, only 5 000 people live there, and there was absolutely nothing to do. I may have heard about these books, but not read them. I found them in this little library, read them and wrote a book report for my Norwegian class when I was 16. That was fun and I’ve read these books a few times since then. It’s amazing to think that Tolkien and C.S. Lewis were colleagues and friends.

      Sadly we had to leave everything when we moved, so I have neither the books nor the films at the moment. I don’t have much patience for films anymore, or at the moment at least, but I never get tired of this story.

  2. RE Bad journalism: I think it is probably difficult for any of us to be 100% objective, but there is definitely a possibility of our media outlets being hijacked by those who (deliberately or not) spin every bit of information in a specific direction.

    This paragraph

    This sounds like a perversion of Christianity where everything is removed, and they don’t talk about God because it’s men doing this. There is no room for God….They are saying almost all the right words, but not quite.

    is spot on.

    Slightly twisted versions of the truth are indeed the most deadly. And uncritical thinking leaves people vulnerable to the influence of misleading propaganda.
    By way of comparison, rodents are generally smart enough to not deliberately eat something that would obviously kill them. But, commercial rat poison is mostly comprised of “inert” ingredients, added to make the toxic element appear palatable. It’s effective that way.

    Especially with films and written communication, we try to make a point of teaching our children to discern whether an informing worldview aligns with scripture. The same can apply to music lyrics and art as well.

    Like Jay, I appreciate your reference of the LOTR exchange. It provides continuity of thought with regard to your previous consideration about the need for “heroes”.
    And it also looks a lot like the discussion Esther and Mordecai had (via her servant) when he encouraged her to use her position of influence with the king to try to intervene on behalf of the doomed Jewish people.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Esther+4%3A9-14&version=ESV

    The last sentence of verse 14 is especially relevant, I think.

    1. Heather,

      Your description of the rat poison would almost as accurately describe most of the so-called “food” on U.S. supermarket shelves and served in our fast food “restaurants.”

      I like the reference to Esther. I had not really thought of that conversation between Esther and Mordecai being so similar to the LOTR conversation between Frodo and Gandalf. You see interesting connections.

    2. Jay,
      Sadly, I suspect you are right about the food supply.

      It is interesting to me that many people believe LOTR to be allegorical in nature, but I’ve read that the author himself denied it.
      However, John has written a few times about the influence Christianity has had on culture in general, and I think this particular series of novels is a really great example of how we can absorb key concepts without overtly acknowledging biblical influence.

      While the literary genre is clearly fantasy, there are definitely themes which a Christian will easily recognize.

      Esther and Mordecai are an interesting biblical study. I especially like the parallels between the two of them and the gospel account of Christ’s life.

  3. Chris Pinto makes excellent videos debunking what I’ll call “American Secular Christianity” (ASC). He shows the influences on Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, etc. on one hand working to de-spiritualize christian influences, on the other to promote greco-roman rationalists influences, and on the third (using sleight of hand) — unseen actors (masons, jesuits, knights templar, etc.) jockey to control the throne (seats of power) & markets. Net result, basically a christian cult which claims to be “true christianity” in the US.

    ASC is a pluralistic, polytheistic cult that loosely amalgamates antithetical fantasies into a frankenstein-like abomination, that dismisses God’s will and promotes sin. Such as:

    – other gods & idols (ex. statuary in any park or capitol)
    – using a generic nameless high god
    – legalizing murder in many forms
    – promoting greed and excess in the market
    – sanctioning divorce and adultery as life-style choices
    – setting elites to enslave (through partisan politics, academics, etc.)
    – silencing common experiences which expose corruption

    There’s no need to play their games, nor especially in their terms. Sin is sin, no matter what gender delusion or lifestyle choice. Unholy matrimony is basically a business contract, like prostitution. Divorce rates reflect that the majority of even so called christians exclude The Creator from their creative efforts to nurture families. Depersonalizing the unborn reflects relationships focused mostly on the flesh (i.e. mechanical, depersonalized).

    It’s not that such issues are taboo. It’s that the tares (the damned) are blind, deaf, and dumb. Those that will hear Christ’s voice will come out of the majority and join the remnant of those that are saved in each generation.

    As for the rest… Christ instructed His disciples — shake off their dust and move on. They are like their fathers, the enemy angels, the true rulers behind the scenes in this world. In due time, Christ will establish that all the kingdoms of the world fall under His rule and that of the kingdom of heaven. Yet even righteous rule can not change the heart of rebels. When satan is again released, the rest of the damned will rebel again. Ultimately, a snake is a snake — and the nations of this world are theirs — for now.

    Compare sauron.

    1. Nomemoleste,

      Yes, I see the Sauron connection. I wonder if the Orc army was Tolkien’s take on the fallen angels. If so, not a pretty picture. Another favorite scene of mine in the LOTR series, was in the Two Towers during the battle of Helm’s Deep, when the battle appears lost, when the defenders are about to give up hope and the fortress about to fall, and then Gandulf comes riding to the rescue in a blaze of white light that fells the enemy army. That scene always makes me think of the return of Christ.

      Likewise, when Gandalf falls in the mines of Moria and wrestles with the Balrog, I think of Christ’s death, his wrestling with Satan, taking the keys of death, hell and the grave…and then the resurrection.

      And the “eye of sauron?” Think about the ever present “all seeing eye” associated with the occult, etc. and the serpent’s promise that their “eyes would be opened.”

      Ok…..sorry, sorry guys, I just went off on this whole LOTR symbolism rant……..I didn’t mean to start anything. This what happens when someone brings up LOTR in this context! 🙂

  4. With regards to both John’s post and Heather’s comment….consider that the producer of the movie “Prometheus” is also the producer of the recent “Exodus.” This producer has been quite blatant that he finds the concept of God as creator “unbelievable,” yet he embraces and promotes in his film the idea of the “Alien savior and creator.” Dang, humans have really evolved lately! In the 1800s and 1900s, we allegedly evolved from apes, and now we are to be exalted as the lab rats and experiments of our so-called alien superior beings. And the Nazis have evolved into alien beings. What what the evolutionary idea will be a 100 years ago? Ourselves as the creator, I suppose.
    (It is possible I have watched too many movies…….. 🙂 ) Or perhaps I just don’t watch them un-critically enough.

    1. I miss watching films at the the theatre. We lived literally out in the middle of nowhere for 6 years, and going to the theatre was not an option, so we missed everything, including the Hobbit-films. I saw Prometheus on TV a few months ago, though. It’s bizzare how the world is going completely bonkers, but of course many see our position as the questionable one.

      Now we finally live in a town, which is very expensive, and we are not that much closer to paying for the tickets. Maybe I’m another poor, struggling author that eventually will have success? This is something I’d like to write about then. People are far too willing to accept the offical story that people with a different view are crazy conspiracy theorists.

    2. (It is possible I have watched too many movies…….. 🙂 ) Or perhaps I just don’t watch them un-critically enough.

      Ha!

      I was recently talking with a friend, and expressing discouragement over how evil our culture appears to have become. She nodded, but her response was that, perhaps the world has always been this bad. Her alternative perspective was that maybe we have just become more sensitive to the surrounding yuckiness as we’ve become less identified with it while drawing closer to Christ.

      Upon considering the fact that wars, generalized immorality and horrific crimes against humanity have been on record for, well, as long as history’s been recorded, I think she made a valid point.

  5. Heather,

    With regards to your friend’s comment, I think both you and she are right at the same time. I think the evil is getting far, far more blatant and in our face. It’s been there all along, but now it is like there is no longer any need to hide it. It seems to be openly reveled in, celebrated, honored. I think that may be what is different. But your friend is right, too. The more we withdraw from that, the easier it is to see it for what it is, and more repelled we are by it. I find increasingly, that I am somehow unable to watch certain types of movies that I used to watch. I don’t want to watch them…or it is like even when I do, I feel like something is sort of holding me back. Or when I watch them anyway, I don’t like them, and feel disappointed or disgusted.

    John,

    So with regards to your comment, “I miss watching films at the the theatre., I certainly understand how you miss seeing films, especially Hobbit and ones like it, but with the exception of those films and a few select others, you are probably not missing much. The quality seems to be rapidly deteriorating. The best film I saw last year was called, “God’s Not Dead.” It is a Christian film, produced by Pureflix. I don’t know if it is showing in Norway, but you might like it, if you get a chance to see it. The second best film was called, “Unbroken,” also a very good one, based on a true story. I just wish that one had told the rest of the story. I hear there may be a sequel.

    1. Jay,

      I think the evil is getting far, far more blatant and in our face. It’s been there all along, but now it is like there is no longer any need to hide it. It seems to be openly reveled in, celebrated, honored.

      This is probably true with regard to more modern westernized civilization.

      I guess I was thinking about the continual wars and more brutal practices of pre-Christian-influence civilizations. For instance, the horrifying activities of ISIS are not hugely different from those of the ancient Assyrians. Mosul is even built in approximately the same location as ancient Nineveh.

  6. Heather,

    With regards to those things, no, it does not seem like it is all that different. It just seems that the more we humans “advance” technologically, we just find new, more horrifying ways to brutalize each other. (although the old, tried and true burning people alive and chopping off heads still appears to be in fashion).
    I find the technological capacity to control the human mind perhaps one of the most evil “advances” humankind has developed, as it strikes at the very core of our free will.

    Interesting isn’t it, how that “you will be as gods,” the whole “freedom” thing that the serpent promised in the garden only leads to greater enslavement?

    1. It just seems that the more we humans “advance” technologically, we just find new, more horrifying ways to brutalize each other.

      Oh yes! The human capability to destroy on a grand scale has increased exponentially in the last hundred or so years.

      Interesting isn’t it, how that “you will be as gods,” the whole “freedom” thing that the serpent promised in the garden only leads to greater enslavement?

      Yes, it is interesting. It is also notable how relatively widespread the acceptance of atheistic humanism has become.

      In theory, “there is no God”.
      In practice, almighty *man* has become as god (in his own mind) : declaring evil to be good and vainly attempting to break free from any vestige of accountability to the Maker he so desperately tries to ignore. (Psalm 2)

      While man-as-god is not a new concept, the rise of blatant humanism appears to be the “full measure” of what was begun so long ago in the garden.

  7. @ Are things getting worse or better? A: both

    Both “the wheat” and “the tares” are maturing. That can’t be about individuals, but must be collectives. Such as: “great babylon” and “the beast,” which both are clearly collectives (as per The Revelation).

    Philippians 2:14-15

    Do all things without murmurings and disputings…
    – That ye may be blameless and harmless
    – the sons of God, without rebuke
    in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation
    among whom ye shine as lights in the world
    – Holding forth The Word of life

    1. Nomemoleste,

      I had not thought about it in terms of both wheat and tares maturing. Interesting observation. I like your choice of verse; a fitting one for the discussion at hand.

  8. Do you think Pilate addressed Jesus in Latin? My guess would have been Greek.
    Not sure it makes a difference.

    Still listening and praying. My heart goes out to you and your family.

    1. I agree with you that it doesn’t make much difference, but it is an interesting speculation. I have to admit it didn’t occur to me when I wrote the entry. I just mentioned it because you can hear the latin word veritas being used quite a bit in different quotes today too. I have listened some to talk radio and one of them, Mel Febragas, hosts The Veritas Show (everything from chemtrails to Nephilim). I don’t recommend those programs, though. A lot of it is not exactly about veritas.

      But the language speculation is interesting. Jerusalem was very international 2000 years ago, as it still is. You probably had to be able to speak at least Greek and some Hebrew (and possibly Aramaic) to work as a Roman governor of Judea. I have no idea what languages Jesus could speak, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that he could speak some Greek and Latin. When you hear these languages being spoken from childhood you probably pick up quite a bit, even without trying. I remember a fascnating interview I watched on TV in the 80’s. It was about the Norwegian UN-soldiers serving in Lebanon. Norway is known for having a lot of very different dialects, and the were children playing in the streets in Lebanon that could speak different Norwegian dialects, including some that are so difficult that I have problems understanding them.

      I suspect that Greek was as common as English is today, and both these men could probably speak the language the other one preferred, but of course it doesn’t change anything.

  9. John & Craig,

    Norway is known for having a lot of very different dialects…

    This is true of the US, too. People from the east coast, Midwest and deep South all have very different dialects than most Pacific NW natives. And there are local variations as well.

    you can hear the latin word veritas being used quite a bit in different quotes today too.

    I made the same truth-veritas connection John did when posting on the same passage of scripture a while back. It made sense to me, since Latin was the “official” language of the Roman empire. But, I admit I never considered whether the original discussion took place in Latin or another language.

    I’m not sure how accurate Wikipedia info is, but I think it’s interesting that it says Latin was the recognized language in the military and the western law courts of the empire, but that the conquered peoples were not forced to adopt it.

    Greek was apparently considered a common language around the Mediterranean. The article indicates that many well-educated Romans could read the language and that most of the governors could speak it, as well

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Empire#Languages

    Both men probably were multilingual, but perhaps Jesus’ trial was conducted in Latin while Pilate’s more personal question to Him was in Greek?

    The question may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but it is an interesting one to ponder 🙂

    1. Thank you for the interesting background information. I think Wikipedia is still struggling with the major flaws it had early on, and I strongly adviced my pupils against using it when I first started teaching, but they seem to have got their act together. I heard about a project a few years ago that helped. Medical students at a university in Norway had spent a week updating medical wikpedia-articles on the Norwegian edition. If people in other fields have done something similar, this will eventualy become a qualified encyclopedia.

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