We are in a post-truth era?
Some social experts are saying that we are now living in what they term as “post-truth era.” As described by them, it refers to a certain culture where people are more likely to accept an argument based on their emotions and beliefs rather than one based on facts.
That claim, of course, can trigger a lot of reaction and can lead us again to the question of what truth really is. It brings back the question, “What is truth?,” that Pilate asked of Christ when Christ said that he came to bear witness to the truth. (cfr. Jn 18,37-38)
Indeed, dealing with the truth is a very complex business. And that’s simply because truth has many aspects, levels, appearances, etc. In the end, we have to trace the origin of what we consider to be the truth, and that can only be the author and maker of truth itself, the creator of the universe. In other words, we have to believe in God and constantly refer ourselves to him to know the truth.
If we have a problem with the question of God, then definitely we will have a problem with the question of truth. Truth would now become a captive of our subjective ways of knowing things. We would be making ourselves the main arbiter of what can be considered as true or not. In the end, we would be making ourselves our own god, the creator of what is true and what is not true.
The phenomenon of what some social experts are regarding as “post-truth era” is mainly due to a culture where God has hardly any role to play in our lives, let alone, considered as everything to us.
With this setting, we obviously will miss not only a lot about truth, but also what is most crucial and essential about it. We will reduce our understanding of truth to what is simply perceptible to the senses, what is observable and understandable to the human mind at a given time and condition, what is empirically and scientifically proven.
That mindset will surely ignore the spiritual and supernatural reality that also impacts on our life. In fact, that is the main reality that would impact on us. But this aspect of reality would be considered as subjective, biased, meant only to be held as a private or personal business but cannot be given a universal status. It is supposed not to get involved in our temporal affairs.
The challenge is definitely how to change this mindset and to convince everyone that in the end what makes for the universal and ultimate meaning of truth is for us to refer ourselves to the living God, and not the god who is a product of our own subjective ways. It is this living God who revealed himself fully in Christ who in turn is made alive in us through the Holy Spirit in the Church.
Yes, there is always the possibility of people making appeals to God in seeking the truth, but a god that is not the true living God. That’s why we also have superstitions and other ideologies that may include what they consider as spiritual and supernatural elements but which are not the real ones. Thus, to distinguish what is authentically spiritual and supernatural from what is not is a more challenging issue to tackle.
What may help us out in this predicament is to follow closely what Christ told Pilate before Pilate could not help but ask, “What is the truth?” It was when Christ told Pilate, “I have come into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” (Jn 18,37)
Indeed, it is only in Christ that we can have the full appreciation of truth. But more than mere observation, physical witnessing, possessing facts and data, etc., what is needed is a living faith, a faith that God freely and abundantly gives but which we have to take extreme care of.