Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Truth and Trust: The Number One Casualty

If civilization depends on trust, then Western Civilization is facing a long Western winter. The problem isn’t so much that the West is struggling vainly to win trust, but that it has simply abandoned this concept and the concept of truth upon which trust must find its foundation. If our interests or agendas – be it a good form of social activism or not – trumps truth-telling, trust becomes collateral damage.

Writer Jen Angel expresses the growing commitment of the media to social activism, even at the expense of objectivity:

  • I also drew from Ostertag’s work the concept of needing media that is unafraid to align itself directly with activism and movements for change, that doesn’t seek to objectively report the news, or to be a passive observer. 
Of course, we all have our social-religious-political commitments, and we should! However, we undermine ourselves when our politics commandeers truth and objectivity in service to its cause.

Truth is especially critical to the media. If the media is supposed to provide accountability – and I think that we all regard this as essential to the welfare of democracy – it fails to provide this function if it first commitment is to its political agenda.

In fact, our Founding Fathers thought so highly of the media’s watch-dog role that its right to unencumbered free speech was specifically guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. The media has therefore been entrusted with a sacred duty.

What should we think about a media whose first interest and commitment is to political activism at the expense of objectivity? Should we trust it? This question is now center-stage. The mainstream media has become so committed to liberal causes that a recent survey revealed that 60% of Americans no longer trust it! Such activism is dangerously polarizing this nation. And when trust is lacking, power and brutality hasten to fill the vacuum.

Should we trust the findings of science, when the scientists themselves admit that truth-telling has taken a back seat? Denyse O’Leary writes that:

  • Darwinian philosophers like Michael Ruse insist that ethics is an illusion…Well-known atheist science writer John Horgan explicitly endorses lying for science in such cases as the effort to fight Global warming: “It’s a war, and when people are waging war, they always lie for their cause.” (Salvo, Issue 22, 48)
Sadly, there is a tendency to regard the promotion of all our political or scientific agendas as “waging war.” And if ethics is no more than an “illusion,” then why not bend the truth to promote the cause! And if we are willing to lie “for science,” for what wouldn’t we lie!

Hence, there is a crisis of trust - that even our constitutional rights will not be upheld. In a war, nothing is sacred. Every “truth” is expendable, and every right can be revoked.

This makes me wonder about myself. I too have an agenda. My blog’s mission statement reads, “Defending the Christian faith and promoting its wisdom against the secular and religious challenges of our day.” Does my agenda relegate truth to second-fiddle in a winner-take-all war? It mustn’t!

Why not? I think that there are several reasons. If God is all-powerful, merciful and truthful, then I need not lie to cover for Him. He can cover for Himself. If He can’t, then I am wasting my time – both with Him and with my efforts.

However, if God is everything I believe Him to be, then my first goal is faithfulness to His calling. This means modeling myself after Him in every way, and this includes truth-telling.

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