The Truth

I saw a meme this week:

“The news used to tell us what happened and we had to decide how we felt about it.  Now, the news tells us how to feel and we have to decide if it happened.”

Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how we interpret observations. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations. It requires experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses. And it necessitates refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. 

For postmodernists, in contrast, science is a set of unquestionable beliefs, handed down from above, to be accepted completely and without question or doubt.  Which of course isn’t scientific at all.  Science is a methodology, not a feeling. Reality is what exists regardless of how you feel about it.

But actual facts don’t matter in a postmodern world, nor does objective truth.  You’ve probably heard the term “postmodern,” but do you know what it is?

Postmodernism questions and criticizes Enlightenment rationality.  It opposes certainty. It rejects the concept of objective reality.  It denies universal truth. It argues for relativism.  It is skeptical of explanations that claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions or races.  Postmodernists claim that reality is a mental construct. Facts are malleable. It has no clue what “science” actually is nor does it care. It redefines it.  It hollows it out and wears it as a skin suit. It uses it as a club to intimidate those who disagree.

In the final scene of the first Star Wars movie,the rebel alliance launches an assault on the Death Star in an attempt to defeat the Empire. The hero, Luke Skywalker, pilots his X-wing fighter along a heavily fortified trench in search of a small exhaust port in which to fire his missiles.

Amid the chaos of the battle, Luke hears the wise counsel of his recently departed mentor, Obi-wan Kenobi, who whispers, “Luke, trust your feelings.” Luke then switches off his targeting computer and — using the Force as his guide — proceeds to fly by instinct, eventually reaching his objective and destroying the Death Star.

And then later, in The Empire Strikes Back, in the confrontation with Darth Vader when Luke learns the truth, that Darth Vader is his father and he resists accepting it, Darth Vader tells him: “Search your feelings. You know it to be true.”

If you know it to be true because it “feels right” then you don’t need facts.  “I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me with the facts.”  That’s our world today. 

And this is not a new way of approaching things. Humans naturally default to this.  The nineteenth century was dominated by this outlook.  It was an age of Romance, not an Age of Reason. 

And so again today.  Logic and facts are doubted; we imagine feelings are more “authentic,” more real.  We retain the trappings of the Enlightenment and deny the power thereof.  We don’t want to “reason together” to discover the truth.  We just want to feel good about ourselves and our choices.  It’s okay if I self-identify as a kumquat.  It’s my reality, right?  It’s who I really am.

And yet we know down deep that elevating emotion over rationality is nonsense.  We still look both ways before we cross a street.  We don’t purposely run red lights.  We willingly go to a doctor if we break a bone.  We don’t give out our social security number to strangers on the phone.  We know we have to eat. And we count our change.

We don’t actually live by postmodern or romantic thinking. Facts do matter in our day to day existence.

And facts matter to God.  He asks us to believe the truth, not just to embrace our feelings. Our choices have real consequences.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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