Post-Truth Era?

The first time I encountered the term “post-truth” I thought it was satire. Then there came “alternative facts.”  “Facts” became what anyone wanted to say they are. “Alternative facts” have become the foundation and building blocks of a prevailing political ideology.  It should not be surprising that “death of the expert” was a necessary supporting development in this populist ideology and political climate.  Experts deal in things like facts, actual facts, not alternative ones, and in actual knowledge, an advanced degree of which has come through extensive study and/or prolonged experience, in whatever the topic may be.

Well, the experts don’t know everything, do they? This is not at all a new defiant rejection of facts, knowledge, and expert informed opinion, but it has become mainstream.   So one person’s opinion is as good as another’s, right? After all, it “just” opinion.  To try to argue either of these is a pointless trip into frustration. To point out that if you are sick, you want an educated informed doctor’s opinion, or if in legal distress, the informed “opinion” of an attorney.

Our society, country, has become divided over what might once have been called “mere opinion” though it could be argued there is nothing “mere” about where we are and what has happened to get us here. As I write this in June, 2019, the “experts” that deal in facts, knowledge, and sound information have been somewhat pushed back into their chairs to wonder in disbelief.  From scientist to journalist, the peddlers of alternative facts have displaced them in the arena of public opinion. As so it seems reasonable to so that chant such mantras as “the experts don’t know everything,” and more sinister, the experts are just out to trick us and take advantage of us and do us harm.

“Post-truth” has become a described phenomenon, and if dear reader has not yet informed themselves about it, a trip on your browser to search the term might be interesting.

On my reading wish list for this summer:

Post-Truth (MIT Essential knowledge series)
Lee McIntyre

The Truth Matters
A citizen’s guide to separating facts from lies and stopping fake news.
Bruce Bartlett

Weaponized lies” How to think critically in the post-truth era

Daniel J Levitin

 

Truth can be a strange journey

This blog, or blog attempt, has been something of a puzzle to me, and I can only imagine it so for any others wandering in here. I felt led? whatever that means, to set this blog up, with this name, 5 years ago now. I’ve never had such a hard time finding the right words for expressing something. I’ve started, stopped, deleted posts that just didn’t feel right. Writing has always come easy for me, but this has been different.

Seeking Truth. There is the problem, what is truth? How do we define it or describe it? Do we know it when we encounter it? Are there different truths for different people and perspectives? If truth is what IS, what is true, what is real, what is actual, and that we seek objective truth, based on facts and reason, not a subjective feeling based opinion. And that is a very hard thing for we humans to try to discern.

So why did I begin these blog with an opening like “God? Get Real.” God: “Get Real!” ?

If God is “real,” then to seek truth about God, or even “to seek the true God,” we must observe some objective standards. If God is something greater than ourselves, greater than the whole universe, then we immediately encounter a reasoned end to the search, because the smaller, the piece, of something greater, that exists within the greater, cannot possibly comprehend that greater. Where do we go from here?

We can only observe, explore, seek, the clearest truth about the limited perspective from which we encounter it. Now, this is where religious or sentimental thought may enter, suggesting that as it is a truth God is greater than we can comprehend, we are forced to choose between faith in imagined ideas about God, or fall into atheism.

What we can do is to question, examine, and test ideas about God, or any other unknown subject, against a standard of fact-based truth. Those of us that were indoctrinated into religious faith when young have a difficult task in trying to find a place for ourselves between the indoctrinated idea that to question what we are told that we must believe on faith alone, without doubt or question, and that to doubt or question is forbidden, lest we face the wrath of God.

But all they could ever truly offer us to be in fear of was the wrath of those people that demanded our fear and threatened us with horrible punishment. The preacher pounding on a podium, face red and twisted into a mask of wrath, or the authoritarian parent with the razor strop or belt, determined to put the fear of God into you, could only put fear of them into you. Not God.

Religions themselves teach that a basic quality of God is Truth. Even that Truth is God and God is Truth. If so, then is we seek truth, in honesty and truth ourselves, are we not seeking God? So here is where step onto the present path of our journey. Facts and reason are the foundation on which we much stand with each step along the way.  Something may be true, not true, or undiscernable.

If you are here, reading this, you are probably already started along that path in regards to religion and perhaps a few other things in life.
How many things are we told to believe are true, often in religion, told we must believe are true, or else, takes no effort at reason at all to call out as that’s crap. It is not true. It is obvious it is not true, and we all know that.

And yet, to declare that obvious truth presents us the next truth. To call it out, to declare the emperor has no clothes, will mean some of our relationships, with communities of people and individuals within them, are going to end.  To openly declare what others are not ready to hear, will mean some social deaths. Some of them may be people precious to us.

 

God? Get Real! God: Get Real!

Sitting in a waiting area yesterday, I passed time idly flipping through some local newspapers that featured “faith corner” columns written by local pastors, and several religious tracts laying about.  I was freshly reminded why a lot of people see religion as a joke. Nonsense. Silly fairy tales and the superstitions of primitive peoples. An added disturbing element which is all too common among religious preachers, teachers, and fervent followers was how casually outright lies were thrown in as if the clinching nail in the effort to convince people to believe the unbelievable.

Even as a child I knew there were some serious issues with the credibility of a lot of the religious ideas I heard and church and from my Christian parent and their church friends and cohorts.  Oddly enough, it wasn’t God, or even Jesus I couldn’t believe in. While those inconsistencies with reality have convinced many to become atheists, for some reason I was then and now able to hold onto faith in at least “something” larger than me, something beyond this material reality.

When I read Sam Harris’ book “Beyond Faith,” it made sense to me in a way that echoed some of my own thoughts and questions over the years, that I’d dared not mention to any religious people around me. Harris has done a good job in dismantling a great deal of the elements and tenents of the religion I was raised in, as well as much else in the realms of religious ideologies and practices. For Sam Harris and other thinking, reasoning people, the conclusion is atheism.

For whatever cause or reasons, while I found his arguments soundly constructed and valid, I came to a different conclusion. My faith in God, or whatever that greater something might be called, remained intact. How and why my faith was able to survive is another story for another time.   What his arguments did do is help bring me closer to the place of courage to step out and say, this religious stuff is a bunch of b.s.

For me, God wasn’t dead. But much of the image of God I’d been taught to believe in, and the religion that peddled it, was. At the same time, I still recognized that a lot of good people, even from the perspective of the actual teachings of Christ, were people of true faith.  I knew they had to be struggling with the same doubts and questions that I had.

The apparent central core of that religion, the teachings, was the Christian Bible as the actual. literal, inerrant Word of God.  “Apparent” is important here, as it points to one of, if not the biggest lie of lies. Even as a child not yet able to read, I was troubled when catching inconsistencies between a preacher’s or teacher’s explanations of and expounding upon some passage of text they had just read. As I learned to read the text for myself and learn the facts of our reality, the inconsistencies became even greater, more troublesome. The more I was around the church people, the religionists, the more false, fake, I found many of them to be. But I’ve also observed those with confusion in their eyes, trying to hang on to their faith, while those forbidden questions tumble about in their minds.

How to resolve these inconsistencies requires first a commitment to truth. It is taught that God IS Truth. That nothing that is a lie is of God. Taken casually, as we might take a saying on a FaceBook meme. that is easy to say we are committed to. To walk the talk is rougher than most can imagine.  In matters of faith, it means letting go of some cherished beliefs. It will mean, for those that stay on the path of truth, taking up a cross and climbing a hill, while being ostracized by fellow religious.

Most that reject God have actually rejected images of God that are false, fake, empty creations of religious men for ultimate purposes of power and personal gain,
So when the atheist responds to a query about belief in God is likely to be “God? Get real!”

If what has been rejected as false images of God, and fake teachings, even lies, then they have every right, and in truth, a holy right, to have done so. They may invoke the wrath of the religionists,  but God, if there really is a God, would have to approve. So if we are going to talk about a real God, then what we say about that God had better be real.  I think such a God would say

God: Get Real!