Truth, True Truth, Truthiness, and Post-truth in America

Written by Dr. Rex M. Rogers on . Posted in Local

rexsat7Dr. Rex M. Rogers American culture is actively forgetting what it used to believe.

That truth is objective and knowable reality – that truth is not defined by gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, partisanship, Left or Right political philosophy, culture, might, I.Q., riches or poverty, beauty or brawn, feelings or preferences, or even religion per se.

In the 1970s, the late Christian philosopher Francis A. Schaeffer coined the intentionally redundant phrase "true truth" to remind the emerging morally relativistic culture that truth is not subjective. It is not something we can pick and choose. Truth is absolute. Truth stands outside all of us.

A generation or two hence, American culture is racing pell-mell toward full-on relativism. Now, no one, no entity, nothing can be trusted because everything is reduced to power and rights, not truth.

This is not just theoretical or ethereal fluff. What we believe about truth has real-life consequences.

If truth is objective and humanly knowable, then you and I are accountable for how we respond to truth – no matter who we are. It's a standard that allows us to say, "No one is above the law." It also means we cannot side-step individual responsibility by pointing to some version of "the Devil made me do it."

Justice, it was once believed, "is blind." Certainly, we still aspire to this "equality before the law" but today there are many on the Left and the Right who no longer believe this principle describes American criminal justice.

If truth is not objective and knowable but rather subjective, unknowable, defined by the moment, by privilege or position or gender or race or any number of human categories, than "true truth" as Schaeffer cited it does not exist. Truth does not exist, and what's left is "truthiness," an appeal to intuition not logic, emotion not evidence.

This is the quandary-qua-quagmire now writ large in American culture every news cycle. We don't know truth when we see it and it seems we don't care. Some pundits suggest we're living in a "Post-truth" culture in which arguments are made based upon emotion-driven fiction rather than facts. And these truth-free arguments frequently continue to be offered in talking points even after emotional fictions have been proven false. But what is "false" in a culture that does not believe in truth?

Both the Right and the Left call the other names, now increasingly vicious names making "liar" a low-level response. But neither the Right or the Left has a corner on right, righteousness, or integrity.

It's now virtually impossible to conduct civil public discourse, much less debate, on the merits or evidence of an issue. Why? Because the personality, perceived or imputed evil, or the sheer presence of the one making a case overwhelms the issue.

For example, however often President Donald Trump or former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, or former Presidents Barack Obama or George W. Bush, have perhaps acted poorly, some argue illegally, presented demonstrably inaccurate statements, or denied responsibility for their behaviors...not all their ideas are bad, wrong, or destructive to the Body Politic. No matter how slanted, biased, or incomplete the "news" presented by CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, or other big media may at times be, not every presentation or point of view is bad, wrong, or blatant partisanship.

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The point here is not to pat any of these people or entities on the back, or to exonerate them from their individual responsibility for possible missteps. The point is: because we no longer believe in truth, we no longer believe in trustworthiness, so we've come to a place in our culture where we cannot discuss or debate issues dispassionately and impartially. Every issue debate is overwhelmed by how we feel about the person or entity presenting a view. Every issue debate is DOA because we don't agree on basic assumptions about truth. In fact, we're not really interested in truth. We're interested in goring the other side's ox for our positional advantage, i.e. it's about power, which for many today, by definition, means oppression. One person or group is denying another person or group their rights.

Once American culture slides into a continuing harangue about "slights and rights" we've got nothing left but identity politics. We can no longer define "American" or even "man" or "woman," so all we have is our selfie-oriented view of who's trying to deny us, my group, our rights.

This new perspective on truth is not the only source of social polarization today, but it's an enormously important one. It directly threatens freedom of speech, ordered liberty, and e pluribus unum.

Our post-truth, faith-phobic culture rejects a Christian worldview that considers all individuals made in the image of God, all with eternal value and significance, all with giftedness and responsibility, all with reasoning capacity, all with the ability to be free moral agents. Instead, American culture is characterized by moral relativism running amok as "everyone did what was right in his own eyes," a dangerous condition indeed.

Dr. Rex M. Rogers, President SAT-7 USA,,
Author Information
Dr. Rex M. Rogers
Rex M. Rogers (born 1952[1]) serves as President of SAT-7 USA, the American promotion and fundraising arm of SAT-7, a Christian satellite television ministry by and for the people of the Middle East and North Africa. SAT-7 SAT-7, based in Nicosia, Cyprus, supports quality, indigenous-produced programming on four channels in three languages, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish.

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