For Stephen Colbert, truthiness not truth best describes what is happening in American politics and I suspect in the reporting of American politics. Colbert coined the word in 2005 since, what he was “driving at wasn’t truth anyway, but a mere approximation of it — something truthish or truthy http://truthy.indiana.edu/, unburdened by the factual.” (from Ben Zimmer’s article Truthiness in the NY Times). Even though Colbert no longer feels the need to use the word truthiness, it became the 2005 Word of the Year.
Zimmer interviewed Colbert about truthiness in a subscriber only article on Virtual Thesaurus. According to Colbert:
“It’s really about feelings rather than thought. That’s really what the debate is about — it’s like what feels right to you, as opposed to what you know is right.”
And it’s not even really about truth. I’m not asking people what truth is, because truth is too easily associated with fact. So I said, “Well, it’s not truth. It’s like truth. It’s truthish. It’s truthy.” But I needed a noun. So I said, “It’s truthiness.”
You know, “truthiness” sounds wrong, because truth should be absolute — even though we all have truths and mine isn’t the same as yours. “What is truth?” said Pilate. But even though we all have our own truths, they are absolute. By saying “truthiness,” you’re implying that what you’re saying is only an “ish” of the absolute.
What I liked it about it was, it names that what I’m saying is not accurate. It names that what I’m saying is not really true. But what’s really true is not important.
I think if you just look around you, I doubt that many people in American politics are acting on the facts. I think everybody on both sides is acting on the things that move them emotionally the most. And that is the most successful way to behave. By keeping fear alive, we are keeping truthiness alive at the same time. Action out of emotion is all that truthiness is about — making your decisions based upon how you feel. Right now, it seems like fear is the strongest emotion that motivates us.”
Back to Zimmer’s NY Times article, “Truthiness, Colbert pointed out, is in no need of restoring, since it continues to define those who appeal to raw feelings at the expense of facts. “I doubt that many people in American politics are acting on the facts,” he observed ruefully. “Everybody on both sides is acting on the things that move them emotionally the most.”
Donald Miller shows how recent allegations against high profile evangelical leaders reveal a greater problem in the church. My favorite quote:
“I think there is a sickness in the church and it’s not about homosexuality, it’s the church’s absolute inability to deal with its own humanity and it’s culture of image-projection over truth.”
- People avoid you because you talk too much
- I find it hard to be around so much negativity
Missing in some of the replies to the linked post above: speaking the truth in love. Yes, I know Christians use it as an excuse to not speak the truth! But I have spoken the truth to someone without love and when I do so, they can’t seem to hear the truth or discount it. Someone spoke the truth to me this week and I appreciated it and grew as a result. We are in a small group with twenty somethings and in one with forty somethings. Twenty somethings win regarding honesty about life. Effective twelve step groups are grounded in honesty and I think that is what attracts me to them.
So, what keeps me from being completely honest with others?
- I lack love for them
- I am unwilling to walk with them to bring about change
- I have not been invited to give them feedback
- They may say they want to know the truth but their reactions show otherwise.
What about you?
We are celebrating the 200th anniversaries of the birth of Darwin and Lincoln this week so much is being written in support of Darwin and evolution. Here, an attempt is made to link Lincoln and Darwin. I hope this is not the common agenda of most scientists. Dr. Michael Wolfe writes
Democracy needs to evolve to the point where our representatives cannot vote on matters of scientific truth, just as a majority should not be able to vote to deny the rights of a minority.
Sounds like he wants to elevate arguments against evolution to the category of hate crimes? Why do evolutionists fear healthy debate?
Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and through this executive order, set the stage for the total abolition of slavery in this country. In the same way, national standards for science education should be established so that state and municipal boards of education cannot work to deny the truth of evolution and cause distraction and confusion by having scientifically inaccurate and indefensible alternatives taught in the science classroom and espoused in science textbooks.
Lincoln saved our union from dissolution and opened our minds to the equality of man. Darwin unified biology and opened our minds to the origin of man. Today we should proudly celebrate both men and their legacies. And let’s recommit ourselves, as President Obama said in his inaugural address, to “restoring science to its rightful place”.
Wolfe’s point earlier in the article, “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution.” He further states,
“As a biomedical researcher, I can attest that we routinely use the genetic relationship between humans and other organisms (including yeast, worms, flies and mice) to discover important processes involved in human health and disease. Not only is evolution true, it is practical; we need the insight it offers to understand and treat illness.
Why not admit that these genetic relationships may reflect a common creator rather than a common evolutionay link?
Andrew Purvis in his book, Crucifixion of Ministry reflects on Acts 4:7, 12 and the question posed to the disciples by the Jewish leaders, “By what name?” By the name of Jesus is their answer when they say, “There is no other name.” Their question says Purvis raises up issues today about “truth, authority, meaning and value.” 32 Since our pastor started a series on truth last week, I have been thinking a bit about truth this week. Italics following are original.
The question does not pose the issue of truth in any abstract manner. . . The question of truth is now posed as a personal question. 33
Purvis suggests that the ”central issue of truth” is not “Which truth?” but the question of Who is truth? He writes, “What if truth at its heart is about a relationship with a person before subscription to an idea?” 33
If priority is given to the “Who?” question, it is appropriate and even necessary to ask, “What then is truth’s name? We should not merely ask, “In what do I believe?” Instead we should ask, “In whom do I believe?” Truth is about being in love rather than being right. Truth is lived in terms of a relationship with God and not in terms of vindication. 33
Pilate asked the wrong question when he confronted Jesus and asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) The question of truth is not a What? Or a How? question but a Who? question. Ultimately physics and every other sphere of human inquiry will end up having to give the answer Truth’s name is Jesus. 35