I heard on the radio recently of a professor who told his his class “When you come to my class leave your common sense at the door” This was strange. Does not common sense help lead us to truth? But then my son told that in his social science classes … no challenge of the class material is permitted. Accepting the professor’s worldview is all that mattered. “Truth” was only a useful value if it agreed with his worldview.
Pilate once asked Christ: “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38) Pilate did not wait for an answer. It was an important question then and perhaps more so today since reasoned discussion appears to have given way to the imposition of a worldview held by “the ruling class”. The question is important since “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) essentially meaning the lack of knowledge or truth can become fatal for a society.
Christ said: “Your word is truth” (John 17:17) David said: “The entirety of your words is truth” (Psalm 119:160) It is clear that all the teaching of the scriptures define what is truth.
But are scriptures the only source of truth? Consider this:
When God speaks He does more than just repeat what is true. Human also are capable of this. The difference is, when God speaks He establishes reality itself. The universe, which is all of natural reality was created by the word of God: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Heb. 11:3)
It says “created by the word of God” and not “power of God. Significant? Certainly the universe was created by the power of God but just as certainly, a choice was made to use the “word” and not “power”. The concept of “word” points to “information” … and “information” in turn points to “intelligence”. Only now, 2000 years after these words were written, do we understand from science that the foundation of the universe is not just matter and energy … but information expressed in laws of nature telling matter and energy exactly what they must do.
The best known law of nature is gravity. But there are hundreds of laws … the electromagnetic force … laws of thermodynamics … laws telling light how fast it must travel … laws telling how fast the universe must expand … and laws telling electrons to circle the nuclei of atoms … and laws telling atoms how they must combine into elements … etc
There is no scientific explanation for the laws of nature. They came from nothing … from things “not seen” Heb. 11:3 turns out to be a truly a scientific statement.
Here is a critical point: The “intelligence” embodied in laws of nature is that they do not just allow the universe to exist … but that they are tuned so precisely to allow natural life to grow and thrive on a tiny little planet called Earth. In effect, the laws of nature appear to have an intelligent, teleological purpose.
A student of God’s word quickly sees a parallel: Natural laws allow natural life to grow and thrive. Spiritual laws also allow life to grow … spiritually. Both sets of law emanate from the same Creator who in John 1:1 is called the WORD.
Christ acknowledged “truth” was embedded in His Creation when He said the following:
“… a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. (Luke 6:43-44)
Christ uses a tree and its fruit to illustrate a fundamental principle of rationality operating in the universe … the laws of cause and effect. When we see an effect, in this case the fruit, we can know something about the cause … in this case the tree. Things happen for a reason. We have bad fruit. Why is it bad? It is bad because the tree producing the fruit was bad. Laws created by God ordain that bad trees produce bad fruit … and good trees produce good fruit.
Fruit from the tree of love tends to be happiness.
Fruit from the tree of selfishness tends to be misery.
Fruit from the tree of diligence tends to be prosperity.
Fruit from the tree of freedom encourages creativity and growth.
Drawing close to God … results in Him drawing close to you.
Excessive love of money tends to be all manner of evil fruit.
“Truth” therefore is expressed in countless cause and effect relationships that God has embedded in His Creation. These are the spiritual and natural laws that determine the outcomes of everything we see around us, including our own actions. The more we understand these relationships, the more we understand the mind and truth of God. The more a society rejects them in favor of its own worldviews, the less chance it has to remain prosperous and survive.
So to answer the question “What is truth?” we see many but not all natural and spiritual laws are expressed in the pages of our Bible. God invites us to study His Creation and learn more: “Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them” (Psalm 111:2)
Creation He says is a source of truth. Some have called it “God’s other book”: “But now ask the beasts … and the birds … or speak to the earth …and the fish of the sea … they will teach you…” (Job 12-9) Indeed, we know God invites us to “consider the ant”. The ant teach us much about work, diligence, organization, sacrifice, and more. In the spirit of “go to the ant” and Job 12, I heartily recommend the following movies:
“Living Waters: Intelligent Design in the Oceans of the Earth”
“Metamorphosis: The Beauty and Design of Butterflies”
“Flight: The genius of Birds”
“Winged Migration” … a film by Jacques Perrin
These films will inspire you beyond measure. They answer the question: “Who among all these (creatures) does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?” (Job 12:9) They will reinforce in you (and your children) the absolute and rational necessity for an intelligent designer, and thereby, strengthen your faith.
Consider this: It would be pointless for God to create a vast universe and not give humanity the wherewithal to comprehend it. Boundless curiosity and a rational mind are essential to understanding God’s creation. As children, God gives us both. Each gift needs to be nurtured and not taken for granted. God is rational, we are made in His image, and therefore fundamentally, we are rational as well.
God gave us common sense which often contradicts “the knowledge of this world”. We would expect this since the latter is “not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8) So when a professor says “leave your common sense at the door” it is very likely he wants to teach his students a worldview contrary to God’s truth. In effect, he intends to teach make believe.
Christ said: “The truth shall set you free”. Christ is saying truth has power. This is interesting. Like (say) gravity, law or truth is not just an expression of a standard but is active, dynamic power. It is foolish to think we can live outside of any of God’s laws, much less “do away” with them. So what does the power do? It is the power that frees from the natural consequence of NOT keeping God’s laws since when we break them, we step into the professors world of make believe and bad things happen.
It is the power that allows us to live and thrive today … and ultimately forever.