The question was asked of Jesus by Pontius Pilate (John 18:38), and is still being asked today by many. To others, however, the word “truth” is an empty word. It has lost its edge.
I know, because this is one of the first questions I ask my students in first semester Theology class. The answers are fascinating: “Truth is different for different people”; “Everyone has his (or her) own truth”; “There is no such thing as truth”; “Truth is relative”; “Quantum physics (or modern math) proves that there can be no certainty about anything”; or, of course, the pious answers: “God is truth”; “Only truths about God are really true, all other truths are relative.”
Troubling, isn’t it? If we’re not certain of what we mean by truth, how can we be certain that we’re proclaiming the truth? How can we say, “God is truth,” or “Jesus is the truth,” if we don’t know what truth is? We can’t turn these statements around and say “truth is God.”
The dictionaries give various definitions, but they pretty much are variants of these: (1) “The state of being the case: FACT”; (2) “The body of real things, events, and facts: ACTUALITY.” Or as one student said, “Truth IS!” She got it!
This is important. If we who know Christ concede that truth is relative, as so much of present-day thinking claims, we have nothing to offer the rest of the world. We have nothing with which to argue, to present a case for Christ.
Also, if truth is that which is the case, that which corresponds to reality, and if God is the originator of all that is – of reality, then all truth is God’s truth. That would mean that scientific truth, mathematical truth, historical truth – all are God’s truths.
So then, why are so many conservative Christians afraid of science? If the Bible is truth and science involves the search for and discovery of truth, why is “scientist” considered a bad word by many? Why is there an adversarial relationship between the two groups? I think that there are two main reasons.
First, much of modern scientific thinking is based on a false premise. The naturalistic or materialist view, that only that which is observable to the senses is real. If one begins with the presupposition that there is no God, the only possible conclusions must leave God out.
But second, I believe that there is much arrogance on the part of those of us who take the Bible as truth. We can easily grant our own personal interpretations that status of absolute truth, as though they were Scripture. The trial and condemnation of Galileo comes to mind.
I also believe that we need to choose our battles more carefully. It is not faith in a 6-day creation, or an inerrant Bible that saves, important as these truths may be. People are saved, justified, when they put their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who died for them.
“Every one is entitled to his own opinion – but not his own facts.”
-- Daniel Patrick Moynihan