The truth is very powerful and it can do enormous damage. It is to be used only judiciously.
I had been called onto the carpet by my father for having started some kind of a brouhaha as a very young man. After he outlined the charges against me, I protested as a child will under those circumstances “But everything I said was true!” After looking down at the carpet for a few moments, my father uttered the words above and they changed my life. “I gotta get me some more of this truth stuff”, I said to myself. This resolve has stayed with me the entire of my intellectual life.
Precisely because truth can be so damaging, most people run the other way. They hide from truth by ignoring the world around them. They use ignorance as a shield against truth and never think about many issues. They try not to care about truth and are apathetic. As I see it, this widespread disrespect for truth is having catastrophic effects on our society.
As just one example, we have lied to ourselves for almost 70 years and believed that the United States government could afford an enormous defense budget, generous social security benefits and an extensive social safety net and low taxes. How have we accomplished this seeming impossibility? Through the miracle of deficit spending. This lie, however, is close to having catastrophic effects on our society. As Laurence Kotlikoff and many leading economists have told us, using Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures on the budget of the United States indicates that we owe somewhere in the vicinity of 200 Trillion dollars. Since there is no conceivable way we can pay this off, this lie must end with economic collapse, hyper-inflation, widespread poverty and possibly war. Was the temporary comfort brought by the lie worth it?
Because I have seen deception wreaking so much havoc in society, I long ago decided to pursue truth at all costs. Far from avoiding the psychological pain of facing unpleasant facts, I relentlessly seek out the most painful truths available. Why? In science, we know that you advance understanding by examining issues which contradict the prevailing theory and not examples that confirm it. For this reason, I focus on difficulties, errors and problems. If you look over my site, you will find it filled with examples of me looking at the hardest issues facing Christians. Evolution, problems with the Old Testament, tough sayings of Jesus and atheist arguments on various issues have all been discussed.
This focus on seeking out painful truths also helps out with personal problems as well as political/career/religious issues. All of the growth I have experienced over the years has been as the direct result of facing tough criticism. “You have a bad temper” I worked on it and improved. “You are too sarcastic” I worked on it and improved. “You are too much of a slob” I worked on it and improved. “You are too fat” I worked on it, improved, lost ground, worked on it and improved, lost ground, worked on it and improved, lost ground . . . Facing hard issues honestly is not a magical formula.
Because of the many positive effects of seeking truth, I believe people should love and seek truth no matter how much it hurts. In my view, truth should always be a primary consideration and never a secondary consideration. This makes me extremely unpopular as the same social forces that resulted in the unspoken social rules concerning the discussion of religion and politics constantly seek to censor me. “Don’t share that thought with that person. It is negative and it will hurt their feelings.”
This seems to me ludicrous. Would a person with lettuce stuck in their teeth not want to be told? Why wouldn’t someone want to know that the argument that they are using is not as powerful as they think it is? Don’t they care at all about the truth of what they are saying? I understand that truths must be shared lovingly, but a Christian should be slow to take offense when a correction is offered from the Scripture.
Many people have told me that I am wasting my time with this site. “Those things you are talking about cannot lead someone to Christ”, they argue, “only the Holy Spirit working on the heart can do that. What is the point of engaging people with unpleasant truths? ” This can be very discouraging, but I would ask these people a simple question. What is the point of all the lies pumped out by the enemy if it isn’t to prevent human beings from considering the issues that might lead them to Christ? Isn’t it important to be able to help people see through deception?
In seeking and sharing painful truths, I feel as though I am following my Lord. Jesus taught many painful truths and was not shy about injuring feelings. He is constantly chastising people for having no faith and even went so far as to tell the Pharisees that they were the “Sons of their father, the devil” (John 8:44) He was, in fact, so offensive that he had to promise a special blessing to those who would sift through his hard sayings to find truth.
“Blessed is He who takes no offense at me.” (Luke 7:23)