Have you noticed there is a difference between honesty and truth? A person can be as honest as the day is long, saying exactly what he believes to be true, and yet not tell the truth. Our culture has been suffering from truth decay for a long time, and a good deal of the talk about honesty and transparency has replaced a concern for truth in many quarters. Let me explain what I mean.
There are devout Christians who honestly believe the world is only about 6,000 years old, and that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth together. You can see this sort of fervency at the Creation Science Museum in northern Kentucky just off highway 275 as you come across the bridge from Ohio. These folks are honest, transparent, and completely convicted that they are telling the truth about the age of the earth. The problem is, they’ve misread not only the Bible (which says nothing about the age of the earth), but also the geological evidence. And in many cases, they are so fervent, that it is quite impossible to penetrate that armor with the truth. This is what the Bible calls ‘a zeal but not according to knowledge’.
Here is not the place to argue at length about this particular subject but a few points can be made: 1) when you go so far as to deny flatly basic scientific testing and evidence, such as carbon 14 testing, you are already on shaky ground; 2) when you go against the vast majority of scientist’s views on a subject, including most scientists who are Christians, you are on shaky ground; 3) when you start denying archaeological evidence as well, for example the evidence that the Gobeckli Tepe temple dates to 8-10,000 years B.C. near Urfa in Turkey, you are on shaky ground; and 4) when you refuse to take into account in the interpretation of the Biblical evidence that the Bible’s genealogies are not complete or exhaustive (so you can’t count back from Moses to the beginning of the human race) and that the Bible was not intended to be a scientific textbook anyway, downloaded on a pre-scientific era and a befuddled group of God’s people (which would have thoroughly confused them and been obfuscation rather than revelation), then you are on very shaky ground.
But it’s by no means just in the realm of the intersection between the Bible, science, and history that we have issues with the difference between honesty and truth. It happens all the time in political discourse. For example, there are some politicians who genuinely believe that we can and should deport all the illegal Hispanics in America. Never mind that this would cost billions, and you’d first have to identify them. Never mind that actually many if not most of them are performing jobs that others don’t won’t to do, jobs, which in many cases wouldn’t get done at those kinds of wages. Never mind that so many businesses in America would lose their inexpensive labor force. Never mind that the root of the problem lies in part with Americans who want cheap goods, which in turn requires companies to use cheap labor if they are even to make a modicum of profits and stay in business.
I love the Far Side cartoon where you have the Indians sitting at a picnic table at Thanksgiving, and in the distance two Puritans are bringing a turkey hung on a pole between them to slaughter and then eat with the Indians. One Indian whispers to the other “look, I know they have a good work ethic, but they’re here illegally. They should go back where they came from and enter the country legally!” We are overwhelmingly an immigrant nation, and so one would hope we would better understand the issues involved in immigration than some countries. It does not appear that our history has affected recent pronouncements about ‘the truth’ on this issue.
Truth, in the end, is often a precious commodity, hard to come by. Go watch a trial sometime, a murder trial. The facts are one thing. The truth about the facts are another. And honest opinions expressed by differing witnesses are yet a third thing. Since only God is omniscient, it’s often hard to know the truth ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.
Think on these things.