“In the beginning was the Lie, and the Lie was made news and dwelt among us, graceless and false.” Malcolm Muggeridge
The prolific English author and historian, Paul Johnson, began his seminal history, Modern Times, this way:
|The modern world began on 29 March 1919 when photographs of a solar eclipse, taken on the island of Principe off West Africa and at Sobral in Brazil, confirmed the truth of a new theory of the universe.|
Mr. Johnson explained that the two-century-old Newtonian law of physics, based on straight lines and absolute time, was challenged by the anomalies of the deviating motions of planets discovered by powerful new telescopes. Then, in 1905 a twenty-six-year-old German Jew, Albert Einstein, published a paper later known as the Special Theory of Relativity that elegantly proposed that perspective could alter time and distance.
Mr. Einstein insisted that his theory must be proved by empirical evidence and proposed ways to do just that. The crucial test he asserted was that a ray of light just “grazing the surface of the sun must be bent by 1.745 seconds of arc – twice the gravitational deflection provided for by classical Newtonian theory.”
In 1919 the world learned that Mr. Einstein’s observation of that truth was correct.
As a result, Mr. Johnson continued, the security of straight lines and absolute time in the public mind was slowly replaced with the unease that there were no absolutes at all. There were no “absolutes of time and space, of good and evil, of knowledge, above all of value. Mistakenly, but perhaps inevitably, relativity became confused with relativism.”
Ironically Mr. Einstein was very distressed by this misapplication of science and conflation of one truth with another. “[Einstein] was not a practicing Jew,” Mr. Johnson wrote, “but acknowledged a God. He believed passionately in absolute standards of right and wrong. His professional life was devoted to the quest not only for truth but certitude.”
One hundred and three years later, western civilization is in a death spiral, having reached the furthermost run of that ongoing dispute: What is the truth? Who decides? Who mediates?
It is not a new question, of course. It reaches back thousands of years to the ancient Hebrews and Greeks. To frame the question concisely: If there is a universal order of physical laws that cannot be altered or ignored, then is there a complimentary universal order of moral law that cannot be changed or unheeded? Does the certainty of the former point toward the existence of the latter?
For example, gravity will enforce the universe’s absolute, fundamental physical law with catastrophic consequences if someone jumps off the hundred-and-two-story Empire State Building â€“ itself erected employing the same unalterable laws. A satellite or probe placed into orbit or sent into outer space must be precisely in synchromesh with the certainty of the universe’s physical laws â€“ a minuscule deviating fraction in trajectory will mean orbital failure – or thousands or millions of miles of error.
But, if there is a complimentary universal moral order â€“ absolute truth – is it as unforgiving as the physical laws? Is it unqualified? And, if so, can we ignore those moral laws any more than we can dismiss physical laws that govern the universe?
The “relativism” to which Mr. Johnson referred screams “no!” to the question of universal moral order. In essence, it denies the existence of truth. “Truth is relative. Your truth is your truth, and mine is mine.” That’s the answer given by Rousseau, Marx, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and the long line of despots and philosophers who, from the French Revolution in 1789 through this century, laid the groundwork for intellectual, moral, economic, and existential misery and the staggering tens of millions of political deaths that they spawned.
In its various political arrangements, relativism and its philosophical offspring exemplified by Marxism and later Fascism have proven to be like a black hole that pulls everything into its ever-denser core, gathering every last thought into its darkness. Today the western world finds itself on the cusp of devolving all truth in its affairs. Old literature, statues, names, heroes, and the family must be removed, and ancient truths destroyed.
The modern radicals have announced that they alone own the “moral” voice overruling history. In the absence of definition or serious intellectual opposition, they have claimed exclusive custody of the truth without evidencing certitude.
Look no further than the 2019 creation of the “Trusted News Initiative (TNI)” established initially by the BBC, Great Britain’s quasi-government broadcaster that exists by charter and fees from every broadcast device in the UK. Its inaugural purpose is to fight COVID “misinformation,” but they’ll not stop there. The TNI has established horizontal relationships with virtually every major media and social platform, national health agency, and central government in Europe, the US, and beyond. They are “dedicated” to combating misinformation. Yet, they don’t even entertain the question of how precisely they will arrive at any truth assertion, making the truth whatever they deem it to be. Nice and tidy.
Lost in today’s political hullabaloo over misinformation and fake news is the plain logic Mr. Einstein applied to his observation of truth a hundred years ago, and to which many of us still adhere. There is an absolute physical and moral order.
In the New Testament book of John, Chapter 14:6, Christ proclaimed to a broken world, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” In one sense, these nine words are either the most profound statement on truth ever spoken or simply the most delusional.
Those who accept the Speaker and the Message understand that statement amplifies and personifies the ancient knowledge and revelation of Truth and how humankind was created to recognize reality. The moral order defines and demonstrates an objective reality of the divine creation of each person, the freedom and free will of each soul, and the worth of each life.
What we say and do matters if that objective truth matters.
The objective reality cannot coexist with the subjective pursuit of “reason” outside the moral order (real fake news, if you will). The two forces are antithetical and repealing. Light and dark, good and evil. Anytime that “truth” is situational and debatable means that the law of the relativistic jungle has replaced order; mob rule has supplanted reality based on observable and predictable certainty. This clarifies why relativism fuels the never-ending “social construction” that fills history; men attempting to build their vision of society through sheer willpower or physical force or worse, erecting social constructs alien to the preexistent Moral Order. These attempts are always followed by failure and eventually violence.
In 2022 and as far as we can see today, the immense sacrifices of the last millennium of incremental scientific and human advancement, which collectively led to the modern world and greatest freedom, prosperity, and human well-being ever known, is teetering in the balance. The world’s ruling class – a cabal of politicians, the so-called “expert” bureaucratic class, billionaire oligarchs, and transnational business tycoons â€“ are driving the all-out campaign to pound a stake in the democratic ideals of free societies. They wish to remake modernity on their terms.
The new worldwide ruling class believes in serfdom, not citizenship.
This cabal believes in themselves – that they alone have been called to build a utopian world order. They envision a worldwide government where functionality replaces individuality, and compulsion dresses up as security and freedom. And, most importantly, where the ancient God of Order is removed, crated up, and shipped off to join the torn down statues, discarded books, and “old” ideas that have already been exiled far away from inquiring minds.
The ongoing war for the future of America and what remains of the western democracies started and will end in the battle for the truth. It is the one thing the COVID crisis has made very apparent: Our collective society has lost the capacity to tell the truth. At the intersections of politics, faith, and culture, the liars no longer feel shame, and the listeners no longer blush at their gullibility
If freedom lovers, those dedicated to moral absolutes, conservatives, orthodox Jews, and Christians are to make a difference in our time, then this is the battlefield we live or die on.
Our politicians, educators, experts, and religious leaders have failed us at the most crucial moment. Their inaction and social cowardice has only encouraged the radicals. The citizens are on their own, armed only with the sure faith in the Truth, and recalling God frequently uses the most unlikely people to write the story of humanity.
Instead of waiting for the next elections, a massive army of truth-tellers needs to organize, copying the tactics of the brave parents around the US, especially in Loudoun County, Virginia. These parents publically confronted the failed school boards and administrators over their lies, programmatic racism, and the intellectually fraudulent teaching and socialization of young students. The parents simply used the truth. Now, that battle needs to expand nationwide on every front, not just education.
We can’t wait any longer for our “leaders.”
[More next week on the tactics of true-telling. MG]