The Quest: Man’s Pursuit of Truth
“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate
The greatest pursuit of mankind has been that of truth. What is truth? How do we know? How is it lived? Truth is that which is really present. The correct interpretation of what truly exists…what corresponds to reality.
More specifically, it is what gives meaning to the observable world. We see matter and its mechanics but where does it come from? Why is it here?
And specifically, man and morality. What is man and what makes him different? What is right and wrong, and says who?
Some call it upper story and lower story. Down here is “substance”… up there, “forms”. Down here the visible something … up there an invisible something or someone who determines right. What is there? Who is there? And how do we know?
Down here, we observe … up there, we either reason or establish contact in some way via meditation? hallucinogens? a direct revelation?… or an incarnation of God to man.
One’s solution to finding these answers is their claim to truth and that claim will be the fountain from whence that civilization proceeds, because all things will be judged, evaluated or permitted by its perspective of truth or its “world view.” Whether for good or evil the claim of truth will frame society and prophesy what is to come.
“God is true.” Jesus Christ
The claim of the Bible is that God is true. He is the source of all that is. He establishes the laws, physical and moral, by which all things are governed. His word, His revelation to man – The Bible claims for itself “truth.” “The sum of Thy word is truth.”
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.”
“The scripture”, said Jesus, “cannot be broken.”
God will not lie, mislead, err, or fail to communicate His word truly, or be so weak as to not preserve it. It is the only means by which we know the essential answers.
What He commands is in keeping with His nature, thus “truth” will always correspond to the way, the best way, to live.
“…let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”
Therefore, Satan, the enemy of God and of man, logically speaking, needs only to lie and misdirect man against God’s word to bring about man’s destruction. What opposes God will oppose truth and finally oppose man.
Let me summarize the Biblical Worldview.
Creation, it is written, bespoke of “order” from God’s “invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature… being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse.” (Rom 1:20)
Man, it is written, was set atop the crown jewel of earth to view the visible universe; he was material as the animal world, but immaterial and spiritual in the image of God. The divine and the created came together in the person of man – as no other creature. He was God’s mediator to creation. He was given mind, reason, conscience, choice, and will to choose righteousness or depravity. To be the best or the worst. Truth was self evident, instinctively knowable.
As birds were built to navigate the air
worms the sod
fish the oceans, and
beasts the land
man was designed to navigate the question “why” – to navigate choices. He could find some answers in creation; that God was above and before all things. But, the specifics of who God is, how He created? Why He created? That would require special revelation. A word from God. And that, Adam had.
Final, unknowable truth was made knowable to Adam by God’s initiative and goodness. Sadly, a problem occurred. The Fall. The event of man’s alienation from God.
The Fall: Man’s Autonomy
Man was given choices. Such is the will as part of the image of God. The choices were represented in two trees. The tree of life. In man partaking of it he would receive immortality as a gift from God. But in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would assert independence from God, and thus, to then be able to choose for himself good or evil and find (he supposed) a happy, safe and good life without God. He would be the arbiter of good and evil within himself. He would be as God and know no authority but himself.
Adam and Eve were tempted and lied to. Deceived by a person. A rebel. A fallen angel called Satan and the devil. “A liar and the father of all lies” who had opposed God and sought his own glory in the destruction of God’s image in man, replacing it with his own. He would be man’s father. The world, his.
Satan caused Eve to doubt God’s truthfulness by accusing God’s very character. That God wanted obedience so that man would have to be beneath Him. God simply did not want a rival in independence. If they would eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would be fully enlightened, free and independent of God, to live life on their own. God was their restriction to life. The serpent was the “fan of man.” They ate and indeed became alien to God … and died.
Man’s mind, heart, and will became alien and even hostile to God and truth. Man’s flesh, passions, and mind were now bent toward rebellion.
Smeagol had become Gollum, clutching “precious” independence. An independence that would disfigure man and destroy him. Man was now dis-integrated. Life lost its unity.
Man was spiritually, mentally, and physically magnetized toward rebellion, self-gratification, lust, pride, and violence. The children of darkness would now bring forth a brood of Gollums. Man was adrift from his moorings.
The Metastasizing of Error
But this is not simply a study of the Bible, but its claim to truth. A great deal of time occurred in between Adam and Noah but, suffice it to say, that Satan ruled and the world became a stench in its violence and murder. God sent the flood and a new beginning. Noah was in a sense a new Adam…but the post-flood world became corrupted in the rebellion of the Tower of Babel. Man’s rebellion in a tower to his glory, “a tower into the heavens.” Man again was God. But God slowed man’s evil by the confusion of languages. Man’s unity was removed, and as man dispersed in the Fertile Crescent mankind formed 70 different language groups that married within the languages and became the nations, and races and peoples of the earth. And as their idolatrous religions arose, an even deeper corruption now formed in the earth…that of superstition and “systems” of lies. Religions, man fashioned “gods” of his own imagination whom man could placate to his own benefit.
Israel: Nation of Truth
But amidst these lies the truth sprung up from the earth. A man named Abram was called from the idolatry of Ur, the leading city of ancient Chaldea, to go to Canaan, to have Isaac, who would have Jacob, then the twelve that would become the 12 tribes, who would incubate 400 years in Egypt, then, through Moses come out a great nation then travel through the wilderness into Canaan and become two million – Israel, a holy nation, a nation in covenant with the only TRUE God. The only orthodox nation … a nation reflecting the truth that had been diluted and lost since Eden. At Sinai they were given moral law, written down to be learned and passed down, and a religious sacrificial system depicting salvation. And a promise given of a man to come. A Jew, from King David of Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah, who would die and rise and reconcile man to God and return and rule the earth – the “Christ,” Messiah.
Indeed “Salvation is of the Jew.”
Truth lived again through the beginnings of the Bible – a written record of the truth to be progressively continued then given to all of mankind.
In Genesis, the first book of Jewish law, all the vital questions would be answered in an hour’s reading.
The lower story of nature would rest on its strong truthful upper story revelation of God. What a glorious nation it could be …
…amidst pantheism – the belief that all is one and all is god.
…amidst polytheism with its many gods and idolatry
…and animism – the belief of spirits in nature
…amidst henotheism with its master god among many gods
…alongside dualism – equal opposite gods of good and evil in conflict
..amidst Buddhism with its moral improvement and conquest of sin through meditation and discipline.
A shaft of light broke – Israel with its teaching tribe of priests.
“… come out from their midst and be separate.”
“Thou shalt be unto Me a holy nation… a kingdom of priests.”
But alas … as with Adam, as with the sons of Noah, so also with the sons of Abraham, the children of The Book, who wandered from God and mingled with the darkness around them and learned their idolatrous ways. From the Assyrians of the 7th century B.C. to the Romans of the 1st century A.D., the prophets of God warned the nation and called it to repent lest God’s wrath scatter them just as Moses promised. But Israel turned a deaf ear.