How to Learn the Difference Between Truth and Posturing

Friday is for Thinking

University of maryland 2Late September 1974, Fall Semester at the University of Maryland.

Bob Avellini graduated the year before to become a quarterback with the Chicago Bears.

On Campus, the names Lefty Driessel coach of the basketball team, John Lucas, Len Elmore, Steve McMillian, and Brad Davis are near legendary even though they are still walking around the campus and about to open up the new basketball season. All of those players would eventually go on to NBA careers.

Future NFL Hall of Famer, Randy White graduated the year before and would later play for the Dallas Cowboys. I once saw Randy White in a 40 yard dash, lose a race to a 9.3 100 meter dash sprinter by about one step.

Renoldo (Skeets) Nehemiah is about to join the track team and will set a world record in the 110 meter hurdles and later play wide receiver for a brief period with the San Francisco 49ers.

And over in the philosophy building, a sophomore student by the name of Marty Schoenleber, a believer in Christ for a mere 9 months, is taking Philosophy 101. The class meets on MWF with the following format.

On Monday Dr. Gorovitz, later to become the first philosophy professor hired by a hospital as an ethicist to help them think through ethical issues related to the practice of modern medicine, gives an hour long argument against the existence of God.

On Wednesday, Dr. Celarier gives an hour long lecture on the classical arguments for the existence of God.

On Friday, the two professors debate the issue, while we novice philosophers take notes and think through the relative worth of each side’s case. This has been going on for weeks since the class began in late August.

One day Dr. Celarier (the “for God” prof) has Dr. Gorovitz (the “against God” prof) on the ropes. The whole class knows it. But Celarier doesn’t go for the knock out punch and Gorovitz escapes.

University of MarylandThe following Monday, I went to Dr. Celarier’s office to talk to him about what had happened. I wanted to find out why he didn’t close the deal. Why didn’t he press Dr. Gorovitz and demonstrate the evidence for God is far greater than the evidence against God.

[I was naïve, you see, I thought both professors were advocating a position that they really believed in. I thought they were really giving it there best shot. I thought it was a real honest to goodness debate and that they and we students were really pursuing truth, not just having an intellectual exercise. Silly me. That’s not what “education” is in our modern universities. Universities (by and large) don’t pursue truth, they pursue options or “lifestyles.” It isn’t all the University’s fault of course. Our whole culture has been pickled in relativistic thinking for two generations.]

Allen Bloom, in the block-buster book titled The Closing of the American Mind, writes this:

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of; almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If the belief is put to the test, you can count on the student’s’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them, as though he were calling into question 2 + 2 = 4. . . . The students’ backgrounds are as various as America can provide. Some are to the Left, some to the Right; some intend to be scientist, some humanists or professionals or businessmen; some are poor, some rich. They are unified only in their relativism and in their allegiance to equality. … [THEY WILL ASK] “Are you an absolutist?,” … uttered in the same tone as “Are you a monarchist?” or “Do you believe in witches?” This latter leads into indignation, for someone who believes in witches might well be a witch-hunter or a Salem judge. The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance. (p. 25)

The students, of course, cannot defend their opinion. It is something with which they have been indoctrinated. The best they can do is point out all the opinions and cultures there are and have been. What right, they ask, do I or anyone else have to say one is better than the others? If I pose the routine questions designed to confute them and make them think, such as, “If you had been a British administrator in India, would you have let the natives under your governance burn the widow at the funeral of a man who had died?” they either remain silent or reply that the British should never have been there in the first place. It is not that they know very much about other nations, or about their own. The purpose of their education is not to make them scholars but to provide them with a moral virtue—openness. (p.26)

But Bloom goes on to show that it is not just the students that have been pickled in this line of thinking, it is virtually every professor as well. One reviewer summed up Blooms observations this way:

Where the purpose of higher education once was to enable the student to find truth, the modern university teaches that there is no truth, only “lifestyle.”  ( review)

To this the words of Jesus pierce the air and penetrate the heart, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

The word of God is not relative but it is eternally relevant. When Jesus speaks, His word is trustworthy. More than that, it is life.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” (John 8:51) 

If you want to learn the difference between truth and mere posturing, saturate your mind and heart, both your intellect and your emotions with the truth of God’s word. His word is the plumb line to use to evaluate all other truth claims.

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