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Chapter 13 - The importance of truth.
The vulnerability to deception is described in a prophecy about the future;
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. - 2 Thessalonians 2:10
If we apply the definition of love as selflessness to a “love of the truth”, we can see that seeking and holding truth should be worth any inconvenience or discomfort. Placing truth above one’s own interests is one way to “love truth’. There are so many ways truth can be subverted and most of them have some form of feeling good at the base.
In the movie “The Americanization of Emily” that character played by James Garner tells a British woman who lost her son why he was willing to deflate stories about heroism that many took as a comfort. He said that he had a brother who had died at Anzio, just a simple soldier’s death. His mother has embroidered the story to heroic proportions and now his youngest brother was eager to join so that he can be a hero too.
Youth is particularly vulnerable to deception. The passage of years often brings with it painful experiences that harden many to replace naivete with skepticism. However, it does not only have to be the battle scars of a long life that bring one closer to truth. The word of God is truth and growing in its knowledge greatly aids those who would know truth.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. - Acts 17:11
The believers in Berea found it useful to take what they heard and compare it to the standard of truth (the scriptures). Even taking what one hears and applying only logic to it can be helpful. Consider the person who is first presented with evolution. He might ask, “So nothing existed and then it blew up and became everything?”
In addition to logic, a plausibility assessment can be helpful in approximating truth. For example, when presented with a conspiracy theory, one may consider that there are people who do conspire to benefit from illegal acts. However, when someone presents you with a conspiracy theory that involves thousands of people, it would seem implausible that humans could muster that level of competence.
A woman had recently graduated from college with a degree in psychology. In casual conversation she mentioned the phrase “inner child”. I must have chortled a little because she asked me the reason for my reaction. I said that there was nothing to support the idea of a template of human perfection that could be appropriated therapeutically other than the wish it were true. I then said that if there did exist such a thing, we would have some idea of where it exists how it is formed, and the mechanics of how it is accessed. Her response was, “Well of that is true...”
It is critically important to be aware of sources of information and determine trustworthiness. Not every source of false information is maliciously so. Most error comes from people who are deceived. One might see an unintended consequence of public education as raising children to reflexively take in “official” information as true. Children who are homeschooled tend to be more capable of critical thinking.
Children often explore the usefulness of lying. They are unaware that the betrayal of trust harms their reputation. They often also fail to consider the harm lying does to their own discernment. Bank tellers are often shown videos of quick change artists so that they are able to spot those who would try to deceive them. In a similar way children could benefit from parents and a church that showed them the perniciousness of lies and the value of truth.
Under the umbrella of truth is the category of self-deception. Jesus warned his disciples against the danger of hypocrisy which is not so much the intentional deception of others as it of self-deception. This is particularly dangerous in times of prosperity as the “truth” of things can be mistakenly substantiated by the “proof” of prosperity. Children are particularly vulnerable to this because they have little experience with struggles in the world. Their lack of reflexive skepticism in addition to having ambitions and desires that are inconsistent with reality can lead them to even ignore truth.
My parents were provided a false picture of the world and of life and as a result, when inevitable difficulties arose, were clueless as to what to do. One might justifiably call such indoctrination with what is false as child abuse.
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