No Truth just Opinion?

"Fighting over Truth" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Fighting over Truth” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward


Are there facts anymore? Is there objective truth? Or just opinion?

Scottie Nell Hughes claims truth is what each person thinks is truth.

Does this mean there is no such thing as fake news?

If someone believes it then it must be true. For them.

I think what Hughes means is that if it works for me, then it’s true.

The manipulation of truth is not just a religious occupation, but a human one exercised in all arenas.

Download my eBook "Money is Spiritual" for just $10!

18 Replies to “No Truth just Opinion?”

  1. Along the lines of your cartoon:

    Creed, dogma, and belief system. I have pondered about these layers of ‘truth’.

    Here are my thoughts:

    The ‘creed’ is the truth as written; the ‘dogma’ is the ‘truth’ that you are willing to argue for/against; but the ‘belief system’ is the ‘truth’ that we live.

    My Creed at one time said that ‘God loved the world’s people’. And, I was willing to argue that ‘God’s love was real.’

    But one day, I decided to take myself to the Chaplain at the local max security short-term ‘detention center’.

    I volunteered to help. And I did.

    Then… I watched my belief system – the real part deep within me – slowly come to respect and love those prisoners, and to stand with them as they ‘turned around’, and hope some of them that would never return.

    I could feel my deep definition of ‘us vs them’ changing and modifying week by week.

    The actual conclusion of the Parable of the Good Samaritan was, “Go you, and do likewise.” I think Jesus was very accurate – doing stuff radically affects belief systems…. which percolate up into our dogma… which finally gives us the bravery to challenge, and change, our Creeds.

    I have concluded that my belief system evolves, changes, has prejudices and real fears, and is malleable.

  2. Ah… I guess I focus on my belief system being how I interact with physical and relational reality.

    So, I write ” belief system/ interaction / reality ” and thus focus on the ‘interaction’ as being the relationship between belief and reality.

    I don’t gravitate towards arguments of ‘truth’. It is just not my focus.

    Hmmmmmm…. Let’s say that I believe in the truth that the earth is flat. You believe the earth is round.

    I would focus on the interaction of my belief system with reality… that is, am I kind, gentle, patient, and giving (because the earth is flat, really really flat)?

    If you are equally kind, gentle, patient, and giving… then I am delighted, because that is what matters.

    “Truth” (right beliefs) is not the focus of The Parable of the Good Samaritan. Even ‘reality’ is in second place. The focus is the interaction between the Samaritan and the wounded.

    So…. I guess we are back to why I just don’t argue over ‘truth’, in the philosophical sense. I do debate, and consider, a person’s interaction.

  3. Lately, I have been drawn to watch ex-gay testimonies on YouTube, one after the other. The stories are, of course, all different. But many of those who share say that they had been “deceived”.

  4. I believe people have the right to their sexual orientation and even say they’ve “changed” it. But, I look forward to the day when conversion therapy is illegal right across Canada, the USA, and the world.

    You can find testimonials for anything.

  5. Of course, you can find testimonials for everything, but some will seem much more authoritative and some will seem fake, etc. Whether or not conversion therapy is illegal or not, people will continue to make up their own minds about it. What is if interest, here, is in terms of truth and falsehood or opinion, is what here with these issues could be called “deception”. For example one person, someone who used to put out a lesbian magazine called “Venus”, I think, someone who was a major organizer of events, says that the life is supposed to be “gay”, but in reality, it was anything but “gay”. She gave up the magazine, the event organizing and her income. She would call the whole thing a deception. She did not go through any conversion therapy, etc. Pretty much, generally speaking, the testimonials don’t involve conversion therapy, specifically, not that they mention.

  6. I watched several more testimonials last night, and partly because I am fairly far removed from the scene, and discuss the matter from a female point of view, a wife, a mother, a grand-mother, an aunt, a god-mother, also the point of view of health and hygiene, which is huge, physical, scientific, and mental. In this regard, I also speak, as owner of a public medical/dental facility. I also speak theologically, and as a peer-counsellor to pregnant women. But I have not been directly involved. And I wonder, too, now, David, how you qualify to criticize churches, who call a spade a spade, a si a son, a woman a woman, … And don’t buy into the lingo, the deceit, the drugs, alcohol, the promiscuity, the calling every man and his dog a “hater”, the “progressive”ideas, the drawing of children into the movement… How you as a straight married man with beautiful grown children, how you qualify to be the social justice warrior here. No doubt, some things about churches need critiquing, but we have ended up with the movement, here, which nobody may critique without impunity.– This is what came to me overnight. How do married, tenured professors, pastors, etc, qualify to promote everything LGBTQ, whatever the current name, all is fluid, when they don’t live that life, are just looking from the outside in. Is it, too, a “falsehood”.

  7. Yes, Brigitte, reversing one of your questions: “I have often wondered how those that are believers and straight can speak with authority for those that are believers and LGBT?” lol…

    “Historically, opinion on the appeal to authority has been divided – it has been held to be a valid argument about as often as it has been considered an outright fallacy.”

    Brigitte: I think the above quote from Wikipedia on “Argument from Authority” summarizes the point quite well.

    Here are my thoughts:

    In my parent’s generation, an appeal to authority had great merit. For example, David Hayward’s 30 year career in the Christian institutional church would have qualified David to speak with authority on any subject, so long as his observation was concerning the church institution’s relationship to that subject.

    So, and within my parent’s generational view, of course David can speak about the church institution bullying anyone – we assume he has seen that aspect during 30 years of being in church management. David can critique anything about the church institution or theology or culture – 30 years of observations is hard to argue with.

    So, again, in my parent’s generation, the appeal to authority is/was considered valid. 30 years experience equals the authority and the right to critique. Period.

    However, in my children’s generation (they are ages 34 to 39), the appeal to authority is considered a logical fallacy. In short, even the authority must prove his/her contentions with logic/reasoning aligned with evidence.

    So, when I say, “Based on my year in the prison chaplaincy, and my 1.5 years among the ex-felons living in tents in the woods, I would offer a good solution for the local homeless is X.”

    The reply from my children’s generation is “Why?” They are not questioning my experience…. but they need to hear my logic and my evidences aligned in a way that brings them to the same conclusion. Then, they truly believe that even without experience in the field, they have the right to counter my logic, share different evidences from their experience or research, and reach a far different conclusion.

    Based on their 1 hour of Internet education on the subject.

    And I, as the generation in-between, I am stuck in the middle between the older, and the younger, generation.

    I find the situation refreshing that other authorities must support their ‘authoritative statement’ with logic and evidence. For example, I have not been part of those that have attended ‘seminary’, and yet (in discussions with seminarians) I am welcomed to ask questions and share my logic and evidences, and ask them to support their position.

    However, I occasionally appeal to my authority within the realm of computer security (in the work environment). And… if the US responder is older than me, they normally yield a good bit to my position. They nod. I nod. And we move forward.

    However, if the US manager is say, age 45, I normally get the reply of, “What regulation or law forces my organization to do that?”

    So, you write, ‘How can David Hayward qualify as a social justice warrior?’

    My father would say, “How can David not be one?!? He has 30 years of experience within the belly of the beast! How dare David not become a warrior against the evils he saw within the Church, and continue forward!!’

    My children would say, ‘That is not the right question. Everyone is a social justice warrior within the realm they wish to engage. We are all equals that must never appeal to our authority as an expert.”

    And I, as a member of the generation in-between the two, find the cartoons by David, plus David’s short text, to be a great combination for ‘kicking off’ a discussion. I give David some authority (about half that my parents would); and yet I engage David in discussions as I wish (as my children would).

    Enjoy the engagement.

  8. Yes, and some of David’s commentary on the church is indeed cogent, as I have said, and also permissible, or even important. However, I would caution myself, that whatever you like to call the “institutional” church, David seems to disavow a creedal Christianity, which makes it uncertain that he was actually in any definitive sense Christian. We can all claim to be loving and having a connection to the divine, but as we often see, it is easy to be filled and to fool oneself. The objective reaching in, the wird and the sacrament, the the foundation, on which faith, hope, love and true relationship can grow, feeding of a constant humility, and brotherhood through the forgiveness of sins in Christ.

    About the authority the speak on sexual issues. Jesus talked fairly authoritatively about love, sin, and fidelity, and joy in mRriage matters. Sex is easy. We don’t need instruction in it. Self-control is hard. Jesus had that and we can only serve one master.

    One man in a video talks about his penis being his master. He woke up every day to the thought: what can I do with my penis today. Jesus had that under control. So, yes, he knows.

    As far as me or David really knowing what the real difficulties of LGBQ life are, we would not be the ultimate authorities. We can listen, engage, digest, repackage, maybe help… But it is not the same as someone who has come through it. It is to some degree just intellectual. Which can also have its benefits…

    There was an article the other day by a man who grew up poor Latino somewhere in America, was early and long in drug nd gay life-styles in New York. But he was a good student through all that and is an assistant English professor now. He signs the article with his name, position, and location, so I assume this is verifiable. The article is well written, as he is English professor, and he has lived two lives in one: poor, gay Latino and academic.

    What he says is all those who are on the progressive, academic end have no clue what it is to have cleaned out the apartments in the Bronx of those with AIDS, diseases, addictions, poverty, etc. They don’t even know what they are talking about. Second he says, those who are academic and gay often live in a different world, blending in with the strata that has things sort of together and is not gay. He says “they are blending in with the art nouveau furniture.”

    I will quit here for now.

  9. I find it strange that you would question whether or not I was ever really a Christian. Is that logic… “He’s not one now so he never truly wasn’t one because if he had been he wouldn’t be where he is today”?

  10. I don’t really like the parlance of “real” Christian, even if I introduced it. Usually, we are talking about whether someone is good or bad. That is not what I mean.

  11. Brigitte: you wrote, “However, I would caution myself, that whatever you like to call the “institutional” church, David seems to disavow a creedal Christianity, which makes it uncertain that he was actually in any definitive sense Christian.”

    I hear you. You come from a very creed-oriented belief system.

    I come from a very Biblical belief system.

    So, to me, the Thief on the Cross, who called out to a dying Jesus, is a believer, and I will meet him in heaven. He had zero creedal knowledge.

    The Samaritan Woman and many of her village are believers [John 4], and I will meet them in heaven. The had creeds that were heretical.

    At the bottom line, I have chosen to allow that you, Brigitte, are a believer… because you have said so.

    Your word is sufficient.

    Again, you are appealing to authority (in this case, the authority is a confession of the correct creed). And thus, trying to argue in a fashion that is considered by most readers today, to be a logical fallacy.

  12. It is one thing not to know creeds and theological debates and agreements, and another to reject them. Today is St. Nicholas’ day, December 6. He famously was involved with the debate against Arius, and whether Christ is of one substance with the Father, homo-ousios. This was a crucial point against Arius’ long-running and widespread heresy, that Christ was not the same. This is just an example. When the thief on the cross says this to Christ, this is before the controversy with Arius. We are after. And we have people denying everything they feel like denying. What they feel seems to be all that matters. And no, that is not Christianity. Creeds are summaries of Biblical teaching, so in setting up Biblical teaching against creedal teaching you are creating a false dichotomy. But you have got us off track.

  13. Actually, there was a thing on Facebook today, maybe tongue in cheek or serious, I did not read the whole of it, suggesting that for anyone to have a Santa Claus but not believe in homoousios, it could be considered a case of “cultural appropriation”.

  14. Brigitte: I reject much of the Orthodox Lutheran and Orthodox Catholic positions.

    You reject much of the Reformed positions (as I recall from an old discussion).

    You are still a believer; I am still a believer.

    I believe that it is good to know the Creeds. To study them. To study ‘how’ those creedal statements filter into Catechisms/Books of Doctrine/etc., and then, how they are applied in actuality. And then, to study the ‘culture’ of a Christian people-group as well… as the scripture says, the gospel is written on their hearts (to some degree).

    All this is good.

    Yet, a person must ultimately accept some creedal statements and reject others, as they create their own philosophical journey. This is the essence of the discussion in Romans Chapter 14. There will always be disputable matters (that in the mind of one believer are undisputable and creedal).

    It is good to know the many creeds, Orthodox or not. It is necessary to weigh them out, and reject portions of some.

    I offer that embraced Christianity, rather than rote Christianity, is the end result of the exercise.

    And embraced Christianity can change this world.

    Rote Christianity will simply fade away as another nice religion.

  15. Caryn, what is it precisely that you reject in the ecumenical creeds?

    I do not remember discussing reformed positions with you.

    Creeds are by nature short and concise and not a proliferation of opinions. The first creed was and is: “Jesus is Lord”. When you have become a believer, you also become a confessor.

    There are not, as you say “those many creeds”. The distinctions between “rote”, “embraced”, “instutional”, “creedal”, “real”, heart-felt… Are all false, made generally to flatter our own egos. There are three ecumenical creeds, and they draw attention to God, to our need, to the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. What the good is that our neighbor needs also is outlined in the Ten Commandments as a summary of the moral code. It is as plain as can be. You reject some of those, you have rejected a whole lot. This is fundamental and important.

Comments are closed.