Total Truth (Introduction to the Series)
Our fourth and last post in this Truth Series is about language. In our first post the key word is faith; in the second the key word is experience (human experience, obviously); in the third the key word is given (three given realities: causal, behavioral, and analytical). Please see the links above for why these are key words explaining truth, presented in the correct order.
In Truth I and II we present Praxis Circle video clips to illustrate our points about faith and experience, and in Truth III we offer videos of others (after much research) that explain truth and its relation to human experience.
Today, we begin and end this post about truth and language with Praxis Circle clips presenting two intellectual heavy weights, Dr. Robert George above and Dr. Rusty Reno below. We presented Dr. Reno’s interview in July, and we will introduce Dr. George’s interview next week. The clip above, therefore, is a preview. For sure, it’s a special interview.
Above Dr. George emphasizes why language (or speech) must be free for human beings to know truth. Every human must operate within a range of freedom to obtain any virtue, including and especially, justice. Dr. Reno below emphasizes how language presenting issues of truth can determine the course of one’s entire life (for example, his own). Truth most certainly determines the course of human history.
We will argue that truth through human language is a nuclear force with the proven potential to bind humanity together in community, love, and charity; truth through language and good human behavior produces explosive human flourishing. As evidence we submit Western history in general since 0 A.D., and in particular during the “modern” period since let’s say 1400.
On the other hand, lies (claims that are false about reality) abusing truth and misdirecting power destroy humanity with the devastation of an atom bomb. See the first Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648) and the second “Thirty Years War” (1914 – 1945). These two major wars demonstrate, of course, that theists (Christians in the first case) are just as capable of being disconnected with truth as atheists. The common element is always human nature, politics, and the use of force – not necessarily “religion” or ideology. Jews and Christians call this common human element sin.
To finish this Introduction, we offer a series of quotes immediately below that traverse ancient-to-current time. They demonstrate the importance of the relation between God, language, truth, and humanity (consisting of individuals, groups, and the whole pool of homo sapiens worldwide).
These quotes also issue a warning (expressly and implied) about confusing or abusing language, disregarding truth, or wandering too far from reality. Sadly, for decades since the Second Thirty Years War, Americans have been increasingly playing power games with language, truth, and reality, largely for political and personal gain. Lying is now expected, accepted, anticipated, and welcomed.
Quite frankly, it’s disgusting.
Have no fear, these words will fortify you in the right direction:
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth . . . And God said, Let there be light, and there was light . . . And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night.” – Genesis 1: 1, 3, 4 (Attributed to Moses perhaps living in the 15th Century B.C. and perhaps written in current form in the 6th Century B.C.)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . Sanctify them [the Disciples]; Your word is truth.” – John 1:1 and John 17:17 (Jesus’ prayer) (Attributed to John the Apostle; one estimate is 80 – 90 A.D.)
“The best parent and guardian of liberty among men is truth.” – Pope Leo XIII (1885)
“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” – C.S. Lewis (1952)
“God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” – John Paul II (1998)
“Truth without love isn’t real truth and love without truth isn’t real love – and unless they are used together, no real character change is possible.” Timothy and Kathy Keller (2017)
True language produced our Western Classical Judeo-Christian (CJC) culture and society, and it still determines our course. What the ancients understood better than we “moderns” do, however, is that language is a given analytical truth based on consciousness, the mind, heart, and soul, and reason. These characteristics come together in language and distinguish humans as living creatures. They bring us closest to the divine.
The ancients could see the Divine Mind in the world, its conscious, logical, reasonable, analytical, and spiritual structure and nature. They could see it in themselves. They knew it bound them to God and each other.
Even today after all our modern “science,” we cannot explain our analytical gifts, but we use them in every second of conscious life. To theists, our inexplainable powers suggest the Image and Power of God.
The Fourth Piece of Truth’s Puzzle: Language
For the first time reader, we should quickly summarize our first three Truth posts. Obviously, we at Praxis Circle believe in truth, so we argue for it across each presentation, openly and without shame from a Christian worldview. We hope the Series order itself (I – IV) offers clarity, as well as a foundation to begin arguing in truth’s favor.
We believe it’s important for humanity to stay closely connected to reality. For Christians or journey-person seekers, we believe these fairly recent and very readable worldview books can be helpful: Real Philosophy for Real People: Tools for Truthful Living (2020, 272 pages, Robert Mc, Teague, S.J.), Finding Truth (2015, 276 pages, Nancy Pearcey), Reflections on the Existence of God (2019, 275 pages, Richard E. Simmons, III), and How to Destroy Western Civilization and Other Ideas from the Cultural Abyss (2021, 182 pages, Peter J. Kreeft).
Truth Series I centers on the word faith because everyone (truth fans, realists, and nihilists) operate from certain epistemological (knowledge) and ontological (being) assumptions. In other words, theists and atheists both operate on faith to the same extent, though often in different ways. Indeed, it’s been said one’s worldview is one’s truth assumptions, and, as we know, everybody has at least one.
In fact, the majority today might even operate from several in the moment, as it suits whatever “game” is being played.
Truth Series II highlights that all truth begins with life experience: subjective individual consciousness, collectivized into objective form via human primary and secondary observation and communication in many forms. Knowledge gains certainty from mental and physical consequences and “third party” observed confirmation. Generally, humans crave verification. We imagine that truth and creation existed before humanity, but that human conscious experience has been the primary observer of truth since the dawn of mankind. The only other conscious observer beyond ourselves discovered thus far is the Creator, though the spiritual world seems as complicated as this one. Moreover, in Western thinking, we hope there’s plenty of human time time left for surprises.
In sum on Truth II, whether created by God or not: no human beings, no appreciation of truth. Certainly no witness to God’s glory.
Truth Series III zeroes in on three of the most important forms of knowledge Westerners have categorized that through faith and experience become knowledge givens: causal, behavioral, and analytical. Most agree our consciousness gains knowledge through the various senses, perhaps structured at birth.
Most certainly, we gain all kinds of sensual knowledge that doesn’t fit cleanly into those three categories. How would you categorize “red,” “hard,” “cold,” “starving,” “happy,” “perfume,” “love”? Etc. Again, philosophers and scientists have isolated many categories and particulars. However, these three categories (causal, behavioral, and analytical) tend to explain much of our most useful, big-picture thinking and behavior.
Think: avalanches falling (causal), lovers arguing then mating (behavioral), and astronauts landing (analytical: try it without understanding physics). If we’re wrong in those three categories, we almost always suffer dearly. If we’re right, well, Amen to that.
A final observation concerning Series III is that we move increasingly from the material to the divine (spiritual) as we move from causal to analytical. That is one Western view, but there are others, and the East is often different. Furthermore, behavioral and analytical truths we call morality are just as “hard” as material, causal truths. (We will leave that controversial claim aside for now and return to it as we move through our Worldview Pillars in future series, particularly on Morality.) Of course, behavioral and analytical truth is where free will and conditions of liberty come most into play.
Key point: We must maintain these vital conditions of freedom or liberty to remain human. No freedom, no love. No freedom, no justice. No freedom, no virtue. Freedom is a process always linked to good results in human praxis. Freedom is the gift we received from our Creator called Grace, and we must protect this gift for our fellow human beings to have any hope of a good future. Our duty to provide here comes before any rights. We need good moral people who accept this duty before we can even consider any legal rights or “systems.”
As mentioned several times already, today in Truth Series IV we focus on that most powerful human ability either given or evolved: language. In our way of thinking, it’s the least and most important of truth’s four puzzle pieces.
How could that be (least and most)? Do you detect abuse of language here? Disgusting word games? Let’s take a closer look.
Early on in the Series we suggested a good way to think about truth is “consensus reality.”
Ultimately, truth is a judgement on reality (“true,””false,” “not sure,” or “to a degree of certainty or probability”) that all make to survive, prosper, and meet goals.
When we say truth exists beyond you and me (though it includes you and me, as well as God, if theists), what we’re saying (notice: language) is that there is likely a world or universe and other human beings (with God, perhaps) out there called “reality” that preceded us and will go on without us. Our judgments can agree with reality, but they do not conclusively describe or determine it, unless we’re talking about our own consciousness. (And doing so honestly. Well, even that can be problematical for certain friends and relatives :), but certainly not the staff at Praxis Circle.)
Our worldview is our truth assumptions about reality involving the metaphysical pillars: God, the universe, the world, ourselves, and other human beings. Truth plays a role in all worldviews. We hope you can find every worldview in the truth we describe in Praxis Circle posts. In fact, we attempted to show that last year in our Road to Reason Series I – VI.
Now, let’s return to language. Most social and physical scientists agree that language as we know it was a late development in human evolution. In other words, predecessor human beings survived in reality without language for untold time by making true or lucky judgments about reality. In fact, today babies are conscious, living beings for months-to-years building knowledge before mastering language. Moreover, adults of all ages gain most knowledge through personal experience without language, one estimate being 80%. This explains why face-to-face communication or being an “eye witness” is so much more valuable than other forms. Of course, we can survive on a tropical island alone for years without talking. (The fiction Robinson Crusoe proved that. Just kidding about proof there. But human fiction and story does have a large influence on reality.) We can pass on knowledge and influence reality using language, yes, but the most voluminous and impactful knowledge we gain usually doesn’t come from language at all.
In other words, nothing replaces “love at first sight” or real experience.
So, you can see why in one sense language is the least important of our four elements of truth: Arguably, we need faith for any knowledge, we get all knowledge directly from human experience, and the givens are what do us the most good in the praxis of our lives.
On the other hand! Most of the “consensus” part of “consensus reality” comes via witness, signs, or the operation of language itself. This is why language is also the most important piece of truth’s puzzle.
In a sense, language is our fourth great given: Only through language can we pass on how to plant and grow an apple orchard, why we need to protect ourselves from nearby unknown warrior natives who also love apples as much as we do (and don’t have any), and how many apples we will likely have at the end of a good harvest or by planting two more orchards (assuming that other tribe doesn’t kill or enslave us and steal them). The idea that we can’t match the words red, juicy, good, or apple with the fruit itself or pass on the knowledge of something as real and as conceptually beautiful is obviously false. (Notice that last judgement on reality.)
We do the same thing in discovering and communicating calculus or seeing Eve for the first time (Genesis 2:23 “This at last“). Our ability here is clearly a miracle, but it’s real nonetheless.
As one last important example: If you witnessed a man you knew had been crucified and had died on a cross and then saw him walking around three plus days later, you would believe it and be able to describe it to others. If you didn’t witness the After Death Experience (ADE) yourself, you would have to rely on others to describe it as best they could. Furthermore, such a truth or reality would have an immense impact on how you looked at life and death in the future.
What seemed to happen with homo sapiens early on was that words associated with reality quickly gained meaning and purpose. This might be what defines homo sapiens the most. At some key point humans began crafting real and imagined stories to further memory, understanding, survival, and flourishing. We found it useful to employ memory and imagination on the future to accomplish our goals.
Over the long run, what is real and possible has worked. What wasn’t or isn’t, doesn’t. Yes, humanity can shape its future using language, but language on its own is nothing unless it matches reality and its potential. No amount of technology’s “virtual reality” in the future will change this. Too much focus on virtual reality that doesn’t match actual reality could bury us.
Now that we’ve explained the positive nature of language’s nuclear force – how it can bring us together to flourish in reality – let’s shift to its negative side, the nuclear explosion we’re risking most everywhere in the U.S. right now.
The Language Game: It’s Your Move
There’s nothing new about the manipulation of language in the service of power and gain. Like truth, we all rely on it either consciously or subconsciously. The ancients knew this and accepted it, just as we do today. In fact, upper class ancients engaged in extensive training in rhetoric to learn to persuade and manipulate, and most would have thought it strange not to use one’s power to advantage. Almost everywhere people believed it natural for the strong to dominate the weak. The issue, however, was whether power was being used in good or bad ways.
In any case, language abuse gained significant new modern momentum on the Continent prior to and during the French Revolution and in the early 1800’s as Marxism and postmodernism emerged from infancy. Early Marxist and Leftward social change agents recognized they could use language to break up traditional societies by attacking and changing language, definitions, and the Western worldview’s metaphysical pillars, like family, morality, and liberalism.
We constantly hear the same arguments today. Following is a mashup of Far Left speak:
Rather than human behavior and experience, language made permanent in “systems” is the sole determinant of culture and reality. Language isolates us from reality and traps us in a purely self-interested mental state. In language there is only the text, divorced from the speaker or author. There is nothing we can do about it. Truth does not exist, and reason is a tool of powerful whites. Nonetheless, there is “true consciousness” and “false consciousness,” and we must have true consciousness. Only hard facts are true and good, and soft ones like morality and religion are totally relative-to-false and, therefore, destructive. It’s wrong or immoral to discipline, stop, or kill me, but I can and must discipline, stop, cancel, or even murder you. Your story is yours and mine mine, but yours is wrong; no, evil if it doesn’t agree with mine. You should surrender and conform, though I will never, ever relent or forgive.
“Truth is the new hate speech.” “Heads I win, tails you lose.” “Don’t even think about it or try.”
There’s no need to go on. Your head ought to be spinning.
In America it’s gotten so crazy today that training in truth and reason is desperately needed. When we don’t know where we are going, any road will take us there.
“Critical Theorists” across America are succeeding in dividing, conquering, and brainwashing, and we are voting for them, paying them, and making them rich as they do it to us.
While school was definitely better in the “good old days,” truth, reason, and philosophy (and certainly not theology) as disciplines have not been stressed in the educational lives of almost anyone today living. What we will do for the purposes of brevity here in an effort to help is recommend the Impact 360 Institute’s course that can be self-administered in seven sessions. Impact 360 is a Christian organization in Georgia dedicated to young adults. The course is entitled Explore Truth and linked here.
To give an example of Explore Truth’s content, please read some of the common statements it offers from Marxists and Radical Left postmodernists listed below. The course advocates pushing back against such nonsense using questions.
All of these statements are violations of reason’s law of non-contradiction, specifically called self-referential contradictions (SRC’s). We have written much about these little buggers in the past. They are humorously stupid, yet they become highly destructive and murderous in the wrong hands with sufficient power. If the 20th Century proved nothing else, it proved that.
- “There is no truth.” Response: Is that a true statement?
- “We can’t know truth.” Response: Is that a truth you know?
- “All truth is relative.” Response: Is that truth claim also relative?
- “You have your truth and I have my truth.” Response: Is this statement true for both of us?
- “It’s arrogant to think you are right and others are wrong.” Response: Do you think you are right and I am wrong?
- “You can’t know anything for sure.” Response: Is this something you know for sure?
- “All truth claims are merely attempts to oppress others.” Response: Are you using that truth claim to oppress me?
- “You shouldn’t tell people they are wrong.” Response: Like you are doing to me right now?
- “I don’t think people should push moral values on others.” Response: Are you pushing that value on me?
Once you understand SRC’s, you’ll start seeing them everywhere and even catch yourself doing the dirty deed. For example, “Thinking in binary ways is bad.” Response: Is that binary thought bad? Or “Morality is false.” Response: Is that your moral view?
We’ve observed that Millennials and Zoomers in particular have been brainwashed into thinking acceptance of many of these SRC’s are a sign of intelligence, when, of course, the opposite is true. The culprits or propagandists are usually self-righteous Boomers and Zoomers. Well-intended stupidity or misplaced compassion is one thing, but nothing irritates more, destroying human relations, than rank, self-interested hypocrisy.
We can follow these absurdities up the food chain of thought to reach our current situation in the Academy. CRT and BLM advocates pursue social justice arguing Nazi-like historicism and presentism. Historicism dictates that each human is 100% determined by his or her culture, society, and systems. As a result, they argue, it’s systemic racism, sexism, and classism that’s the sole source of today’s material (and even natural) inequality. Yet they advocate 100% presentism using their own version of today’s values to cancel or dismiss any historical figure (e.g., Washington, Jefferson, Lee, or Lincoln) or state of affairs (e.g., capitalism or the United States) from the past that doesn’t measure up.
In other words, if you’re living today and somehow disadvantaged, it’s 100% not your fault. But if you’re living, advantaged, and white in 1776, it’s 100% your fault then and now that the world isn’t perfect.
Obviously, this is nonsense. Social justice? “Theorists” obliterate the word justice by eliminating the personal element. Judgements about truth are often complex and need to be balanced.
Pure historicism and presentism together are false. Together they are contradictions and cannot stand side-by-side. They produce hypocrisy, racism, sexism, and classism itself. The result is social confusion, division, and violence – just the state of affairs many Theorists seek in efforts to undermine Western Civilization.
All we have to do to understand is read what they write and listen to what they say.
The Left’s Corruption of Truth via Language
Last today for PC graduate-level enthusiasts, we will toss in for very good measure a book recommendation. The book thoroughly explains the Far Left’s abuse of language onslaught in America. James Lindsay’s Race Marxism is a masterpiece for those who want to get technical. Dr. Lindsay has a gift for this material, and he lays it out beautifully.
Of course, when using the word “antiracist,” Critical Theorists are being extremely racist. When they talk about inclusion, they’re talking about excluding anyone who disagrees with them. (My mother’s mother who had no patience for B.S. called this lying.) Below we offer some quotes from Dr. Lindsay’s book that describe Race Marxism’s or Theory’s abuse of language. They zero in on the word “inclusion.”
Central to this entire tactic . . . is the deliberate abuse of language. Critical Theories of all kinds abuse language by adopting highly specialized and contextual definitions for otherwise familiar words. This tactic is sometimes summarized under the maxim, “Communists share your vocabulary but not your dictionary.” Another simple rule of thumb that must be applied is every Woke term conceals an agenda. (pages 240-41)
Inclusion is thus a pretext for exclusion, censorship, and purges, since the wrong words, images, ideas, arguments, or even individuals can be said to maintain . . . “white supremacy” . . . or to “colonize” . . . To achieve inclusion therefore requires the removal of any such person or thing. In this way, “inclusion” is inverted, language is abused, and power seized. (page 242)
Outsiders . . . can be framed as ignorant, stupid, evil, or insane for taking a different perspective. Language itself becomes praxis, and other wise well-intended people do the work (the praxis) for the Theorists . . . These abuses of language also enable the abuses of power at the heart of the Marxian project . . . They allow the draining of epistemic authority . . . They call into question psychological standing [“you are guilty and paranoid”] . . . They enable the destruction of moral authority . . . (page 243)
These abuses of language are not accidental or a mere quirk of personality type. They arise from a religious-like belief that systems are in control of everything, rather like pagan dieties of whom we are but play things, because such a belief demands that ideas be understood through a systemic lens. Diversity only means diversity against systems of power . . . These inverted meanings are the specialized language of a cult . . . (page 242)
To combat the kind of grotesque language abuse we’ve only hinted at here, we have recommended that Christians and other persons sympathetic to actual truth develop an extensive vocabulary that designates a bright line between Christianity and Marxist Postmodernism (the latter phrase itself a contradiction), both in concept and in our historical accounts. Such a vocabulary would clearly delineate the Creator God Narrative (CGN) of history and the Man God Narrative (MGN) of history and their different value systems. In other words, Christians and those sympathetic need to smuggle their own story back into the public square, where an all-out effort to banish it has been winning since the 1960’s.
Words and schemes like Left/Right, liberal/conservative, progress/regress are losing meaning. The battle is more “truth and untruth, correct and incorrect, knowledge and fantasy, it works or it doesn’t.”
Classical Judeo-Christianity (CJC) built most of what is good in the West, and we are not getting this point across quickly and clearly enough. Even words like capitalism and socialism are losing attachment to the good aspects of the Western world we know. We need to rename words and phrases our enemies created and constantly use against us. They played no role in the good world they’re seeking to bring down in “The War Against the West.”
The fact is the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) and its Protestant offshoots built the West in Europe and the Americas. Without question the West likely would’ve been toast a long time ago if it wasn’t for the RCC in particular. (Full disclosure: the PC management team is Protestant.)
Conclusion: God is Truth
Like nuclear energy, language is one of the most powerful forces in nature, creating, unifying, sustaining, and improving life. And yet, when language falls into the wrong hands, it disconnects us from reality. Language becomes a tool for corruption, tyranny, misery, even murder. Truth properly delivered is the only remedy.
America is badly divided. Time is running out. We continue to pursue mad fantasies. Sane social prophets are warning: Repent!
The Culture War is a Nuclear War of sorts that’s only increased during our lifetimes. Absent a unifying existential national challenge, the Culture War is NOT likely to subside without persuasion among individuals and groups, the soft use of Constitutional political power, or the hard, violent force of civil disruption or war. We have been through this before in our lifetimes, and it is never pretty.
Only the first option, persuasion, is acceptable to all – the last two ultimately involve brutish winning and losing.
Our God might not be a culture warrior, but He is most certainly a warrior, if we’re reading the same document. God is truth and keenly interested in humanity setting itself against lies, the Deceiver, and evil. He sent his Son into the world to save it from sin and usher in New Creation, the so-called Kingdom of Heaven. Since 0 A.D. it’s been working decently well, but there are big issues today.
Right now, Americans need to fight using truth and to refocus on our language’s positive nuclear force. Otherwise, we’ll most certainly atomize.
To avoid further unnecessary strife, our primary tool must be honest truth delivered with kindness, whenever possible. As Rusty Reno says in the clip below, when he seriously considered truth as a young man, it changed his life forever. In fact, it did the same to the Roman Empire and then to every nation, principality, and power since.
Where to bet your treasure in the language game?