I knelt down over the large doe I’d just shot. She had dropped where she stood when I fired my primitive muzzle loader at her vitals. It was my first trip into the woods in over twenty years. Now what? In nice terms I had to “dress her.” In reality, it is called “gutting,” because of the operation of removing everything inside her-her guts. I thought to myself, “Big fish,” as I’d gutted hundreds, maybe thousands of fish. It wasn’t the neatest, but it was sufficient. She was “dressed” and ready for the butcher.
A gutted deer has no semblance of life. There’s no mistake, it’s dead. There is a process however that restores some of the image of what the deer once was - taxidermy. This is the process of a carefully trained person who can take the skin and head of the animal and make it look like its still alive. However, it isn’t difficult to tell it is stuffed. The taxidermist has used a styrofoam form that fits the deer. In about eight hours he or she can construct a fairly good resemblance.
I bring this story and concept up to discuss truth, which in my estimation has been shot, killed, gutted and stuffed by our culture. What passes as truth today is something our culture has not just killed, but murdered and neatly stuffed. What passes for truth today is not the living truth that our culture once relied on. It is a phony replica - an imposter. Truth tells us like it is. It is an accurate description of what is real. To be brief, it is objective and absolute. You may have an opinion about what is real, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. You can even say that you believe that something can be true for you but not for me, but that doesn’t make that statement true either. Truth is an accurate statement about reality. Something is true if that is what actually is - as in, existence.
Here’s how this plays out in our culture - We are in a media centered environment that miscommunicates and misleads what actually is. It has gutted and stuffed reality with phony impersonations. The news media is largely to blame for this skewing reality to promote an agenda or simply to boost ratings. Movies, music, TV, and the internet are all purveyors of distorted reality. They rarely tell it like it is. The problem is we trust it. (I say “we” as a culture.) That brings us major problems - pitfalls, but first understand what authority has to do with this.
We accept something as an authority when we believe in its representation of what is real. We trust someone’s word or description about reality. Here’s an example: At one time what was morally correct was the right choice to make. Over time, this has been replaced by “whatever feels good - do it,” kind of ethic. I hear people say, “Whatever floats your boat,” as a new deciding influence for their actions. It has nothing to do with morality, nothing to do with reality, just whatever feels good - do it. The is a result of cultural influence - secular cultural’s influence. Secular culture has become the authority for this “taxiderm-ied” truth.
What secular culture doesn’t tell us is that there are pitfalls to misunderstanding reality and dissing truth. As an authority, secular culture doesn’t seem to care. So let me list at least three pitfalls.
Pitfall #1 of choosing the wrong authority is you’re likely to make bad decisions. I say, “likely” because there is an outside chance that what floats your boat may be the right choice. If secular culture is misrepresenting the way things really are there is a good chance it will mislead you and you’ll make bad decisions. The equivalent of this is having a broken compass. This is losing the “true north” indication - you won’t know which way to go to get to the correct destination.
Pitfall #2 of choosing the wrong authority is that you’re likely not to come to the right conclusions on important concepts. Readjusting concepts of life is an important part of growing up. One principle I was taught, no, it was drilled into me was to respect your elders. However, the turbulent time of the Sixties shouted this down with, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty!” Aside from being a fairly stupid idea, it had “legs” among a young disgruntled population. (You have to wonder if those who first stated this really thought they wouldn’t ever turn thirty years of age.)
The idea of coming to the wrong conclusion or definitions of concepts can be devastating.The obvious one is truth. Redefining the concept of truth has had an enormous impact on our lives. If truth is not objective and absolute then there is no “true north” to life. There’s no way to navigate, to know what is right or wrong, and anything goes. This is exactly where we are living. Every moral fiber that established our culture is up for discussion and we have the world of the media - movies, music, TV and the internet to guide us.
Pitfall #3 in choosing the wrong authority is loosing the ability to think seriously and deeply about everything important. If you can't properly define the concepts how can you think clearly. No matter how strongly secular culture states that can you make the decisions that matter, the aim of culture is to decide for you. Without addressing some conspiracy theories, the role of secular culture seems to coerce us into their way of thinking. Some tactics are intimidation, bullying, and chastising. Instead of promoting dialogue and truly hashing out the concepts, secular culture tells you, “obey or else.” Name calling is another tactic. “You’re ignorant if . . .” “You’re a racist if . . .” “You’re intolerant if . . .” People, and many Christians succumb to the intimidation and fall into line.
So there you have it - a secular culture that has gutted truth.
Pitfall #1 you'll make bad decisions
Pitfall #2 you'll not be able to correctly define important concepts
Pitfall #3 you'll lose the ability to think clearly
What’s a person to do? First, recognize that your ability to think is a God-given characteristic that acknowledges your Creator. We all trust authority - some choose to trust science, some trust the Bible, some trust other people. The ability to think, reasoning, is the way we come to the conclusion of which authority best represents the truth. Personally, I believe the Scripture is the best representation of reality. Every other authority that clamors for my attention must line up with that. However, I have the ability to think through the process and see if that authority truly lines up with my understanding of God’s revelation to us in the Scripture. I don’t see Scripture and science at odds with one another - just one is subservient to the other. However, what I do recognize is when something is consistently wrong or skewed, like secular culture. Don’t accept a gutted, dressed and stuffed version of reality, but the real one that is accessible through a renewed mind.
Learn to think biblically and theologically. Learn to think through the lens of Scripture; see life as God would see it.