Select Page


August 4, 2012 by William H. Scarle, Jr. 

To paraphrase the titles of several well-known books, “What ever happened to telling the truth?”  Of course lying or shading the truth has always been an endemic problem in the history of humanity, as well as in everyday life.  Otherwise it would not have been included in the Ten Words from Sinai.  Word number nine simply stated is, “No lying.”  The emphasis in the Decalogue is of course on the judicial side.  However, the principle is universal.  It is an essential component of any civilized society.  Without a commitment to it there can be no contracts and no security in even the everyday life of the home.  Every parent is familiar with the expression, “It wasn’t me.”

Nevertheless, we watch TV ads every night and are aware that most of what we hear and see is not the truth.  Every insurance company cannot possibly have the cheapest rates.  Every car manufacturer cannot possibly be the best.  Every grocery store cannot have the cheapest products.  Most of it is hokum.   Besides that the more advertising any company does the more the customer has to pay for the product.  The propaganda costs are not coming out of the CEO’s pocket.

We are in a period of political campaigning, and it brings with it another assault on simply telling the truth.  Most everything we hear the politicians tell us is a lie.  Of course it is not outright slander, or outright padding of the campaigners resume.  There is always a grain of truth in what is said, but it is so distorted as to provide the everyday citizen with no reliable information at all.   I am waiting for some politician to simply say, “I’d like to tell you something about myself.  If you think I can be of service to the community, I am willing to serve.”  Or, it would be refreshing to hear a politician tell us, “I really have enough money.  If you think I can be of service to the state or nation, I will relinquish my salary, and all pension benefits.”  George Washington did exactly that, but the district named for him is not likely to produce another.

I ran across a passage in the book I referred to last week by Rodney Stark concerning the academic community that really bothered me.  I have been aware of it for some time, but it is not often spoken so clearly.  Concerning the history of the Spanish Inquisition Stark says the following.

“Great historical myths die hard even where there is no vested resistance to new evidence.  But in this case, many recent writers continue to spread the traditional myths about this “holy terror” even though they are fully aware of the new findings.  They do so because they are determined to show that religion, and especially Christianity, is a dreadful curse upon humanity.  So these writers casually dismiss the new studies as written by “apologists” and go on as before about the sadistic monsters in black robes.”

It is one of the symptoms of a society that has freed itself from an awareness of God and the moral universe in which he has placed man that truth becomes a scarce commodity.   We pay dearly for this lapse.  Trust becomes difficult and is often betrayed.  Paul quotes Psalm 116 in Romans 3:4 when he says, “Let God be true and every man a liar.”  Paul’s point is that God cannot be contradicted.   It is true we can trust God.  But why can we not simply tell the truth?

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at