Monday, August 08, 2005

An American Icon Dies

Today we have the news that Peter Jennings,
longtime anchor and newsman with ABC,
has succumbed to cancer and has died.

Like many Americans, the news caught me
by surprise this morning as I sit here drinking
my morning coffee. Peter Jennings was the
ultimate newsman, setting the standard for
delivering an entertaining package that
included not just "the news", but a great deal
of style, thoughtfulness, and wit.

As I read today's news story, however (on CNN),
I was struck by a quote that Dianne Sawyer
attributed to Jennings:

"There is no absolute truth in the world
for every group of people.
"

This shouldn't surprise me, really; I had no
reason to believe that Jennings was a conservative,
much less a Christian, but the glaring declaration
of a concise Metaphysic like that sort of gripped me.

Picture things from his perspective: He was a
world traveler, by profession, and found himself
(over the decades of his career) in just about every
human context possible, from wars and famine to
abundance and celebration, and from religious and
political extremes to unbelievable wealth and
abject poverty. He interviewed proponents of
just about every World View on the planet, and
(from what little I know about him) he was an
avid reader, and a "stickler for details".

If *anyone* had a front-row seat on the idealogical
landscape of Humanity, it was Peter Jennings.

No Absolute Truth??
But here is the thing to keep in mind:
IF all he meant by that comment was that people
cannot AGREE on what is Absolute Truth -- that
sect "A" passionately holds belief "X" while
sect "B" (just as) passionately holds the exact
opposite belief "Y", then he is right; but there
are a vast number of reasons (some important,
some just plain silly) for that disagreement.

But IF, on the other hand, he was making a
metaphysical pronouncement on the nature of
Truth -- that there IS no Absolute for All people
in All places at All times -- then he either never
really thought that World View all the way out
or he clearly identified himself as a Humanist,
fundamentally believing that one can cobble
together one's own "truth" and then live out
our lives by it without fear that we might be WRONG
(because who's to say what "wrong" means??).

Because of his broad Viewer base, Peter Jennings
probably had (and will continue, to some degree, to have)
a big influence on the minds of those who watched him.
These kinds of comments, by someone like him, just
might help to cement that "sense" or "feeling" in the
general American population that there really IS no
"absolute Truth" and that we indeed ARE free to
"make it up as we go along"...

One of the problems, though, with that World View
is that NOBODY really believes it! The homosexual
who passionately chooses that side will then turn and
utterly REVILE the person who believes that homosex
is an Abomination to God; the so-called "abortion rights"
people will turn around and lend their efforts to "right
to die" campaigns; and many people who discount any
absolute sense of Morality will turn right around and
call this or that act "immoral" or will make some kind of
vague appeal to "moral duty".

And one other point: NOBODY -- nobody! -- holds any
position to be "The Truth" (e.g., "there is no absolute
truth...") without firmly believing that that position is TRUE,
and that its exact opposite (e.g., "there IS at least one
Absolute Truth...") is FALSE. In other words, if you
passionately believe that proposition "X" is the truth,
you ALSO necessarily believe that proposition "NOT X"
is NOT the truth (or, is False).

A Call to American Christians
The reason Mr. Jennings could get away with such
blatant declarations of RELATIVISM is that he lived
in a country where Relativism is the reigning Metaphysic,
AND where those who have the Courage to declare
that there ARE Absolute Truths are branded as "Extremists".

This is one of the luxuries of Freedom, especially of Speech.
Public declarations of that type in other countries could
result in public disgrace and perhaps even torture and death;
but in America, comments like this indicate -- to me, anyway --
that the Church must continue the Battle for the Mind,
especially the minds of our younger generations.

"...Speaking the Truth in Love..." we are admonished; and so
it ought to be: Our LOVE for those around us ought to awaken
the desire in them to know more; then the REASONS for the Faith
must be well-grounded and defensible.

We may not be able to change popular beliefs in the broader sense,
but perhaps we can influence Minds to consider Christ, one at a time...

3 comments:

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Fred Garza said...

Nicely written, Greggo.

Let me sum it up this way. Absolute Truth requires proof. We will never have "proof" of God until the rapture comes (if you're a believer in that) otherwise you would not be a person of "faith".

The fact that religion involves "faith" makes it not only proper for debate but furthermore personal and individual. That's not to say that individuals can't share the same beliefs. I don't think it's any cause for alarm if Peter Jennings is quoted somewhere on a "humanistic" thought than it is to be alarmed by the vast number of conservative talk show hosts and evangelical tv and radio hosts making their message clear.

If Christianity is losing believers it's not because of a homosexual rights movement or any other so-called leftist ideology, it is mainly because of organized Christians driving away their own through rifts, politics and past immoral acts by those people of faith.

Humans naturally seek the divine. It's in our DNA. How we find it and accept it is through other humans whose responsibility it is to properly portray and live up to the morals they espouse.

Greg said...

Fred! Hey man, great to hear from you! Been awhile...

Thanks for your thoughts; input from ALL perspectives is welcomed here, so I appreciate your comments...

Just a few quick points:

1. This Blog is, of course, based on a Christian World View, and written by someone who has honestly examined a lot of Evidence and found the Christian World View to be the most thorough in handling the "Great Questions" of life...

2. I've always grinned at the statement, "There is no Absolute Truth"... apparently the person who makes it cannot see that they're advocating at least ONE Absolute Truth... that there ARE no Absolute Truths! Kind of self-refuting...

3. As for Absolute Truth requiring proof, I'm not sure about that: If there was, say, a large pool of as-yet-undiscovered OIL beneath, let's say, Lake Michigan, the mere FACT of its existence would not require proof, per se, only Discovery; and since we already know a lot about the nature of Oil, we'd know what it was when we discovered it...

So it is with (metaphysical) truth: "Proofs" only exist to help move the thinker to a position that is beyond "reasonable doubt"...

Will people disagree? Absolutely! That does not, however, change the FACT of whether or not something is TRUE or FALSE... and two diametrically opposed Propositions cannot both be true at the same time...

4. I agree that religion involves Faith, but a good discussion of what that concept is all about is perhaps beyond the scope of this particular post (maybe I'll post something on that, some day...). I'll just note here something one of my philosophy professors once said: "There is no conflict between Faith and Reason: Reason is the engine of the train, and Faith is all the cars being pulled..." Just because someone "believes" something does not make it True (James 2:19 tell us even the *demons* believe...)... And all we have to do is look at the daily News, which shows terrorists murdering people in the name of their "god", to see the profound danger in MAKING UP one's "personal truth"...
Are we prepared to say that their "truth" is valid??

5. Sheldon Vanauken once said that "Christians are the best argument FOR, as well as AGAINST, Christianity". I agree with you that some Christians do FAR more damage to the perception of the faith in the minds of non-believers than they currently realize... but the key thing to ponder is not whether or not the Christian across the street from me is a radical, pulpit-pounding, judgemental, hate-mongering Jerk; it's whether or not the Truth statements of the faith are, in fact, TRUE, especially the ones in which Jesus claimed to BE GOD.... Our faith includes the serious and dreadful eventuality that every single person on the planet will one day be *required* to answer that question...

One more point about this: Christians are SINNERS, plain and simple! It's the FOCUS and DIRECTION of our transformation that is important...

6. Humans DO *naturally* seek the Divine! EXCELLENT. (There is a book called "Eternity in their Hearts" that explores this concept in real life...). While I would agree that much of the Evidence comes to us through other humans, that is only one among a number of sources... but those who are thinking along the lines of "Evidence" are already on the right track!!

We count you, and your lovely wife, and your adorable daughter (and your animals, too!) among our dearest friends, so please do write whenever you have the chance (and we'll see you at Christmastime, as always)...