Quid est veritas?
Perhaps the most provocative question of all time translates from Latin into English to query, “What is truth?”
According to John 18:38, Pontius Pilate asked this of Jesus prior to his crucifixion.
Some people believe that Jesus was only a man. Others believe Jesus never even existed. And there are also people like me believe the story told in the Gospel of John is basically accurate, and that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah and Son of God. Now I can confess that I believe the previous statement is true, but I can’t claim to know it is true.
Get the difference?
Not everyone believes that Shakespeare wrote his own plays. A movie called Anonymous asserted that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote and published those famous plays like Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet using the pseudonym of William Shakespeare. Francis Bacon and Christopher Marlowe have also been credited with the work of William Shakespeare, but there is no way to conclusively prove beyond all reasonable doubt that William Shakespeare did not write his own material. We might even be able to back up our speculation with tantalizing bits of evidence, but we cannot establish something as a fact when we don’t have proof.
However, every person on Earth believes they possess absolute knowledge when in fact, we all have beliefs based on reasonable assumptions. Beliefs that are easily confused and twisted to the point where something probably real, or true has been accepted as a false, or a forgery…for example, the Shroud of Turin.
Quid est veritas? What is truth?
Is the Shroud of Turin real, or a clever, elaborate fake?
You can’t go wrong if you simply say you believe the shroud is real, or that you believe the shroud is a clever forgery, especially if you offer the most recent evidence in support of the belief the shroud is real. Or, you might cite the 1988 carbon dating test results to support your belief the shroud is not real.
What you can’t do is claim that you know the shroud is real or fake. Because you don’t. Nobody does. Quite frankly, it isn’t possible to know for sure the shroud is real, or to ever reach that conclusion. It may be possible one day to conclusively prove the shroud is a fake, but not likely given the current known scientific evidence and only limited access permitted by the Catholic church.
Once widely believed to be the burial covering of the crucified Christ, carbon dating tests conducted in 1988 allegedly proved the Shroud of Turin to be a forgery created between 1290-1360 A.D. Most recently revealed scientific evidence have provided ample grounds for dismissing the earlier results of the fatally flawed 1988 dating tests, due to contaminated sample material.
Does this mean that the shroud can be declared the authentic burial covering of the crucified Christ? Of course not.
All this new information means is that the rumors the shroud had been conclusively proved to be a forgery were just a tad premature. Likewise, the nonbeliever may wish to reject of the shroud as scientific evidence, it is only necessary to point out that lacking DNA, etc. conclusive proof cannot be established. Even if the shroud could be conclusively proved to have actually covered the corpse of someone crucified in the same manner as described in the Bible, there is no way it could ever be established beyond all doubt that the body in question belonged to Jesus. “The evidence fails to convince me personally,” is all the atheist really needs to say. However, “the evidence proves that the shroud is fake” is something the atheist cannot honestly claim.
Conversely, the Christian should be equally reticent to declare the shroud somehow proves the resurrection occurred or that it definitely covered the body of Jesus, because of the lack of DNA evidence. If your faith hinges on whether or not the shroud is real, you seriously need to focus on strengthening your faith.
Interestingly, in The Passion of the Christ, when Pilate asks his wife how to discern truth she replies, “If you will not hear the truth, no one can tell you.”
So what is truth?
About the only thing I know for sure is that the title of the movie named Truth is deliciously ironic.
Sorry for the abrupt segue from religion to politics, but it is that time of year.
When I try to rank the funniest movies of all time numerically, the classics come to mind: Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. As Good As It Gets, Terms of Endearment, and Broadcast News. And of course, The Princess Bride.
Frankly, it never occurred to me that Truth would be as funny as some of my all-time favorite comedies.
What is the truth? Did George W. Bush go AWOL from the National Guard during the Vietnam War? That’s what the movie wanted to convince the audience to believe.
Cate Blanchett tries to portray Mapes sympathetically, as the “courageous” journalist scapegoated for daring to ask tough questions about the sitting President of the United States during a tough campaign for reelection.
In the movie Ms. Blanchett piously shouts at Bruce Greenwood (who portrays CBS News boss Andrew Heyward) “They can’t do this! They can’t smack us for asking the f-king question!”
But with all due respect, that isn’t why Ms. Mapes was fired by CBS News. Asking tough questions didn’t cost Dan Rather his job.
Using amateurish forged “documents” to support her otherwise unsubstantiated report that President Bush had gone AWOL from his National Guard service during the Vietnam War in the heat of a presidential campaign was the real reason Mary Mapes career at CBS abruptly ended.
Amateur sleuths on the internet quickly and easily proved the forged documents were created using Microsoft Word, which didn’t exist in the 1970s.
Pathetically, Mapes tries to redeem her reputation by arguing the documents were only a small part of the story, but that simply isn’t true.
The documents were the story. Without them, the story would not have been run in the first place.
Obviously, Mapes still believes the story that cost her her job was true, because the script for the movie was based on her memoir. It apparently has never occurred to the intrepid producer of national news with the power to shape millions of opinions that a Democrat politician (Bill Barnes) making drunken boasts at a Democratic fundraiser might have been lying through his teeth…politicians tend do that, you know. It was positively hilarious to watch Blanchett smugly assert that 60 Minutes was the “gold standard” for journalism.
Fool’s gold, maybe.
The film encourages the viewer to see Rather and Mapes as the courageous heroes of the tale, not as the blind fools who fell from grace due to their hubris.
Personally, I can think of a few other words that would have been a far more appropriate end to the career of Dan Rather. Bias, for example.
When asked by radio talk show host Don Imus about Bernard Goldberg’s accusation that his reporting exhibited a liberal bias toward conservative principles, Dan Rather famously said, “I’m in favor of strong, defense, tight money, and clean water. I don’t know what that makes me. Whatever that makes me, that what I am.”
How about “horribly partisan liberal hack former network news anchor?”
Probably too wordy, but almost certainly appropriate, considering that Rather has actually helped raise money for the Democratic Party.
The general public ought to know by now that we can’t trust the mainstream media because most media coverage is horribly skewed in favor of the Democratic Party. This problem isn’t confined to CBS News, of course.
George Stephanopoulos, host of This Week on ABC News, once worked for Bill Clinton. He also recently donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation. This little tidbit of information should eliminate any mistaken assumptions that George suddenly became fair and impartial overnight, when he transitioned from acting as a political operative to become a “news journalist.”
And don’t forget CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was caught on camera drinking champagne and dancing to Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” after Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech, giving the general public some idea who he’d like to win.
Hollywood and the mainstream media have pulled out all the stops and done everything in their power to get Hillary Clinton elected. In spite of their best efforts, I must confess that I tend to agree with these average Joes (and Janes) than the average celebrity.
Quid est veritas? What is truth?
I don’t always know. But until I stop breathing, I won’t stop seeking truth.