Fake news … “What is truth?”

FOCUS GROUP…what is it?

The Focus Group is an informal discussion group that offers an opportunity to discuss topical issues with a Christian perspective.It is open to EVERYONE….new comers to the area as well as regular, spasmodic and non-church goers alike!

It meets monthly, (different evening each month) 8-9.30pm.

Refreshments provided and everyone is welcome.

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Christ and Pilate by Nikolai Ge (“What is Truth?“), 1890.

The topic for this month’s discussion was ‘FAKE NEWS….WHAT IS TRUTH?’

…..A huge topic which has been grappled with by many a theologian, philosopher, mystic and academic in rather more than an hour and a half, but Easter has reminded us once again that Pilate infamously asked this profound question when Jesus was before him.

We live in a fast, digital world where opinion-driven writing is the norm; anyone can post anything for everyone to read. We are in a world where photojournalism implies a ‘true’ picture not only of life around the world but minute to minute details of people’s lives and situations. We have always been sceptical about what we read in the newspaper but nowadays ‘fake news’ is out there, intentionally to mislead, influence, and deceive the reader.

So ‘truth’ can be seen in our everyday – perhaps many different sorts of ‘truths’ – eg the truth of historical or current ‘facts’, the type of truth of philosophy, or the truth in a biography or testimony, and of course we have our laws that require society to behave in an honest and ‘true’ way. We have daily conversations with all sorts of people and frequently have to judge whether they are telling the ‘truth’….and…do we always ‘tell the truth’?

Truth can be ‘relative’ eg if I say ‘I played tennis earlier today’  – that’s a true fact, but if say I played well, that’s relative, so can it be ‘true’? Do different cultures have a different understanding / interpretation of ‘truth’? So 1st we have ‘truth’ if you like on a sort of worldly plain and then…

On a deeper level, what is ‘truth’ within ourselves? Our use of social media invites, even compels us to present ourselves as would like to be seen; one’s ‘profile’ of Facebook for example. Are our outward appearances, the way we present ourselves part of who we are / just different aspects of us, or are they a pretence and an attempt to appear more likeable than we believe our genuine selves to be? So huge questions and of course, personal integrity, honesty, sincerity etc not only shapes us as individuals but together, shapes society as a whole; if we’re all corrupt, then so is society.

These were some of the questions that we discussed:

  • Would you say we, as a society, are more or less honest than say 20 years ago?
  • Is dishonesty more acceptable nowadays?
  • What are the consequences of not telling the truth?
  • Is what is ‘true’ for one person, ‘true’ for another?
  • Is ‘truth’ ever absolute?
  • How do we find the ‘truth’ within ourselves?
  • Are we ‘true’ to ourselves / one another / to God?’
  • Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life…..’

Perhaps ‘Truth’ can only be found in God; we cannot describe God (or ‘truth’ for that matter) in language and in trying to do so, we confine and limit something that is infinite and beyond our understanding.

Annie

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