Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Little More Death of Truth—the Case of the Canadian Trade Figures

3/21/2018—Who can keep up with the outrages? President Trump insists to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a meeting that Canada runs a trade surplus with the US, when it is not the case—in goods, yes, offset by services, where the US runs a surplus.

Charles Blow wrote a good column about this, calling Trump the un-American President. First, why doesn’t Trump know—the subsequent reported comments by the President and later tweet demonstrate he didn’t know.

Since Trump gets nothing out of this but the thrill of lying and the unencumbered style Trump loves, Blow calls this “lying for sport.”

Blow puts his finger on the real issue later in the column: “One of Trump’s most lasting legacies will likely be the damage he’s doing to the fundamental idea that truth matters.”

So, now we have to ask this fundamental question—does Truth matter?

In the pragmatic sense, truth matters. People won’t trust each other if they have to double check everything. Society falls apart.

But does Truth really matter? Here, if secularists are right that physical forces are all that exist, the answer is no, because nothing intrinsically matters. Or maybe I should say, Truth matters only if we say so.

This is related to the column by Joseph Paul Carter in the New York Times last summer—the Universe Doesn’t Care About Your Purpose. Only now we say, the universe doesn’t care about Truth. I hope my readers see the connection.

Neil deGrasse Tyson said on the 2014 Cosmos series redo that humans engage in science “because it matters what’s true.” He did not just mean matters to us. He meant the human feeling for intrinsic significance. Truth matters, period. Once, we would have said, matters to God. Now, we have to say, matters to the universe, because we have no other language for something intrinsic and real, but not physical. The novelist E.L. Doctorow calls it living “in moral consequence.”

The positivists, nihilists, materialists, relativists destroyed Truth in this culture. Trump is just another one of them—worse, of course, but not really different. Carter says we make purpose. Well, if so, then we can make Truth, too, and it won't matter.

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