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What is Truth?

 

Something that distracts me when I’m on social media or the Internet is reading about facts. Especially those lists of things that you see – you know, lists of 9 or 11 or 15 or 22 facts that are somehow related.

If the topic seems at all interesting (and sometimes even if it’s not really), I often read them. Don’t know why – I just like to know stuff. Not sure if it’s honest intellectual curiosity, or if sometimes it just doesn’t seem I’ve got anything more interesting to do.

So, when I saw a post that said, “People Always Get These 18 Facts Wrong,” I was intrigued. And also challenged: like in school, when the teacher gave a test it seemed to me they were saying, “Bet you don’t know this,” and my response is, “Bet I do.”

So I read the list. It had facts like, ‘The arrow next to the pump icon on the fuel gauge points to the side of the car with the filler cap.’ OK, I was aware of that. Another one was, ‘Seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth as it orbits around the Sun.’ Yes, learned that in grade school science.

Then, I got to the 15th one: it said. ‘The Bible doesn’t actually say that Adam and Eve ate the fruit.’ What?!? Wait a minute. (Que the sound of a phonograph needle scratching across a vinyl record: “Scriiiiitch” – that’s the sound I imagine when it’s time to stop everything.)

That doesn’t seem right – I’m pretty sure that’s not correct. Well, I have an app for that.

Start up my Bible app, select the book of Genesis, think it’s chapter 3 so I tap that: yes, that’s the right chapter. Scroll down to verse 6, which says, “she took of its fruit and ate.” The following sentence says “and he ate.”

Later God asks them if they ate the fruit. In verse 12, Adam replied, “and I ate.” Then He asks her, and in verse 13 she says, “and I ate.”

Seems pretty clear to me: and this fact is pretty obviously incorrect.

My first thought was, “Well, you can’t believe everything you hear.” In fact, we hear that constantly. We laugh at the girl in that old insurance commercial who said, “You can’t put anything on the Internet unless it’s true.” And few us fall for that famous quote going around, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. – Abraham Lincoln”: we know he died more than a century before the Internet was developed.

But still, people do tend to believe what they hear, what they read, what someone tells them, and usually without questioning it.

What if the person reading this list wasn’t very familiar with the story of Adam and Eve? If they didn’t have Bible app handy? If they didn’t know it was in Genesis, and probably chapter 3? Would they have believed a ‘fact’ that wasn’t true?

Also, how could this happen? How did this get published on a Web site, did the writer not even bother to check? Did they not care, or are they that careless? How could any research or fact check at all miss this error?

It is possible, though, that this whole thing was intentional. The writer may written a bunch of unimportant facts, like ‘Napoleon was 5′ 7″ tall, so he wasn’t actually very short.’ Then, once the reader has gone through more than a dozen reasonable sounding facts, they throw in an untruth, figuring it will be believed too. Is their intention to have the reader question the Bible, disbelieve the truth being taught from the Bible, and ultimately reject God? We don’t know, but it could be.

I actually checked the six English translations available in my Bible app, and they all said that Adam and Eve ate it. There was one exception: instead of “ate'”, the KJV says “did eat.” I like this phrasing in the old King James version – when it says they “did eat,” I want to say, “Oh, no, they didn’t!” “Oh, yes, they did!”

Of course, it means the same thing – the truth is, the Bible does say that Adam and Eve ate the fruit. But, maybe that article was ‘spin’ or ‘slant’. If you interpret “Bible” to mean the King James Version in particular, and “ate” to mean literally saying the exact word “ate”, than technically they could make a case for claiming it doesn’t say Adam and Eve “ate” the fruit: since it actually uses the words, “did eat.”  Of course, this is a technicality without any real difference, and clearly is intended to deceive the reader into believing something else.

However, when you encounter ‘spin’ (often in politics) or ‘slant’ (in reporting), the intention is to mislead while being able to claim (and maybe convince themselves) that it is ‘true’.

Is this false information caused by carelessness, a blatant lie, or ‘spin’ with intent to deceive? It’s hard to say – but I’ll say what I suspect.

As far as the writer is concerned, they just want you to read their article so you’ll be exposed to the advertising on their Web pages. If they have a catchy headline, they’ll get more people: and if it has controversial content it’s more likely to get shared with other readers. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, as long as they attract people. So, they don’t care.

But behind that, there’s more. John 8:44 says, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”

Satan is perfectly willing to use the carelessness, immorality, or greed of the writer of this list and the Web site owner to slip out a thinly disguised attack on Biblical truth. When he gets people to question the Bible, they’ll question God: and when they disbelieve what God says, then they’ll accept Satan’s lies.

In fact, that’s what happened back in Genesis – the serpent asked, “Did God really say …?” (“Has God indeed said, …”, verse 3:1 NKJV). That was followed up with a blatant lie, “You will not surely die,” (verse 4). But of course, they did die: although not immediately, due to God’s mercy. And all human beings since then die as well.

And then Satan, that old serpent, put some ‘spin’ on it. He said (verse 5), “For God knows … you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” First question God’s motives, then claim that the sin will actually be a good thing. Of course the problem is, while we are now aware of good and evil (although more about evil than good), we are not like God. Instead, people became like Satan – opposing God, lying, and trying to lead other people astray from Him.

So, brothers and sisters, friends and countrymen, and anyone reading these words, I beseech, I beg of you –
Don’t believe everything you hear, read, or see shared on social media or the Internet. People and organizations lie: whether carelessly, intentionally, or just as a matter of course. And “that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan” (ref. Revelation 20:2) is working hard with his lies to destroy people and the world, trying overthrow any good and tear down God.

Be careful out there!

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