The truth in an age of fake news

Published 7:14 pm Monday, July 2, 2018

Two words, “listen” and “learn,” are now lost in our “shout the other side down” society.

So, I went to to find “listen.” It means “to take notice of and act on what someone says.”

And I found “learn,” meaning “to acquire knowledge of, or skill in, by study, instruction, or experience.”

Now you might wonder what this has to do with science. I started writing this to share what I’ve learned from my background in science related to what I’m learning from the Bible. Science is now having the same problem as the society at large — far too many scientists are sharing political opinions rather than scientific exploration, experimentation and theories grounded in that exploration and experimentation.

We’re having the same problem in the Christian church with our “textbook,” the Bible. Our faith is increasingly based on personal and political opinions about what is in the Bible rather than in-depth “listening and learning” from the Bible.

And the ultimate in “opinion over fact” is our social media, where every “post” carries equal weight regardless of whether it’s an imagined idea, a personal opinion or a well-researched and established fact.

On a professional level, we’re hearing and reading more and more about “fake news.”

But God is never surprised, so several thousand years ago in Proverbs 19, Solomon wrote, “If you listen to advice and are willing to learn, one day you will be wise. People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord’s will is going to be done … Obey the Lord, and you will live a long life, content and safe from harm. Some people are too lazy to put food in their own mouths. Arrogance should be punished, so that people who don’t know any better can learn a lesson. If you are wise, you will learn when you are corrected … My child, when you stop learning, you will soon neglect what you already know.”

Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor created what is now known as the “4-Way Test” as a standard of business ethics during the Great Depression. It was adopted by the Rotary Club in 1942 asking about anything we think or say or do: “Is it true? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build good will and better friendships? And will it be beneficial to all concerned?”

That would transform science and faith and especially social media.