Last week, I wrote about the collapse of the public's trust in our professional class. Much of this is attributable to the abandonment of principles. A healthy and flourishing society depends not only upon the principles of the elites but those of the citizenry at large as well.
Perhaps the single most important of these principles is the commitment to truth. This must take precedence over others — including things like "freedom," "compassion," "equality" and other characteristics we're told the denizens of a civilized society should display.
Without truth, none of those other things are possible.
In Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, the introduction of evil in the world starts with a lie. Satan tells the first humans that if they defy the express will of God, they "shall be like gods" themselves, something which is neither true nor possible.
Whether one believes in the biblical story of creation as fact or sees it merely as allegory, the lesson is the same: At the heart of the worst human behaviors is the desire to be God, including the belief that the truth is whatever we declare it to be.
History is replete with examples, but a recent one is the transgender phenomenon. We find ourselves being told now by "experts" that men can become women and women can become men merely by declaring that they identify as such.
Chromosomal biology, we're told, is irrelevant. Physical differences — even in competitive sports — are now deemed immaterial. Demands for fairness and the desire for privacy and safety — in sports, in bathrooms, in locker rooms, even in prisons — are no longer considered natural and normal but condemned as irrational "phobias" and expressions of hatred.
This is by no means the first lie that exalts human desire over scientific fact. The abortion movement has depended for decades on the falsehood that the developing child in utero is "just a clump of cells," "not a person," "not a baby." Despite advances in technology that enable us to see the developing child, including surgery in utero and 4D ultrasound, people still deny the humanity of the living human child in his or her mother's womb.
These falsehoods are born of another lie — the oft-repeated belief that science and religion are antithetical to each other. Science and superstition may be, but science and religion, per se, are not. In fact, much of humanity's greatest technological — not to mention artistic and literary — advancements have been inspired by faith and achieved by believers.
In fact, attacks upon God inevitably become attacks upon science. Once the belief in an ultimate source of truth is abandoned, truth itself becomes malleable, dispensable; whatever one wants or needs to be for his or her personal aims.
At that point, "truth" becomes only a matter of power and control. Anything that claims to be factual that runs counter to the preferred viewpoint of the powerful is a threat that must be extinguished. That includes science.
In the United States, we see this attitude and its consequences everywhere. Our most significant cultural institutions are infected with it.
Academics and activists are frequently rewarded for concocting theories about humanity — our politics, our history, our economics, education, society, history, culture — that mix fact with fancy. The like-minded in the media promote these theories to make them "cool" and fashionable.
Corporations adopt these worldviews and further disseminate them. Government officials often try to force them on the population via policy.
Soon these theories become social narratives having such force that anyone who dares challenge them — even when they have scientific evidence or factual proof to back up their objections — is subject to the most vicious attacks on social media, at their places of work and even in scholarly publications. (Indeed, even calling these theories "theories" is viewed as impermissible.)
Evidence that contradicts these narratives — in other words, that which tends to disprove falsehood — is ignored, denied, blocked and censored, its proponents condemned as racists, bigots, haters and purveyors of "disinformation" and "misinformation."
People who have been indoctrinated to believe that the "truth" is whatever someone says it is, are easily manipulated.
Societies filled with such people will inevitably end up ruled by greedy, unprincipled authoritarians who need never fear being held accountable for their misdeeds by a media that winks at lies "for the greater good," much less the shrinking number of citizens willing to demand truth even when it costs them their jobs, their friends and their social status.
Thus, do we see Americans continue to vote for corrupt, deceitful and frankly incompetent politicians despite policies that they have watched destroy their cities and their states.
Crime is not punished. Open drug use is tolerated. Homelessness is ignored. Mental illness is untreated. Dangers to citizens are allowed to increase. Businesses depart, the tax base shrinks and so taxes are increased on those who remain.
Millions of migrants are allowed to walk into the country illegally and then take government handouts, all paid for by American taxpayers. Schools are failing. Children are suffering. The poor are falling further behind. And on and on.
But the perpetrators say, "The truth is whatever we say it is! Someone/something else is at fault! Ignore what you see with your own eyes and keep voting for us!"
And Americans do.
In the Declaration of Independence that launched this nation, the Founders wrote, "We hold these truths to be self-evident ..." America was literally founded upon a belief in and commitment to truth. The revolution we need to save this country now must begin first and foremost with a battle for truth.
Laura Hollis is a professor of teaching at the Mendoza College of Business, as well as a professor of business law and entrepreneurship at Notre Dame. Her career as an attorney has spanned 35 plus years. Her legal publications have appeared in the Temple Law Review, Cardozo Law Review and the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy. She has written for The Detroit News, HOUR Detroit magazine, Townhall.com and The Christian Post. Read Reports by Professor Hollis — More Here.