Truth is not just about facts and data

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

MUCH less is truth about a certain view or choice that may be supported by a majority of the people. Truth can only be found in God when the Spirit of Truth shows us what truth is.

We are reminded of this very important aspect of our life when in the gospel of St. John, Christ said that the Spirit of Truth “will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears and will declare to you the things that are coming.” (Jn 16,13)

To know the truth and to be in the truth are a matter of being discerning of what the Holy Spirit tells and shows us. In short, we cannot know and be in the truth unless we follow what the Spirit tells us.

We just cannot rely on facts and data and a majority vote to be in the truth. Understanding truth that way, without the inspiration of the Spirit, would just lead us to be deceived in a way that can be most subtle and convincing. But the result or the effect of such misunderstanding of truth would only be greater division among us or some harm.

Somehow, we can verify the effect of such misunderstanding of truth just by looking at how there is now a lot of division and misunderstanding among ourselves in spite of the tremendous developments we have in the sciences and the technologies. We can have a glut of facts and data and we can make choices by majority vote, and still the truth would elude us.

Facts and data need a proper spirit for them to serve the cause of truth. We need to realize that truth in the context or setting of our human condition needs a proper spirit. Without considering the proper spirit, they can only be used—or misused—by all sorts of possible human motives that in the end may not be right for us, or may just be self-serving to some of us but harmful to others.

The truth that comes from the Spirit of truth obviously can make use of facts and data and the results of some majority vote, but it will always be a dynamic one that in end would lead us to our ultimate goal in life—our own salvation, our attainment of the fullness of our human dignity as children of God, sharers of his divine life and nature.

We can ask the question: how can we see the truth amid our unavoidable biases and other conditionings that affect how we see, judge and react to things? The simple answer is to be like Christ who himself said that he is “the way, the truth and the life.”

Thus, in the gospel cited above, Christ clearly said that the Spirit of truth “will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason, I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (Jn 16,14-15)

We obviously need to adjust our understanding of what truth is and of how we can be in the truth. To know and to be in the truth need to be pursued in the context of our relation with God through Christ in the Spirit. They just cannot be achieved through pure science or reliance to facts, data and majority vote!