What Is Truth?

04/20/2019

“Let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).

Jesus the Nazarene stood before Pontius Pilot in the Praetorium. It was early Friday morning, hours before the crucifixion. Pilot, in his role as prefect (governor) of the Roman Province of Judaea, interrogated the accused blasphemer and asked Jesus if He was a King. Jesus replied that “My kingdom is not of this world,” and added, “For this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” Pilot responded, “Quid est veritas?” which translates from the Latin as “What is truth?” (John 18:38)

It has long been a matter of debate whether Pilot’s question was sincere or merely rhetorical. It has long been a matter of faith whether Jesus was the Son of God or merely a compelling historical figure. What is indisputable is that the ancient act of crowd-sourcing during Passover resulted in the Passion of the Christ. And what followed in the early hours of the first day of the week was either the miraculous Resurrection of the Lord and Savior of the world, or the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetrated upon mankind. What is truth?

Two millennia later, in April 2019, observers around the world were treated to an image of a black hole emanating from the M87 galaxy, more than 50 million light years away from earth. Black holes were long a subject of scientific curiosity and speculation. The existence of black holes was predicted by Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, but decades of work by Stephen Hawking and other cosmologists gave hope that someday black holes would be detected. The hope became reality when the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio telescopes located around the world, allowed scientists to gather enough data from observation of high-energy radiation to generate an image of a bright accretion disk surrounding a shadowy core, which represents a black hole.

As I noted in a previous blog (1) and podcast, Stephen Hawking’s mentors included Roger Penrose at Oxford and Dennis Sciama, his doctoral advisor at Cambridge (2). Both men were brilliant physicists who developed mathematical constructs to describe cosmology, including black holes. Both men professed atheism (3)(4), as did Hawking. They chose to explain the origin of the universe and the existence of life without the intervention of a divine creator. Unlike his mentors, Hawking became famous due to his books and television appearances. His views were celebrated in popular culture, and they are often cited by other atheists.

What is truth? Was the tomb empty on Sunday? Does the image of a black hole offer evidence of the creation of the universe, or is it merely an artifact of a perturbation in the space-time continuum? As a person of faith, I serve a risen Savior, and I wonder if a black hole is a suitable metaphor for atheism. As Blaise Pascal observed in his Pensees (5), “The infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.”

Please share your thoughts, visit our podcast on Anchor, and be blessed.

References:
(1) https://triznik.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/the-religion-of-cosmology/
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking
(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Penrose
(4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_W._Sciama
(5) http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18269/18269-h/18269-h.htm

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