The Basic Challenge Before Us All
What is truth? That was the rhetorical question of Pontius Pilate when he was facing Truth, in Person. Like Pilate, we are all faced with this basic challenge: “What is truth?” Perhaps that question can be refined even more, to the most crucial question: “How do we know the Bible is true?”
The first step is to recognize today’s skeptical environment. There are attacks on every side for the very existence of truth. Society espouses relativism by saying, “You have your truth; I have mine.” This is accompanied by attacks on the Bible itself—the very fountain of truth for mankind, the very basis of our heritage. Of course, there are also attacks on the Lord Himself.
This is all happening with a cosmic warfare going on in the background. Scripture makes it clear that we are faced with spiritual adversaries whose principal weapons are deceit and doubt. That was Satan’s first move in the Garden of Eden. To ask the question, “Hath God said?” raises doubts that God really said what He said. That strategy echoes throughout the centuries and is very, very pervasive in our civilization today.
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The subject of Fake News (as Ron Matsen discussed in the January 2017 Personal Update) has been in the headlines over the last few months as though it’s some newly discovered phenomenon. Fake news and reports have been around for thousands of years, and many of us get caught out from time to time with fake news, but what about fake images? Isn’t seeing believing?
Images and videos are usually regarded as the most concrete, honest evidence of experiences and events we cannot witness ourselves. This is often the case in court, in the news, in scientific research, and in our daily lives. Words, we know, can lie. But that trust makes it all the more shocking — and serious — when images lie to us, too.
The Importance of Intent
Intent is the meaning behind what you do. If a man takes a sharp knife and cuts someone, it’s not the act that is necessarily good or bad — it’s the intent. A good intent maybe a doctor using this sharp knife to save a life; the bad intent is the attacker wishing to inflict bodily harm. Intent behind the creation of a fake image is all the more important. Images can encourage, entertain, horrify or vilify to name a few.
It is always important to remember that an image is a snapshot of time. With only a photograph as reference, there is no way of knowing the details of what lies outside of the photograph. This is implied, assumed or garnered from external supporting sources. Objectivity when looking at a photograph is virtually impossible. Everyone has a context in which they see the world, our current emotional state, whether we had a good sleep last night or even how our day is going, and this can influence how we read and interpret images. Our interpretation can be further influenced by an image caption or accompanying text, whether it be factual or false.
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