Two recent news items have drawn me to the idea of truth. We know that Pilate asked "What is Truth?" but he was talking about how truth is relative and we might all see it from our own viewpoint. No, what I am taking about is blatant lying.
The first incident concerned a convicted murderer; a farmer who had killed his wife and buried her and then sworn at his trial that he was innocent. Now some years later he had confessed and shown the police where the body was buried. At his trial he had just told lies under oath. Nevertheless he had a wedge of supporters who were crying about a miscarriage of justice.
The second case concerned a railway station manager in the New Forrest who had broken the safety regulations at a level crossing and been dismissed from his job. He was now seeking unfair dismissal in view of the fact that someone had left a shopping trolley on the line, and he had had to remove it. I remember the case on the Local TV news and it garnered a lot of public sympathy. We now hear (though not on TV) that this was a tissue of lies. There was no shopping trolley. Case dismissed.
A news item tells us that only 22% of BBC employees claim to be Christians. The largest group are atheists. I imagine that most who claim Christianity are tea-ladies and cleaners. The intellectual elite there are secular humanists. That being so, what is the point of them giving evidence under oath? In days past people feared fro their immortal soul. Nowadays they don't believe they have a soul.
What is the absolute standard of truthfulness? A man's word? Recent happenings have putrefied the word of politicians (expenses scandal), journalists (Levenson enquiry), the police (Stephen Lawrence case) civil servants (economical with the truth), celebrities (X-Factor), businessmen (Financial disasters) and scientists (global warming). The same can be extended to priests, who openly declare that they are taking office (and stipends) when they do not believe in God, and doctors who hide the truth from dying patients.
We know that eye-witnesses can be mistaken, photographs can be Photo shopped, and DNA can be contaminated. Criminals can beat lie-detector tests. Experienced judges have a higher conviction rate than lay-juries. Are they less gullible or more cynical?
Should we believe anyome?