Is bias fair? Can we really know history?
By Donnie Griffin
That’s the most recent indictment by the modern skeptic. Overlooked is the fact that almost everyone is a modern skeptic. We (post-modern culture) trust no one. I wonder though, have we answered questions about historical reliability too hastily. Can we sit in judgement over all historical accounts and their reporters, either recent or ancient? How deep should our skepticism interfere with our belief when it comes to history? Is bias fair? Can we really know history?
For everyday Christians, this epidemic of the ethos is difficult to diagnose. One reason for that is we are both victims of the disease and carriers of the germ. Our primary sources are objects of distrust and we are consummate skeptics when it comes to contemporary reporting. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself where you get your news and information. Think about why you only watch what’s ‘fair and balanced”, have moved to multiple internet sources, or have even become so apathetic that you have disengaged.
It’s telling. The way you answer the question of bias points to a distrust that permeates the entire culture. Christianity has not been excluded.
Our culture has moved from the six o’clock evening news with (fill in the blank) to news twenty-four seven, to fair and balanced, to internet news, to aggregate distrust using the phrase “fake news” to describe anything that disagrees with our own presupposition. The day of reading the “rag” over the morning coffee is over. Believe it or not.
A peculiar problem.
Without considering the consequences, a healthy dose of skepticism seems prudent though, doesn’t it? That makes particularly good sense if you factor in the polarized “nation” in which we reside. It’s obvious that we can only trust those who hold our point of view. Or is it?
America is 48% against the other 48% right now. The 48% that holds power looks at governance as an opportunity to use coercion to apply ideals to the other 48%. Other than being a slap in the face of liberty that view is a supreme misunderstanding of federalism. It has also created a media culture that looks more like good versus evil than the reporting of history. You are either for us or against us dichotomizes all reporting and in doing so falsifies it for 48% of the people.
Who can we trust?
The news media is liberal, right? Blogs and Facebook posts are completely prejudiced, aren’t they? Even most history books have debatable content that comes from a point of view. All information seems to be tainted by bias. It really doesn’t matter if you’re a so-called liberal or conservative. It’s difficult to avoid an overall skepticism when it comes to reporting.
For a religion that is historically falsifiable, the idea that anything with bias is untrustworthy poses a peculiar problem. If bias poisons the well, can we know anything about history? Can we know anything about Jesus of Nazareth if his biographers were his followers? Are the historical documents written by Christians that attest to his life, death, and resurrection reliable?
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