Discerning the Truth
A Means to Live Life

Of all the various classes in humanities that I have ever taught, art history is my favorite. I could bore most people with a litany of details about paintings, buildings, and sculptures. For example, my favorite painting is Turner’s The Fighting Téméraire, tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838. Only those who really love paintings use that long name. Most people merely call it, The Fighting Téméraire. Interestingly, the tugboat dragging the HMS Téméraire was painted by Turner, but he painted the ship being pulled in the opposite direction than it was going.

The Fighting Téméraire

One of my favorite sculptures is Laocoön. If you go to one of my old teaching PowerPoints, scroll through to slide #68, you will find Laocoön.


It was discovered buried in the ruins outside Rome. Over many centuries, the ruins had become a farm. A local farmer happened discover Laocoön while working in his vineyards. Obviously, the sculpture suffered a great deal while buried including the broken right arm of Laocoon. Someone found the right arm in all the debris, and it was reconnected. Nonetheless, in the early 20th century, they discovered that the first right arm was the wrong right arm.

The real right arm….

In the art world, it is often difficult to discern the truth. Nonetheless, the process of discernment is not limited to the arts. Presently, I am teaching an online world religion survey class. I have repeated my mantra many times during the semester about all religions reflect the times in which they started. When they appeared, whether it was 4-6 millennia ago or 200 years ago, they all reflect the time in which they started. Obviously, that makes sense. Many of the religions that we have discussed predate science. Consequently, they lacked any scientific knowledge base. The Earth isn’t the center of the universe; it isn’t even the center of our solar system.

Galileo was threatened to be burned at the stake by the Catholic Church unless he recanted his silly notion of the heliocentric universe. Even in Galileo’s time, the solar system and the universe were the same place.

Another issue of discerning the truth was when Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species in 1859. The two stories of creation in the Old Testament viewed creation as either just a moment or six days. Nonetheless, we now know that creation took 13.8 billion years and still is creating as it expands.

As a result of the OT creation narratives, the Scopes Monkey Trial took place just over a century ago. In this case, Protestants were the ones pushing another agenda. Even with science, many Protestants, especially in the South, dissed the notion that we descended from monkeys. At that time, scientists believed that were evolved from monkeys.

However, a century later, scientists discovered a more precise evolutionally path for Homo sapiens. Aylwyn Seally, a geneticist, wrote in 2012, “Although (70 percent) of the human genome is indeed closer to chimpanzees, on average, a sizable minority of 15 percent is in fact closer to gorillas, and another 15 percent is where chimpanzees and gorillas are closest.” Darwin wasn’t privy to the idea of the human genome. Finally, in 2003, the human genome was mapped.

This predated Darwin.

As humans, we need to think as we discern the truth. If we don’t think and/or modify our beliefs, when necessary, we are in trouble. George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Discerning the truth or not doing so can be deadly. Trump has done nothing about addressing COVID-19. At the rate that we are going, we will reach 10,000,000 confirmed cases in less than a week. Various models estimate that by the end of the year, more than 400,000 will have died in America. These estimates are what the medical experts in pandemics, viruses, immunology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, etc. assert as the truth.

People in cars lining up for COVID-19 testing

The other position is that of the Trump administration. The White House issued a press release last week regarding all of Trump’s accomplishments. At the very top of the list was this one-liner, “Ending the COVID-19 pandemic.” Trump claims that we have rounded the curve and maintains that Fauci, Redfield, Birx, Foege, et al are creating fake news.

It’s all fake news.

We need to think as we discern the truth. If we don’t, hundreds of thousands of us won’t be around when spring comes back again next year.