What is Truth: a Modern Day Tower of Babel Story

At the present hour, humanity is reaping the harmful consequences of relativism and subjective truth. In tandem, we are doing tremendous damage to our culture in ways one could not have imagined, only a few decades ago. But how did we get to this present hour? I have a possible explanation. It begins with a story from the Book of Genesis.

In the beginning, all of the inhabitants of the earth spoke the “same language and the same words” (Gn 11: 1). Then the people of the earth migrated from the east to a valley in the land of Shinar. They said “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with a top in the sky and so make a name for ourselves” (Gn 11: 4). In a way, this level of pride rivaled that of our first parents, who believed Satan’s lie “you can become like gods” (Gn 3: 5).

 God was deeply disturbed at the level of their pride and so acted to put a swift end to their plans. He said, “Come let us go down and there confuse their language, so that no one will understand the speech of another. So the Lord scattered them from there, all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world” (Gn 11: 7-9).

Imagine Satan’s rage at God’s intervention! I’m sure he had worked tirelessly to instill this level of pride in the people of Babel. And with one divine action saw, in an instant, his work turn to rubble!  But it may have also produced a begrudging tip of the hat to God, for a valuable lesson learned.

What if Satan could create a similar feat? Not in an instant, and not by changing the language of the people as God had done, but by confusing their language nonetheless? What if he could change the meaning of language by changing the underlying meaning of their words?

And let’s suppose Satan stored away this sinister plan, for a time when circumstances were ripe for its success! That supposition is the subject of this article.

The “Age of Reason” which commenced in the 17th century and was followed closely by the Enlightenment period of the 18th century, brought about a process of critical thinking which emphasized the importance of reason, logic, and scientific evidence. In this process, reason was divorced from belief on the premise that faith could not be proven, and thus, must be rejected. This caused many to deny the divinity of Christ and, by extension, his sanctifying death, and his glorious resurrection! It also resulted in some questioning the very existence of God.

This period of history is also referred to by historians, as “modernity” or the modern era; and the prevailing avant-garde philosophy of this age was called Modernism by its adherents. Pope Pius X condemned many of the basic tenets of Modernism as heretical. He wrote his famous encyclical letter, on this topic, entitled “Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists.”

In its opening two paragraphs Pius X wrote forcefully against these errors, saying:

“With truly lamentable results, our age, casting aside all restraint in its search for the ultimate causes of things, frequently pursues novelties so ardently that it rejects the legacy of the human race. Thus it falls into very serious errors, which are even more serious when they concern sacred authority, the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, and the principal mysteries of faith…In the name of higher knowledge and historical research (they say), they are looking for progress of dogmas which is, in reality, nothing but the corruption of dogmas.

These errors are being daily spread among the faithful. Lest they captivate the faithful’s minds and corrupt the purity of their faith, His Holiness, Pius X, by Divine Providence, has decided that the chief errors should be noted and condemned.”

Which Pius X proceeded to reveal and condemn in this important Church document. As an Encyclical Letter it carries with it, the pope’s highest teaching authority and by extension its infallibility.

            Quite possibly the worst, of many bad fruits, produced by Modernism was the philosophy of Communism; where the State replaced God. How the lives of those who lived, and in many cases died, under communist rule attest to the brutal and harsh realities of a life without God. All restraints of force were removed, and all the rights of the individual were revoked. All in the name of the State, their new “god”.

Our Lady of Fatima warned us of its malicious spread! But we didn’t heed her warning sufficiently. Especially the popes of that time period, who had been given the remedy by Our Lady but failed to exercise it. Which was nothing less than the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by the pope and all the bishops of the world. And now, many of the tenets of Communism, and those of its younger and more modest first cousin Socialism, have spread to our own country, and within all levels of our culture.

            By the middle of the twentieth century, Satan had witnessed the fruits his concerted efforts had produced through the promulgation of Modernism. His plan was working well, both as to timing and effect. The erroneous tenets of Modernism had won over many souls to their ruin. As a first phase, Satan saw that it was effective but, ultimately, not decisive in accomplishing his ultimate goals. Finally, he reckoned (under my supposition), the circumstances were ripe for the next and final phase of his plan. The one to recreate, in a sinister way, a modern-day Tower of Babel replica!

In all likelihood, Satan had been planning this second phase for some time. This final phase would wreck more havoc upon society than Modernism could ever have done. This phase is called the post-modernity era, which is the period of time that we now live in today. I dare say, few have avoided its adverse effects! And like many diseases, frequently those infected by it don’t realize they’ve contracted it, until it’s too late.

The principal teaching of this new era centered on a “subjective truth.” It began in the universities by and among philosophy professors who developed its basic tenets and began to teach it in the classrooms beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century. Like growing a culture in a laboratory, this new philosophy would require time and diligence in cultivating extreme, and fully committed adherents!

The Judeo-Christian understanding of objective truth is that it exists outside of us. And that God has given us a conscience to discern his truth, and to apply the principles of his objective truth to our everyday circumstances of life. In order, to live a good and moral life.

In the post-modernity era, the adherents of this new philosophy challenged the very notion of an objective truth, and ultimately rejected it on the grounds that it could not be proven! They faultily reasoned that if the truth is unknowable, as it can’t be proven, it therefore must not exist! Does their faulty reasoning sound familiar? A new philosophy built upon a lie! The words “What is truth?” spoken by Pontus Pilate to Jesus, at his trial, could very well serve as their motto! And Pilate was staring Truth in the face when he said it!

They then took a huge philosophical leap that hinged upon this false premise about truth. In furtherance to their faulty reasoning, they argued that if objective truth did not exist, there was no such thing as morality, no right or wrong to one’s actions, hence no need for a conscience, and thus, there is no sin. With no sin, there is no need for a savior. The denial of Christ’s divinity and his resurrection, which began under Modernism, were further reinforced.

What the adherent philosophy professors taught to their students was that, with objective truth discarded, what remained was for each person to work-out and seek their own truth, in essence, relativism and subjective truth reigned (relativism and subjective truth are distinctions without much of a difference, but since they are used somewhat interchangeably in our society, I’ve chosen to reference both in this article). With the removal of an absolute right and wrong, humanity’s passions were free and unchecked to pursue their carnal desires!

Ultimately, and in the end analysis, a belief in a subjective truth leads to a great number of possible “truths”, which in turn leads to conflicts among peoples, and finally to chaos. Which is what happens when people can’t effectively communicate. Call it the Tower of Babel revisited!

The way we, as human beings, generally communicate is through speech. Using words to convey our thoughts and feelings. But, in the absence of an objective truth, the meaning of those words are frequently robbed of their essence.

The words we use to convey a thought, in effect, become unstable without objective truth, as a multitude of meanings can apply. Because it’s objective truth which provides that stability and constancy in our speech.

By way of illustration, I would liken objective truth to a gyroscope that provides stability to a satellite. Without a functioning gyroscope, a satellite would become dysfunctional as it would be unable to maintain its fixed point over the earth. Which is necessary for global communications. In just the same way, our ability to communicate with one another is compromised without objective truth providing that same form of fixation.

Take for instance, someone saying “I’m against the killing of an innocent person but I believe in a woman’s right to choose.” Is not the child an innocent person? This obvious contradiction does not phase adherents of subjective truth in the least. And should they argue it’s not a person (which is an argument that is becoming more difficult for them to substantiate by the day), how does one explain the current movement within at least three state legislatures to permit a woman, in consultation with her doctor, to take the life of a born child up to 28 days after birth, if there is a pre-condition, to the child’s health, that existed prior to birth. Barbaric to say the least; as evil never rests.

With the denial of morality within subjective truth and with reason discarded, absurdity and depravity become the norm! Indeed, virtually all of the initiatives within the woke movement can be traced to subjective truth and relativism as their source and “inspiration”!

For adherents of subjective truth, they believe in the lie that Satan used to tempt our first parents. “You can become like gods” because God no longer is the source of truth, but rather the individual who determines “what is truth”. Reason and logic which were so highly valued and emphasized in the philosophy of Modernism, have no place in this post-modernity philosophy of subjective truth.

 I’m sure most of us have been confused by inconsistent and illogical positions taken by people on many topics. We have frequently, and quite possibly erroneously, attributed these inconsistent and illogical positions voiced by others, to stupidity or lying. Regrettably, it’s not stupidity and, in their eyes, it’s not lying it’s their right! It’s a case of most of us applying a standard of moral behavior to their actions, which they utterly reject!

So what can be done to turn the tide? As is the case in medicine, when a doctor examines a patient who isn’t feeling well, the first step in dealing with any illness is to diagnose what ails the patient, followed by a course of treatment.

If I’m right, subjective truth is the illness, and it can only be treated if we recognize it as such. But what course of treatment is required? I would suggest three tangible steps each of us can take to treat the illness. These three steps are:

  • A heartfelt self-examination and assessment to determine how infected we ourselves may be with this illness.
  • If we realize we are “infected”, the need to take action to root it out of our own lives. That would be akin to, “removing the log from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Mt 7: 5).
  • Lastly, linking the symptoms of the disease with the illness. This, in my view, is critically important!

We have been playing defense and we don’t even realize it. What I mean by that is we continue to attribute their actions as wrong, based upon a moral code they totally dismiss. We won’t make headway until we highlight the errors of subjective truth by revealing its many symptoms. Linking the symptoms to their cause is essential. Treating the symptoms will not cure the illness! We must address the underlying cause which is subjective truth and relativism.

One of the weaknesses in Satan’s plan, is that God gave humanity the power of reason. As I’ve said, reason has no place among the tenets of subjective truth. Which will, in and of itself, cause conflict within an individual’s conscience, whether the person acknowledges they have one or not. In my opinion, it is already happening, if only superficially for now.

Yes, a conscience if not properly exercised withers and dies. But the vast majority of people, even today, have a sense of right and wrong even if that “sense” is flawed. Ultimately, the bad fruit produced by relativism and subjective truth will foster a reexamination of the choices we, the people, make. Obviously, the sooner that reexamination takes place the better. Which is why we must act!

I believe one such issue which many recognize as bad fruit, but they may not yet recognize the tree from whence it came, is the rampant crime wave overtaking our cities in the present hour. Soft on crime district attorneys produce many Gotham cities! When laws passed by legislatures, to protect the common good, are rendered unenforceable by law enforcement officials, we must link these actions, or non-actions, as the case may be, to their source, subjective truth!

But it is critically important that we make repeated efforts to make the link between the bad fruit produced by their choices, to their source, relativism, and subjective truth! Emphasis added!

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14: 6). The truth isn’t so much an ideal, as it is a person and his name is Jesus Christ, who is Lord and savior! When people deny the existence of objective truth they, in turn, deny the existence of Christ!

Satan has used the same temptation over and over again “you can become like gods” to great effect, to further his sinister plan for our ruin. Until we place the source of objective truth back where it squarely belongs, along with cultivating a well-formed conscience, we will continue to suffer the consequences of eating the bad fruit of relativism and subjective truth.

In the Letter to the Hebrews it says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching.” Jesus Christ, who is the truth never changes, as his word never changes. By denying the existence of objective truth we have accepted all kinds of strange teaching!

Let us keep the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in our own hearts, as a place of safe refuge, as we enter more fully into the decisive battle with the Red Dragon of Revelation to conquer, with God’s grace, relativism, and subjective truth.


"Deacon Frank" is a permanent deacon in the United States. He is involved in the Eucharistic Revival.

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