Thursday, January 6, 2011


When I think of the word “truth,” it reminds me of a great line from the movie “A Few Good Men” as spoken by Jack Nicholson’s character.  When put on the witness stand and told (by Tom Cruise’s character) that he wants the truth, he exclaimed, “You can’t handle the truth.”  To me, that is a profound statement – and when examined in a broader sense, it seems that many people can’t handle the actual truth, preferring to live in fantasy worlds, created to protect their own version of truth and reality.

Of course, part of my fascination with "the truth" these days has to do with my discovery of so many lies perpetuated by the Mormon Church over the years.  For a religious organization that professes to highly value truth, honesty and integrity, it amazes me how fast and loose they play with actual truth.  The fact is that the Mormon Church not only lies about its history, teachings and doctrine, but it also lies through the omission of facts, distorting the total picture to suit their purposes.  After discovering this, I decided that I could not continue to associate myself with such an organization - one that professes to believe in Christ, calling itself a Christian religion, and yet lying and covering up certain things on a constant basis to protect its image.

I guess some people are not bothered by lies and deception.  After all, some active members of the Mormon Church have told me that they know "the real truth" behind the history of the Mormon Church, including its obvious problems, and also the many contradictions within its doctrine.  To me, discovering the lies and deception was a deal-breaker.  To me, that is not Christianity, but rather insanity.  Perhaps the inability to overlook lies in order to continue to believe in a religion is a character flaw of mine?  No, expecting that a religious organization will tell me the truth is a fundamental principle.  Otherwise, how can they profess to value the very principles they are very obviously mocking through deceit?

“The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth, so help me God."  This is the oath made in court before a witness is due to testify or give evidence, and it is usually sworn on a Bible with the right arm raised to a square.  Very ominous stuff.  The idea is that, once the witness has taken this oath, they must tell the truth or be charged with perjury (and there is also, of course, the underlying threat that the person will be struck down by the wrath of God if he/she does not speak “the truth”).  Looking at the phrase, a question was raised in my mind as to why the wording of the phrase is so long.  One would think that by saying "the truth," the additional of "the whole truth" and "nothing but the truth" is essentially redundant.  But in fact, after doing a little research, I've realized that there are probably several reasons for including the additional verbiage.

For one, the repetitive wording is most likely for emphasis, to convey the importance of the matter.  Rather than simply saying “I swear to tell the truth,” the witness has to say that they will tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” – and in that way, the repetition adds more weight and credence to the oath in the eyes of those testifying. 

Also, in actuality, the phrases “the truth,” “the whole truth” and “nothing but the truth” refer to different aspects of the truth, which means that they are not redundant and not just for show or emphasis.  Clearly, "the truth" is very simply the correct information as far as a person is aware.  However, "the whole truth" is different to this because although “the correct information” is still being elicited, adding the word "whole" means that nothing must be omitted.

Finally, "nothing but the truth" refers to opinion based on truth (which may not be well-informed enough) and assumption based on truth (which may not be correct).  Assuming that something happened based on limited information is not fact.  Hearsay falls into this category – and although someone may tell a person that something happened, since that person did not see it happen, they cannot state it as fact.  Regardless of whether the assumption is accurate or not, it is simply not fact.

Yes, I want THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH, no matter what the consequences may be.  To me, anything less than absolute truth is an insult to my intelligence.  As I've heard said, "Don't sugarcoat it... give it to me straight."  Bottom line -- don't hedge, bob and weave... don't do a soft-shoe for me... just tell me the truth.

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