The Harm of Not Knowing the Truth

“Dominic witnessed first-hand the harm that not knowing the truth about God and God’s creation could do to people . . . .”  (

These words offer a starting point for reflection about a value at the heart of the Order of Preachers: Truth.  During these days following his feast (August 8th), let’s take some time to consider this special preoccupation of Dominic, who was called, “Doctor of Truth”. 

At this time in the United States – and perhaps throughout our world – truth seems scarce and elusive.  With expressions like “alternative facts” and “fake news”, some would have us believe that truth itself can be reduced to ideology and opinion.  However, a positive consequence of these times might be that we become more deliberate about seeking information from reliable sources and less casual in our acceptance of the pablum offered by much of the media. 

Over the centuries, philosophers have written volumes exploring the nature of truth.  Dictionaries offer meanings for “truth” including, "consistent with fact; agreeing with the reality; accuracy; representing the thing as it is; real; genuine; not counterfeit, spurious, or imaginary."  Our older brother in the Dominican Order, Thomas Aquinas, linking truth with justice, sees truth as a requirement for human society, i.e., persons cannot live together if they do not believe one another to be speaking the truth.

Why do you trust some sources of information to be truthful?  Can we create a society in which persons believe one another to be speaking the truth?  How might the claim of Jesus to be Truth inform our understanding of reality?

Toni Harris OP
Madison, WI


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