A few years ago I started doing a semi regular spot in Chapel called the “Four Minute Muse”. In the 4MM I share resources, creative insights, illustrations or explanations that relate to the Bible passage being preached on that day. Here’s one I shared back when we were in lockdown last year.
The title of Wally’s sermon was “I’m simply expressing myself” and he preached from Proverbs – including this verse.
The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (Prov 15:2, NIV)
Now aren’t these words pertinent for this time we find ourselves in!
About a year ago, we were, as a whole human race, confronted with the threat of Covid-19. Now we are watching the response to that threat and have seen the vaccine roll-out begin. These are uncertain times and there are many fools around us gushing folly. So how do we discern what is fake news or a conspiracy theory and what is trustworthy information?
Well, as in all things, we can turn to the Word of God.
You see Proverbs was written to make wise the simple. Proverbs is written for non-experts (like us) to help us live wisely in a confusing and sometimes dangerous world.
Listen up – lest you be a fool gushing folly.
There is an often repeated concept in the Bible and especially in Proverbs, that we must heed. That is, seek wise counsel and seek a lot of it. Proverbs 11:14 even goes so far as to say that in an abundance of counsellors, there is safety.
So with this in mind, Let me share 3 ideas to help us navigate truth from fake news or harmful conspiracy theories.
1 – Don’t get all your news from social media
Not everyone with an opinion on social media is worth listening to. Be discerning as to which opinion you believe. Seek the opinion of experts. If someone says the health advice the government is giving us is wrong, go and read the health advice the government is giving us and find out why they are giving it. Read the opinion of the experts on whose opinion the advice rests. Which leads to my next tip.
2 – Read boring news from a variety of sources
Long news articles explaining complex and nuanced situations don’t make for snappy YouTube clips. Try to listen to a variety of voices. If you and your friends tend to lean slightly to the left or right of the political spectrum, seek out respected voices from the other side. Just as an example – I have the ABC news app on my phone. Some would argue the ABC is left-leaning. I also subscribe to the Australian newspaper – which it could be argued is a more right wing source of news. In general, I steer clear of the commercial television networks for serious news because I find their coverage is often coloured by their commercial concerns.
3 – Wait a bit
Some time ago I had some startling information shared with me about the real origin of Covid-19 that if true meant there were secret powers at work in the world pulling strings behind the scenes, endangering us all. But a few days later I found a number of credible articles debunking that specific idea.
The thing is though, the reason conspiracy theories gain traction is because they COULD be true. We know that there is an evil power at work in our world that the majority of people are unaware of. But we also know there is someone stronger, limiting the power of the evil one and bringing about his good purposes.
The one true God has this whole world in his hands. Governments, the media, even Covid-19 and none of it is outside his control. Lets continue to seek the wisdom only he can give.