Lent 07: Day 19 – Data Integrity

The purpose of history and the work of historians is to analyze and explain the past, its meaning and implications for how we got where we are and where we are going. For example, in the United States, it is impossible to understand the rise of the Federal government in the uncontrolled behemoth we see today without examining the Civil War and its intended and unintended consequences.

The purpose of science and the work of scientists is to analyze and explain the natural world, its processes, procedures, and the laws which govern them. If there is one thing that should govern all science, it is that you follow the data, whether it says what you expect, or want. For example, it is impossible to understand the changes going on in our climate without rigorous inquiry and open dialog into the data, historical and current, and what it tells us.

The purpose of politics and the work of politicians is the art and science governing, and in a constitutional republic, which the United States by definition is, politicians are elected to apply that art and science to protecting the enumerated rights of those who elected them. For example, in order to determine what those rights are and how they might be violated or need protecting, politicians must use the tools of history and science in the service of the constitution and the people it serves.

What historians, scientists, and politicians should never do is conduct their work deceitfully, or with biased agendas. All three of these professions claim to operate from the high ground of truth, honesty, and factual discernment. When the historian distorts the record and the scientist skews the research to meet an agenda, they begin to remove the foundation under which even proper politicians operates.

Computer science has a marvelous aphorism: garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) that applies here. You cannot get good results from bad or deceitful data. That observation applies across the span of human endeavor. It applies to history and historians, science and scientists, politics and politicians, but it also applies to theology and theologians, as well as to the common practice of Christianity by various groups of professed Christians. Nothing is immune from that insight.

It is almost as if you could recast that scripture of those coming before Jesus in judgment this way:

When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘Your output is garbage.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you got your input but it was garbage. Depart from me, all you producers of worthless refuse!

It is the integrity of your starting point and how that integrity is maintained that counts. The is where love comes to the forefront. People fight for the integrity of something because they love it. Those who love sport, fight for its integrity. Therefore baseball, football, basketball, the Olympics, and other sports investigate any form of cheating. Therefore those who love God, fight for the integrity of the Gospel, the faith once delivered to saints, because it is through that faith, and only that faith, that God has mended the breach between him and mankind.

The watchword and guiding principle of every Christian should be love and truth. Their enemy should be deceit and lies (garbage in). Their weapons are the Word, the Spirit, and their own submitted and renewed minds. Only as loving living sacrifices can Christians love and defend the truth, and in doing so, love and embrace God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The tag line on my blog is “The meanderings of a heart and mind searching for faith and truth in a lying world.” I mean it. Hopefully you do too.

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