Sunday, December 11, 2016

Back to the Future

Imagine the year is 2525, and you are sitting comfortably in your luxury pod on Mars studying early twenty-first century writings, trying to learn what life was like for your ancestors on planet Earth.  At your disposal are thousands of recently discovered digital files that have been meticulously translated into contemporary Martian vernacular.  These appear to be reports from numerous sources on events that occurred near the end of the earthly inhabitation.   The only problem is that many of the reports seem to contradict one another.  The challenge is to determine which of these early writings are factual, and which contain misleading or downright false information.

What we know so far.  The twentieth century saw a transition in the way information was exchanged on Earth.  Events were originally recorded by a handful of usually reputable sources on a flat media called paper made from protrusions called trees that once existed on Earth.  By the year 2016, many of these newspapers became extinct.  Almost all news was now coded in digital media passed electronically through various networks via something called the Internet. 

The popularity of this new media quickly soared.   News traveled instantaneously all over Earth.  Terminal ports became commonplace among the populace, allowing anyone to pass information anywhere.  Yet, this remarkable ability also became its downfall.  The number of news sources grew dramatically.  While some were reputable, many were not.  Some reports contained erroneous information.  Others were deliberately skewed to promote a certain agenda.  Still others were downright spurious stories from which arose preposterous conspiracy theories that gullible individuals accepted as fact.   Even today, some Martians do not believe human beings ever inhabited Earth.

In the twenty-sixth century, we Martian historians are faced with the task of determining which of these early digital writings represent factual information about our earthly origins.  The complexity of this challenge is daunting.  Even reports attributed to once known reputable news sources predating the so-called Internet have been called into question.  Each story much be corroborated, looking for consensus and discrepancies.   Some are easily verified as factual, and some are obviously ridiculous.  Those are readily classified.  Many others contain some truth, but perhaps exaggerated or distorted.  These are disputed, requiring a team of qualified individuals to decide where they belong in the historical record. 

Now, imagine you are a Bishop in the fourth century facing a similar challenge.  You are sitting comfortably in your dimly lit catacomb preparing to attend a council where you will have to peruse a stack of early Christian writings on velum to determine which contain the inspired Word of God.  Some are already accepted as inspired, and others not.  Yet, many are disputed, requiring a team of duly appointed bishops to determine what will become the Canon of Scripture, the Bible that will guide future earthly generations, and perhaps even beyond.  Think about that responsibility and how misled Christians could be if a mistake were made. 

That is why God Incarnate in His Son, Jesus Christ, established a Church, and promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide the Church to all truth.  There is no fake news in Scripture.  If you trust in the Bible, you are trusting in the truth of the Catholic Church.

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