“What is truth?”‘ asked Pontius Pilate. The Savior had just declared that His purpose was “to bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37-38). Pilate’s rhetorical question suggests a deep cynicism. Can anyone know the truth? Does it even exist? Perhaps he had lived in a political world so long, where powerful people manufacture their own realities, that he no longer believed in a universal reality.
The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob defined truth in very simple terms: “Things as they really are, and…as they really will be” (Jacob 4:13). And in 1833, the Lord provided a similar definition in a revelation to Joseph Smith: “Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24).
There really are universal realities, although we don’t always perceive them accurately. Part of our challenge in mortality is learning to distinguish truth from falsehood.
A common cybersecurity threat is a “denial of service” (DoS) attack. The antagonist hits a website with a massive number of simultaneous requests. The site is unable to keep up with the traffic and either crashes completely or moves so slowly that it becomes unusable. (See “Understanding Denial-of-Service Attacks” on the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) website.)
In our modern world, we can all be similarly debilitated by information overload. On any topic, we can easily be inundated with information, of varied reliability and often contradictory. Like Pilate, we may conclude that truth is simply unattainable.
But we have this promise:
He that keepeth [God’s] commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.Doctrine and Covenants 93:28
God can help us learn to distinguish truth from falsehood, and eventually He can help us gain all knowledge. When we are confused, when we are painfully aware of the limits of our knowledge, we need not despair. We can gain truth little by little over time with God’s help. And the search for truth is a worthy goal:
Yes, say, what is truth? ’Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
’Tis an aim for the noblest desire.“Oh Say, What Is Truth?” Hymns, #272
Today, I will search for truth. When I am overwhelmed by information, I will seek for God’s help to evaluate it and understand the way things really are. With His help, I will continue to receive truth and to grow in knowledge.