Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Lying as an offense against God

There is a tradition of seeing lying as specifically a sin against God. St Augustine thought that this followed from the identification of God with Truth itself.

Here, I want to offer another option.

Reality = God + creation. A lie misrepresents reality, and hence misrepresents God or creation or both (with the “or both” covering complex cases like a disjunction of a claim about God and a claim about creation). But creation is God’s self-revelation. So, a lie misrepresents either God directly or misrepresents God’s self-revelation or does some combination of these. In general, thus, a lie covers up God’s revelation of himself to us.

I am not offering the above as an argument that lying is always wrong, but as an explanation of one thing that makes lying wrong.

(But it’s interesting that the standard hard case for opponents of lying is one where the above account works particularly well. If you’re hiding innocents from persecutors, then the fact you are deceiving the persecutors about—viz., that a brave person is hiding innocents—is a fact that is actually quite revelative of God.)

No comments: