This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Lying

According to St. Augustine: “A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.”[1] Such an act is the most direct offense against truth, because it destroys another man’s relation to it, as well as destroying the relation between the liar and the one being lied to,[2] undermining the purpose of communication itself. The example of the lie, because it is identified as intrinsically evil,[3] offers an excellent case point with regard to the error of consequentialism mentioned above, which would have us believe that there is such a thing as a “white lie”—a lie that is permissible because it does little or no harm. Even worse, the consequentialist would suggest that it is in fact necessary to lie in great matters, provided that some good result is to come from the dishonesty. Here the adherents of consequentialist thinking will automatically formulate the most extreme examples to prove their point: “What if I were hiding Jews during the Holocaust and Nazi soldiers came to my door? Are you really saying that I should give up the innocent in order to avoid lying?” It is a tragic situation, to be sure, but if the protection of the bodily safety of the innocent were a reasonable cause to abandon the truth, then all the deaths of the martyrs in Christian history are worthy more of ridicule than of respect. All of the martyrs chose a violent end rather than deny the truth in which they believed, and are senseless from the point of view of consequentialism. To further clarify a situation such as that mentioned above, we must remember that a person may withhold information from those who do not have a right to know,[4] but it is never permissible to tell a falsehood. Discretion is appropriate, especially in the use of language, but never a lie, for as always “we may not do evil that good may come of it.”[5]

[1] St. Augustine, De mendacio 4, 5.

[2] CCC, 2483.

[3] CCC, 2485.

[4] CCC, 2488-9.

[5] CCC, 1756; VS, 79-83.

Share This