Philosophy Magazine

RESPONDblogs: Responding to the Voices of Relativism

By Stuart_gray @stuartg__uk


I can hear these voices in our society today…can you?

“No-one has the whole truth.”

That’s an interesting statement. Why do you think that? What is your moral basis for making the statement?

Further – do you believe that your statement IS ITSELF the whole truth? It certainly sounds like you believe it to be the whole truth. So unfortunately – your statement has just blown itself up! How can you claim that no one has the whole truth and then IMPOSE your own claim of the whole truth on us? I’m sorry – but you are contradicting yourself.

Truth is real…it is important…it is completely other. Truth is an absolute.

“All truth depends on your perspective.”

Interesting. That sounds like your perspective talking. If truth comes from our own individual perspective – then who are we to force our individual perspective on anyone else? Yet this is exactly what you are doing with this statement.

What I think is happening here is – you are actually claiming that all truth depends on YOUR perspective. Wow – really? You mean you are the font of all truth and all knowledge?

I believe truth comes from a person. Actually – I believe truth IS a person. But its not you…and it sure isn’t me!

“There are no such thing as Moral absolutes.”

Hang on a tick. There are some crossed wires here. The way truth works to the human brain is by way of absolutes. Everyone talks this way where truth is concerned.

What is an absolute? It is a self evident and unassailable fact. For example, Gloucester Cathedral is in Gloucester. This is a statement of absolute truth.

Coming back to your statement, on the one hand you are claiming that moral absolutes don’t exist. But in doing so, you are imposing a moral absolute on us. Do you hear the contradiction in that? When we use an absolute to attempt to disprove the existence of absolutes – we are in the realm of contradiction. It just doesn’t make sense.

“People should be allowed the freedom to do as they please, so long as they aren’t hurting anyone else.”

What is your definition of freedom? Actually – no one is “free” to do exactly as they please. For example, I am not free to pick a car in the nearest car park and drive home in it.

However, I do have the liberty to obey the law of the land. I am free to behave legally. In other words I have the opportunity to exercise my personal responsibility and to live within the boundaries set by society. Surely that is the freedom we actually enjoy?

WHERE something happens has never dictated the morality of that action. I have a friend who was once exposed to brutal, racist taunts by her boyfriend’s family. Now – is that family’s behavior any more right because it is happening behind closed doors rather than in the public spotlight? I don’t think so. Do you?

“Our Culture is DIVERSE. All Groups and subcultures and their ideas should be respected equally and without question.”

Personally, I think a diverse culture brings lots of positives with it. For example, we are encouraged to view the world around us from a different cultural perspective beyond our own. This is valuable and instructive to us.

Also – people of every culture are of incredible value. In fact, we cannot put a value on a single human life. Their value is off the charts!

Following from this – because people are valuable – surely we must stop and think. Do we really think it is right to accept each and every cultural idea and demand idea without question? Imagine if drug companies did that. Imagine if they imposed new drugs on the population without testing them out first. We would be up in arms about the injustice of it all! Yet this is exactly what your statement is suggesting we do with different ideas in our society.

But its only ideas we are talking about – right? Yes – but don’t ideas have implications? And don’t implications affect lives? And don’t people’s lives comprise a society? And isn’t society full of people of incredible value?

Your statement suggests that untested and untried cultural ideas should be shielded from scrutiny. And out of fear of being labelled as prejudiced against any subculture – we should just accept what they are doing, however harmful that behavior might be. I suggest that this is wrong.

I think that rather than just roll over and allow everything in – we should stand up and fight for the health of our society. Because the ideas that find their way in will affect the lives of our children and our children’s children.

“You’ve got your truth and I’ve got mine. Let’s just agree to disagree on the God question – right?”

But the way truth works is by dealing with absolutes. No-one really believes that only me and my truth is the only thing that actually matters at the end of the day. Because people end up forcing their truth on someone else. Truth deals in absolutes. So the question is – what absolutes are you thinking about when it comes to God? Are they credible? Are they testable?

Surely we must assess our view of God’s existence – or non-existence – based on the evidence rather than based on my feelings. Why? Because truth is true however I feel about it. If the policeman stops me and tells me I was driving at 50 in a 30 limit – and he shows the evidence from the speed camera – then I’m not going to like it. But he has unloaded truth on me none the less. My feelings have no bearing on the truthfulness of truth.

So – can we lay our feelings down? Can we dispassionately assess the evidence? Because the evidence points in a particular direction.

They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:19-20, NLT

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6, NLT

RESPONDblogs: Responding to the Voices of Relativism

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