Related Article – Postmodernism and the Death of Truth
"All is relative" has become one of the slogans of our generation. In the Western World, multitudes have rejected the possibility that such a thing as absolute truth could exist. We have most likely heard of the blind men who examined an elephant. One described it as being "like a hose" while another described it as being "like a tree". It all depended on their point of view. This story, and others like it, are cited to show that no absolute truth exists, and that everything depends on the viewpoint of the one investigating. We often hear phrases like "that may be true for you, but its not true for me". Truth is seen as a personal preference or perception that cannot extend beyond a person's personal boundaries. Of course, if this is so, there are no final answers to the "Big Issues" of life. It goes without saying that if this view of truth is correct, there can be no Ultimate Personal God such as the one described in the Bible.
Shirley MacLaine, the famous actress who as a high priestess of the New Age movement now claims to be "god", is just one of many who claim that there is no such thing as absolute, objective truth. Many philosophers and scientists also think this way. It is clear that the majority of popular media personalities assume and promote this. Through them, generally speaking, the man in the street also assumes that all enlightened people know this to be so. But is it really so? Is it really true? How can it be if there is no such thing as objective truth that holds for all people?
Does it matter?
The answer to the question of absolute truth turns out to be very important, not only in drawing religious conclusions, but also in the matter of ethics. Ethics is important to all of us, because it deals with the question of what is right and wrong. Every person hates some kind of activities. But if there is no such thing as absolute truth, then there is no ultimate moral rightness or wrongness about anything. It may be "right for you" but that doesn't mean it is "right for me".
Such an idea is very appealing to many, but if taken to its logical extreme it would soon prove disastrous. For example, what if it is "right for me" to ignore traffic lights, even when they are red? In this way I put the life of others at risk. What if it is "right for me" to go on a suicide bombing mission in a heavily populated area amongst people whom I consider to be my enemies? I may even be fully convinced that what I am doing is right. Can it really be right in any sense of the word? If there is no such thing as absolute truth, it could be. But how can we live with such a situation?
Most people would pretty quickly concede that a person will have to give up some of his arbitrary personal preferences. Some philosophers have sought to ascribe to human government the power to decide what is right and wrong, at least in some situations. But can notions of "right" and "wrong" really be derived from the decisions of politicians – however enlightened?
If there is no such thing as absolute truth, then no-one can really say, "He should do that" or "She shouldn't do that". All you can say is, "A lot of people feel that this action would not make people feel good". So you can't say, "Multinational companies should not exploit the poor and destroy the environment". If relativists are right, a company executive might respond, "That may be true for you, but it is certainly not true for us". Do you see the ethical consequences of throwing out the belief in absolute truth?
Logical Contradictions in the Denial of Absolute Truth
No one has ever proven that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Those who hold this view simply assume that it is so. Such assumptions prove nothing. Why should we blindly accept them? This is nothing more than "begging the question".
But more than this, there are logical contradictions and inconsistencies in denying absolute truth. One might even be fair in saying that people who deny absolute truth are guilty of hypocrisy. Why is this?
Is the statement, "There is no absolute truth" absolutely true? If it is, then there is something that is absolutely true – that statement itself. If it isn't absolutely true, then why insist that we should all believe it?
We can illustrate through a small conversation.
Joe: "There is no such thing as abolute truth."
Mary: "Are you sure?"
Joe: "Yes I am."
Mary: "Are you absolutely sure about that?"
Joe: "Er, yes, I mean, no – well, maybe."
Is the statement, "All truth is relative" only relatively true? It may be relatively true for many, but if it is only relatively true, there must exist someone for whom it is absolutely true. But if that is so, then not all things are relative.
Based on the falsehood that "All is relative", many people say, "It is alright to believe what you want, as long as you don't try to impose it on others". But this statement itself is a belief about what is right and wrong. Those who speak out this belief most definitely want to impose it on others. This is because they do not want to have to deal with any conflict in the realm of religious or philosophical ideas. It is actually a form of cowardice and laziness. It is also a hypocritical view. It sets up a standard of behaviour which it insists on for others – thus violating the very thing it pretends to uphold.
It is easy to spout out statements like "the material world is an illusion" or "there is no such thing as truth" but no one consistently lives according to that kind of philosophy. If they did, they would soon be dead.
It is logically inconsistent to deny the reality of absolute truth. Even if everyone in the world denied its existence, they would all be wrong, as shown by the arguments above. But if logic itself has no ultimate validity, there is no objective basis for communication, rationality and so much that could give meaning to our world. It is certain that we would never have made any scientific or technological progress at all if we had started out with this kind of thinking.
But if there is ultimate objective truth, what is it? Even if we know it exists, does not imply that any person on earth actually has it. Everything ought to be examined and tested, as even the Bible says (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Hence there are "Big Issues" which ought to be considered by all men. Questions like, "Is there life after death?", "Am I an accident or a creation of God?", "What should I be doing?" all make sense only if objective truth and reality exist.
Christians are not calling people to become gullible, or to throw their minds out by taking an unreasonable "leap of faith". Our faith is not rooted in mystical sayings that sound profound but actually have no real meaning. It is rooted in historical events, such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have good reason to believe all men will die or face the judgment of God when Christ returns. There will be no escape from reality then. This is an unpopular idea, and may drive actually drive some away who are not willing to really investigate and consider honestly and deeply, with courage.
If there is a God, He knows the absolute truth. He is not like the blind men that could only feel part of the elephant. God has the power to communicate things to us that are absolutely true. We may not like them all – they may not all appeal to our subjective tastes, but we should at least be willing to search it out until we have good reasons for being convinced one way or the other.
If absolute truth exists, then when two religious teachings disagree, they cannot both be right, in their own way. At least one, possibly both, are at least partially mistaken. Most religion is wrong today. Even the confusion that exists in the Church of Jesus Christ shows how far the forces of evil have actually penetrated our world.
The answers to the Big Issues will not be found by those who are lazy, or are just content to believe in the traditions of their fathers. Why should the truth about religion depend on the sexual association of two people?
I do not claim to have all the answers, but I do believe that the answers are out there. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; the glory of kings is to search out a matter". I am very interested in the perceptions of others. I can learn things from others. My own blindness needs to be removed also. I hope that you will write back and dialog with me and others in the future. God bless you.