Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:13 AM

Little Elizabeth and Moral Relativism

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:13 AM
Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:13 AM

So what is a moral relativist?  Moral relativism is the view that when it comes to questions of morality, there are no absolutes and no objective right or wrong; moral rules are merely personal preferences and/or the result of one’s cultural, sexual, or ethnic orientation. Therefore truth is a subjective concept. If truth and morality are subjective than there is no need for a moral lawgiver…therefore God is not needed.

Moral Relativism is itself a closed-minded and intolerant position. After all, the relativist dogmatically asserts that there is no moral truth. To illustrate this, consider a dialogue (based loosely on a real-life exchange) between a high school teacher and her student Elizabeth. The teacher instructs her class, “Welcome, students. This is the first day of class, and so I want to lay down some ground rules. First, since no one has the truth about morality, you should be open-minded to the opinions of your fellow students.”

 The teacher recognizes the raised hand of Elizabeth, who asks, “If nobody has the truth, isn’t that a good reason for me not to listen to my fellow students? After all, if nobody has the truth, why should I waste my time listening to other people and their opinions? What’s the point? Only if somebody has the truth does it make sense to be open-minded. Don’t you agree?”

 “No, I don’t. Are you claiming to know the truth? Isn’t that a bit arrogant and dogmatic?”

“Not at all. Rather I think it’s dogmatic as well as arrogant to assert that no single person on earth knows the truth. After all, have you met every person in the world and quizzed them exhaustively? If not, how can you make such a claim? Also, I believe it is actually the opposite of arrogance to say that I will alter my opinions to fit the truth whenever and wherever I find it. And if I happen to think that I have good reason to believe I do know the truth and would like to share it with you, why wouldn’t you listen to me? Why would you automatically discredit my opinion before it is even uttered? I thought we were supposed to listen to everyone’s opinion.” Not only does this type of thinking stump the young girl’s teacher; it stumps too many in the profession of teaching in America.

Based upon the book:

[1] Geisler, N. L., & Hoffman, P. K. (2001). Why I am a Christian : Leading thinkers explain why they believe (13). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

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