Monday, October 18, 2010 4:56 AM

Relativism Rotten To The Core

Monday, October 18, 2010 4:56 AM
Monday, October 18, 2010 4:56 AM

Absolute truth stands in contrast to relative truth. Relative can mean any one of several things. First, the relativist may claim that some things are true only for some people but not for all. The relativist may also claim that some things are true only for some times but not for all times, or that some things are true only in some places but not in all places. By an absolute truth, then, we mean something that would be true for all people, at all times, and in all places.

 The relativity of truth is a popular contemporary view. However, truth is not determined by majority vote. Let’s take a look at the reasons people give for the belief that truth is relative. First, some things appear to be true only at some times and not at others. For example, people once believed the world was square. Now we know that is not so. It would seem that this truth has changed with the times. Or has it? Certainly the world did not change from a cube to a sphere. What changed in this regard is our belief, not our earth. Truth did not change; rather, we changed from holding a false belief to holding a true one.

Second, other things appear to be true only for some people but not for others. For example, “I feel warm” may be true for me but not for you. You may feel cold. Isn’t this an example of a relative truth? Not at all. Actually, the statement “I feel warm” (said August 1, 2000) is true for everyone in the universe. In fact, it is not only true for everyone, but it is also true everywhere and at all times that I felt warm on August 1, 2000. It will be true in Moscow, Peking, Washington, and even in outer space that I felt warm on August 1, 2000. Others may have felt cold, but the fact that I felt warm is true (I was warm). If it is true for all people, in all places, at all times, then it is an absolute truth. What at first looked like a relative truth turned out to be an absolute truth.

 The truth of the matter is that all truth is absolute. There are no relative truths, for if something is true, then it is true everywhere, at all times, and for everyone. After all, 7+3=10 is not true just for mathematics majors. It is true for everyone. And it is true everywhere, not just in math class but in your workplace and in your home too.

 Like an old apple, relativism may look good on the surface, but it is rotten at the core.

[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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