Opinion | The tunnel-vision of relativism: reevaluating the concept of individual truth
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 22:09
“Quid est veritas?” or “What is truth?”
Those are the words of the first relativist, Pontius Pilate, that are recorded in the eighteenth chapter of John’s Gospel.
Our society today clings tightly to this belief, as a toddler does its plaything when it’s time to share, of “What’s true for me is true for me, and what’s true for you is true for you.”
Nobody wants to offend anyone.
Everyone wants to get along, and as long as we each have our own “truth” there will be no disagreements and no one gets their feelings hurt. For many people, they have what they see as true, but it is not THE Truth.
This relativism is a contradiction in and of itself. For example: if I believe that everyone has his or her own truth, but my friend Mike believes that there is only one Truth, who is right?
Is Mike right? According to my principle, that everyone is right, he is – which would mean that I am wrong.
Even the statement itself, “There is no one Truth, and everyone has their own Truth,” relies on the premise that statement is true.
When I speak about the Truth, I’m talking about something that is true for all people at all times, no matter who says it’s not.
Mathematics for example: if I say that I don’t believe that two plus two equals four, it’s still true. Math doesn’t change.
It’s not up to subjective interpretation. It doesn’t matter what I believe or don’t believe- it’s true.
If I don’t believe it, that just means I’m objectively wrong. If we all didn’t believe this, there’d be no point in school.
We could all just be professors of whatever we thought was right.
Whoops! I did it. I committed the unforgivable mortal sin of modern intellectual dialogue: someone found out that they were wrong.
This Truth is a different concept than belief. You believe that what you profess is the Truth. You must therefore believe that if someone else disagrees with you, they do not profess the Truth, at least not in its entirety.
Protestants and Catholics may disagree on matters of Church authority, or sola fides, but both members of the conversation are convinced that they are right.
Now that we’ve established that there is a Truth, we all need to accept a belief. We all need a belief that we can say with full certainty, “I believe this to be true, and no matter who says what, I still hold to this. I think it is true even for people who do not believe it.”
Let’s start with some basic beliefs engrained in our hearts by natural law, the law human beings have held in common since the beginning of civilization: murder is wrong; rape is wrong; stealing is wrong, etc., etc.
I’m tired of this nonsense where at the end of the argument, people say, “Well, I guess that’s true for you, but I have my own truth, so it doesn’t matter.”
This atmosphere insults the intelligence of everyone in the room, by establishing that nothing that anyone believes, even science or math, is true. One of the most charitable actions one can do is to show someone the Truth (don’t we all love our elementary school teachers for teaching us addition?).
This, many times, requires telling the person that they are wrong, so that they can find the Truth.
As the late, great televangelist Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Too many people get credit for being good, when they are only being passive. They are too often praised for being broadminded when they are so broadminded they can never make up their minds about anything.”
Let’s stand up for what we believe in.
Sure, we’re going to get in a few arguments.
We might even hurt someone’s feelings once he or she realizes that we don’t agree with them on everything. But the benefits of having a belief in the Truth outweigh the hardships- believe me. Having a belief gives you a purpose in life.
It doesn’t matter if you believe that there is no God, and that we should all try our bests to just get along, if you believe in Jesus Christ, or if you believe in the Giant Spaghetti Monster- your belief will still give you a purpose in life.
True acceptance of everyone means that even if they do not agree with you, they are wrong, and that you still love them anyways.
It’s easy to get along with someone if they don’t offend you, but loving someone who not only is wrong, but thinks that you are wrong, is the true test of fellowship.