By Alexander Koshakji, Columnist
A friend of mine encountered someone convinced that there is no absolute truth. Upon hearing their conviction, my friend boldly gave him a little shove, slightly knocking him off balance. This person was a bit shocked by the rude gesture and inquired, “Why in the world did you shove me?” My friend’s response was, “What do you mean? I didn’t shove you. You said everything was relative, right? It’s only in your own reality that I shoved you.” In this situation, my friend cleverly demonstrated the flaws in the person’s way of thinking. If everything was relative, then you could’ve said my friend didn’t shove him.
When pondering statements such as “there is not absolute truth,” or “everything is relative,” you come to realize that they are contradictory. What’s troubling is many of us think like this and are convinced that everything is relative; we are unable to bring ourselves to admitting that a statement such as “everything is relative” is a far cry from the truth.
Truth has become widely considered as a mental construct. If I perceive it to be this way, then it is this way and you cannot tell me otherwise i.e. for many, perception equals reality. One of the modern philosophers who got the ball rolling for such relativistic thinking is a man by the name of Friedrich Nietzsche. At the core of his philosophy, we stand beyond what is good and evil, and that good and evil are merely constructs of ours. As bishop Robert Barron put it, “Nietzsche’s view, which was at a high, abstract level, has now crept into the minds of almost all young people on our campuses.” Many young people believe that a claim to absolute truth is nothing but an oppressive power play, a mechanism that subjects people to your rule and prevents them from thinking for themselves.
One of the main issues with not agreeing on objective truth is that we can no longer have arguments. Without the two parties appealing to objective truth and trying to find common ground, they will get nowhere. When both have a different sense of what is right and wrong, they hit what is classically known as the Kantian Wall. Now Arguments have been reduced to putting your opponent down with the use of witticism, instead of helping each other come to the truth. This here is the reason that so many people today, including myself, try to avoid arguments at all costs; they are afraid of the emotional toll it will take and the division it will cause. If we genuinely sought for truth, and willing to admit that our position could be false, we would have more fruitful argumentation.
Without absolute truth, chaos would be prevalent. Without absolute truth, there would not be a law system, since the concept of law is based on appealing to a higher authority, instead of ourselves. Thus, People would be free to do whatever pleases them. One could speed on the roads, for there would not be an agreed upon speed limit. One could steel without penalty, for everyone’s definition of steeling would vary. Also, killing would be no more wrong than going to get a decent haircut. These are just a few of the many examples as to why absolute truth is necessary.
We can see why absolute truth is so important in our lives. Secular society tells us that we really don’t need it, and that we should live on our own terms. But the difficulty with making it up as you go, and only relying on yourself, is you really do not have a way of determining whether your opinions are really true or not. If your honest with yourself, you will admit that you’ve made mistakes, and that you’re not perfect, so why use yourself as a source? It’s time we have humility, and receive guidance in pursuing truth from a source that was instituted by truth itself, or as properly stated by the gospel of John, “the way, the truth, and the life.”
Check out William Deatherage’s Video on the subject, below!