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Randomness, Year 2
Issue 41


Dear Random Recipients,

I have been having many conversations with people recently. I'm sure you are all magnificently shocked. But, despite Jessocles' love for the dialogue, I shall not write you this issue in the form of a Platonic dialogue. ANYWAY, I've been talking with people about stuff a great deal recently. One thing that keeps coming up is, of course, the validity of my claims that Christianity alone is truth and all other religions are false. People have real trouble accepting that one. And I can see how one would. I meant to address this idea in our last issue, but I sent off the thing on Muslims instead. Before I go and jump right in, I shall make my acknowledgements. I must acknowledge my indebtedness to Jesse Robertson, Matthew Cimone, Jonathan Hoskin, Leah Parker, Erin Vanderleest, CS Lewis, the Bible, and God Almighty before going into what I'm about to say. All of the above have helped me recently in this issue, and it would be unfair to not acknowledge them. This is my second issue in a series on world-views and religions, and it shall deal with relativism.

A common belief in today's society is that there is no absolute truth. That is the most basic form and easily stated way of putting it. It takes many forms, each distinct from the other, including religious pluralism, universalism, agnosticism. It is relativism. Obviously it is somewhat unfair to put all of these belief systems under the same category. I recognise that simple fault. But all of them, to a degree, are relativist. We shall not go into the details of each of these belief systems, which are all distinct from each other in various ways. Our purpose for now is only to discuss relativism.

The best way to discuss relativism is to discuss truth. "Of truth, there are two kinds. There is relative truth that depends on the person who is being spoken of, and there is absolute truth that depends on nothing, and is true for all. When we say that, Bob is sick, in reference to health, when speaking of Bob, the condition is sick. That is relative to him, however, because we would be fools to draw from that statement that 'Susan' is sick as well" (Jonathan Hoskin, personal e-mail). Objectivism deals with a much different view. Objectivism is, as stated earlier, the concept that all truths pertaining to religion are equal. It is the concept that, "Hey--Muslims worship a deity called God, and so do Christians and Jews! What's the difference? Its all God, so we'll all get to heaven!" Or if Buddha taught similar concepts to those taught by Jesus, what's the difference between being a Buddhist or being a Christian? Many relativists or people with fairly relativist ideals do not accept that people say that their ideas are true whereas everyone elses are not. Essentially, relativism is the concept that all truth is relative, that what you believe about spirituality is relative to who you are and what your position in life is.

In a very good and immensely entertaining dialogue he e-mailed to me, Jesse Robertson came up with this statement, "The belief that there is no absolute truth requires the truth of the statement There is no absolute truth. That statement is an absolute truth. It is self-contradictory, and so illogical." Therefore, not all truth is relative. Relativists often say that people who believe in absolute truth are wrong, thus further contradicting themselves because if everyone is right in what they believe, then so are those who believe in absolute truth. As a result, their philosophical, logical, and reasonable guidelines start to crumble beneath them--they are somewhat wishy-washy as a result of the very fabric of their own statements. We are left with this question, "When 'A' says that all truth is relative, but 'B' says that there are absolute truths, who is right?" We don't want to say that anyone is wrong, but it would seem that 'A' has to concede that person 'B' is right, because 'A' says that all people are right in what they believe. It also seems that person 'B' is still sticking to his principles by saying that 'A' is incorrect. Therefore, there has to be a way things are, be it relative truth or absolute truth, but the one who claims absolute truth avoids wishy-washyness.

Furthermore, there must be absolute truth in terms of religion. Religious truth cannot be relative to the individual. Most people who make relativist claims tend to make mention of some sort of higher being--a deity, God. I will not get into different religious belief systems, but upon examination of them, it can be seen that they are not all compatible. Therefore, if they are not all compatible, no matter how hard we try, they are not all true. The universe does not work that way. I could stare at an apple tree for hours on end--for eternity--telling myself that its fruits were oranges, but it would still be an apple tree. Another example was given by my grade 11 history teacher who, in a discussion of absolute truth in which ministry guidelines did not allow him to have an opinion, wrote "2 + 2 = 3" on the board. I could tell myself that the universe was created by accident when God sneezed and is really just mucus--but I wouldn't be necessarily right. If not all religions can be true, in other words, we should seek the truth. We must be willing to find out what exactly it is that makes this universe tick.

I have found that something to be Jesus, the Messiah. But that's a discussion for another time . . .


Copyright 2001, Matthew Hoskin