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Knowing Truth: If Truth is Possible, What Does Truth Reveal?

BY: Guest User | Category: Religion | Submitted: 2010-02-27 09:45:44
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Article Summary: "Is there truth in this world? Can we know that truth if it does exist? By examining some basic philosophic principles, we can make a determination that will affect not only our religion, but our everyday lives as well..."

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"There is no truth."

Have you ever heard this phrase uttered? It makes me shudder. Not because I disagree with the person, but because of the logical fallacy that just came out of their mouth. The simplest response to this statement is:

"Is that true?"

Obvious, right? Well, maybe not. The concept of relativism has turned the traditional understanding of truth and reality on its head. Moral relativism is the concept that what is true for you, isn't true for me. It calls into question our ability to make moral judgments.

On the surface, this sounds like not such a bad thing. After all, who are you to tell me what's okay for me to do? Well, if we are living in a society together, then our ability to live by certain standards makes or breaks our ability to live at peace (then again, if there aren't moral absolutes, peace doesn't matter anyway). Once Christian apologist says that the best way to test a person's commitment to moral relativism is to steal his/her stereo (an iPod would work, too). If an objection is made, all you have to do is assert that your morality says it's okay to take the stereo.

Some adherents to moral relativism believe that morals are relevant not to the individual, but to the culture in which they live. In this worldview, it is completely okay for the members of the same tribe in Papua New Guinea to honor tribe members who are able to make friends, build trust, and then kill the other person. Because they are following the rules of their society in doing this, cultural relativism says that this is okay.

The problem with relativism is that ultimately it becomes a self-defeating statement. Any time a relativist makes a truth claim (i.e. any statement at that applies to any other than personal opinion), it proves itself incorrect. The first premise that a moral relativist makes would be something along the lines of "moral relativism exists" or . . .is right, or . . .is true. Even the addition of "to me" at the end of the statement won't save it. Relativism has to be entirely true or not true in any circumstance. And when you are arguing against the existence of truth, it becomes impossible to support your claim.

The issue of moral relativism has many implications for religion. If there is only one truth, then religions that make competing truth claims cannot coexist. You can't be a devout Hindu-Muslim-Jewish-Christian. The truth claims in these worldviews contradict one another. As philosophy has stated it, something cannot be A and non-A at the same time. When it comes to religious belief, this is just as valid.

Though most of the faiths in the world allow the acceptance of concurrent beliefs and faiths, there is one major world religion that claims exclusivity in term of truth. Christianity stands out as being the only world religion that claims that it is the only way for salvation; the only true religion. The primary figure in Christianity, Jesus Christ, made the possibility of moral relativism moot when he stated: I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

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