You wouldn’t believe how many people today live their lives compromising their values in order to avoid conflict with their peers. The compromising I am talking about comes in the form of our definition of what is true in the world both physically and spiritually.
According to Patrick Zukeran, truth can be defined as that which corresponds to its object or that which describes an actual state of affairs. The idea then is that truth must correspond to some sort of reality.
As mentioned earlier, people today run from the idea of defending what they believe and settle for something mediocre known as relativism. The idea behind relative truth is that we cannot learn truth but it is created by many different aspects including cultural and individual experiences. This view is backed up especially when looking at different cultures. For example, in China, bribery — something frowned upon in the United States — is commonplace in the business world. In turn, it is argued that there are two different ethical truths of bribery.
The problem with relativism comes when these two cultures interact. If I believe it is okay for me to punch someone in the face (turning the other cheek), is my truth to be accepted? I would like to think that the one receiving the punch would argue otherwise. What about cultures that promote cannibalism? Is it right for “developed” societies to educate these peoples?
Relative truth seems to make sense until we run into these core moral issues. What about the other side of the coin? This is the idea that there is an absolute truth that should be applied worldwide. Do we have the right to tell China that bribery is unethical? What about child labor? This is another accepted idea in China. They don’t believe it’s wrong. Who’s right?
It is my belief that if there is truth, then it cannot be relative. The esteemed scientist Richard Dawkins agrees with this ideal, though he believes that truth is based on the observations of science which, in my opinion, fails to answer the issue of morality.
If you have two truths that contradict one another, then it is absurd to think that they can both be accepted. Let’s apply this to the many different religions around the world. I’ve had so many people tell me that it is okay for me to believe one thing about a god, and, even though they believe in another deity, it is acceptable because all religions lead to the same being. This cannot be true though. There are thousands of different religions for a reason. Even in the Judeo-Christian religion there are many different denominations that believe in different ways to find God. Contradictory beliefs cannot lead to the same God. So who’s right?
In the words of John Lennox, we should, “Follow where the evidence leads us.” I have been able to apply this to my life. When I came to college my once-thought belief in God was challenged by many outside forces that made me ask the question, “Who is right? Is there a God, and if so, which God is true?” Through this journey, I have been able to conclude personally that the evidence led me to Jesus Christ.
Where will it lead you? Search out what you believe with an open mind, and do not blindly follow it only because you grew up with it.
The result of your search may either modify or refute the thinking you have long held about life and morality.