Think all that matter’s if if you’re a good person and all the religions have it right? Sorry, but that doesn’t make sense. The following is an excerpt of this feel-good postmodernism on steroids at a college campus. The debate is between Todd Friel, who is a Christian who understands there is a such thing as absolute truth and he is opposed by miseducated young men and women who think the belief in truth is judgmental.
Todd Friel: “I believe truth is either true or not. I think St. Paul is the best city in the world…”
Miseducated, underemployed kid: “It is arbitrary.”
Todd Friel: “St. Paul is the best city or it is not. There is nothing arbitrary about truth. What is seven times seven? It’s not 804. It is either true or not. Maybe this is strange to your ears, because you are a product of your environment just as I am, I agree. But one of has has it right or wrong.”
Miseducated, underemployed kid: “That’s also arbitrary!”
Todd Friel: “Is that statement arbitrary?”
Miseducated, underemployed kid: “Heck yeah!”
Todd Friel: “Then why would I accept your arbitrary statement if it means nothing? We don’t live that way and you’re not. Why are you even going to college?”
Miseducated, underemployed kid #2: “Why are you here? Why are you here? (Flails arms)”
Todd Friel: “To proclaim to you the truth.”
Miseducated, underemployed kid #2: “No, I am going to school to get an education that is ‘the truth.'”
Todd Friel: “Is that statement true?”
Miseducated, underemployed kid #2: “Yeah, that’s true.”
Todd Friel: “Wait a second, I thought there was no truth.”
Kid at microphone: “Empirical evidence is [the truth].”
Todd Friel: “You think your worldview is right, correct?”
Miseducated, underemployed kid #2: “What I believe might be okay for me.”
Todd Friel: “Sir, answer this question for me. I believe when I die that if I am singing a Miley Cyrus song I will spend an eternity living in Nashville Tennessee in a mansion with Billy Ray Cyrus and all of our servants will have mullets from the 80s.”
Kids: “That’s pretty sweet. That’s pretty good man.”
Todd Friel: “Am I wrong?”
Miseducated, underemployed kid #2: “Said by who, who would tell you you’re wrong? [Starts cursing]”
Todd Friel: “Am I going to be in Nashville Tennessee or am I not?”
Miseducated, underemployed kid #2: “Do what you want man [walks away angrily].”
Do people ever take a good, hard look at their post-modernism? Now, post-modernism is not wrong on the face of it, because if we live in a material universe and men don’t really have souls given to them by a Creator, then there is no such thing as morality, truth, beauty, or anything subjective to any extent. They are all illusions created by neurons firing off in human minds that evoluted ultimately from mud.
However, men are without excuse because they know post-modernism is false. They know it is wrong if someone would arbitrarily kill, rape, or rob them.
My suspicion is that there is a morality at work within their really inconsistent post-modernism. When these young people deny the fact that there is both objective truth and falsehood, what they are really trying to do is merely reject what they view as “intolerance.”
You see, accepting everyone’s view as legit is a real shallow way of putting oneself in line with men that in reality had almost nothing in common: Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Gahndi, Martin Luther King Jr, and the like. People don’t like the idea that only one of these men, the Word made flesh, is totally right or that another can be totally wrong. So, what you get is a mish-mash of “there’s a little truth in everything.”
In practice, this “everyone is right” doesn’t work. For example, how can Islam and Christianity “both have it right” when they teach totally different things? A less astute observer would say, “Well, as long as you’re a good person, that’s all that matters and they both teach that.”
But, they both don’t teach that. Christianity teaches that no matter what you are a bad person and no one is good, but God alone. The way to God isn’t a million different ways, it is through Jesus Christ. I’m not being judgmental or intolerant. I am stating my view. If you think my view is wrong, then obviously not everyone could have it right. This is not an “arbitrary” statement.
There are a number of logical problems with these encounters, mostly because of inaccurate word choices and a lack of awareness of what the words mean. I don’t quite know where to begin, so I’ll just wade in…
Truth isn’t arbitrary. However, that by itself does not make truth absolute. Some accept that truth is absolute, and some believe truth can’t exist outside of context. For example, you can say “Christianity teaches that no matter what (?!) you are a bad person and no one is good, but God alone.”
I would respond that some sects, some expressions of Christianity teach it that way – but not all of them do, not all would put that hard a demarcation on it, and some flat-out say that human nature is the opposite, created good by God and only distorted through the effect of sinful behavior (a choice, not an inevitability).
So, truth isn’t arbitrary. It’s personal. The differences in interpretation of the limits of what is true lead to a range of consequences, everything from philosophical reform movements and the founding of new sects to armed conflict.
All religions are right – to their own adherents. Not only are you entitled to your own truth, it’s the only thing universal about philosophical truths (beliefs). You choose what to believe. There’s also objective truth, things like “gravity exists and has effect, no matter what you believe about it”. But matters of fact and truth aren’t the same thing.
I’m not sure if there is some deathblow intellectual response I am not anticipating, but to make a long story short the issue is very simple. There are things that are true and there is everything else. Everything else is falsehood. This includes categories that we think exist (i.e. sin). If sin does not actually exist, and is just a made up idea, then it is in the realm of falsehood. However, if it does exist, it is in the realm of truth. So, not, the truth is not personal at all. Rather, persons sometimes get it right or wrong, or arguably, everyone si getting it wrong. However, the idea that everyone has a “valid” opinion makes a mockery out of the idea of “validity.” There cannot be a concept of “validity” and not falsehood at the same time. What Tood Friel brilliantly pointed out that is even among those who think ideas such as yours, they reject his rejection of their ideas…which shows they do believe in truth and falsehood and not the nonsense they spout!
LOL – I do try to avoid using words as weapons. I’m more interested in understanding than winning. In continued response let me suggest that absolutist views (the issue is simple) and those based on situational ethics (no issue is as simple as we wish it was) can and do co-exist. Again, we are wrestling with undefined terms. Sin can be a real thing, and still not be real in the sense of a brick wall, because it’s a concept, a mental construct, a way of trying to understand and analyze human behavior. That doesn’t make it a “made up thing”, just incorporeal, an idea. It’s the difference between physical existence (that which is) and that which has effect (forces, causes). All concepts can be interpreted differently, even differently at different ages in your own life. A wall is a wall is a wall.
But this seems to concede my point. If the difference on an issue is semantic, or a truth claim is incomplete, it only substantiates the idea that there is absolute truth. Now, Christians makes some very drastic and concrete absolute truth claims. I think what their detractors don’t realize is that they are making a concrete denial of the Christian’s claims, even if otherwise what they view as “truth” is a mushy concept to say the least.