The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Relativism

April 16, 2004 | 19 Comments

Blogger Purple Car may have to be denied full atheistic communion, as I noted yesterday, in view of her stated belief that no one is really rational. Philosopher Vincent McCann outlines the problems with, and some appropriate responses to, that sort of position:

What is relativism? Religious relativism is basically the position that nothing is absolute, including any religious claim to truth. This view is becoming increasingly popular in our day and it takes on a number of different forms. Some of these will be looked at briefly here.

Relativists often say: “If it [i.e. your religion] works for you, then I am happy for you, but it doesn’t mean it is for me.”

* * *

Another very popular statement that relativists claim is: “There is no such thing as truth.”

Response 1: “If you really believe that there is no such thing as truth then the statement “There is no such thing as truth would not be true either.”

Response 2: “If there was no truth the world and the universe in which we live would be in chaos.”

Some things in life are certain. For example, it is true that the world in which we live in hangs in space and is a sphere. It is true that there is night and there is day. It is true that each one of us grows old and dies. There are various laws that exist in our world that are universal, such as: the law of gravity, the laws of physics and thermodynamics, etc. As there are basic laws and truths in our universe it would therefore be logical to assume that there are spiritual truths as well.

When people reject absolutes they tend to drift in and out of varying belief systems like a ship without an anchor in a sea of uncertainty. This is probably the reason why so many who hold to relativism tend to move on to the next spiritual fad that takes their fancy, and then discover that the new thing they found wasn’t ‘it’ after all. All of this can lead to doubt, confusion, and fear. As human beings need certainties in their physical lives they need to have certainties, order, and truth in their spiritual lives as well. Jesus Christ declared that all truth can be found in Him (John 14:6).

Comments

19 Responses to “Relativism”

  1. PurpleCar
    April 16th, 2004 @ 10:36 am

    RA, my ‘relativism’ only goes so far as to ask you what you mean when you say “spiritual life”.

    You can’t use terms like that and expect people to believe you are dunking the atheist communion in your coffee.

  2. smijer
    April 16th, 2004 @ 11:04 am

    “…view of her stated belief that no one is really rational.”

    I’m missing the larger context here, so if (in that context) my remarks are wildly irrelevant or mistaken, please forgive. I think the question of whether anyone is rational is beside the point, and virtually meaningless. More important is whether a person exercises reason when evaluating claims of truth. I believe many people do avoid arriving at conclusions without rationally investigating an idea. I certainly do this myself.

  3. June
    April 16th, 2004 @ 1:25 pm

    Topics for Rational Atheist Meditation
    – why do you rant and rave about God when he does not exist?
    – why do you say “god damn it” when things go wrong?
    – can you grant or accept any part of the Tao or Buddhism?
    – is is possible that all human beings, collectively, are God?
    – can you imagine a religion without a god behind it?
    – does Christmas have social value of reminding people of kindness and giving?
    – do you set time aside for meditation and spiritual consideration?
    – do you value selfless behavior, honesty, charity, and heroism?
    – do you encourage these qualities in your children?
    – if a company makes a financial errror in your favor, do you correct it?
    – how would you counsel and console the parent of a child that has died?
    – do you ever (even playfully) grant nature a separate existence, such as blessing the sun for giving you a gorgeous day at the beach?

  4. G-love
    April 16th, 2004 @ 2:00 pm

    What’s up “20 questions”? Give it a rest.

  5. rs
    April 16th, 2004 @ 2:18 pm

    1. because YOU exist.
    2. because we like to take his name in VAIN.
    3. of course! theres good moral stuff to be had from all cultures.
    4. dumbest question EVER.
    5. see #4
    6. i guess it does, but st patty’s day is much more fun
    7. i can speak only for myself here. NO.
    8. no way. atheists don’t value ANY of those things. we love torture and death, period.
    9. see #8
    10. are you kidding?
    11. atheists have no concept of friendship or consoleing anyone. we are borg. all your base are belong to us.
    12. how would blessing the sun help the sun? looks like its doing its job just fine to me! don’t you think that approach might be a little selfish? hmm?

  6. Julia
    April 16th, 2004 @ 6:05 pm

    June:

    I think the framework of your questions is based on an assumption that atheists can have no moral fiber or concepts of charity or honesty without some god’s decree. Utterly false and baseless. Morality is not the construct of any god’s specifications. Morality, ethics, honesty, charity and heroism (although why that is brought up is bizarre) are learned behaviors that atheists are quite capable of and live out every day, perhaps even more successfully because they are freely given and not the mandate of a god and given grudingly or hypocritically. Just as you cannot (or I should say, should not) legislate morality, you cannot assume it has only religious basing.

    As for the rest of it, the xmas thing, consoling grieving parents, please see previous posts (here and at other sites) to those questions. They are not new, not novel, and have been addressed ad naseum.

    I will put to you, however; that it’s ok, honey, that there is no god. It’s ok. You may still enjoy a beautiful sunny day, love, just because it happens to make you feel good. It isn’t rising or setting on a god’s whim, just to make you happy.

  7. AK
    April 16th, 2004 @ 7:13 pm

    June , atheists are MORE moral than theists, in general. This is because:

    1. Atheists do not believe humans are inherently full of evil, have no belief of a supereme being that by comparison makes humans worthless, and thus they value humans and humanity more.

    2. Atheists believe this life is all they get, so it is very important to live it fully and happily. Therefore, atheists do nice things and act morally because of the value they place on their lives and on humanity. They do NOT behave morally because of some ulterior motive, like fear of God, or the desire to get the best seat in heaven.

    So, the conclusion is, theists behave nicely because of selfish afterlife desires and/or fear, while atheists behave nicely just because they like to.

    Atheists will never join forces to get laws passed that restrict citizens rights, they will never require institutional obedience such as that found in religious groups, they will never require 10% of your income, they will never condemn someone to hell because of unusual behavior that doesnt hurt anybody, they will never use the afterlife as an excuse to commit inhumane acts in this life, etc…

  8. ocmpoma
    April 16th, 2004 @ 10:00 pm

    First, I would like to address the

  9. ocmpoma
    April 16th, 2004 @ 10:06 pm

    First, I would like to address the

  10. ocmpoma
    April 16th, 2004 @ 10:11 pm

    I apologize for the double-post.
    Maybe it was just a Freudian key-slip. I like to see myself in print.

  11. Mister Swill
    April 16th, 2004 @ 10:28 pm

    Getting back to the point, the statement that nobody is really rational is absolutely true. People can try to act as rationally as possible. People should try to act as rationally as possible. But don’t forget that people are strongly motivated by their emotions in addition to their intellect.

  12. Tezkah
    April 17th, 2004 @ 9:51 am

    AK said:

    “June , atheists are MORE moral than theists, in general. This is because[…]”

    In some cases, yes, but you cant speak for all members of any group. Not all “Christians” are exactly alike, even though they have a set core of doctrine (IE the bible), why would you expect atheists/agnostics to be homogenous WITHOUT a doctrine hat they all share?

  13. Tezkah
    April 17th, 2004 @ 9:52 am

    AK said:

    “June , atheists are MORE moral than theists, in general. This is because[…]”

    In some cases, yes, but you cant speak for all members of any group. Not all “Christians” are exactly alike, even though they have a set core of doctrine (IE the bible), why would you expect atheists/agnostics to be homogenous WITHOUT a doctrine that they all share?

  14. leon
    April 17th, 2004 @ 11:39 am

    Look at fractal art. Look closer and there is more fractal art. Look closer

  15. PurpleCar
    April 19th, 2004 @ 11:29 am

    Relativism?

    The Raving Atheist lambasted me for being a “relativist”.

  16. PurpleCar
    April 19th, 2004 @ 11:31 am

    Relativism?

    The Raving Atheist lambasted me for being a “relativist”.

  17. AK
    April 19th, 2004 @ 7:29 pm

    Tezkah: Its a lack of religious doctrine. Well, I guess the doctrine itself could be described as a lack of religious doctrine.

    Yes I made a generalization. I did grouping and stereotyping. Atheists form themselves around an idea or group of ideas that they reject.

    Besides, whats wrong with generalizing based on a general idea of a religion? I have seen so many times, one christian argue that they are true christians and another christian is not, in fact, christian. So the generalization happens on both sides of the coin. Im quite sure there are atheists that would argue that another athist was not really an atheist.

    I believe that my argument, in general, still stands. Generally speaking, atheists will be moral based on human desires to be good to each other. Atheists have come to terms with the lack of a deity and are comforatble living today in this reality.

    Christians, in general, are also capable of moral behavior based on human desires to be good, but this desire is overshadowed or sidelined by a pervading belief (indeed, a fear) of some higher power that is watching over you. To a chirstian, the desire to be good gets changed to this whole “fear of consequences in the afterlife” problem, and conversely, it allows for evil behavior because of a justification that has God in it, like: “They were a witch so they deserved to burn”. Or they can justify their evil behavior with “Well I can always admit my sins and ask for forgiveness, cause God forgives everybody”.

    When I was a Lutheran, I was engaged in lots of devious behavior. I had justifications for my actions based on an imaginary God in the heavens above. Now that I am atheist, I know that I am the only one that I have to answer to, there is nothing after this life, and therefore it is much more important that everything I do be good, because I am doing it not for God, but for myself.

  18. AK
    April 19th, 2004 @ 7:34 pm

    Tezkah: here is another one for you. To continue the generalization and political incorrectness:

    Atheists judge good or evil by actions

    Theists judge good or evil by beliefs

  19. Just A Girl
    April 23rd, 2004 @ 1:32 am

    Blurfing the Blogroll

    Well, since my conversion to WordPress – – it isn’t technically a ‘blogroll’ anymore…but you get my drift. There are blogs that are on my ‘daily’ read list – and then there are the others that I try to visit at least once a week. Ton…

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