Monday, July 13, 2009

A Case for Scepticism

I am a sceptic. Granted I am a Christian of the old fashioned, dogmatic sort, still there are things I am sceptical about. For instance, I hear frequently of polls which indicate that a large portion of the population believes in relative truth. I have even heard of polls that say large portions of evangelical Christians believe in relative truth. I am sceptical of this. In my opinion, no one believes in relative truth. When we get up in the morning and turn the key in our car's ignition, we expect it to start. And if it does not, we call a repair man. People do not generally walk out of fifth story windows and expect to slowly float down. And if they do, we regard them as candidates for psychiatric help (if they survive). Few would look on with indifference if they found out their children were being taught that 2+2=5 or the earth was flat or London was the capital of France.

What, then, do they mean by saying that truth is relative. This is usually only resorted to when certain uncomfortable theological or moral ideas, such as the existence of God or the concept that honesty is the best policy, get in the way of what they would like to do. The problem is, while it is difficult to imagine a world in which truth is relative (and I have a good imagination), it is even more difficult to imagine a world where some truth is relative and some is not.

Now some will say that what matters is not what is true, but what works. But to say something works is to say it is true that it works. Or others will say what matters is what is truth for me. But this is to say that it is true some things are true for me. The reality is that if truth is relative I cannot know anything. The very concept of knowing (along with every other concept) becomes ridiculous. So I would encourage you to exercise your scepticism. If someone says truth is relative stand up and firmly assert, "It ain't necessarily so."

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