Relativism

Summary

Relativism is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid, and that all truth is relative to the individual.  This means that all moral positions, all religious systems, all art forms, all political movements, etc., are truths that are relative to the individual.  Under the umbrella of relativism, whole groups of perspectives are categorized.  In obvious terms, some are:

  • cognitive relativism (truth) - Cognitive relativism affirms that all truth is relative.  This would mean that no system of truth is more valid than another one, and that there is no objective standard of truth.  It would, naturally, deny that there is a God of absolute truth.
  • moral/ethical relativism - All morals are relative to the social group within which they are constructed.
  • situational relativism - Ethics (right and wrong) are dependent upon the situation.

Unfortunately, the philosophy of relativism is pervasive in our culture today.  With the rejection of God, and Christianity in particular, absolute truth is being abandoned.  Our pluralistic society wants to avoid the idea that there really is a right and wrong.  This is evidenced in our deteriorating judicial system that has more and more trouble punishing criminals, in our entertainment media which continues to push the envelope of immorality and indecency, in our schools which teach evolution and "social tolerance," etc.  In addition, the plague of moral relativism is encouraging everyone to accept homosexuality, pornography, fornication, and a host of other "sins" that were once considered wrong but are now being accepted and even promoted in society.  It is becoming so pervasive that if you speak out against moral relativism and its "anything goes" philosophy, you're labeled as an intolerant bigot.  Of course, this is incredibly hypocritical of those who profess that all points of view are true, yet reject those who profess absolutes in morality.  It seems that what is really meant by the moral relativists is that all points of view are true except for the views that teach moral absolutes, an absolute God, or absolute right and wrong.

Some typical expressions that reveal an underlying presupposition of relativism are comments such as: "That is your truth, not mine;" "It is true for you, but not for me;" and "There are no absolute truths."  Of course, these statements are illogical.  Relativism is invading our society, our economy, our schools, and our homes.  Society cannot flourish nor survive in an environment where everyone does what is right in his own eyes, where the situation determines moral truth, and that lying and cheating are okay as long as you don't get caught.  Without a common foundation of truth and absolutes, our culture will become weak and fragmented. (Source: CARM)

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