Absolute Relativism: The New Dictatorship?

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There’s an upcoming event on campus about this new book called ‘Absolute Relativism: The New Dictatorship and What to do About it’ on Sunday, April 28th. I thought I’d talk a little about this book beforehand, maybe give a preview of what this presentation is going to be about.

Now, I haven’t read the book in question (although it’s available on most sites for under three dollars, which is a warning sign to me), but I have checked out a synopsis online. You get a lot of its message just from the title, calling relativism a dictatorship, plus the lovely picture of a man sticking his head in the ground. My impression is that it does not speak well of relativists.

So here are some definitions for you, since not everyone is familiar with these belief systems. Good old Wikipedia sums it up like so: “Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.” Basically, it’s doubt. Nothing is absolutely certain, what’s right for you could be wrong for someone else, but everyone’s entitled to their own belief.

Absolute Relativism seems to be a more extreme version of that. There is no truth whatsoever. Everyone’s claims are equally valid, you cannot judge people by the same standard. This idea is in direct opposition to mainstream Christian beliefs that some actions are good and will send you to Heaven, others are bad and will send you to Hell.  So it makes sense that the guy giving this presentation is a Christian speaker.

Now, there are definitely some holes to poke in that kind of philosophical belief. For one, the statement ‘everything is relative’ is an absolute statement, which I’m sure the speaker will bring up. You could make a very sound argument against relativism. I consider myself a relativist, mind you, so I know better than most its pitfalls. But I feel like this presentation is going to hit all the wrong points.

A description of this book on Reallifecatholic.com troubled me. It lists a few statements that contain relativism:

“If it feels good, do it.”

“That’s your opinion, and this is mine.”

“I don’t want to impose my beliefs on others.”

“What’s true for one person may not be true for another.”

Under the subheading of ‘The New Dictatorship’, we’re supposed to assume all these statements are BAD. Okay, I understand if you’re a Christian, you might refute the first and the last. You practice restraint from doing anything that feels good, and you live by a certain truth that you believe applies to everyone, even if they don’t believe it. That’s fine, totally understandable. But what about the middle two? Are we to say that no one is entitled to their opinion and that beliefs should be imposed on others? That sounds more like a dictatorship. I don’t think many good Christians believe that it is there moral duty to convert every person they meet by denying them their own thoughts.

I think society and religion are becoming more tolerant as time goes on. I’m not a Christian and yet I’m able to have discussions with them about my beliefs and we can still go on being friends. We’ve decided that it’s okay for people to choose their religion. That’s what the relativism this book seems to be deeming NOT OKAY. From what I can tell, this book is encouraging us to take a step backwards and become intolerant once again. The description on this site blatantly says so.

“We’re encountering relativism ever more in the “new inquisition” that would silence anyone who claims to know the truth, labelling them “intolerant,” or “bigoted.””

So the message I get from that statement is that it’s okay to seem intolerant or bigoted, because you’re right. You possess the truth and they don’t. I think that is the wrong way to go about being a moral human being. Whoops, there’s an absolute statement from a relativist. I think it’s absolutely wrong to be a bigot. See? There are plenty of holes to poke in my philosophy, but it’s not that Christians are being ‘too tolerant’ towards non-Christians because of relativism.

If that’s the main point of this presentation, I’m sorry, but I’m expecting less of a philosophical debate and more of an attempt at brainwashing. I guess I’ll have to dish out the three dollars to get a copy and scope it out for myself. Because if there’s one thing I absolutely believe (whoops, there it is again), it’s that being a pretentious bigot isn’t the best way to convince people that your religion is worth following.

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