Absolute Truth Vs Relative Truth-Does It Matter?
To best understand this question, perhaps it is best to first define what these two terms mean.
The word absolute is defined as: not allowing any doubt: never changing, always true or real; not depending on or compared with anything else; certain, unquestionably positive.
The word truth is defined as: a verified or indisputable fact; conformity with fact or reality; the case of something being fact; the property (as of a statement) being in accord with; fact or reality.
Now putting the two words together. Absolute truth is defined as: an unalterable and permanent fact; whatever is true at one time or place for any person is true for all other persons at any time at any place; a truth is still truth whether one wishes to believe it or not; truth is not because of a feeling or an emotion.
A relative truth however is defined as: a truth that is true at only one time and at one place. It can be true to one person, but not necessarily true to others.
Relative truth is changeable. It may have been true at one time or place, but not true at another time and or place. Relative truth is dependent on ones perspective at any given time or place. Your truth may not be anothers truth.
To say that there are no absolute truths is fool hardy.
Reality in itself proves that there are absolutes.
For example, who can deny that we all need air to breathe. Without air, you will surely die. If one doubts this absolute truth, all one needs to do to prove this one way or another is to cut off ones air supply one way or another.
The relativist who attempts to disprove this absolute truth will surely die absolutely. Do we have any volunteers? I did not think so.
Another simple proof of absolute truth is the fact that we all need food to survive. To prove that is also very simple. Stop eating and see if you do not die. We have all seen this proof all around us.
Lets try yet another absolute truth test. Some think that they can jump off of a tall building and not get hurt. Gravity is a fact, an absolute truth. Gravity is true for all people at all times at any place. Again, may I have a volunteer?
How about trying to be dry when you are in a lake with nothing on but your swim suite. You cannot be dry while you are wet. You cannot be both at the same time. Anywhere in the world at any time this is an absolute truth. If someone is swimming beside you says he is wet, can you be dry while also swimming beside him?
Just because one does not believe an absolute truth, that does not make something untrue. It was once believed for example that the earth was flat. Was that true for all people at all times in all places? We know absolutely that the earth is indeed not flat but is round. Pictures have been taken from space to prove that the earth is indeed not flat, but round. Perhaps one does not believe that anyone has ever been in space. Some conspirators think that is a hoax. Some think that man has never been to the moon. If a relativist wants to be adamant about that, please feel free to go for a very, very long walk until you fall off the edge of the earth in any direction. And if you manage to come back, please come tell me about it.
To declare what one believes is a truth is not necessarily a truth, but a belief. It cannot be a truth until proven its reality, as seen above.
All this said is to not deny that there are indeed some truths to relativism. In some circumstances some things are indeed relative according to ones perspective. The story is often told of five blind people describing what an elephant is for example. One feels the trunk and describes an elephant as being rough and curly. Another feels its ear and describes it as thin, wide, and soft. Another feels its tail and describes it as thin, short and curly. Another feels its tusk and describes it as hard, smooth and curved. Another feels a leg and describes it as tall, large, thick and rough. These descriptions, though not all the same are still truth. They are truths from a real, factual perspective. No one would deny the relativism of this.
However, relativism is not just about perspectives from five blind men. Relativism for many is a belief that all things can be different, can be factual according to what one wants to believe at any given place or time.
If this were a truth, then the whole universe is a contradiction, in which according to Spock (from Star Trek) would be totally illogical. The whole universe cannot be different at different times in different ways according to different people. The universe could not operate this way. In one word it would chaos.
It would be like driving in any big city with millions of cars on the road, with no rules, and everyone is driving in any way that pleases them. Some would be driving on the left side of the road, while others are driving on the right side in the same city at the same time on the same road. Can you imagine coming to a corner with no rules to govern how each car should enter and exit an intersection, where there are no stop lights, no stop signs, some people entering from one side of the street, while others are entering from the other, some are speeding along, while others are going slow? It would be total chaos, it would be mayhem. No one would be going anywhere, because there would be 100% gridlock like a puzzle thrown together, unmade, squished together with no pieces able to come together.
And yet, this is how some people think things of the world are. They think there is no absolute truth. If that be so, then why bother going to school at all. For what is right for you, is not right for another. What is truth for me is not truth for you. 2+2 may equal 4 for me, but for you it may equal 7. If that is what truth is, then I want to go back to school and have my report cards re-adjusted. Because for me the many answers I gave perhaps were relative to the answers that others gave, and were just as correct as the different answers that others gave. Hurray, I did not fail grade 7 after all!
Lets turn this around another notch and look at moral relativism. According to this kind of thinking, what is morally right for me to do, may not be morally right for others, and vice versa. Therefore with that thought in mind, it is perfectly morally right for me to smack someone else over the head with a chair. At a communist meeting many years ago, a communist leader was dictating to a group of people the idea of moral relativism. One man in the crowd tried to disprove this theory by doing just that. He grabbed a chair and walked up to this leader and swung the chair towards this guys head. He did not hit the guy, but he proved his point, that there such a thing as absolute morals. We have morals built into ourselves. All people worldwide believe in the same morals except for a small minority of criminal elements and mixed up backward religious groups. For the most part, most people believe it is totally wrong to kill someone for no good reason. It is wrong to lie, steal cheat etc.
Cultures everywhere have moral absolute laws which we follow and obey. If not, it would be chaos and the world of people would completely have annihilated itself long ago. What family would think it is morally okay to let a child go play in the traffic? Is it correct to be cruel for one person, but not for another. It is a matter of relativism. What is right for you is not right for me, and vice versa.
One reason, and maybe the main reason why many believe in relativism is because they do not want to believe in an omnipresent, (everywhere present) omniscient (all knowing), moral God who created all things and who along with creation gave us laws by which to live. These people want to be their own gods that is they want to run their own lives, to be in control of their own lives. The thinking goes, if there is no God, then there is no law giver, and if there is no law giver I can do whatever I want, because if there is no law giver, then I can make up my own rules and live accordingly.
Therefore logically speaking, if we can make up our own rules as we go along in life, then whatever is right for you is okay, and whatever is right for me is okay. And thus what has become of this kind of thinking is what we call relative truth, which again states that whatever is true for you is not necessarily true for me.
And if there is no God, it really does not matter because if there is no God, I can do whatever I want, and no one can tell me what I can or cannot do. According to my rules it is quite alright to steal from the store, to cheat on my exams at school, to bully someone, to shoot someone with a gun, to break their legs etc.
But, does it really matter? That is the question of the ages from the time of Adam till today. Is there only one God as the Christian Bible teaches? If there is only one God, is He the originator of our moral laws? Are there other gods, many other gods? Perhaps there is no gods at all. Does it matter what you or I believe? If the God of the Bible does not exist, then we should throw away our Bibles and burn them. Because, it is from the Bible that we learn about God. It is from the Bible that we learn where everything had its beginning.