Relativism Is Old-Hat… Truth Is Now Raaaaacist!

Larry Elder discusses how many students that reside on the Left end of the political spectrum view truth claims/propositions… they are part of the white supremacy construct meant to keep down the minority population. Jesus didn’t come into the world to set people free (John 8:32). Rather, He is coming back to “put y’all back in chains” (Biden).

2-Quotes from An Early Salvo in the Culture War ~ Allan Bloom

I just wanted to catalog two quotes by a Jewish (non-religious), gay, anti-conservative professor, and then post some excerpts from a review of the book.

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test, one can count on the students’ reaction: they will be uncomprehending. That anyone should regard the proposition as not self-evident astonishes them. … The relativity of truth is … a moral postulate, the condition of a free society, or so they see it. … The danger they have been taught to fear is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating. Openness — and the relativism that makes it plausible — is the great insight of our times. … The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism, and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think you are right at all.

[….]

In the United States, practically speaking, the Bible was the only common culture, one that united the simple and the sophisticated, rich and poor, young and old, and—as the very model for a vision of the order of the whole of things, as well as the key to the rest of Western art, the greatest works of which were in one way or another responsive to the Bible—provided access to the seriousness of books. With its gradual and inevitable disappearance, the very idea of such a total book is disappearing. And fathers and mothers have lost the idea that the highest aspiration they might have for their children is for them to be wise—as priests, prophets or philosophers are wise. Specialized competence and success are all that they can imagine. Contrary to what is commonly thought, without the book even the idea of the whole is lost.

Allan Bloom, Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987), 25, 58 (respectively).

This review comes by way of The American Conservative. I would also recommend The Weekly Standard’s anniversary review of the book.

…While I continue to learn much from Bloom, over the years I have arrived at three main judgments about the book’s relevance, its prescience, and its failings. First, Bloom was right to be concerned about the specter of relativism—though perhaps even he didn’t realize how bad it would get, particularly when one considers the reaction to his book compared to its likely reception were it published today. Second, his alarm over the threat of “multiculturalism” was misplaced and constituted a bad misreading of the zeitgeist, in which he mistook the left’s tactical use of identity politics for the rise of a new kind of communalist and even traditionalist tribalism. And, lastly, most of his readers—even today—remain incorrect in considering him to be a representative of “conservatism,” a label that he eschewed and a worldview he rejected…

[….]

What should most astonish any reader of Bloom’s Closing after 25 years is the fact that this erudite treatise about the crisis of higher education not only sat atop the bestseller list for many weeks but was at the center of an intense, lengthy, and ferocious debate during the late 1980s over education, youth, culture, and politics. In many ways, it became the most visible and weightiest salvo in what came to be known as “the culture wars,” and people of a certain generation still hold strong opinions about Bloom and his remarkable, unlikely bestseller.

Today there are many books about the crisis of higher education—while the nature of the crisis may change, higher education never seems to be out of the woods—but none before or since Bloom’s book achieved its prominence or made its author as rich and famous as a rock star. It was a book that many people bought but few read, at least not beyond a few titillating passages condemning rock-and-roll and feminism. Yet it was a book about which almost everyone with some engagement in higher education held an opinion—indeed, it was obligatory to have considered views on Bloom’s book, whether one had read it or not.

Bloom’s book was at the center of a debate—one that had been percolating well before its publication in 1987—over the nature and content of a university education. That debate intensified with the growing numbers of “diverse” populations seeking recognition on college campuses—concomitant with the rise of departments of Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, and a host of other “Studies” studies—leading to demands that the curriculum increasingly reflect contributions by non-male, non-white, non-European and even non-dead authors.

The Closing of the American Mind spawned hundreds, perhaps even thousands of responses—most of them critiques—including an article entitled “The Philosopher Despot” in Harper’s by political theorist Benjamin Barber, and the inevitably titled The Opening of the American Mind by Lawrence Levine. Partly spurred by the firestorm initiated by Bloom’s book, perennial presidential candidate Jesse Jackson led a march through the campus of Stanford University shouting through a bullhorn, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go!” Passions for campus reform ran high, and an avalanche of words, articles, denunciations, and ad hominem attacks greeted Bloom’s defense of the Western canon.

Yet the nuances of Bloom’s qualified defense of the Western canon were rarely appreciated by critics or supporters alike. While Bloom was often lumped together with E.D. Hirsch—whose Cultural Literacy was published the same year and rose to number two on the New York Times bestseller list, just behind Closing—Bloom’s argument was fundamentally different and far more philosophically challenging than Hirsch’s more mundane, if nevertheless accurate, point that educated people increasingly did not have knowledge about their own culture. Hirsch’s book spoke to anxiety about the loss of a shared literary and cultural inheritance, which today has been largely supplanted by references to a few popular television shows and sports televised on ESPN.

Bloom made an altogether different argument: American youth were increasingly raised to believe that nothing was True, that every belief was merely the expression of an opinion or preference. Americans were raised to be “cultural relativists,” with a default attitude of non-judgmentalism. Not only all other traditions but even one’s own (whatever that might be) were simply views that happened to be held by some people and could not be judged inferior or superior to any other. He bemoaned particularly the decline of household and community religious upbringing in which the worldviews of children were shaped by a comprehensive vision of the good and the true. In one arresting passage, he waxed nostalgic for the days when people cared: “It was not necessarily the best of times in America when Catholic and Protestants were suspicious of and hated one another; but at least they were taking their beliefs seriously…”

He lamented the decline of such true belief not because he personally held any religious or cultural tradition to be true—while Bloom was raised as a Jew, he was at least a skeptic, if not a committed atheist—but because he believed that such inherited belief was the source from which a deeper and more profound philosophic longing arose. It wasn’t “cultural literacy” he wanted, but rather the possibility of that liberating excitement among college-age youth that can come from realizing that one’s own inherited tradition might not be true. From that harrowing of belief can come the ultimate philosophic quest—the effort to replace mere prejudice with the quest for knowledge of the True.

Near the beginning of Closing, Bloom relates one telling story of a debate with a psychology professor during his time teaching at Cornell. Bloom’s adversary claimed, “it was his function to get rid of prejudices in his students.” Bloom compared that function to the activity of an older sibling who informs the kids that there is no Santa Claus—disillusionment and disappointment. Rather than inspiring students to replace “prejudice” with a curiosity for Truth, the mere shattering of illusion would simply leave students “passive, disconsolate, indifferent, and subject to authorities like himself.”

Bloom relates that “I found myself responding to the professor of psychology that I personally tried to teach my students prejudices, since nowadays—with the general success of his method—they had learned to doubt beliefs even before they believed in anything … One has to have the experience of really believing before one can have the thrill of liberation.” Bloom’s preferred original title—before being overruled by Simon and Schuster—was Souls Without Longing. He was above all concerned that students, in being deprived of the experience of living in their own version of Plato’s cave, would never know or experience the opportunity of philosophic ascent.

[….]

Today we live in a different age, one that so worried Bloom—an age of indifference. Institutions of higher learning have almost completely abandoned even a residual belief that there are some books and authors that an educated person should encounter. A rousing defense of a curriculum in which female, African-American, Latino, and other authors should be represented has given way to a nearly thoroughgoing indifference to the content of our students’ curricula. Academia is committed to teaching “critical thinking” and willing to allow nearly any avenue in the training of that amorphous activity, but eschews any belief that the content of what is taught will or ought to influence how a person lives.

Thus, not only is academia indifferent to whether our students become virtuous human beings (to use a word seldom to be found on today’s campuses), but it holds itself to be unconnected to their vices—thus there remains no self-examination over higher education’s role in producing the kinds of graduates who helped turn Wall Street into a high-stakes casino and our nation’s budget into a giant credit card. Today, in the name of choice, non-judgmentalism, and toleration, institutions prefer to offer the greatest possible expanse of options, in the implicit belief that every 18- to 22-year-old can responsibly fashion his or her own character unaided.

Bloom was so correct about the predictable rise of a society defined by indifference that one is entitled to conclude that were Closing published today, it would barely cause a ripple. This is not because most of academia would be inclined to agree with his arguments any more than they did in 1987. Rather, it is simply the case that hardly anyone in academe any longer thinks that curricula are worth fighting over….

[….]

Today’s academic leaders don’t believe the content of those choices has any fundamental influence on the souls of our students, most likely because it would be unfashionable to believe that they have souls. As long as everyone is tolerant of everyone else’s choices, no one can get hurt. What is today called “tolerance,” Bloom rightly understood to be more deeply a form of indifference, the extreme absence of care, leading to a society composed not only of “souls without longing” but humans treated as utilitarian bodies that are increasingly incapable of love.

(3-Part Interview)

Is Truth Relative? Two Classic Presentations (+ Relativised Young People)

The above is an example of relativism run-amock with young people in downtown Durham after the Pride Festival at Duke University Sept 28th 2013. Another interview here.

(This post is updated, as the video from the “Thrive Apologetics Conference” was deleted. New information was substituted in its place.) Posted below are three presentations. The first presentation (audio) is Dr. Beckwith’s classic presentation where high school and college kids get a 2-week crash course in the Christian worldview.

The following two presentations are by Gregory Koukle. The first is a UCLA presentation, the second is an excellent presentation ay Biola University entitled “The Intolerance of Tolerance.” Enjoy this updated post.

Here is — firstly — a classic presentation by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason.

Moral Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Midair from Veritas [3] on Vimeo.

Below this will be another presentation that is one of Koukl’s best yet, and really is a video update to the excellent book, Relativism: Feet Planted Firmly in Mid-Air… a phrase common to Francis Schaeffer, “feet planted firmly in mid-air.”

To wit, Humanism:

Since present day Humanism vilifies Judeo-Christianity as backward, its goal to assure progress through education necessitates an effort to keep all mention of theism out of the classroom. Here we have the irony of twentieth century Humanism, a belief system recognized by the Supreme Court as a non-theistic religion, foisting upon society the unconstitutional prospect of establishment of a state-sanctioned non-theistic religion which legislates against the expression of a theistic one by arguing separation of church & state. To dwell here in more detail is beyond the scope of this article, but to close, here are some other considerations:

“We should note this curious mark of our own age: the only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute” (Schaeffer)

In the earlier spirit of cooperation with the Christian church the ethics or values of the faith were “borrowed” by the humanists. In their secular framework, however, denying the transcendent, they negated the theocentric foundation of those values, (the character of God), while attempting to retain the ethics. So it can be said that the Humanist, then, lives on “borrowed capital”. In describing this situation, Francis Schaeffer observed that: “…the Humanist has both feet firmly planted in mid-air.” His meaning here is that while the Humanist may have noble ideals, there is no rational foundation for them. An anthropocentric view says that mankind is a “cosmic accident”; he comes from nothing, he goes to nothing, but in between he’s a being of supreme dignity. What the Humanist fails to face is that with no ultimate basis, his ideals, virtues and values are mere preferences, not principles. Judging by this standard of “no ultimate standard”, who is to say whose preferences are to be “dignified”, ultimately?

See more quotes HERE

Exclude Religion Arguments Fail Miserable ~ Illusory Neutrality

In conversations since the decision I get the, “you are defending your religious point of view… what about others religious or non-religious viewpoints?” Firstly, I use — typically — non-Biblical responses. My Same-Sex Marriage Page makes one point using the Bible, the other five and secular worries that should make one consider the issue. I have written an entire chapter in my book dealing with the natural law response to the issue. I also note that at no time in history has this idea of same-sex marriage ever been even contemplated to be of equal value to society. No religious leader or major moral thinker that helped shape sour society or others ever thought different.

So, while I try to stay away from either expressly or even using my faith in the majority of the argument… lets say I were to do so? So What! Here is [lesbian] Tammy Bruce:

Even if one does not necessarily accept the institutional structure of “organized religion,” the “Judeo-Christian ethic and the personal standards it encourages do not impinge on the quality of life, but enhance it. They also give one a basic moral template that is not relative,” which is why the legal positivists of the Left are so threatened by the Natural Law aspect of the Judeo-Christian ethic…

…these problems don’t remain personal and private. The drive, especially since this issue is associated with the word “gay rights,” is to make sure your worldview reflects theirs. To counter this effort, we must demand that the medical and psychiatric community take off their PC blinders and treat these people responsibly. If we don’t, the next thing you know, your child will be taking a “tolerance” class explaining how “transexuality” is just another “lifestyle choice”…. After all, it is the only way malignant narcissists will ever feel normal, healthy, and acceptable: by remaking society – children – in their image.

Tammy Bruce, The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values (Roseville: Prima, 2003), 35; 92, 206.

Justice Without Absolutes?

The French Revolution was fueled by rhetoric about the “rights of man.”  Yet without a foundation in the Judeo-Christian teaching of creation, there is no way to say what human nature is.  Who defines it?  Who says how it ought to be treated?  As a result, life is valued only as much as those in power choose to value it.  Small wonder that the French Revolution – with its slogan, “Neither God Nor Master,” quickly led to tyranny accompanied by the guillotine. The American Revolution had its slogan as well, and it goes to show how different the understanding of human nature was in these two revolutions.  The end result of our freedom also goes to show the validity in “the eternal foundation of righteousness” in which they were set.  (Tellingly, the Revolutionary slogan of the U. S. was, “No King But King Jesus!”)

According to C. S. Lewis (professor of medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge universities, and a philosopher in his own right) one source of the “poison of subjectivism,” as he called it, is the belief that man is the product of blind evolutionary process:

“After studying his environment man has begun to study himself.  Up to that point, he had assumed his own reason and through it seen all other things.  Now, his own reason has become the object: it is as if we took out our eyes to look at them.  Thus studied, his own reason appears to him as the epiphenomenon which accompanies chemical or electrical events in a cortex which is itself the by-product of a blind evolutionary process.  His own logic, hitherto the king whom events in all possible worlds must obey, becomes merely subjective.  There is no reason for supposing that it yields truth.”

First mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t force your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Why not?”
  • First Person: “Because I don’t believe in forcing morality.”
  • Second Person: “If you don’t believe in it, then by all means, don’t do it. Especially don’t force that moral view of yours on me.”

Second Mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that statement. Do you mean I have no right to an opinion?”
  • First Person: “You have a right to you’re opinion, but you have no right to force it on anyone.”
  • Second Person: “Is that your opinion?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then why are you forcing it on me?”
  • First Person: “But your saying your view is right.”
  • Second Person: “Am I wrong?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then your saying only your view is right, which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”

Third Mock Conversation

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here, but it sounds to me like your telling me I’m wrong.”
  • First Person: “You are.”
  • Second Person: “Well, you seem to be saying my personal moral view shouldn’t apply to other people, but that sounds suspiciously like you are applying your moral view to me.  Why are you forcing your morality on me?”

(Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Baker Books; 1998), p. 144-146.)

SELF-DEFEATING

“Most of the problems with our culture can be summed up in one phrase: ‘Who are you to say?’” ~ Dennis Prager

So lets unpack this phrase and see how it is self-refuting, or as Tom Morris[1] put it, self-deleting.

➤ When someone says, “Who are you to say?” answer with, “Who are you to say ‘Who are you to say’?”

This person is challenging your right to correct another, yet she is correcting you.  Your response to her amounts to “Who are you to correct my correction, if correcting in itself is wrong?” or “If I don’t have the right to challenge your view, then why do you have the right to challenge mine?”  Her objection is self-refuting; you’re just pointing it out.

…Such “exclude religion” arguments are wrong because marriage is not a religion! When voters define marriage, they are not establishing a religion. In the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” the word “religion” refers to the church that people attend and support. “Religion” means being a Baptist or Catholic or Presbyterian or Jew. It does not mean being married. These arguments try to make the word “religion” in the Constitution mean something different from what it has always meant.

These arguments also make the logical mistake of failing to distinguish the reasons for a law from the content of the law. There were religious reasons behind many of our laws, but these laws do not “establish” a religion. All major religions have teachings against stealing, but laws against stealing do not “establish a religion.” All religions have laws against murder, but laws against murder do not “establish a religion.” The campaign to abolish slavery in the United States and England was led by many Christians, based on their religious convictions, but laws abolishing slavery do not “establish a religion.” The campaign to end racial discrimination and segregation was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist pastor, who preached against racial injustice from the Bible. But laws against discrimination and segregation do not “establish a religion.”

If these “exclude religion” arguments succeed in court, they could soon be applied against evangelicals and Catholics who make “religious” arguments against abortion. Majority votes to protect unborn children could then be invalidated by saying these voters are “establishing a religion.” And, by such reasoning, all the votes of religious citizens for almost any issue could be found invalid by court decree! This would be the direct opposite of the kind of country the Founding Fathers established, and the direct opposite of what they meant by “free exercise” of religion in the First Amendment.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 31.

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

During the history of the church, Christians have had a decisive influence in opposing and often abolishing slavery in the Roman Empire, in Ireland, and in most of Europe (though Schmidt frankly notes that a minority of “erring” Christian teachers have supported slavery in various centuries). In England, William Wilberforce, a devout Christian, led the successful effort to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire by 1840.

In the United States, though there were vocal defenders of slavery among Christians in the South, they were vastly outnumbered by the many Christians who were ardent abolitionists, speaking, writing, and agitating constantly for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Schmidt notes that two-thirds of the American abolitionists in the mid-1830s were Christian clergymen, and he gives numerous examples of the strong Christian commitment of several of the most influential of the antislavery crusaders, including Elijah Lovejoy (the first abolitionist martyr), Lyman Beecher, Edward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), Charles Finney, Charles T. Torrey, Theodore Weld, William Lloyd Garrison, “and others too numerous to mention.” The American civil rights movement that resulted in the outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination was led by Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian pastor, and supported by many Christian churches and groups.

There was also strong influence from Christian ideas and influential Christians in the formulation of the Magna Carta in England (1215) and of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1787) in the United States. These are three of the most significant documents in the history of governments on the earth, and all three show the marks of significant Christian influence in the foundational ideas of how governments should function.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 49-50.

CS Lewis Doodles (3 Videos): The Moral Law and Subjectivism

This talk became Chapter 3 of Lewis’ book ‘Mere Christianity’ and was called ‘The Reality of the [universal] Moral Law’

This third talk became Chapter 4 of Lewis’ book ‘Mere Christianity’ and was originally called ‘Materialism or Religion’

This essay contains the essence of Lewis’ arguments in his fascinating short book ‘The Abolition of Man/Humanity’

The New Normal… Censorship (Plus: Family Guy) [UPDATED]

Censorship is the new norm, and this is with thanks to the left. See for instance Jerry Seinfeld talking about censorship in comedy.

To even write that Bruce Jenner is a man and not a woman is hate speech.

Pittsburgh ‘News’ Room, Lobbyists Demand Columnist Firing for ‘Jenner Still a Mister’ Piece

Stating an anti-transgender opinion is close to forbidden in today’s “news” pages and “news” rooms, especially after the Bruce Jenner fawning frenzy. Exhibit A? Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist and associate editor Jennifer Graham (no relation to me) wrote a column truthfully titled “Caitlyn Jenner is still a mister.” 

JimRomenesko.com notes Jay Brown of the so-called Human Rights Campaign demanded in a letter that she be fired for “hate speech, plain and simple”: 

I am writing to you regarding a despicably offensive and inaccurate column by your employee, Jennifer Graham. Simply put, after submitting a piece so utterly lacking truth or decency, she should be relieved of her role as a columnist….

There is still time to make this right, but the solution involves taking action now. Ms. Graham has no business serving as a columnist at a publication with a reputation as sterling like yours. Instead, lift up a  Pittsburgh voice that has something meaningful to say on the issues of the day.”   

…read more…

I posted the above on my FaceBook and got the following response from a gal I adore… but who is just mimicking pop-culture:

How is it anyone’s business other than Caitlin Jenner’s to decide what/who to be called?

Here is my response to the above… and it is in the hopes to create sound thinking/reflection on how she, we, encapsulate thoughts… and thus meaning. (I AM HERE including slightly more information than in the original response):

You are making my point. So let’s change this around: “How is it anyone’s business other than ‘the Pittsburgh columnist to comment on Jenner’.”

You see, when a baker decides to not make a cake for a specific event, the power of the state gets involved. Likewise, we will soon see the state get involved in issues like these… like pastors being fined and even threatened with jail for preaching from Romans.

Also, there is a growing movement of people who had operations to become a woman speaking out against fellow “prospective” transgenders from getting the operation and deluding oneself into thinking they are the opposite sex (See my “Transgender Page” for some examples)

Again, using your premise said another way:

Self Refuting (Alvin Plantinga’s “Tar Baby”)

Again, relativism claims that all so-called truth is relative, that there really is no absolute truth, but that different things (whatever they may be) may be true for me but not for you.  This is at times called perspectivalism.

  • Statement: There is no such thing as absolute truth; [or alternatively, there are many truths.]

Is this philosophy of relativism making the statement that this is the ultimate, absolute truth about truth?  In that case, it actually asserts what it denies, and so is self-deleting, simply logically incoherent as a philosophical position[1] and in violation of the Law of non-contradiction (LNC), one of the most important laws of logical thought.[2]  I will show some common – everyday – rebukes that show how people contradict themselves, thus undermining what in fact they are trying to assert.

Some Examples ~ You Shouldn’t Force Your Morality On Me![3]

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t force your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Why not?”
  • First Person: “Because I don’t believe in forcing morality.”
  • Second Person: “If you don’t believe in it, then by all means, don’t do it. Especially don’t force that moral view of yours on me.”

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that statement. Do you mean I have no right to an opinion?”
  • First Person: “You have a right to you’re opinion, but you have no right to force it on anyone.”
  • Second Person: “Is that your opinion?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then why are you forcing it on me?”
  • First Person: “But your saying your view is right.”
  • Second Person: “Am I wrong?”
  • First Person: “Yes.”
  • Second Person: “Then your saying only your view is right, which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”

  • First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”
  • Second Person: “Correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here, but it sounds to me like your telling me I’m wrong.”
  • First Person: “You are.”
  • Second Person: “Well, you seem to be saying my personal moral view shouldn’t apply to other people, but that sounds suspiciously like you are applying your moral view to me.  Why are you forcing your morality on me?”

Self-Defeating

  • “Most of the problems with our culture can be summed up in one phrase: ‘Who are you to say?’” ~ Dennis Prager

So lets unpack this phrase and see how it is self-refuting, or as Tom Morris[4] put it, self-deleting. When someone says, “Who are you to say?” answer with, “Who are you to say ‘Who are you to say’?”[5]

This person is challenging your right to correct another, yet she is correcting you.  Your response to her amounts to “Who are you to correct my correction, if correcting in itself is wrong?” or “If I don’t have the right to challenge your view, then why do you have the right to challenge mine?”  Her objection is self-refuting; you’re just pointing it out.

The “Who are you to say?” challenge fails on another account.  Taken at face value, the question challenges one’s authority to judge another’s conduct.  It says, in effect, “What authorizes you to make a rule for others?  Are you in charge?”  This challenge miscasts my position.  I don’t expect others to obey me simply because I say so.  I’m appealing to reason, not asserting my authority.  It’s one thing to force beliefs; it’s quite another to state those beliefs and make an appeal for them.

The “Who are you to say?” complaint is a cheap shot.  At best it’s self-defeating.  It’s an attempt to challenge the legitimacy of your moral judgments, but the statement itself implies a moral judgment.  At worst, it legitimizes anarchy!

[1] Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (IDG Books; 1999), p. 46
[2] “…is considered the foundation of logical reasoning,” Manuel Velasquez, Philosophy: A Text with Readings (Wadsworth; 2001), p. 51.  “A theory in which this law fails…is an inconsistent theory”, edited by Ted Honderich, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, (Oxford Univ; 1995), p. 625.
[3] Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Baker Books; 1998), p. 144-146.
[4] Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (IDG Books; 1999), p. 46
[5] Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Baker Books; 1998), p. 144-146.

(See more at my SCRIBD)

I then mentioned that the first part of this “two-part import” from my old blog to my new one may fit the applications as well:

Agree or Not?

This is a combination of two posts, the first was a question I posed to someone in a forum. Below you see what that question was and where I led that person. The second is a bit of political science. Both repeat some of the same idea, but both are different.

So let’s highlight the first question by a court case that has, well, institutionalized the “post-modern” society. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1996), the 9th District Appeals Court wrote:

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.”

In other words, whatever you believe is your origin, and thus your designating meaning on both your life and body is your business, no one else’s. If you believe that the child growing in you – no matter at what stage (Doe v. Bolton) – isn’t a child unless you designate it so. You alone can choose to or not choose to designate life to that “fetus”. It isn’t a “potential person” until you say it is first a person. Understand? That being clarified, do you agree with this general statement:

“If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own reality…”

Sounds really close to the 9th Courts majority view doesn’t it. The above is basically saying that your opinion is just as valid as another persons opinion because both are your’s and the other persons perspective on something is formed from influences from your culture and experiences. So someone from New Guiney may have a differing view or opinion on eating dogs than an American.

Let’s compare a portion from both statements:

  1. “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe and of the mystery of human life…”
  2. “…the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own reality…”

Whether you’re an atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian or Muslim, it doesn’t matter. Your reality is just that… your reality, or opinion, or personal dogma. I want to now complete one of the quotes that I left somewhat edited, not only that, but I want to ask you if you still agree with it after you find out who wrote it.

Ready?

“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Forgotten Warning to America (Updated)

“I would like to call upon America to be more careful with its trust and prevent those wise persons who are attempting to establish even finer degrees of justice and even finer legal shades of equality – some because of their distorted outlook, others because of short-sightedness and still others out of self-interest – from falsely using the struggle for peace and for social justice to lead you down a false road. Because they are trying to weaken you; they are trying to disarm your strong and magnificent country in the face of this fearful threat – one which has never been seen before in the history of the world.” ~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn

found in Larry Elder’s book, Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003), 64.

(Book 1)

BigGovernment has this article (GONE! Now found at found at Virtue Online) to which I will only post a small portion of here. It is nice to see this level of deep thought over there!

The fact that moral relativism, multiculturalism, and political correctness are failures hasn’t prevented us from adopting these self-destructive concepts as the basis upon which we interact with others, at home and abroad. The failure to prevent the jihad treason murders at Fort Hood is perhaps the most obscene and obvious culmination of the damage that moral relativism has done to us all.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines moral relativism as something that one accuses another of, rather than something to which one proudly admits. Reasonable people know that some cultures, ideologies, and political systems are better than others, but most now lack the courage and clarity to declare it.

Most often it is associated with an empirical thesis that there are deep and widespread moral disagreements and a metaethical thesis that the truth or justification of moral judgments is not absolute, but relative to some group of persons. Sometimes ‘Moral Relativism’ is connected with a normative position about how we ought to think about or act towards those with whom we morally disagree, most commonly that we should tolerate them.

(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 “A World Split Apart” speech at Harvard was both an appreciation of and a warning to the West that rejection of definitive truths will lead to our decline and eventual fall. He identified the abandonment of the concept of evil and the rise of “humanism” that today is moral relativism and post-modernism as the cracked egg from which failed cultures are born.

Such a tilt of freedom in the direction of evil has come about gradually but it was evidently born primarily out of a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which there is no evil inherent to human nature; the world belongs to mankind and all the defects of life are caused by wrong social systems which must be corrected.

(Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart,” 1978)

Without a firm concept of identity and a clear understanding of and belief in concepts of right and wrong, good and evil and the ability to resolve similar dichotomies our society will fall to more absolutist ideas. We will fall because we lack the moral willpower to resist.

And yet — no weapons, no matter how powerful, can help the West until it overcomes its loss of willpower. In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal…

[…..]

It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become an experience of moral growth; so that one may leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to review the table of widespread human values. Its present incorrectness is astounding.

A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man’s noblest impulses.

And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure.

(Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart,” 1978)

“I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality…. We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence — imperious, relentless and cruel.”

Hitler, from a plaque hung on the wall at Auschwitz; in Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God (Nashville, TN: W Publising Group, 1994), 23.

Icons of Pluralism Examined: Elephants and Geography Mantras

John Piippo has this great insight from Dinesh D’Souza:

Dinesh D’Souza, in his new book Life After Death: The Evidence, talks about the genetic fallacy as used, he feels, by certain atheists. For example, it is a sociological fact that the statementReligious diversity exists is true. If you were born in India, as D.Souza was, you would most likely be a Hindu rather than a Christian or a Jew (as D’Souza was). While that sociological statement is true, its truth has (watch closely…) no logical relevance as regards the statements such as The Hindu worldview is true, or Christian theism is true. D’ Souza writes:

“The atheist is simply wrong to assume that religious diversity undermines the truth of religious claims… [T]he fact that you learned your Christianity because you grew up in the Bible Belt [does not] imply anything about whether those beliefs are true or false. The atheist is guilty here of what in logic is called the “genetic fallacy.” The term does not refer to genes; it refers to origins. Think of it this way. If you are raised in New York, you are more likely to believe in Einstein’s theory of relativity than if you are raised in New Guinea. Someone from Oxford, England, is more likely to be an atheist than someone from Oxford, Mississippi. The geographical roots of your beliefs have no bearing on the validity of your beliefs.” (38-39, emphasis mine)

  • [Dinesh D’Souza, Life After Death: The Evidence (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2009), 38-39.]

…and this from Theo-Sophical Ruminations:

Religious pluralists often claim that religious beliefs are culturally relative: the religion you adopt is determined by where you live, not the rationality/truth of the religion itself.  If you live in India you will probably be a Hindu; if you live in the U.S. you will probably be a Christian.  One’s personal religious beliefs are nothing more than a geographic accident, so we should not believe that our religion is true while others are not.

This argument is a double-edged sword.  If the religious pluralist had been born in Saudi Arabia he would have been a Muslim, and Muslims are religious particularists!  His pluralistic view of religion is dependent on his being born in 20th century Western society!

A more pointed critique of this argument, however, comes from the realm of logic.  The line of reasoning employed by the pluralist commits the genetic fallacy (invalidating a view based on how a person came to hold that view).  The fact of the matter is that the truth of a belief is independent of the influences that brought you to believe in it….

See more at Wintery Knight and Apologetics Index:

(Mainly from Paul Copan’s “True for You, But not for Me“)

People have used this old parable to share their opinion or viewpoint that no one religion is the only route to God (pluralism). Pluralists believe that the road to God is wide. The opposite of this is that only one religion is really true (exclusivism).

What could a thoughtful person say in response?

  • Just because there are many different religious answers and systems doesn’t automatically mean pluralism is correct.
  • Simply because there are many political alternatives in the world (monarchy, fascism, communism, democracy, etc.) doesn’t mean that someone growing up in the midst of them is unable to see that some forms of government are better than others.
  • That kind of evaluation isn’t arrogant or presumptuous. The same is true of grappling with religion.
  • The same line of reasoning applies to the pluralist himself. If the pluralist grew up in Madagascar or medieval France, he would not have been a pluralist!
  • If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?
  • If Christian faith is true, then the Christian would be in a better position than the pluralist to assess the status of other religions
  • How does the pluralist know he is correct? Even though he claims others don’t know Ultimate Reality as it really is, he implies that he does. (To say that the Ultimate Reality can’t be known is a statement of knowledge.)
  • If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

If we can’t know Reality as it really is, why think one exists at all? Why not simply try to explain religions as purely human or cultural manifestations without being anything more?

[….]

If you had been born in another country, is it at all likely that you would be a Christian?

Eric looks back at his family—devoutly Christian for four generations in Europe and America, twelve pastors among his relatives, an inner-city schoolteacher and Christian writer for parents—and readily acknowledges that his environment made it easy for him to become a Christian. Still, his faith was exposed to severe challenges as he rose to the top of his university class and as he lived in Asia as a college student. And he knows it took a conscious series of wrenching decisions in his teens and early adult years for him to choose to remain a Christian. Oddly, one of the biggest influences on his faith came from outside his culture through Chinese Christian friends.

John Hick has asserted that in the vast majority of cases, an individual’s religious beliefs will be the conditioned result of his geographical circumstances.1 Statistically speaking, Hick is correct. But what follows from that scenario? We saw in an earlier chapter that the bare fact that individuals hold different views about a thing doesn’t make relativism the inevitable conclusion. Similarly, the phenomenon of varying religious beliefs hardly entails religious pluralism. Before becoming a religious pluralist, an exclusivist has a few equally reasonable options:

  • One could continue to accept the religion one grew up with because it has the ring of truth.
  • One could reject the view one grew up with and become an adherent to a religion believed to be true.
  • One could opt to embrace a less demanding, more convenient religious view.
  • One could become a religious skeptic, concluding that, because the process of belief-formation is unreliable, no religion appears to really save.

Why should the view of pluralism be chosen instead of these other options?

An analogy from politics is helpful.2 As with the multiple religious alternatives in the world, there are many political alternatives—monarchy, Fascism, Marxism, or democracy. What if we tell a Marxist or a conservative Republican that if he had been raised in Nazi Germany, he would have belonged to the Hitler Youth? He will probably agree but ask what your point is. What is the point of this analogy? Just because a diversity of political options has existed in the history of the world doesn’t obstruct us from evaluating one political system as superior to its rivals. Just because there have been many political systems and we could have grown up in an alternate, inferior political system doesn’t mean we are arrogant for believing one is simply better.3

Furthermore, when a pluralist asks the question about cultural or religious conditioning, the same line of reasoning applies to the pluralist himself. The pluralist has been just as conditioned as his religious exclusivist counterparts have. Alvin Plantinga comments:

Pluralism isn’t and hasn’t been widely popular in the world at large; if the pluralist had been born in Madagascar, or medieval France, he probably wouldn’t have been a pluralist. Does it follow that he shouldn’t be a pluralist or that his pluralistic beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process? I doubt it.4

If all religions are culturally conditioned responses to the Real, can’t we say that someone like Hick himself has been culturally conditioned to hold a pluralistic view rather than that of an exclusivist? If that is the case, why should Hick’s view be any less arbitrary or accidental than another’s? Why should his perspective be taken as having any more authority than the orthodox Christian’s?

There is another problem: The exclusivist likely believes he has better basis for holding to his views than in becoming a religious pluralist; therefore he is not being arbitrary. John Hick holds that the religious exclusivist is arbitrary: “The arbitrariness of [the exclusivist position] is underlined by the consideration that in the vast majority of cases the religion to which a person adheres depends upon the accidents of birth.”5 But the exclusivist believes he is somehow justified in his position—perhaps the internal witness of the Holy Spirit or a conversion experience that has opened his eyes so that now he sees what his dissenters do not—even if he can’t argue against the views of others. Even if the exclusivist is mistaken, he can’t be accused of arbitrariness. Hick wouldn’t think of his own view as arbitrary, and he should not level this charge against the exclusivist.

A third problem emerges: How does the pluralist know that he is correct? Hick says that the Real is impossible to describe with human words; It transcends all language. But how does Hick know this? And what if the Real chose to disclose Itself to human beings in a particular form (i.e., religion) and not another? Why should the claims of that religion not be taken seriously?6 As Christians, who lay claim to the uniqueness of Christ, we are often challenged to justify this claim—and we rightly should. But the pluralist is also making an assertion that stands in just as much need of verification. He makes a claim about God, truth, the nature of reality. We ought to press the pluralist at this very point: “How do you know you are right? Furthermore, how do you know anything at all about the Ultimate Reality, since you think all human attempts to portray It are inadequate?”7

At this point we see cracks in Hick’s edifice.8 Although Hick claims to have drawn his conclusions about religion from the ground up, one wonders how he could arrive at an unknowable Ultimate Reality. In other words, if the Real is truly unknowable and if there is no common thread running through all the world religions so that we could formulate certain positive statements about It (like whether It is a personal being as opposed to an impersonal principle, monotheistic as opposed to polytheistic, or trinitary as opposed to unitary), then why bother positing Its existence at all? If all that the world religions know about God is what they perceive—not what they know of God as he really is, everything can be adequately explained through the human forms of religion. The Ultimate becomes utterly superfluous. And while It could exist, there is no good reason to think that It does. One could even ask Hick what prevents him from going one step further and saying that religion is wholly human.

Furthermore, when Hick begins at the level of human experience, this approach almost inevitably winds up treating all religions alike. The German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg writes, “If everything comes down to human experiences, then the obvious conclusion is to treat them all on the same level.”9

In contrast to Hick, the Christian affirms that the knowledge of God depends on his gracious initiative to reveal himself.10 We read in Scripture that the natural order of creation (what we see) actually reveals the eternal power and nature of the unseen God. He has not left himself without a witness in the natural realm (Rom. 1:20; also Acts 14:15–18; 17:24–29; Ps. 19:1). God’s existence and an array of his attributes can be known through his effects. His fingerprints are all over the universe. The medieval theologian-philosopher Thomas Aquinas, for instance, argued in this way: “Hence the existence of God, insofar as it is not self-evident to us, can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are known to us.”11 What we know about God and an overarching moral law in light of his creation, in fact, means we are without excuse (Rom. 2:14–15). (We’ll say more about general revelation in Part IV.) So rather than dismissing the observable world as inadequate, why can’t we say that what we see in the world serves as a pointer toward God?

Thus there is a role for Christian apologetics to play in defending the rationality and plausibility of the Christian revelation.12 This role—especially in the face of conflicting worldviews—shouldn’t be underestimated.13 While Christians should be wary of furnishing arguments as “proofs,” which tend to imply a mathematical certainty, a modest and plausible defense of Christianity—carried out in dependence on God’s Spirit—often provides the mental evidence people need to pursue God with heart, soul, and mind.

Deflating “If You Grew Up in India, You’d Be a Hindu.”

The phenomenon of differing religious beliefs doesn’t automatically entail religious pluralism. There are other options.

Simply because there are many political alternatives in the world (monarchy, Fascism, communism, democracy, etc.) doesn’t mean someone growing up in the midst of them is unable to see that some forms of government are better than others. That kind of evaluation isn’t arrogant or presumptuous. The same is true of grappling with religion.

The same line of reasoning applies to the pluralist himself. If the pluralist grew up in Madagascar or medieval France, he would not have been a pluralist!

If we are culturally conditioned regarding our religious beliefs, then why should the religious pluralist think his view is less arbitrary or conditioned than the exclusivist’s?

If Christian faith is true, then the Christian would be in a better position than the pluralist to assess the status of other religions.

How does the pluralist know he is correct? Even though he claims that others don’t know Ultimate Reality as It really is, he implies that he does. (To say that the Ultimate Reality can’t be known is to make at least one statement of knowledge.)

If the Christian needs to justify Christianity’s claims, the pluralist’s views need just as much substantiation.

If we can’t know Reality as It really is, why think one exists at all? Why not simply try to explain religions as purely human or cultural manifestations without being anything more?


NOTES

1. An Interpretation of Religion, 2.

2. Van Inwagen, ”Non Est Hick,” 213-214.

3. John Hick’s reply to this analogy is inadequate, thus leaving the traditional Christian view open to the charge of arrogance: ”The Church’s claim is not about the relative merits of different political systems, but about the eternal fate of the entire human race” (”The Epistemological Challenge of Religious Pluralism,” Faith and Philosophy 14 [July 1997]: 282). Peter van Inwagen responds by saying that Hick’s accusation is irrelevant to the charge of arrogance. Whether in the political or religious realm, I still must figure out which beliefs to hold among a number of options. So if I adopt a certain set of beliefs, then ”I have to believe that I and those who agree with me are right and that the rest of the world is wrong…. What hangs on one’s accepting a certain set of beliefs, or what follows from their truth, doesn’t enter into the question of whether it is arrogant to accept them” (”A Reply to Professor Hick,” Faith and Philosophy 14 [July 1997]: 299-300).

4. ”Pluralism,” 23-24.

5. This citation is from a personal letter from John Hick to Alvin Plantinga. See Alvin Plantinga’s article, ”Ad Hick,” Faith and Philosophy 14 (July 1997): 295. The critique of Hick in this paragraph is taken from Plantinga’s article in Faith and Philosophy (295-302). 

6. D’Costa, “The Impossibility of a Pluralist View of Religions,” 229.

7. Hick has claimed that he does not know but merely presents a ”hypothesis” (see his rather unilluminating essay ”The Possibility of Religious Pluralism,” Religious Studies 33 [1997]: 161-166). However, his claims that exclusivism is ”arbitrary” or has ”morally or religiously revolting” consequences (in More Than One Way?, 246) betrays his certainty. 

8. This and the following paragraphs are based on Paul R. Eddy’s argument in ”Religious Pluralism and the Divine,” 470-78.

9. ”Religious Pluralism and Conflicting Truth Claims,” in Gavin D’Costa, ed., Christian Uniqueness Reconsidered: The Myth of a Pluralistic Theology of Religions (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1990), 102.

10. On this point, I draw much from D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God, 182-189. 

11. Summa Theologiae I.2.3c.

12. Two fine popular-level apologetics books are William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1994) and J. P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1987). A bit more rigorous but rewarding is Stuart C. Hackett, The Reconstruction of the Christian Revelation Claim (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1984). Three other apologetics books worth noting are Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli, Handbook of Christian Apologetics (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994); Norman Geisler, Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1976); and Winfried Corduan, Reasonable Faith.

13. Some well-meaning Christians have minimized the place of Christian apologetics for a number of reasons. But their reasons, discussed by C. Stephen Evans, tend to be inadequate: (1) ”Human reason has been damaged by sin,” but reason is not worthless, only defective. (2) ”Trying to use general revelation is presumptuous”: Seeking to persuade a person with arguments from general revelation doesn’t assume unassisted and autonomous reason (after all, reason is a gift from God); any such approach ought to rely upon God–just as presenting the gospel message should. (3) ”Natural revelation is unnecessary since special revelation is sufficient”: This argument wrongly assumes that God cannot use the world he created and the reason he gave us to interpret that creation to draw people to himself. (4) ”The arguments for God’s existence aren’t very good”: The Christian apologist should recognize that God has made the world in such a way that if a person is looking for loopholes to avoid God’s existence, he may do so, but it is not due to a lack of evidence. It seems that God would permit evidence for his existence to be resistible and discountable so that humans do not look like utter nitwits if they reject God. There is more to belief than mere intellectual reasons; people often have moral reasons for rejecting God. (See Evans’ fine essay, ”Apologetics in a New Key,” in Craig and McLeod, The Logic of Rational Theism, 65-75.) 

Example of the failure of the Genetic Fallacy:

Even if they are skeptical of their faith, which should be/is a natural human tendency and should be encouraged in an environment where one feels safe. I do wish, before the larger post of studies below, that there was another fallacy presented in the above video. And it deals with the genetic fallacy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_fallacy). It was pointed out that some people are born in places where Christianity is the dominant philosophy, and so they are Christian. Others are born in places where they have a Hindu influence, a Buddhist influence, or like in many parts of Europe, a secular influence. This however does nothing to disprove a religious belief as true or not true. I will give an example.

In the West we accept the truth of Einstein relativity as a scientific fact (or close to a fact). In fact, many theories based on this are shown to work out with these assumptions of fact in mind. Fine, we are born into a culture that believes this truth to be true. Now, if you were born in Papua New Guinea, the general populace may reject the truth of this since as a whole their culture is not steeped in this belief or the scientific method. This has or says nothing about the truth of Einstein’s theory. Which is why this is a fallacy and should be rejected.

`To Judge, Or Not To Judge` ~ Weiner Opts for the Later

Pragerism

“Most of the problems with our culture can be summed up in one phrase: ‘Who are you to say?’” ~ Dennis Prager.

(This comes via a h/t to Libertarian Republican) I thought this exchange between Weiner and a fellow Jew (who was very wise in his summation), but Wiener’s relativism comes screaming through. Let’s deal with this self-refuting statement first, and then let CARM jump in on the ethics wagon. The question becomes, if looking at Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s famous maxim, “If there is no God, all things are permissible,”

“If there IS a God, are all things still permissible?”

Even the right to walk the streets without consequences for one’s actions? This aside, let us unpack a bit the challenge with three mock conversations from, Relativism: Feet Planted Firmly in Mid-Air, and is taken from a larger paper incorporating a wide variety of sources on this:

First Person: “You shouldn’t force your morality on me.”

Second Person: “Why not?”

First Person: “Because I don’t believe in forcing morality.”

Second Person: “If you don’t believe in it, then by all means, don’t do it. Especially don’t force that moral view of yours on me.”


First Person: “You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”

Second Person: “I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that statement. Do you mean I have no right to an opinion?”

First Person: “You have a right to you’re opinion, but you have no right to force it on anyone.”

Second Person: “Is that your opinion?”

First Person: “Yes.”

Second Person: “Then why are you forcing it on me?”

First Person: “But your saying your view is right.”

Second Person: “Am I wrong?”

First Person: “Yes.”

Second Person: “Then your saying only your view is right, which is the very thing you objected to me saying.”


First Person:You shouldn’t push your morality on me.”

Second Person: “Correct me if I’m misunderstanding you here, but it sounds to me like your telling me I’m wrong.”

First Person: “You are.”

Second Person: “Well, you seem to be saying my personal moral view shouldn’t apply to other people, but that sounds suspiciously like you are applying your moral view to me.  Why are you forcing your morality on me?”

Self-Defeating

  • “Most of the problems with our culture can be summed up in one phrase: ‘Who are you to say?’” ~ Dennis Prager.  So lets unpack this phrase and see how it is self-refuting, or as Tom Morris[1] put it, self-deleting. When someone says, “Who are you to say?” answer with, “Who are you to say ‘Who are you to say’?” [2]

This person is challenging your right to correct another, yet she is correcting you.  Your response to her amounts to “Who are you to correct my correction, if correcting in itself is wrong?” or “If I don’t have the right to challenge your view, then why do you have the right to challenge mine?”  Her objection is self-refuting; you’re just pointing it out.

The “Who are you to say?” challenge fails on another account.  Taken at face value, the question challenges one’s authority to judge another’s conduct.  It says, in effect, “What authorizes you to make a rule for others?  Are you in charge?”  This challenge miscasts my position.  I don’t expect others to obey me simply because I say so.  I’m appealing to reason, not asserting my authority.  It’s one thing to force beliefs; it’s quite another to state those beliefs and make an appeal for them.

The “Who are you to say?” complaint is a cheap shot.  At best it’s self-defeating.  It’s an attempt to challenge the legitimacy of your moral judgments, but the statement itself implies a moral judgment.  At worst, it legitimizes anarchy.[3]


[1] Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies (IDG Books; 1999), p. 46
[2] Francis Beckwith & Gregory Koukl, Relativism: Feet Planted in Mid-Air (Baker Books; 1998), p. 144-146.
[3] Via SCRIBD

Defining Relativism ~ Dr. Beckwith

Dennis Prager, quite a few years ago, points out quite well that what the Left wants is NOT to be judged, in contradistinction to a ethical norm in human behavior:

  • Personal responsibility means you could be judged guilty.

  • We never want to be judged guilty.
  • So we must stop people who make such judgments.
  • We stop them by calling them judgmental.

He continues

We have substituted normal and sick for good and evil, and that, again, means no personal responsibility. How can you be held responsible if you did what you did because you are sick?…. There is no one standard to which all people are accountable any more. And that’s what Race-Gender-Class does. It subverts responsibility.

CARM rightly makes the point that — especially those who believe in the Bible (as Wiener seemingly professes in the above video)

…Without a standard of morality, there is no way to judge what is good or bad. Atheists, for example, might decry what is the behavior of God in the Old Testament when he orders the destruction of people groups. But, by what standard does any atheist have to judge what is morally correct? At best, an atheist would only have the ability to express an opinion since he cannot offer any objective standard of morality.

Religious people can appeal to a higher power from which they can ascertain what is good and bad…. God does and he has communicated his standard of righteousness. This communication is found in the Bible. Take the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20. We see a codification of moral standards. We are told not to lie, not to commit adultery, not to covet, etc.  These are standards given to us by God and though there are other cultures that don’t believe in the biblical God, they might have similar moral codes.  But, for the Christian the Bible is the supreme authority that judges what is moral.

We can only judge what is moral if we have a standard given to us by God, not some standard that is based on emotion, opinion, or the changing morals of society.  Even though atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and non-Christians might not approve of standards found in the Scriptures, we Christians believe that the Bible is the revealed and inspired Word of God and that within its pages are the moral standards by which we are to model our behavior. Therefore, the right to we have to judge what is moral comes from God as is revealed in his Word….

So Wiener’s summation in this back-and-forth show most of all his lack of deep thought on the important issue of public morality… and the consequences of violating it. Becoming a laughing stock!

Even Gay Patriot couldn’t pass this example of narcissism up!

It shows one of life’s classic moral confrontations.

  • The normal person (“normal” just meaning, “takes for granted that there are norms of personal behavior”) expresses a viewpoint like: There are norms; you are aware that you violated them when you repeatedly betrayed and humiliated your wife with your deviance, right? I’m not judging you, you can go home and have a good life, but you really don’t belong in the public eye. Have a nice life, but please stop bothering us here in the public square.
  • While the malignant narcissist expresses a viewpoint like: How DARE you tell me that I don’t belong in the public eye, being adored (e.g., voted for – and given power)?! You small person, you coward, you ignoramus, you self-appointed judge, you [insert names of choice]!

Hat tip, Michelle Malkin.

And Moonbat makes the point that some are attacking Obama’s positions just like they did Bush’s, but the difference this time is the media is ignoring it. Hmmmm… “naw, this isn’t more proof of a media bias” — says lemming:

The Incoherence of the Cultural Relativist Making Moral Pronouncements ~ Conversation Series

Here is a great conversation that stemmed from another story — as debated on FaceBook. I commented on a story someone posted on their FaceBook about an Iraqi woman who was killed in her home, and whoever murdered her left a note calling her a terrorist and they (the family) should go back to the Middle-East. (THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED!) The person posting the story did so to try and show that there is a bias against Muslims. I often wondered why the liberal does this, that is, find stories to showboat as against the status-quo showing America or our culture as racist by finding rare stories of victims to make some point of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, imperialism, bigotry, or intolerance. David Mamet answered this for me. After he laid the premise of the protagonist in a play who is typically afflicted by a condition not of their making, thus, drawing a similarity to the political realm of someone “afflicted” with homosexuality, illness, being a woman, etc, saying they had merely acted and thusly could not have sinned, he furthers his point by saying:

These plays were an (unfortunate) by-product of the contemporary love-of-the-victim. For a victim, as above, is pure, and cannot have sinned; and one, by endorsing him, may perhaps gain, by magic, part of his incontrovertible status.

So the liberal, by emphasizing these “victim-hood” stories, absorbs to their psyche innocence, proving that they are peaceful, fair, tolerant, stand for the poor, disenfranchised, and care about the environmentThus, better than those whom they just labeled. While many of these people will label religious folk as “holier than thou,” it is these priests of the victicrats [whether directed towards human plight or a perceived environment plight] that are replacing spirituality with “concern.” They are not just as religious, but are in fact fanatical in their positions.  (Larry Elder defines a “victicrat” as someone who “blames all ills, problems, concerns and unhappiness on others.”) At least the religious person is being honest and keeping the categories straight. But I digress.

I posted a quick response that this story is fresh and that it could be that this is a cover up for an honor killing, or the like.  This got things kicked off! As evidence that countered the story came out I would post it… (glass busted out, not in; that a dark skinned man was seen running from the house [by-the-way, this effectively stopped part of the conversation… why?… because how could one victim group/minority commit a hate crime against another? There has to be a racist white guy in the story to represent imperialistic, xenophobic, bigoted America. It just doesn’t compute!]). This led to another person, Michael H., jumping in the conversation, taking it another place entirely! Wee will pick it up from the point where he jumped in

Michael H.

Maybe someone killed her because she hates our freedoms. Its sad whatever the reason.

Pat O

No matter, if it was a relative, neighbor, enemy or stranger. It takes a lot of hate to kill someone like that.

Me

Crimes like this are typically familial. Not to mention that the Islamic influence debases women’s humanity and allows for men to “honor” kill them. Now, the question becomes why Nick would post this story and not ones found here? http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/honor_killings/

Now, mind you, I do not frequent Nick’s FB all that much (and in fact I just popped in to see if he uploaded a picture of him wearing a hoodie, or something), but I would guess that he posted the story because it was thought of first as a representation of intolerance towards Islam… showing America’s depravity in some way. Why do extreme liberal orgs support women rapists/killers? (http://youtu.be/IecSOR36CMA). There seems to be some inversion going on here… some moral equivalency, some lack of looking at history, objectively (how people from Saudi Arabia (the home of Wahhabism) treat women. The long list of honor killings. But I am sure a recalling of some Crusade or crime done in the name of Christianity from a 1,000 years ago will hold the faith of those who protect madness and debase Western culture and its influences.

Me

Michael H., maybe someone killed her because she started to fall in love with our freedoms, and her own possibility in those freedoms.

Michael H.

I was joking just so you know. Her family had been in the states for a long while, and her husband was a contractor for the US Army. So I think its unlikely that they were fundamentalists.

Nick N.

Lets go over the facts: She was a devout muslim and mother of 5 children. There was a note found near her body saying “go back to your country you terrorist.” She lives in a neighborhood where other muslims have reported “descriminatory hate incidents”. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a hate crime is still on the table… If you’d rather deny that possibility be my guest.

But know that it’s not just the far left that are worried about incidents like these. Libertarian Anthony Gregory commented that “even though the Iraqi people did nothing against the United States, only to see their country destroyed, hundreds of thousands of their people slaughtered, millions displaced in two decades of murderous U.S. wars and sanctions, somehow these people are still seen as the dangerous ones. But of course, if it’s morally justifiable to treat people as subhuman by the millions—a principle necessarily implicit in the U.S. warfare state—what’s one more dead mother count?”

I understand you have a particular.. view… of muslims as dangerous or irrational people who would murder another for simply being happy or loving freedom, and i have to say this is worrysome to me….

Me

QUOTE:

If the “hate crime” narrative is going to work in describing the brutal beating of Shaima Alawadi, can it be maintained if a man with a dark skin color is a suspect? When was the last time you heard of a Hispanic or African-American attacking a Muslim in America? Could it be that this man was also from Iraq? From UT San Diego:

El Cajon police continue to stress that the possibility of a hate crime is only one avenue they are pursuing, and that they believe the attack to be an isolated incident.

A neighbor told police a dark-skinned man was seen running from the house, according to police records obtained by KFMB/Channel 8. Family members have said in media interviews that a similar note had been found weeks earlier posted on their front door, but they did not notify police.

If the death is determined to be a hate crime, it would be highly unusual.

Of the county’s 136 hate crimes reported in 2010, El Cajon police reported one, according to data gathered by the state Attorney General’s Office. None was reported in 2009, one in 2008 and one in 2007… (UT San Diego)

UNQUOTE

Maybe she wanted to not wear her Hijab anymore? … I like facts Nick N.

Michael H.

I would be extremely worried about us if I was not one of us, but I’m actually still extremely worried about us even though I am on of us. Right or wrong, most of the world has a million reasons to fear and despise the United States. If someone is not able to see that, then they are another reason as far as I’m concerned. I would love to turn all that around if we can. The first step to that is seeing all humans as being created equal and worthy of respect.

Me

All people created equal, but not all ideologies Michael. So an ideology can make good people bad, yeah? So starving 15-million people to death is actually seen as a good thing.

‎…. or having the older sons help the father kill his daughter who is becoming too “Western.”

‎…. or his wife?

Michael H.

Or half the fucking country who claim to be Christians advocating the murder of millions of people over and over again because they are fooled into thinking these said people are worth less than other people. Does “Hitler” ring a bell. We kill people for breaking rules all the time. Its called the death penalty. Whats your point?

Me

Please Michael, be calm, I know leftism is a bit emotional and you are proving my point, but lets work through this. Do you wish to talk about your figure of millions, or, your statement about Hitler {since it was not clear maybe you can correct me if I am wrong] being a Christian?

Also, are you morally equivocating the death penalty (which is typically applied with a jury of peers and many appeals to courts/upper courts) to the killing of a woman or girl for wanting to be free from a cultural mandate from 640 A.D.? Please, take your time and be clear… because if that is not what you said you should make sure we all understand it.

Michael H.

First off, I do not claim a leftist ideology. So sorry to not prove your point. My point is simple and clear. You actually proved it. You sound like you value the morality from your own institutions and culture as superior to others. What the hell is wrong with the ideology of a culture that has vastly more history and cultural significance than our own? To be clear I am not advocating honor killings or anything else for that matter. I am however wondering where the authority to claim that the morality and customs of another country are somehow inferior to our own comes from. I do think that other peoples customs need to respect ours if they are in this country and they need to follow our laws but we are certainly not superior to anyone else. It is clear you believe we are better or superior or more educated or civilized or what ever the fuck you want to call it. My point is, this has happened throughout history. This is the kind of thinking that gave power to Hitler and slavery and every war America engages in. Yes millions; in the last century. Millions of people have been killed in the wars we have fought. But its ok because they were communists, or uncivilized people or terrorists, or the axis of evil, or different and bad in some way. So to be perfectly clear, I do not support anyone that thinks they are superior to any other group of people. To do so shows ignorance and a contempt towards humanity. I was not implying Hitler was a Christian, there is an overwhelming support of wars against Islam by Christians though. This kind of thinking in my opinion shows a clear moral bankruptcy. So yes I am morally equivocating the death penalty and common law to other forms of law that have existed since the dawn of civilization. I appreciate ours much more and i am very happy I live here, but I certainly respect the traditions of those who came before us. All the evil horrible things that have happened throughout history were allowed to occur because people viewed their own cultures as superior to another. This kind of thinking needs to stop. The truth if you can handle it is that those dirty primitive cave people belong to some of the most culturally rich groups of people on earth who happened to invent modern agriculture, civilization, mathematics and Astronomy just to name a couple things. Sorry you did not have me all figured out thinking I was a liberal. I know that would have made it easy. Really I am just sick of war and I am sick of people thinking that we belong to some righteous culture, because we don’t. But we could if we stopped acting like fools. That’s all I got to say. See ya later.

Me

QUOTE YOU

“To be clear I am not advocating honor killings or anything else for that matter. I am however wondering where the authority to claim that the morality and customs of another country are somehow inferior to our own comes from.”

UNQUOTE

There is a self-contradiction going on here, between the two sentences/ideas. I wish to offer a single book for those interested in taking the understanding of “cultural relativism” to task, just one book to counter the many hours in classes and hearsay thinking. It is entitled RELATIVISM: FEET PLANTED FIRMLY IN MID-AIR (you may have to order a used copy… cheaper that way). Its under 200 pages long, and explains well the idea that one cannot speak against a meta-narrative without replacing it with another:

Here is how I deal with it in my opening chapter to me book:

Anthropologist William Sumner argues against the logical position when he says that “every attempt to win an outside standpoint from which to reduce the whole to an absolute philosophy of truth and right, based on an unalterable principle, is delusion.” [81] Authors Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl respond to this self-defeating claim by showing that Sumner is making a strong claim here about knowledge:

He says that all claims to know objective moral truth are false because we are all imprisoned in our own cultural and are incapable of seeing beyond the limits of our own biases. He concludes, therefore, that moral truth is relative to culture and that no objective standard exists. Sumner’s analysis falls victim to the same error committed by religious pluralists who see all religions as equally valid.[82]

The authors continue: Sumner’s view, however, is self-refuting. In order for him to conclude that all moral claims are an illusion, he must first escape the illusion himself. He must have a full and accurate view of the entire picture…. Such a privileged view is precisely what Sumner denies. Objective assessments are illusions, he claims, but then he offers his own“objective” assessment. It is as if he were saying, “We’re all blind,” and then adds, “but I’ll tell you what the world really looks like.” This is clearly contradictory.[83]

Philosopher Roger Scruton drives this point home when he says, “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely negative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.” [84]

For references: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34407776/Introduction-Technology-Junkies?in_collection=2649254

May I also mention, again, that I am still offering Michael to support a single claim out of the many he presents in “shotgun form” (what some people refer to as the “Gish Gallop” ~ http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Gish+Gallop) to try and make a point seem valid by offering a string of bumper sticker platitudes connected together. For instance, just saying “Hitler did ‘A'” does not connect his refutation of the main subject. Do you wish to, Michael, camp on this single topic out of the many (now more points you have entered into the conversation) and do the hard work of dissecting your perception of history, culture, and religion, and discuss (dialogue) these great ideas or do you simply wish to monologue them by endless streams of quips and bad thinking? (I refer to “bad thinking in the self-contradictory aspect of his two sentences together).

For instance, lets go to the sources themselves and see who is closer to the point Michael is making:

“I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality…. We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence — imperious, relentless and cruel.” Adolf Hitler, A sign of his quote hangs on the wall at Auschwitz; Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, p. 23. (from: http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/a-starbucks-encounter-michael-berryman/)

“Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18. (From: http://religiopoliticaltalk.com/what-is-fascism-two-posts-combined-imported-from-old-blog/)

So as simple as you try and make it sound Michael, you have an opportunity to lay aside your “machismo” and either continue the conversation here, focusing like a laser beam on one of your statements to see if they pan out to reality, or, continue it with me privately. Both ways are getting out of your sound-room/group of like thinking persons you (we all do this) surround yourself with. My email is: rpt@r-pt.net

I will post a videos and an audio of some of the thinking found in that recommended book below.

Michael H.

I do not posses a sound group of like thinking persons. If you find one be sure to let me know. I appreciate the reading material, but I do not need justification for my ideals or yours, I prefer to keep myself free from dogmas and proclaimed ideologies. My opinion is my own and I do not feel the need to defend it or prove it correct by quoting text from another persons attempt to validate their own ideas. I am not going to get into this conversation with you trying to prove that I am right through logic or prove what you are saying is fallacious. My opinion is not factual or provable or even necessarily correct for that mater, its just my opinion, and I refuse to paraphrase the ideas of religious philosophers in a dueling match of circular reasoning. I wholeheartedly believe in the concept of relativism, and will never even consider the possibility of one ultimate truth, god, philosophy or religion. I will check out what you sent me. Thanks.

Me

“My opinion is my own and I do not feel the need to defend it or prove it correct by quoting text from another persons attempt to validate their own ideas” Then you are posting here because you are a narcissist? Or a masochist?

You see, every theory, model, religious position, political ideal (whatever!) needs to be internally consistent. I appreciate that you will pursue the ideas I expressed, but I wish to point out again where your statements are nonsensical, or, incoherent. For instance, when you say, “I wholeheartedly believe in the concept of relativism, and will never even consider the possibility of one ultimate truth, god, philosophy or religion.” Do you see the contradiction in your statement? A great example comes from a philosophy 101 class I took. The teacher had just graduated with a masters in poli-sci and philosophy (a double major). She mentioned before starting our first class that this was her first teaching position/class. She then, within minutes of that wrote on the white board the following:

✪ “There is no absolute truth.”

I felt bad raising my hand and pointing out the inherent contradiction… because she had just stated her “greenness.” But if what she was true, then it refutes her statement, if it is false, it is false. You are essentially saying the same thing. Your denial IS AN ABSOLUTE. In fact, my chapter on karma and reincarnation was born from a paper I wrote for her class. What was her main problem? I think she only read things in her belief structure and never expanded her thinking beyond what she wanted to study and what was hand fed to her by her professors. What was the result? Being embarrassed by something that a first year student knows (Aristotelian logic) at Biola.

You should put two books on your bookcase and keep them there for reading when you get a “bug” under your skin – the RELATIVISM book I already recommended, and “Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith.” Just add some thinking that challenges your entrenched position. That is all I can encourage you to do Michael.

Cheers.

One should take note that many of Michael H.’s positions are moral claims or authoritative claims to knowledge. He just refuses to tie in any epistemology to his claims thus invalidating anyone taking him seriously… which he admits to: “my opinion is my own and I do not feel the need to defend it…” I doubt he has read my posts thoughtfully (maybe he has?), but the relativist position (his) is just as absolute as the communist/Marxist or the conservative evangelical… he just thinks his position is benighted thinking, thusly adopting a “hollier than though” mentality. Which he rejects in other persons.

Really, then, Michael’s position can be summed up as follows: