|Absolutes versus relatives|
| On the other hand, my perspective of reality does not become its own independent reality. My perspective always depends on the reality that I perceive.
If I try to set myself free from the constraints of reason, my imagination propels me into a make-believe world of ideas and feelings with no relationship to the reality from which they came. I end up with something called “relativism.”
Humanists begin with themselves as the starting point, opposing the intrusion of absolute truth. They talk about your truth and my truth, your reality and my reality. They speak in circles, because they see no fixed truth, no absolute, no universal point of reference. We are all points, unattached, moving freely, unaccountable to the one that put us here.
Relativism is a faceless thing, because it refuses to say what exactly it stands for. It claims a belief in goodness and peace and happiness and tolerance and openmindedness, but it refuses to give a clear picture of what it really stands for. It gives no clear guidelines or reasons or goals.
In Philosophy 101, the teacher tells us that relativism is illogical. Relativism is not a valid view. Yet, most people believe in some kind of relativism.
Look for example at the way people label each other as “extremists.” They assume that if an opponent’s views are “extreme,” that makes them wrong.
Certainly, the extreme views are often wrong, and the “moderate” view is sometimes right, but moderation does not make it right or extremism wrong. Moderation helps for planning a healthful diet, but it does not define truth.
Some people feel that we are safer with relativism. They don’t want us to believe too strongly in anything; that could be dangerous. Let me show you how silly this is. Suppose I am a pacifist; I am strongly commited to nonviolence. The more strongly I believe in pacifism, the more likely I will not kill someone. The less strongly I believe, the more likely I might kill someone.
You see, it is not how strongly you believe in something that determines your conduct. It is what you believe in that matters. It is the thing itself, the object of your faith.
When a relativist warns people against believing too strongly and dogmatically, we might ask, how strongly do you believe that? Are you willing to let go of it?
I’m not saying that we should be dogmatic about everything we believe. I’m saying that the danger lies in the belief itself.
Furthermore, the only thing to prevent us from believing strongly in one thing is a leaning toward something else. An absolute will only be replaced by an absolute.