Tuesday, March 24, 2015

This Is Relatively True

You know what frustrates me? It is very frustrating to be reading a book, and really gaining a lot from it, and wanting to pass along some of that good stuff, but knowing that simply sharing an excerpt won't do it.

In other words, there's a reason why Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek wrote the book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. It needed to be a book because there's just so much clear, precise reasoning to be shared...an article or single blog post just couldn't do it.

But in hopes of enticing you to read the whole book, let me share a few paragraphs from their chapter about relativism and the Moral Law, "Mother Teresa vs. Hitler."

The idea of there being no moral absolutes (relativism), and by extension, no god to provide them, is spoken against with a series of declarations, one of which is "Our Reactions Help Us Discover the Moral Law (Right from Wrong)."

A professor at a major university in Indiana...was teaching a class in ethics [and] assigned a term paper to his students. He told the students to write on any ethical topic of their choice, requiring each student only to properly back up his or her thesis with reasons and documentation.

One student, an atheist, wrote eloquently on the topic of moral relativism. He argued, "All morals are relative; there is no absolute standard of justice or rightness; it's all a matter of opinion; you like chocolate, I like vanilla," and so on. His paper provided both his reasons and his documentation. It was the right length, on time, and stylishly presented in a handsome blue folder.

After the professor read the entire paper, he wrote on the front cover, "F, I don't like blue folders!" When the student got the paper back he was enraged. He stormed into the professor's office and protested, "'F! I don't like blue folders!' That's not fair! That's not right! That's not just! You didn't grade the paper on its merits!"

Raising his hand to quiet the bombastic student, the professor calmly retorted, "Wait a minute. Hold on. I read a lot of papers. Let me see...wasn't your paper the one that said there is no such thing as fairness, rightness, and justice?"

"Yes," the student answered.

"Then what's this you say about me not being fair, right and just?" the professor asked. "Didn't your paper argue that it's all a matter of taste? You like chocolate, I like vanilla?"

The student replied, "Yes, that's my view."

"Fine, then," the professor responded. "I don't like blue. You get an F!"

Suddenly, the lightbulb went on in the student's head. He realized he really did believe in moral absolutes. He at least believed in justice. After all, he was charging his professor with injustice for giving him an F simply because of the color of the folder. That simple fact defeated his entire case for relativism.

The moral of the story is that there are absolute morals. And if you really want to get relativists to admit it, all you need to do is treat them unfairly. Their reactions will reveal the Moral Law written on their hearts and minds. Here, the student realized there is an objective standard of rightness by how he reacted to the professor's treatment of him. In the same way, I may not think stealing is wrong when I steal from you. But watch how morally outraged I get when you steal from me.

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Truth is...this is just a chip off the tip of the iceberg of this book.

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