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How Does Relativism Contradict Itself?


– [Rebecca McLaughlin‎] Relativism is the
belief that there is no universal truth. That all truth is specific to its culture
and its time. And at a basic level,
this contradicts itself because it is a universal statement. If I stand up in a room and say,
“Nobody in this room can make any laws,” you shouldn’t listen to me. But if we buy into relativism,
what other problems do we have? Well, first, we can make no universal
moral statements like “Men and women are equally valuable.” Second, we can make no absolute historical
statements like “The Holocaust happened.” And third, while relativism seems to be a
humble approach on religious questions, it actually turns up being quite arrogant. Because if I say Christianity can be true
for me, well, Islam is true for you, I’m not taking the beliefs of either of
those religions seriously. Ultimately, we respect each other far more
if we are willing to disagree.

7 Replies to “How Does Relativism Contradict Itself?”

  • I love that this looks beyond the initial contradiction, since relativists now readily accept that they claim the only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths. Useful points for discussion, thank you!

  • Some people, called ‘relativists’, would answer Pilate’s question 'What is truth?' by saying that each person decides what is true for them. Jesus claims he is true-for-everyone and not just true-for-me.

    What could a thoughtful person say in response?

    If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?

    You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.

    You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism! 

    You’re applying your view to everyone but yourself. You expect others to believe your views (the ‘self-excepting fallacy’).

    Paul Copan reveals the key fallacies 'relativists' use all the time. Also read John 14:6 and 15:5 in the Bible – Jesus is absolute truth.
    Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen

  • Does anyone actually consider themselves a ‘relativist’? I haven’t heard anyone use this term to describe their own beliefs

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