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On the Case for Absolute Truth

The most disappointing and disturbing news to surface in a long while is noted on pages 83-85 of the 1991 Barna Report’s What Americans Believe. According to OmniPoll, an annual tracking survey conducted by the Barna Research Group of Glendale CA in January of 1991, a full 66% of Americans now deny that there is any such thing as absolute truth. “Different people can define truth in conflicting ways and still be correct”. That is evidently the prevailing view nowadays.

So there is no longer any commonly recognized standard of truth or morality in this country. One thought-system is considered just as intrinsically worthy as any other when it comes to explaining who we are and what we should believe about our world, our origins, our purpose, our destiny, or how we should live while we are here (morality). All religions should certainly be tolerant of all other religions, because no one religion is necessarily all right. There is no longer any “right”.

Here’s how this view is typically voiced in conversation: “Well, if that’s your opinion, that’s fine for you.” “Different strokes for different folks.” “Live and let live.” “To each his own.” “I gotta be me.” “No one should try to impose their standards on another.” “In this church we are all-inclusive. All views are accepted here.” “We believe that truth is to be found in the mind of the seeker.”

Typically, the religion of the New Age aims toward this sort of transcendent style, dabbling in this and borrowing from that and blending a little of this and that. “There is wisdom to be had from the Bhagavad-Gita,” a man whom I like told me recently, “but we can also learn from Meister Eckhart. There is great inspiration to be found in the writings of Socrates. And Jesus also has much to contribute.”

If this type of thinking is representative of the mindset behind the Barna statistics, then this Report is indeed both disappointing and disturbing. Why? First, because it denotes an unmitigated delusion on the part of an unprecedented number of Americans –a dangerous deviation from an already proven and successful historical national persuasion. To deny absolute truth is dangerous for one simple reason. If truth is only relative, truth per se ceases to exist. There is no truth. All you really have left is a rotating smorgasbord of totally subjective opinion, theory, “rights”, moral codes, and lifestyles. A plethora of radicalism, conflict, and litigation will precede an eventual, total, social meltdown.

To deny absolute truth also happens to be logically impossible. It is not compatible with the manner in which the mind of man is programmed to think. The late Dr. Francis Schaeffer in his book Escape from Reason wrote: “(Men have always) thought in terms of antithesis. If a certain thing was true, the opposite was not true. It is the only way man can think. There is no other way to think.” Although the modern thought form purports to be a viable alternative to the traditional, rational thought form, upon closer examination and road testing, it clearly fails.

When I read the Barna statistics to my father recently, he said, “It would be interesting to know if all of the folks who deny absolute truth do so absolutely.” Think about that. If you do NOT absolutely deny the possibility of absolute truth, you might as well just be silent, because anything but a categorical denial of absolute truth is really no denial at all. On the other hand, if you absolutely deny the possibility of absolute truth, you are, of course, contradicting your own position. You’re rather like the guy with the bumper sticker that read, “I HATE BUMPER STICKERS”. If that is funny, it is also rather numb.

All of which merely underscores the indisputable case for absolute truth. One can try to paint over absolute truth with the philosophical brush of Hegelian synthesis. One can try to dress absolute truth up in the modern costume of relativism. One can mindlessly echo the currently popular view that “for me, absolute truth is out; inclusiveness is in.” One can certainly play peek-a-boo with absolute truth. But one cannot really ever make absolute truth go away. In the final analysis, after all of humanity’s attempts to escape the absolute truth of God and its implications, the words of Romans 3:4 will continue to flash the most profound insight of all: “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…”