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In morality,Relativism,Ron Galloway,Worldview

The Consequences of Relativism from a Christian Worldview

By Dr. Ron Galloway

The origins of relativism in North America and abroad arose from worldviews that worship nature as the ultimate reality, such as evolution, for example. The Roman letter of Paul warns in the very first chapter that any nation that begins to worship the energy, spirits, or processes of nature are in great peril. Paul explains that they becomes senseless in their reasoning and are en route to destruction if they do not turn away from the worship of the creature and creation, rather than the Creator who is blessed forever.[1]

North America and Europe have it all now: the worship of nature, contact with the spirit world, and hearts filling to overflowing with all the evils that the Roman letter says will fill the human heart when it exchanges the truth about God for a lie.[2] Once a society claims that truth and morality are relative, there remains no limit whatever to the heights and depths, or breadths, that evil can go, for there is no longer any basis for objection or protest against anything. If there is no truth, then who can object? If all that exists is no more than a random product of nature, there can be no evil. Therefore, who can consistently object to any evil of any kind? Evil has been ruled out of existence.

Consistency and Relativism

This is why I find it slightly comical when dyed-in-the-wool moral relativists object to injustice and discrimination. This is more than just a little inconsistent with their doctrine that truth is relative, and right and wrong a matter of taste and preference. Thanks to the continuance of their own God-given human conscience, many relativists still do not know what a hole they have dug for themselves and for the free world. Relativists often say that homosexuality is okay, but that child abuse is a horrible thing. It they are consistent, they must simply admit that they must sanction both, since, according to their own doctrine, right and wrong is simply a matter of taste and preference. Some relativists are already becoming more consistent and starting to advocate that maybe certain adults can have sexual child companions of the same or opposite gender.

Morality is not a preference; you can't choose it like you would a flavour of gelato. (Photo by Alex Gorzen, via Wikimedia Commons)At that point, less consistent relativists protest out of their revulsion at what they view as horrid conduct committed by horrid people.[3] But it should be remembered that a relativist protesting in this way is not practicing what he preaches. How can he or she object when according to their doctrine, all such practices are simply a matter of taste, and each person is entitled to generate his or her own unique set of values?

The more consistent relativists become, the more they will have to allow anything people other than themselves wish to do or believe.

This same kind of vapid and wishful thinking is still being carried on today, by the “powers that be” in our universities, media, and public schools. With all their talk of survival of the fittest, and the relativity of right and wrong, they blissfully assume that with proper guidance students will make the right choices. However their talk of right choices is logically inconsistent. A true relativist cannot talk of right choices at all. He can only talk of preferred choices, but can make no judgment as to what should be preferred and what should not. It just so happens that some students, under their tutelage prefer knives, machetes, and guns.

Relativists, The Great Affirmers

By saying that no judgment can be made about what others choose, moral relativists must affirm whatever another person chooses and thinks is right for them. As long as it satisfies that person, it is automatically right for that person. As John Dewey, the neo-Marxist founder of modern education and co-originator of instrumental pragmatism (along with Charles Pierce and William James) would say, it is true for him.[4] In this way the relativist sanctions what the other person or child chooses for himself. He or she must also admit that objecting to what they choose would be to impose their own values on someone else. This is the great and only sacred taboo of relativists.

When All Is Said and Done It is Simply a Matter of Power

Wedded to their perpetual faith in, and fondness for, saying that no one has a right to impose his or her idea of right and wrong on anyone else, is their passion to fervently preach that morality cannot be legislated. They should, of course, admit that even that belief is simply a product of their own personal values, and therefore must not be imposed on others. Instead of making this admission, they force this belief on others, thereby turning it into an absolute.

Of course relativists might argue that people must co-operate. They might argue that humans have an instinct for survival even though there is no such thing as intrinsic right and wrong. But such a move simply means that the relativist is imposing his or her belief that instincts must be obeyed. That of course is only their value. Besides which, a consistent allegiance to instinct gives licence to any manner of conduct whatever, such as rape, murder, and mass serial killings, to name only a few. After all, the relativists’ talk of the instinct for survival really translates to the survival of the fittest in evolutionary doctrine. Then, it is just a case of who is the strongest. Hitler felt the Jews threatened the progress of what he called the Master Race, so he tried to exterminate them. In this way he simply exercised his instinct for survival.

This is always the inevitable outcome of relativism when it is consistently applied. Life becomes a struggle for power, and whoever gains power is able to impose his values on everyone else.[5] This, in theory, is opposed to the dogmas of relativism, but it is the reality of what happens.[6] This is because relativists are generally quite selective about the times they choose not to impose their values on everyone else. There are times when relativists could easily be mistaken for the most dogmatic of absolutists.

No Intrinsic Value to Survival and No Intrinsic Human Worth

There is yet another problem with the relativists’ attempt to justify co-operation by reference to the need to survive. For the self-consistent relativist must preach that there is no intrinsic value in surviving or co-operating because according to the relativist no intrinsic values exist. There is then no intrinsic value to human beings, and no such thing as true human nature. Therefore, this is another reason why the relativist cannot impose his value of the need for co-operation on others. Ironically, a consistent relativist cannot even object to the genocidal horrors of Rwanda or even advocate any reason why these people might have averted the horror if they had learned to co-operate with each other. All the relativist can say is what he always must say. Here it comes again: Personally, I don’t feel that the slaughter was a good thing, but I wouldn’t want to impose my personal values or my preference for co-operation on anyone else.

Political and Collective Consistency On The Rise

Sadly, collectively and politically North American law is becoming ever more consistent with the implications of relativism. After listening to so-called “Progressive Educators” molded in the image of John Dewey, the Father of Modern Education, I can effortlessly see why, in ever-increasing numbers, our teenagers feel no remorse whatever when they rape, lie, steal, or kill. Indeed, the court system all but sanctions these evils as the court itself increasingly transitions away from its Christian heritage into the embrace of moral relativism. I am not at all surprised to see the rising level of hate and violence in the free world. After all, the powers that be in our universities, courts, and social institutions have told our people and their children that truth is relative.

In the words of Paul’s letter to the Romans, we have exchanged the truth about God for a lie. If we do not soon see the insanity of the indoctrination our children and teens and young adults have received and are now receiving through Hollywood, the media in general, and the cultural relativism that has long been taught through the public school system (that has so betrayed them), we will soon see evils beyond what we could think or imagine when the youth of today become the leaders of tomorrow. When we listened to Jesus our nation grew. He spoke of the great worth of all human beings, a worth so great he died for us. Now He lives within those who love him and teaches them to know the difference between good and evil. In Him we see true goodness and true humanity, apart from Him and by their own choice alienated from His love and mercy, we see increasing dehumanization and the relativism that ever accompanies it.

[1] See Romans chapter 1.

[2] Ibid.

[3] It is well known that Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary relativist, commits this inconsistency on a regular basis in his high-sounding moral objections to the God of “The Old Testament.”

[4] The co-creators of the philosophy of Instrumental Pragmatism were William James and John Dewey. See James’ The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Longmans, Green, 1917) and Pragmatism and Four Essays from the Meaning of Truth (New York: Longmans, Green, 1907), and Dewey’s Experience and Nature (Chicago: Open Court, 1926) as well as Democracy and Education (New York: Free Press, 1916). See also the Humanist Manifesto I and II.

[5] On this matter, see C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and The Abolition of Man.

[6] We witnessed this power struggle under Lenin and Stalin, as well as under many militant neo-Marxist regimes. If the neo-Marxism that characterizes our schools and our culture gain sufficient political clout, we may find that North America follows in the train of the former Soviet Union, complete with the Christian purge that took place. We of course witness the same thing in the form of communism in mainland China. All that need happen in Canada for a purge is for the subtle form of relativistic neo-Marxism that presently permeates our culture to abandon subtlety once its proponents are sufficiently representative of the North American political and social and judicial consciousness. We have examples all over the world that show us how very militant relativism is by nature in direct contradiction to its alleged freedom from dogma.

  • Stanley Albert Owen

    Thank you so much for articulating such a concise argument. Thank you for the footnotes as well. I have some friends that are very angry at the Evangelical church for hurting their LGBT friends. Your blog I believe helps balance their posts.
    In His Grip,
    Brother Stan

  • Danny Cortez

    There are a few things that are problematic in this article, but I’ll only share one for now. The author states that, “Relativists often say that homosexuality is okay, but that child abuse is a horrible thing. It they are consistent, they must simply admit that they must sanction both, since, according to their own doctrine, right and wrong is simply a matter of taste and preference.”

    To claim to be consistent and non relativistic, you would have to assume that scripture is to be obeyed for all places and times and culture. Christian conservatives who claim to hold a high view of scripture uphold spanking as a necessary form of discipline in order to instruct a child towards righteousness. We would cite passages in Proverbs that clearly state that sparing the rod would spoil the child. But if we were to be non relativistic, the bible tells us to use rods and whips. Fortunately most christians won’t go so far as to say that we have to discipline children until they are bruised. But that’s exactly what scripture says: Proverbs 20:30 says, “Blows and wounds (bruises­) scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being.” So it is the literalist who doesn’t have the basis to condemn child abuse. People who insist on reading the bible in a way that never changes must bruise their child as a way of discipline.

    I can actually say that there are things that are specific to a culture, like levirate marriages and holy kisses and the condemnation of homosexuality. But you can’t uphold one portion of scripture and not the other if you believe that things should be non relatistic.

    Also, the author states that, “according to their own doctrine, right and wrong is simply a matter of taste and preference.” There could be nothing farther from the truth. Right and wrong is determined by what Paul says in Romans, “love does no harm” and what Jesus says in Matthew, “a good tree bears good fruit and an evil tree bears bad fruit.” It is about spiritual discernment and seeing what in fact is most loving by the evidence of humanizing people rather than harming them. Therefore, child abuse is wrong because it does harm. I can rightfully denounce child abuse.


  • Dr. Ron Galloway

    Thank you for your letter Dan. It is certainly thoughtful and intelligently articulated. But you made the deduction that for a Christian to be non-relativistic he or she must assume that scripture is to be obeyed in all places time and culture.
    Dan. No serious student of the Old or New Testament would ever embrace the assumption you describe. The Old Testament Covenant really means There

    the Old Testament Agreement. The New Testament refers to a New Agreement between man and God. Jesus, Paul and the New Testament in general makes clear that many things in the Old Testament are not to be continued because they were pointers to the coming of Christ. Once Christ has come the pointers to Christ are no longer needed. One example is the temple. Israel worshipped in a temple, but the temple was only a shadow of the true purpose of God, which was to make every Human beings who accepts Christ his Holy Temple. Therefore there is no longer any role for Temple Worship. I am simply giving you one example to show why many things required in the Old Testament are no longer required. You need to understand as well that the Old Testament only reveals a partial understanding of the purposes of God. The New Testament reveals what God intended for New Humanity in Christ all along. The book of Hebrews in the New Testament is absolutely filled with things that have now fulfilled their purpose because of the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

    With respect to my treatment of relativism, I invite you show any logical inconsistencies. I am simply pointing out the implications of relativism in light of their own claims. If one takes a view, which relativism certain does, that there is no such thing as good or evil, then all one is left with is preferences that cannot be imposed on others. Your own comments show you are not a consistent relativist because you insist that love and kindness should be the basis of human behavior. I agree with much of your heart, but if you are a proclaimed relativist yourself, you have just committed the cardinal sin by imposing your idea of right and wrong on others. If you are a wholly consistent relativist all you can say is that this is my personal preference for human behavior, but of course I would not dream of imposing my preference on anyone else. If you cannot say this, you are not a consistent relativist. If you are a relativistic and you are inconsistent in this regard, then I am very grateful for your inconsistency and that you truly believe some things are right and others are wrong. The main originators of relativism were George Hegel and David Hume. If you really want to understand more about relativism and its assumptions, I would encourage you to examine its prime instigators. All I have done is show where the logic inevitably goes for consistent relativism. I also point to the great danger of the selectivity of relativists in being relativists I do state at the end that the only true ground for right and wrong is Christ himself, our Lord, God, King and creator. It is this final statement alone to which your entire critique is directed.
    I have not answered all your questions. There is still your argument with respect to child abuse. But nothing you have said in any away affects the logic of my presentation on the nature of relativism itself. You are approaching me on the basis of how I as a Christian would interpret scripture with regard to this matter of the discipline of children. Your critique of my blog cannot in any way serve as a refutation of the central subject matter of the blog itself. You entire critique is based on your understanding of Biblical interpretation and what this involves. I have already shown you in considerable detail for a letter why your assumption about biblical consistency are very mistaken. I do however commend you for being a thoughtful person and I would great enjoy further dialogue on any dimension of the Christian walk. I will respond to your question about child abuse, but I would like to examine the context of the scriptures you quoted, before doing so. I should mention however, in passing, that the Proverbs in the Old Testament involve general principles of biblical wisdom, not inflexible patterns that must be followed on every occasion. Most students of scripture are well aware of this fact. I am however truly encouraged that you show some understanding of scripture.