I am going to be putting on hold for tonight our usually Trinity series again because I have been pondering more the situation involving the Miss USA pageant between Miss California and Perez Hilton, which I did blog about Monday night. I spoke to an official in this town yesterday on the problem being that of what is called Political Correctness. The answers given are supposed to fall into that category.
There was a time when truth mattered. There was a real world out there and you could know something about that world and what you said about that world mattered. What you said would either be true or false, but it would be one or the other. The goal was to find truth about that world.
A number of things changed over time. Descartes made man the focus of reality first with his idea of “I think, therefore I am.” Man wanting to find truth began with himself then. Would it not be better to say that because man exists, he thinks? After all, there was still reality before I came along and if I got snuffed out of existence, that would not mean the end of reality. In the end, it leaves man creating the reality as Descartes went by what he thought of as clear and distinct ideas. I have had many clear and distinct ideas in my time. Many of them turned out to be wrong also.
Then we move on through time with man trying to find what is true and we get to Kant who tells us that it is not our knowledge that conforms to the world but the world that conforms to our knowledge. We do not know the world as it is, the noumena. Instead, we know the world as it appears, the phenomena.
At this point, I believe the idea of truth out there started to die and the seeds of postmodernism was born. God was jettisoned through higher criticism, anti-supernaturalism, and Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Man was left alone in a cosmos and it was a dangerous one.
Yet if we cannot know the world, then what are we to seek to do? If there is no truth out there, then there must only be truth that is for me and truth that is for you. There can only be my truth and your truth.
If truth does not ultimately matter, then what are we to say matters? It must be our feelings. Thus, it is no longer giving an answer to a question that describes the way the world really is in the eyes of the person who is asked. Instead, it is about giving an answer that does not offend people. After all, there is no truth to the answer that matters.
Suppose someone does believe something truly hideous, such as the idea that *shudders* marriage is meant for a man and a woman. That is fine. Just keep it to yourself. After all, it is your truth. You should by no means make it binding on everyone else. It is personal. It is your world.
In this way, science also becomes the main authority. Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying there are no areas where science is an authority. When I go to see a doctor, I want that doctor to be a scientist of medicine. When I fly on a plane, I want it to be the brainchild of a man who understands the science of flight and how to make a plane that can fly.
Science can tell me how much my body weighs, but it cannot tell me if I am my body. Science can tell me what reactions occur when a man encounters poison in his system, but it cannot tell me if I ought to have put the poison in that man’s system. Science can tell me how life arose, but it cannot tell me if life is good.
Religion is seen as none of that as it is seen as that which we cannot know. God is included in the noumena. If you want to have a religious belief, that is fine, but it is your religious belief and it is true for you. It must be something subjective as there is not truth out there in the matter that can be known.
This is the kind of thinking going on behind people who say “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.” It is akin to saying “Don’t like murder? Don’t commit one.” It is as if morality is a personal taste and we do something just because we don’t like it. Why yes. That is why I live a life of chastity. I just get such a great thrill out of it every single day.
It is the reason we dare not offend someone. In the past, if you called someone a fool, it could be because they truly were a fool and it might have been the best thing you could do to point that out. Debate opponents in the past did not hesitate to let their opinions be known of the ideas they were debating and the persons they were debating. Let’s not forget that our Lord had strong words as well both for his opponents and his own disciples.
If there is no truth that can be known however and only feelings matter, then such talk cannot be allowed. Do not dare call the heretic a heretic! The ideas that he holds are not what matters. It is how he feels about himself that matters.
We live in a world of subjectivism then and as long as we live in this world, we might as well try to get along. Do not think of the good, the true, and the beautiful. The good is not out there when moral relativism holds the day. We speak of progress but not in any particular direction. We do not ask what anything is any more and especially not if it is good. Truth is a weapon that is used to bludgeon others and truth claims are seen as oppressive and arrogant. As for beauty, it simply lies in the eyes of the beholder. If you see something as beautiful, then to you it is beautiful, but there can be no beauty in the thing itself.
Hence Political Correctness. Do not say what offends. Say what people want to hear. Do not try to make your ideas conform to the world. Instead, try to conform the world to your ideas. There can be no rational discussion. If someone is against homosexuality, it is for purely religious reasons. There can be no other reasons and religion is something that cannot make a claim of truth. Thus, you are being oppressive and trying to push your truth on other people.
If it is purely subjective, then there is nothing to discuss. Instead, point to the person’s character in each case. Try to paint them as a villain being oppressive to the world around them. Try to have them be seen as tyrants with the truth. How dare you impose your morality on me! Who are you to judge?
Enter an area without proper study. After all, it is simply your truth vs. another person’s truth. Do not seek to learn for there is nothing out there to learn. There is only experience. Naturally, we do not question another person’s experience normally. I do not question that the Mormons have a burning in the bosom. I question the proposition they wish to see affirmed by that burning in the bosom.
What’s the solution to this madness?
I suggest we start with what most of us realize before so-called higher-thinking gets a hold of us. That there is a real world out there and that we can know things about it. We do not know it exhaustively, but there are things that we can know. If we are wrong, we find out through the appropriate method be it science, history, philosophy, theology, or any branch thereof.
This includes truths about things other than the physical world. This means that theology is a science. That there are truth claims that can be made about God as he is seen in a religious belief and some of these claims could actually be true and we can use the minds that we have, and that he maybe even gave us, to try to figure this out.
Let each field learn its own place. I believe philosophy is great for finding philosophical truths and science is great for scientific truths. Now of course there can be overlapping as each helps the other. Science can show me the universe had a cause. Philosophy can tell me the nature of causality. Theology can tell me the nature of the cause. History can tell me how that cause revealed himself in the space-time continuum. These are not fields opposed to each other as truth cannot contradict. If there is truth in one field, it will not contradict truth in another field. They are simply different tools with the same goal.
If we offend people, we offend them, but we must remember that the goal is to correct their faulty thinking. It is not most important how a man feels about his ideas. It is most important whether those ideas are true. We Christians are to be people of the truth. If an idea is true, we need to affirm it. If we have to call a spade a spade in order to get them to the truth, then so be it. Our Lord did after all.
I look forward to the day when man again begins a quest for the good, the true, and the beautiful and this time does not look within him but outside of him. All of these things are greater than he is. He is the servant of them. They are not the servant of him.