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Can Something Be True For You And Not For Me?

“It’s all relative.” “That’s true for you but not for me.” “That’s just your reality.” “Who are you to impose your values on others?” The relativist believes truth functions more like opinion or perspective and that truth depends upon your culture, context, or even personal choices. Thus evil actions by Nazis or terrorists are explained away (“We don’t like it, but they have their reasons”). Relativism, however, is seriously flawed.

Relativism cannot escape proclaiming a truth that corresponds to reality. “The moon is made of cheese” is false because it does not match up with the way things are, with what is the case. As Christians, we claim the biblical story is true because it conforms to the actualities of God’s existence and His dealings with human beings. Truth is a relationship—a match-up with what is real or actual. An idea is false when it does not. But what of those making such claims as “Reality is like a wet lump of clay—we can shape it any way we want” (a relativistic idea known as anti- realism)? We can rightly call such statements into question. After all, these persons believe that their view corresponds to the way things are. If you disagree with them, they believe you are wrong. Notice, too, that they believe there is at least one thing that is not subject to human manipulation—namely, the unshakable reality that reality is like a wet lump of clay that we can shape any way we want to! So we can ask: “Is that lump-of-clay idea something you made up?” If it applies to everyone, then the statement is incoherent. If it doesn’t, then it’s nothing more than one’s perspective. Why take it seriously? And if there’s no objective truth or reality, how do we know that our beliefs are not delusional?

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