When Relativism is Simply Inadequate


Relativism maintains that each person decides for themselves what is true; truth is subjective and relative to the individual. According to this view one person can say, “There is a God”, and his best friend could say, “There is no God”, and both statements will be true, so long as they accurately express the sincere beliefs of the two individuals. But is this acceptable?

Though relativism can work when it comes to matters of preference (e.g. “The Premier League is the best league in the world” as opposed to “La Liga is the best league in the world”), to say that all truth is relative is totally inadequate and just doesn’t hold up as an adequate framework for interpreting life – and religion.

Just think about it: we live our lives relying on the belief that objective truth exists. If a crime takes place, for example, the police will attempt to gather evidence and then reconstruct how events really took place as best as possible (i.e. they won’t simply allow the alleged perpetrator to make up the truth for himself).

All truth is not relative. In fact, the next time a relativist tells you that each person decides the truth for himself, take his wallet. If he protests you can say, “It’s true for me that this is now my wallet”. I’m sure he will soon point to some objective reasons why you are wrong – and maybe proffer those same reasons to the police too.

Subjective truth may work in certain areas of life where there can be different opinions, tastes or preferences, but it cannot be extended to statements of fact, including the question of God’s existence. Just as 2+2 is either 4 or not, either God exists or He doesn’t.

Truth has an objective existence and a universal application; it is not merely a matter of preference or interpretation. Truth is about what corresponds to reality.

By Dominic De Souza

2 thoughts on “When Relativism is Simply Inadequate

Add yours

  1. Some truths are absolute, but facts can clearly be relative as implied by the very name of Einstein’s “relativity” theory in which, for example, we have different experiences of time and space depending on how fast we are moving. In our lives it seems we must always be making this distinction between relative facts and absolute truths.


    1. Thanks for your comment. Though people, mistakenly in my opinion, have merged relativity with philosophical relativism, I think that, if anything, Einstein’s theory also points to the existence of absolutes (e.g. the speed of light being constant). In fact, isn’t science founded upon the belief that there are objective realities that can be discovered and proven?

      If the definition of a fact is “something that corresponds to reality”, though we can of course get the facts wrong (i.e. when our beliefs do not correspond to reality) and our grasp or experience of the facts – the true state of affairs – can be limited, facts cannot be relative.

      “Dominic replied to a comment on his blog at 9:02pm GMT on Monday 8th February 2016” – either I did or I didn’t.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: