Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 8

 Cracks in the Foundation of Relativism

If you say there is no such thing as morality in absolute terms, then child abuse is not evil, it just may not happen to be your thing.
Rebecca Manley Pippert

The eternal difference between right and wrong does not fluctuate, it is immutable.
Patrick Henry

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

One of my favorite images demonstrating the core problem in American culture today is the Castle Illustration from Answers in Genesis. We’ve highlighted this image previously and discussed some of its implications. We said,

Ken Ham, president, CEO, and founder of Answers in Genesis, has observed that Christians commit a strategic error in opposing evil by going after…“progressive” causes themselves rather than attacking the foundation upon which those causes rest.

Christians must learn to effectively attack the foundation of humanism, sometimes called secularism.

Note that Moral Relativism is a balloon in the above graphic. Relativism can accurately be considered a balloon or thought of as part of the foundation on which the castle rests. For our purposes here, we will consider it a part of the foundation. Moral Relativism is, and grows out of, autonomous human reasoning.

Christians need to offer well-reasoned arguments that shine the light on relativism’s inherent weaknesses. We endeavored to do this earlier in this series, but this issue is of such importance we need to revisit it. Moreover, this post covers new ground. While such presentations might be perceived as vindictive, they actually are helpful and beneficial. Truth is a friend to everyone who cooperates with it and makes the adjustments needed to live under its authority.

This is not to say that Christians never should frame arguments defending natural marriage, the preservation of innocent human life, or religious liberty, to name just three of the hot button issues raging in today’s culture. It is to say that when we consistently fail to point out the fallacies of “autonomous human reasoning,” including relativism, we aren’t really acting in love toward our secular neighbors and friends.

“But the church just needs to ‘stick to evangelism,’” someone will say. “Only the gospel can change people’s minds and hearts.” When seen against the backdrop of a clear understanding of what is really happening in our culture, these statements demonstrate that Christians need to think of evangelism in broader terms. Hitting the foundation of secularism is all about evangelism. If our friends on the other side of God’s truth believe they’re right and we’re wrong* about foundational beliefs, we won’t ever be able to convince them to join our side.


Christians need to think of evangelism in broader terms.


Greg Koukl, founder and president of the apologetics ministry Stand to Reason, knows how to shine the spotlight on secularism’s crumbling foundation. In an article titled “Seven Things You Can’t Do As a Relativist,” he emphasizes that to be consistent, relativists can make no value judgements whatsoever. This renders their philosophical foundation as unstable as an avalanche! The mantra, “Well, that may be true for you, but it isn’t true for me; everybody can make up his or her own truth” may sound benign or even magnanimous, but it actually throws all kinds of obstacles in the paths of those who claim to live by it.


The philosophical foundation of relativism is as unstable as an avalanche!


Here’s a summary of Greg Koukl’s list of seven restrictions relativists have imposed on themselves through their own beliefs. In this seven-item list, quotations come directly from Koukl.

Rules for Relativists

First, don’t ever point your finger at anyone else and accuse him or her of doing something wrong. Relativists can’t do this, because their foundational belief denies the very existence of wrong. If they accuse anyone of anything they believe shouldn’t happen—things like racism, sexism, or bigotry, let’s say—they’ve stumbled on their own worldview. Advocates of relativism can’t be consistent without dropping words like should and ought from their vocabularies.

Second, don’t protest evil or complain about its existence. Relativism won’t allow this because, again, as a foundational belief, it denies the very existence of evil and wrong. This presents a huge problem for atheists, because the existence of evil frequently is seen as evidence that God isn’t real. Were God God, the argument goes, He would be omnipotent, and He would eliminate evil. Obviously He hasn’t done this, so

  1. He must not be all-powerful and therefore not really God, or
  2. He must not be good, or
  3. He doesn’t exist at all.

Mark it down. Relativism itself robs its followers of the rhetorical thunder they think they have. All three of these points rest on the assumption that evil is real. If a relativist is true to what she claims to believe, she won’t call anything evil. She can’t even call the Holocaust evil, since doing so would to be to uphold a specific standard of morality.

Third, don’t ever commend anyone or anything with praise or condemn it with criticism. Why not? A relativist claims to live by a philosophy that renders every action and event neutral. Nothing can be blameworthy or praiseworthy—ever; all things are “lost in a twilight zone of moral nothingness.”

Fourth, you have to throw words like fair, unfair, just, and unjust out of your vocabulary. You have to throw out terms like guilt and innocence as well. These words represent ideas that, under relativism, simply don’t exist. Think about it. If nothing can be blameworthy (see the third item), then no one ever can be guilty of anything wrong, and no one can be held accountable for wrongdoing. A relativist never can pursue justice and fairness, because nothing ever can be fair and just, or unfair and unjust. This rule simply says proponents of relativism need to make their words and their arguments conform to the beliefs they claim to hold.

Fifth, acknowledge that your belief system makes moral improvement impossible. A relativist certainly can change his ethics, but he cannot improve his behavior or aspire to anything better in any way. His foundational belief “destroys the moral impulse that makes people rise above themselves because there is no ‘above’ to rise to.”

Sixth, don’t try to engage in debates or discussions that address morality or values. With respect, I am compelled to point out that you have nothing to say. Relativism says all ideas are equally valid, so none can be better or worse than any other. Any claim to the contrary refutes relativism altogether. Thus, when an individual claims to be a relativist, he forfeits his right to accuse anyone of shoving his or her morality down his throat.

Seventh, stop talking about tolerance, because your belief system negates it. Relativism says values don’t exist. If values don’t exist, then how can tolerance, which is upheld as a value to be practiced, be real? It can’t.

You might think the heading of this list, “Rules for Relativists,” is an oxymoron because relativists don’t believe in rules. It isn’t an oxymoron, and I’ll tell you why. Not believing in rules doesn’t render them nonexistent. These rules are applicable because of the nature of reality and the inconsistencies of relativism as a belief system.


Not believing in something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.


Greg Koukl has done all of us a favor—relativists included—by turning the spotlight on these cracks and exposing them.

As advocates of absolute truth, let’s follow his example and do the same. Here is a page carrying just the summary of Greg Koukl’s article.

Part 9 is available here.

 

Note:

*The very fact that our friends who espouse relativism would believe that they’re right and we’re wrong about foundational beliefs actually is a refutation of their belief system to begin with. Remember, they say all beliefs are equally valid. Yet they typically don’t see the inconsistency. This is why articles like this one and this series of articles are so important.

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

top image: an avalanche in the Himalayas near Mount Everest

 

Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 7

Getting the Big Picture of Reality Is a Key Factor in Affirming the Existence of Absolute Truth and Understanding Authentic Liberty

[T]he problem of the 1920s to the 1980s…is the attempt to have absolute freedom—to be totally autonomous from any intrinsic limits. It is the attempt to throw off anything that would restrain one’s own personal autonomy. But it is especially a direct and deliberate rebellion against God and his law.
Francis Schaeffer in The Great Evangelical Disaster, published in 1984—

The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.—John Locke in Two Treatises of Government, published in 1689

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

In a Family TalkTM booklet titled Discipline, Dr. James Dobson relates a story loaded with lessons for us today. Countering the idea that parents and their children should “be on an even playing field—making decisions by negotiation and compromise,” Dobson recalls observing his daughter’s pet hampster fidgeting in his cage, anxiously trying to escape. The little guy

worked tirelessly to open the gate and push his furry little nose between the bars. Then I noticed our dachshund, Siggie, sitting eight feet away in the shadows. He was watching the hamster, too. His ears were erect, and it was obvious what was on his mind. He was thinking, Come on, baby. Open that door, and I’ll have you for lunch. If the hamster had been so unfortunate as to escape from his cage, which he desperately wanted to do, he would have been dead in a matter of seconds.

Dobson goes on to discuss the difference between the hampster’s perspective and his own: “I was aware of dangers that he couldn’t have foreseen. That’s why I denied him something that he desperately wanted to achieve.”

In this respect, children are like that hampster—but so is everyone else in the human race, regardless of age, before he or she is willing to acknowledge the big picture offered by “nature and nature’s God,” to quote the the Declaration of Independence.

But wait! The Declaration does not just speak of “nature and nature’s God,” but of “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” What? In the Declaration of Independence? Yes! Our founders got it right. True freedom and liberty—on both personal and societal levels—can be established and maintained only when individals and society affirm the laws of nature, or absolute truth. Dr. Dobson’s perspective in relation to his daughter’s hamster parallels the one we need with regard to the world, life, and the universe.


True freedom and liberty—on both personal and societal levels—can be established and maintained only when individals and society affirm the laws of nature, or absolute truth. 


No One Really Believes Truth Doesn’t Exist

Even a relativist has to admit that some truths and falsehoods exist.

  • He knows he’s wearing a blue shirt and not a red one.
  • She lives in Texas, not in Vermont.
  • Go through a traffic intersection when you approach a green light, not a red one.

Truths and falsehoods in the moral and spiritual realms exist, too. These also are evident, but we don’t recognize them with physical senses like seeing and hearing—and they often are even more consequential than realities in the physical relalm.

True Freedom Is Found In a Recognition of Absolute Truth

In their book on apologetics for high schoolers titled Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door, Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler expose 42 myths that have become quite popular in today’s culture. One of them is the “Anarchist Myth.”1 To expose this false belief for the lie it really is, McDowell and Hostetler tell a story. The story also is available online.

Herman, the son of a crab named Fred, was growing rather weary of what he believed to be the confinement imposed on him by his shell. “Hey, Dad! This shell is really boxing me in,” said Herman. “I can’t take it anymore! I want my freedom! My friends and I have been talking, and they feel the same way. Some of them are thinking about forming a group called ‘Crabs for Shedding Shells.’ I’m ready to help!”

“Son,” said Fred to his boy, “I understand your frustration. I know it’s easy for you to think your shell is denying you freedom and that you could move around unencumbered if you only could get rid of it—but let me tell you a story.”

“Aww, Dad, come on. I’m too old for that!” complained Herman.

“Now, hear me out,” replied the elder crab. “I think this will make a lot of sense to you. My story is about

Humphrey the human, who insisted on going barefoot to school. He complained that his shoes were too confining. They cramped his style, he said. He longed to be free to run barefoot through fields and streams. Finally, his mother gave in to him. He skipped out of the house barefoot. Do you know what happened?”

Herman opened his mouth, but his father continued before he could answer.

“Humphrey the human stepped on pieces of a broken bottle. His foot required twenty stitches, and some other guy took his girl to the prom while Humphrey sat home watching reruns of Flipper.”

“That’s a pretty lame story, Dad,” Herman said.

“Maybe, Son, but the point is this: Every crab has felt this way at one time or another, thinking life would be better if he could be completely shell-free. But that’s like a sailor getting tired of the confinement of a ship and jumping to freedom in the sea. He may think that’s freedom, but if he doesn’t get back to ship or shore, he’ll drown and end up as crab food. What kind of freedom is that?”

Fred explained to Herman that one day in the not-too-distant future, he indeed would discard his shell. The process, called molting, is a normal part of a crab’s growth into adulthood. “But don’t be fooled,” Fred warned his son. “After your old shell comes off, you’re going to be especially vulnerable. It’ll be a dangerous time. You’ll need to be more careful than ever until your new shell hardens.” Fred tapped his son’s exterior shield a couple of times and then summarized his main point. “The truth, Herman, is that without a protective shell, life will be far more confining than liberating.”

Both the irony and the reality of the situation were beginning to dawn on Herman. After thoughtful reflection, he turned to his dad and said,

“You mean that some things may seem to limit freedom but really make greater freedom possible?”

Fred smiled broadly and patted his son on the back with a mammoth claw. “How’d you get to be so smart, Son?” he asked.

Corporate Liberty Depends on the Affirmation of a Supreme Authority

“The laws of nature and nature’s God” are like Herman’s shell. Coming back now to the larger picture, we note that as a nation, if we don’t return to these, we will lose our liberty. Does everyone have to become a Christian in this nation for America to restore and maintain liberty? No, not everyone was a Christian even at America’s founding, although most were. People believed in God, however, and that was key. In particular, the Founders held beliefs “rooted in the Judeo-Christian values found in the Bible.”

While we might not be able to convince our secular friends and neighbors of the existence of God right off the bat (even though we certainly need to know and be able make the case for God’s existence), if we can help them see the connections between law, liberty, and belief in a divine being, that will be a good first step.

Yet we may need to take at least one step even before that. We absolutely must teach our children about these connections. As the Bible affirms Psalm 119:45: “I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts.”

Have you had a discussion about absolute truth in your home?

Part 8 is available here.

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.


For Further Study


Homicide detective J. Warner Wallace became a Christian after applying principles of forensic analysis to the Gospel accounts and determining that they passed the tests for authenticity. In these videos, he discusses the evidence for God based on the existence of moral truth.


In this video, conservative radio talk show host and devout Jew Dennis Prager argues from the other side of this issue. Prager makes the case that without God, objective moral truth cannot exist.

Both Wallace and Prager are correct, but each deals with the issue from a different angle.


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 6

The Myth of Complete Autonomy

In his book The Abolition of Man, [C. S.] Lewis warned that moral relativism (the denial of universal and objective moral truths and principles), foolish emotionalism, and the rejection of reason would bring about cultural decay and growing depravity.  When societies fail to teach morality and train the hearts of men to embrace and emulate virtuous behavior, they produce “Men without Chests,” individuals who are intelligent but behave like animals—men who don’t practice the virtues and are controlled by their appetites.…Many decades have passed since Lewis wrote his book, and things have gotten much worse.  While mainstream secular society still maintains that honor, ethics, and integrity matter, it has increasingly attacked, silenced, or destroyed those institutions and organizations that used to teach moral principles and universal truths that instilled honor and character into men’s hearts and souls.
Chris Banescu in 2016—

In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
C. S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man, published in 1943

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

Zig Ziglar (1926-2012), a motivational speaker and author who inspired millions, readily admitted that life is tough. Yet “[w]hen you are tough on yourself,” he would say, “life is going to be infinitely easier on you.”


When you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easier on you.
—Zig Ziglar—


Zig was right. It was his way of saying that recognizing and cooperating with the world as it really is sets the stage for a person not only to do well in it, but also to thrive in it and to enjoy life to its fullest. A key idea here is that of discipline, and a related key concept is a recognition of authority, including absolute truth.

Sadly, the philosophy of relativism, which denies the existence of absolutes, is wreaking havoc in people’s lives and in society as a whole. Why? In saying each individual person can make up and follow his or her own truth, relativism discourages discipline and the acknowledgement of any authority outside of oneself. It is a formula for disaster because it denies reality.

The Bible speaks straightforwardly about these things, and in this post I’d like to examine just a few Bible passages that address the matter. Even a person who doesn’t believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God cannot deny the practical realities it affirms. Freedom to follow one’s feelings brings consequences that can be both harsh and inflexible.

Wasteful Living Produces a Wasted Life

In Luke 15:11-24, Jesus gave what has become one of His best known parables, the Parable of the Lost Son. Apparently following every impulse, desire, and whim he felt, a young man demanded his inheritance early and then, in “a far country,…wasted his possessions with prodigal living” (v. 13). Such behavior could not, and did not, continue indefinitely. When the young man “had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him to his fields to feed swine. And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything” (vv. 14-16).

This is the turning point of the story. He “came to himself” (v. 17) and resolved to go home to his father and ask to be taken on as a hired servant. When the father saw his son return, he welcomed him gladly and even threw a party to celebrate (see vv. 20-24). Jesus’ parable illustrates vividly that a person can follow his own whims but that reality eventually will hit. In other words, A person is free to follow his or her feelings, but not without consequences. The idea of complete personal autonomy is a myth! Unfortunately, in 21st-century America, it’s a myth that’s exacerbated because society and culture, often through government, frequently attempt to “rescue” people from the negative consequences of their irresponsible behavior. This dynamic is worthy of exploration in a future post, but for now, note that if not mitigated, the consequences actually can teach valuable lessons. The father in Jesus’ parable actually saved his son by not intervening to “rescue” him!

Different Paths Lead to Different Destinations 

It’s noteworthy that the lost son chose to travel down one of two paths and when reality hit, changed his thinking and behavior. In other words, he moved to travel down a different road! His decision to change course made a profound positive difference in his life. As we indicated in part 1 of this series, relativism compels people to go their own way rather than God’s way. These two paths don’t just offer different journeys, but also different destinations.

A tombstone in a cemetery in Indiana bears this epitath:

Pause, stranger, when you pass me by:
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so you will be.
So prepare for death and follow me.

The words attracted the attention of a visitor to that cemetery. The visitor scribbled these words underneath the verse etched in stone.

To follow you I’m not content,
Until I know which way you went.

Jesus warned His hearers, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Inspired by God, King Solomon offered a similar warning in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”


There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.
—King Solomon of Israel—


All of us eventually will die physically, of course, but Solomon’s advice refers to something broader and bigger than even this. When Moses relayed God’s challenge to His chosen people who were about to enter into the promised land, he, too, encouraged them to choose life over death.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them (Deut. 30:19-20).

Choosing life involves not only selecting a path that leads to life, but also living lives consistent with that choice. The Bible affirms that salvation costs us nothing. Even so, it requires everything of us.

The High Cost of Choosing a Discipline-Free Path

Let’s examine two additional passages that caution against doing whatever one feels like doing. The Bible indicates that adultery is an act with very dire consequences. Keep in mind that a person involves himself in an extra-marital affair precisely because he or she is following personal feelings, impulses, and instincts. Solomon wrote,

27 Can a man take fire to his bosom,
And his clothes not be burned?
28 Can one walk on hot coals,
And his feet not be seared?
29 So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife;
Whoever touches her shall not be innocent (Prov. 6:27-29).

The analogy here is particularly jarring, even alarming. Just as placing hot coals in one’s lap and bringing a flame close to his chest is certain to set his clothes—and him—on fire, so too will adultery exact a severe price from those who engage in it.

Returning to the the New Testament, we see another depiction of the consequences of following one’s own inclinations rather than a clear principle or revealed truth. Examine Romans 1:18-25 closely. Note Paul’s use of the themes truth and lie.  

  • The apostle used the word truth in verses 18 and 25.
  • By speaking of people who suppress the truth in verse 18, Paul alluded to their following a lie instead; and he used the Greek term for lie in verse 25. The term for lie— “pseudos,” from which we get our English prefix pseudobroadly means “whatever is not what it seems to be.” Once again, we recall Proverbs14:12 and 16:25.

A lie may soothe and the truth may frustrate, but in the end, the former will be an enemy and the latter a friend.


Relativism is the way of a lie, but God’s way is the way of truth. A lie may soothe and the truth may frustrate, but in the end, the former will be an enemy and the latter a friend (see Prov. 27:6). Anyone and everyone will do well to heed the truth and reject the lie.

That’s just the way it is.

Next week, we’ll consider an illustration that vividly demonstrates the myth of compete personal autonomy. Be sure to return!

Part 7 is available here.

 

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

top image: Rembrandt, The Return of The Prodigal Son

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Contending for the Recognition of Absolutes, Part 5

Hollywood Demonstrates the Folly of Relativism

Did he do the same with the foundation?
Ravi Zacharias, asking his host at Ohio State University about the architect’s design of the Wexner Center for the Arts, which the host said was “America’s first postmodern building” with “pillars that have no purpose,” “stairways that go nowhere,” and no real design or meaning in order to depict the postmodern view of life itself—

 

View summaries of all the articles in this series here.

Hollywood isn’t what it used to be.

Frank Capra, the great Hollywood director and producer responsible for such classics as It Happened One Night (1934), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), once said, “No saint, no pope, no general, no sultan, has ever had the power that a filmmaker has; the power to talk to hundreds of millions of people for two hours in the dark.”


No saint, no pope, no general, no sultan, has ever had the power that a filmmaker has; the power to talk to hundreds of millions of people for two hours in the dark.
Frank Capra


Capra also said, “My films must let every man, woman, and child know that God loves them, that I love them, and that peace and salvation will become a reality only when they all learn to love each other.” Do not let the word salvation in Mr. Capra’s statement confuse you. Salvation—forgiveness of sins and eternal life—come through faith in Jesus Christ alone. It does not appear, however, that Capra was making a theological statement. He was speaking about his own responsibility to provide uplifting films.

Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, best known for his 1956 blockbuster The Ten Commandments, said,

Man has made 32 million laws since THE COMMANDMENTS were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai more than three thousand years ago, but he has never improved on God’s law. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS are the principles by which man may live with God and man may live with man. They are the expressions of the mind of God for His creatures. They are the charter and guide of human liberty, for there can be no liberty without the law.

These statements aren’t reflective of Hollywood’s attitude today (also go here). Even so, The presentation of the Best Picture award at the 89th Annual Academy Awards ceremony (held February 26, 2017) vividly illustrated what happens when an untruth—a lie—takes hold. In fact, the entire episode showed that relativism itself is a lie.

In a colossal mix-up, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, presenters of the Best Picture award, were given the envelope for Best Actress. This award already had been given to Emma Stone for her performance in La La Land. La La Land therefore was mistakenly announced as Best Picture, but this award actually went to Moonlight. Even as acceptance speeches of those responsible for La La Land were underway, an announcement was made correcting the error. Watch.

An abbreviated clip of the fiasco can be seen here.

We should be aware that because of Moonlight‘s pro-LGBT agenda, Franklin Graham warned his Facebook followers about the film’s being named Best Picture. He wrote, “I warn families and the church–don’t allow your young people to be sucked into Hollywood’s dark plan. We love all people, but we have to be honest about sin’s consequences. Sin is sin—it doesn’t matter if it gets an Oscar or not.”

We certainly should heed Graham’s words. Still, just for a brief moment, set them aside and focus on the fact that Moonlight had won Best Picture, even as La La Land had been announced the winner. Let’s not miss the lessons that even some of Hollywood’s biggest players offered us about reality in and through this episode.

The Lessons Reality Teaches

  1. When a falsehood is at odds with the truth, inevitably, sooner or later, the truth will surface and will carry everyone involved to reality.
  2. Once reality hits, it has to be accepted. Some may come to the truth willingly, even as others are “dragged kicking and screaming.” Regardless, everyone enters. Indeed, everyone must.
  3. Believing something that isn’t true—even believing it sincerely—does not, and never will, make it true.
  4. Notice that no one on the stage of the Dolby Theatre suggested that the La La Land people could have their own truth for themselves and could enjoy having won the Best Picture Oscar in their own world, even as the Moonlight people simultaneously could have their own “truth” and enjoy their Best Picture Oscar in their own world. With relativism so prevalent in our culture, why would no one suggest this? Because intuitively, everyone knows that’s not how things work. In other words, such a proposal wouldn’t—and doesn’t—square with reality. Such a proposal actually is ridiculous.
  5. That said, Jimmy Kimmel did express some wishful thinking. Looking at La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz, Kimmel said, “I would like to see you get an Oscar anyway. Why can’t we just give out a whole bunch of Oscars?” Of course, this didn’t change reality, either.
  6. Here’s another lesson. Warren Beatty and Fay Dunaway had been handed the wrong envelope—and it wasn’t their fault. Their confusion was understandable, but in the end it didn’t matter. The misunderstanding, misconception, lie, untruth—whatever you want to call it—took hold. If you follow an untruth for any reason or no reason, you’ll be directly affected.
  7. There is a price to be paid for believing something that’s not true. In this example, we can see the confusion and the embarrassment, and we note the awkward efforts to rectify the situation. Falsehoods take their toll.
  8. Moonlight producer and screenplay writer Barry Jenkins said, “Very clearly, very clearly, even in my dreams this could not be true, but…I’m done with it, ’Cause this is true.…And I have to say—and it is true; it’s not fake….”

One is reminded of the Latin phrase Esse quam videriwhich means “to be rather than to seem.” Despite the cultural pull in the direction of relativism, relativism doesn’t work because it isn’t true.

That idea might not win an Oscar, but even if it doesn’t, it’s worthy of our attention and respect.

Even Hollywood demonstrated it for us just a few days ago.

Part 6 is available here.

 

Copyright © 2017 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.