Ab­so­lute truth is worth de­fend­ing

The Daily Examiner - - LIFE YOUR SATURDAY -

HU­MAN so­ci­ety has a prob­lem.

Per­haps it’s best, and most suc­cinctly de­scribed in an adage I heard many years ago: “The only thing we learn from his­tory is that we don’t learn.”

In other words, the mis­takes hu­mankind has made in the past ap­pear as an end­less loop of er­ror.

This is a gen­er­al­i­sa­tion of course, but it’s very clear that lessons we may have learnt in the past that will keep us safe and lead to a bet­ter world are soon for­got­ten in the mael­strom of hu­man in­ter­ac­tion.

I was in­ter­ested in an opin­ion-piece in a daily news­pa­per. An aca­demic was rais­ing aware­ness of a new evan­ge­lis­tic push by a lead­ing uni­ver­sity to de­mand that its stu­dents un­learn ev­ery­thing they had been taught through their pre­vi­ous 12 years of ed­u­ca­tion. Their stu­dents are now re­quired to ques­tion ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing – to ac­cept that noth­ing learnt to date across any of the ed­u­ca­tional dis­ci­plines is nec­es­sar­ily true. Ac­cord­ing to that uni­ver­sity, ev­ery sin­gle thing should be ques­tioned for there’s no longer room for ab­so­lutes in our mod­ern world.

Not sur­pris­ingly, I was rather taken aback, for my own ex­pe­ri­ence of life has taught me that there are in­deed some ab­so­lutes: Things like love, re­spect for oth­ers, a need to em­brace and grow spir­i­tu­ally as well as phys­i­cally; and so on.

Another opin­ion-piece in the same news­pa­per mounted a de­fence of the uni­ver­sity’s stance. In essence, the vice-chan­cel­lor ar­gued that it is only by ques­tion­ing ac­cepted, and long-held, val­ues and be­liefs that hu­man so­ci­ety can make progress to­ward a new and bet­ter world.

Now, I ac­cept that some ideas and ways of do­ing things will al­ways need to be eval­u­ated and that there’s room for im­prove­ment in ev­ery facet of our lives. But I’m also con­vinced that there are in­deed some ab­so­lutes in life – for they stem from the heart and mind of the Cre­ator and re­flect His will and pur­pose for hu­man life upon earth. What I mean is that we mess with cer­tain val­ues at our peril.

Af­ter years of bat­tling with a can­tan­ker­ous chain-saw I use pri­mar­ily for prun­ing work in the gar­den, I bought my­self a new one this week. Af­ter much de­lib­er­a­tion I em­braced the new­est tech­nol­ogy in the form of bat­tery-power. And it’s proved rev­o­lu­tion­ary; so much lighter, qui­eter and con­ve­nient to use. But the in­struc­tion man­ual is scary. From page three to page 16 in ev­ery para­graph is a warn­ing that fail­ure to ad­here to the in­struc­tions “can re­sult in se­ri­ous or fa­tal in­juries!” It’s rather un­nerv­ing.

But the warn­ings are there for a rea­son. They are ig­nored or ques­tioned at one’s peril, be­cause some things are sim­ply non-ne­go­tiable.

What is worse than ne­glect, when it comes to look­ing af­ter our spir­i­tual health, is a de­lib­er­ate choice to con­sign spir­i­tual mat­ters to the dust­bin of his­tory. Spir­i­tu­al­ity is as en­demic to the hu­man con­di­tion as is phys­i­cal health. Spir­i­tu­al­ity is what sets us apart from the an­i­mal world. It’s an in­trin­sic hu­man value that God has im­planted in us – a value that is non-ne­go­tiable and un­chang­ing – an ab­so­lute in a world where it’s in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar to ques­tion ab­so­lutes. Un­for­tu­nately, this “can re­sult in se­ri­ous or fa­tal in­juries” to hu­man­ity. In­stead we need to de­fend, and value, faith.

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