Absolute truth is worth defending
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.