The Treason of Knowing: Relativism, Intelligent Design, and a Room Full of Mirrors
Although Relativism and Idealism are commonly understood as two distinct, even opposing philosophies, my purpose here is to explore the usefulness of combining certain aspects of these two philosophical concepts into a new, more useful form. To identify this new combination I have coined the term: Idealistic Relativism
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration. According to the Catholic Church, relativism is a denial of the possibility of sin and of God. It can be understood that Relativism is most compatible and complimentary to a materialistic / atheistic world view.
Idealism asserts that reality is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Idealism suggests the priority of ideals, principles, values, and goals over what are perceived to be concrete realities. A belief in God, and the supernatural , is common among those who subscribe to an idealistic philosophy.
Of course, for my purposes here I have only provided these basic definitions, but it should be understood that there are various categories of relativist and idealistic philosophy: Epistemological Idealism, Platonic Idealism, Cultural Relativism, Descriptive Relativism etc..
The classic relativist position will conclude that since a man cannot possibly determine right or wrong in a world of ever changing perspective, that there can be no absolute moral constant. But such a position assumes that man is "all knowing" and at the top of the food chain; it also advances the arrogant notion that the confusion of men must necessarily be shared by all intelligent beings throughout the universe. The Christian Idealist, on the other hand, will argue that the physical universe is simply a manifestation of God consciousness; that mankind's overall purpose is to fulfill the will of God, and that relativism is contradictory and self-refuting. Here are some arguments that Christian theorists have used to challenge the philosophy of relativism:
Christian Argument no.1.: The relativist has stated," No one can know anything for sure". If that is true, then we can know that we cannot know anything for sure, which is self-defeating.
Christian Argument no.2 :The relativist has stated,"That is your reality not mine". This begs the question,"Is my reality really real?" If my reality is different than yours, how can my reality contradict your reality? If yours and mine are equally real, how can two opposite realities that exclude each other really exist at the same time?
Christian Argument no.1: The first argument is interesting and clever at a pedestrian level. But this argument only appears to work because the first proposition is incomplete and poorly formed. The first proposition is more clearly articulated as follows:
"All that we can know, is that a man cannot be certain of knowing anything for sure".
Here we see the proposition maintains a relativist posture but is no longer self-defeating. Hence,the Christian argument no longer applies.
Christian Argument no.2: The second argument attempts to argue against relativism by purposely stating a poorly formed proposition, followed by a conclusion that is demonstrably false. The proposition should have been stated as follows:
"That is your "perception" of reality, not mine".
Of course, since various perceptions of reality can coexist simultaneously, Argument no.2 is revealed to be more clearly erroneous.
The problem with many who subscribe to a strictly relativist point of view, is that they have concluded that there are no absolutes. But in a universe that is clearly beyond our mortal comprehension, such a conclusion is pathetic and irrational. It is more likely, and rational, to accept that knowledge and morality are universal absolutes that can only be aspired to,or accepted by faith, as total understanding is beyond the reach of human cognition.
On the other hand,the problem with many Christians is that they have allowed their faith in the existence of God and an absolute morality to appeal to their vanity. This has led many to believe that faith and belief alone can reveal a universal truth,define an absolute morality, and lead to an absolute understanding. But a ten gallon bucket can only hold ten gallons of water!
Idealistic Relativism Defined _ Personal, Cultural, and Universal Distortions
"Knowledge and morality are absolute,and non-existential.However, perception of any absolute is subject to cultural, personal, and universal distortions".
•A cultural distortion is any political or social custom that influences human perception
•A personal distortion is any memory, personal experience,or mental defect that might influence human perception
• A universal distortion exists through a particular influence: gravitational, electro-magnetic, seasonal, lunar etc..
Relativism or Idealism when applied individually, and alone, to a particular socio-political, or personal problem, can easily lead to catastrophic consequences. When we consider the genocide committed by the Nazis against the Jews, or the genocide committed by European Colonialists against the Indigenous of "America", we can see how either philosophy could have played a key role in each of these historical events. The historical record reveals that an Idealistic Christian perspective that promotes genocide through Manifest Destiny, which is essentially a religious belief based on the idea that the ends justifies the means, can be as violent and destructive as a nihilistic world view that denies the existence of an absolute morality.
However, when we consider these philosophies as each being one-half of a whole, we can understand that they compliment and complete one another; each being mutually beneficial. This is because each philosophy, once properly incorporated with the other, provides a necessary balance. Idealism helps to temper man's nihilistic nature while Relativism helps to mitigate grandiose delusions that can lead to fantasies of Manifest Destiny and world domination.
Idealistic Relativism requires that we must accept that faith is not only the province of the religious zealot, but also necessary for the survival of the species. For the sake of argument, we must recognize that even if one day it should be revealed beyond the shadow of a doubt that the concept of God is merely a construct of the human mind, preservation of the human race dictates that we have no choice but to move toward a realization of God in the form of human perfection. Our faith must necessarily be based on a belief in an absolute morality.
To raise arguments based on "What absolute morality?" or "Whose absolute morality?" is a foolish waste of time, since the answer to these questions is inherent in the human design. As an example, the human body is hard wired with a nervous system. This system allows the human body to monitor itself, while providing an interface between the human and the outside world, thus enabling the human to experience pleasure or pain.
Pleasure and Pain
The human response to pleasure or pain provides us with an absolute which does not vary from one individual to the next. Although an individuals threshold for pain or pleasure may vary, it is not the threshold,or degree that determines the absolute, but the indisputable fact that the human is attracted by pleasure and repulsed by pain. This absolute also applies to the masochist. Although a masochist will interpret a certain degree of pain to be pleasure, a threshold still exists, after which they will recoil from the pain, just as the average person.
When considering pleasure and pain as fundamental to the understanding of an absolute, we must not make the mistake of using these as a metaphor for good and evil. Both pleasure and pain are "good", and together provide a necessary balance. In a very real sense, we can actually see more goodness in pain than pleasure; the function of pain being to alert us to a dangerous, or potentially lethal condition or circumstance. From this perspective, a metaphor for evil would be a body with a dysfunctional nervous system; an individual that feels no pain. Such an individual would have no natural defense, or warning system to alert the body of a potential threat. Even a small cut, or laceration that went unnoticed due to the absence of pain, could result in a serious infection which could lead to death.
Consequently, a body incapable of feeling physical pain can be considered "evil", as opposed to a body that exhibits a low threshold for pain, as the latter has a better chance of survival. From a socio-political perspective, it follows that an immoral, apathetic society that ignores crimes against humanity can be likened to a body with a dysfunctional nervous system. Such a society represents a greater collective evil than individual tyrants like Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, George Washington or Andrew Jackson: men who actually directed and perpetrated crimes against humanity. Such a society will succumb to a sickness that it can no longer feel, as it does not possess a conscience. Consequently, such a society is corrupted from within and will ultimately destroy itself.
Good and Evil
Since there can be no doubt that every living creature will fight to survive at almost any cost; since all men seek to live long, and healthy lives, the fact that our creator has imbued us with the means to enjoy life (pleasure) and to protect ourselves from disease and injury (pain) can only be construed as an absolute "good" that is common to all men. Knowing that this "good" is not only desirable, but beneficial to all men, any act or intent that seeks to mitigate or eliminate pain, without also eliminating the consequences that said pain was designed to prevent is decidedly "evil" in purpose, as it seeks to render an intelligent design dysfunctional. As I have illustrated, and as it is well known, a dysfunctional nervous system will leave an individual defenseless. In the same manner, a dysfunctional, or non-existent morality will have the same effect upon a society; ultimately leading to it's destruction. We can now understand that morality functions as the nervous system within a society, and as such is not an optional component.
In order to understand that good and evil are absolute, it is not necessary for us to prove the existence of good and evil beyond the fundamental truth of pleasure and pain. This is because the length of a yardstick is the same, whether we calculate in inches, feet, or centimeters.
Faith in God,or Intelligent Design, is primarily the province of both the simple minded, and the most gifted of human minds. It is difficult for the man of average intelligence to comprehend, and truly appreciate the concept of faith. Such a man is intelligent enough to question why, but falls short of having the ability to seriously question himself, as well as the limitations of the human intellect.
I believe that this is because human arrogance seems to manifest more in those of average intelligence. This explains why a great majority have accepted Science and Materialism over a belief in God or Intelligent Design, as the former appears more tangible and realistic than metaphysical concepts that require an abundance of faith,imagination,and creativity; intellectual traits that appear to exist more at the opposite ends of the intellectual spectrum. To be blinded by Science is the most extreme form of vanity: a desperate denial of the inherent intellectual inferiority of the human species; a pitiful attempt to ignore the existence of a supreme universal architect.
A Room Full of Mirrors
In order to better understand relativist philosophy I have provided the following:
Many believe that "1+1=2" is an irrefutable knowledge, but in a room full of mirrors, any two objects will appear to be at least 4 or more. One might argue that the sum of the equation will always be 2, in spite of the optical illusion, but such an argument misses the point of the metaphor, and the analogy. Here, I must caution the reader to examine this work and contemplate it in it's entirety before reaching for superficial and premature conclusions .
If this continuum is, in effect, a room full of mirrors that has distorted our perception, then all scientific "fact" is in dispute, being only a faith in a false truth derived from a distortion. Anyone who challenges the "If" cannot prove, one way or another, the "is" or the "is not". For instance, a stringed instrument, such as the guitar, or piano can be tuned to a relative pitch, as opposed to concert pitch which is the accepted standard in western music. As such, any song written or performed on an instrument tuned relative to itself will appear to be correct and pleasing to the ear, as the instrument will deliver the same result each time a particular song is played. However, the middle C note may now actually be C# or B, according to concert pitch. Here, one might argue that although this may prove there is no absolute in the naming of pitches, there is an absolute to be found in the intervallic relationship between any given notes, or pitches. But a "room full of mirrors" proves this assertion to be equally false.
To explore further, let us consider the A above middle C, which vibrates at a frequency of 440 Hz. E is a perfect fifth above A and vibrates at a frequency of 660 Hz. Relativism shows us that these frequencies may not necessarily reveal an absolute truth. Relative intervallic distances that always deliver a perfect 5th, 3rd, or 4th interval may simply be constants based on a universal distortion. Consequently, the differences that we observe may yield a different result in a different continuum, or different results in the current continuum with certain distortions eliminated. Even an individual who possess the gift of perfect pitch cannot escape the deception of universal distortion.
We can also observe the boiling point of water in the same fashion . The boiling point of water is normally 100°C around sea level. But this number could easily fluctuate in either direction, depending on the degree of universal distortion. Such possibilities can neither be proven, or rejected by measurements taken in a room full of mirrors. Absolute truth can only be attained by stepping outside a certain continuum, and then comparing the external and internal measurements. However, it would be impossible for the human to ascertain whether they were taking measurements outside a particular continuum, or simply from the inside of another parallel universe or dimension with it's own degree of universal distortion.
Furthermore, a parallel universe that yielded identical measurements would not necessarily provide knowledge of an absolute truth, as that truth may be dependent upon factors and contingencies unknown to the observer. Imagine an alien race of another dimension briefly encountering humans for the first time at a convention for identical twins. Having no time for further study, and their instruments being unable to examine the world outside of the convention center, the aliens might easily conclude that a majority of humans are commonly born in identical pairs.
The Folly of Atheism
Only in a neutral space could we separate belief from absolute truth. The fact that we have no way of reaching this elusive neutral universe where measurements are based on a constant free of universal distortion, leaves us to ponder the sobering possibility of infinite regress. The irony of this revelation is that the atheist who has dismissed and ridiculed those who believe in God, or Intelligent Design, is found to be just as ignorant as the bible thumping fundamentalist Christian!
The folly of the atheist is that he worships the God of Science: a God that is even more fantastic, and "belief oriented", than the God of Abraham. The atheist not only has the arrogance and blind faith to believe that the frail human senses can accurately interpret the complexity of being, but the atheist has also demonstrated a blind faith in an imaginary, absolute constant: a basis for measurements free of universal distortion. This imaginary constant is the rock upon which he has erected all mathematical and logical conclusions. But the atheist has not only built his house upon the shifting sands; he has erected his mathematical monuments upon the rolling waves that are freely driven by the tides!
There will be no substantial human progress as long as world governments continue to exist. Consequently, anarchism is the solution that we must seek as an alternative to the slavery and oppression of a society based on nihilistic relativism and religious idealism. Idealistic Relativism is a positive and useful philosophy compatible with an anarchistic world view; a philosophy which has the potential to deliver mankind from these dark ages of materialism, capitalism, and endless military conflict. Osiyo!
© 2015 Ronnie wrenchBiscuit