Webster defines Postmodernism as “a theory that involves a radical reappraisal of modern assumptions.” Wikipedia uses the phrase “skeptical interpretations.” Society today is very skeptical when it comes to truth. The late Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote that our society believes less and less in absolute truth, and more and more in relativism. In other words, all points of view, no matter how bad or contradictory, are valid. And to reject this philosophy today is labeled “intolerant.”
Last month I attended the Pagan Pride Festival here in Las Cruces. My aim was to find out what pagans believe, and write about it. After spending a few hours interviewing a dozen or so pagans, the most common belief I found was postmodernism and relativism. They also made it clear there are no absolute truths, because all belief systems are equally valid. Furthermore, even if different beliefs were irreconcilable, they ultimately lead to the same destination. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as it feels right for you.
I also asked each pagan about possible consequences if their beliefs were wrong. But none of them seemed to care or want to consider this contingency. This struck me as odd because it seems void of any reason or logic. We experience consequences for our decisions in this life, why not the next?
Now, the folks I interviewed were generally well-spoken and kind. But they did have a hard time expressing their beliefs. Why?. Because their faith was due to a rejection of any religion that was clear and well-defined. Therefore, it was difficult for them to state it clearly. For example, while they were adamant all faiths are valid, they were equally convinced the strict requirements and definitions of Christianity were invalid (Ironically, most held to this view with a sort-of “absolute truth” type of conviction). A perfect example of this was Satan. They made it clear paganism was not Satan-worship because he is a Christian character, and they did not want anything to do with the Bible.
Our country is all about freedom of religion; people can believe whatever they want. But, absolute truth does exist: two plus two equals four; the existence and characteristics of the universe scream for a Designer/Creator; and the moral law that resides in each of us demands a moral Law-Giver. Furthermore, worldviews and belief systems matter; and ideas have consequences. In fact, postmodernism and relativism have had a profoundly negative effect on our society. For example, the idea that all beliefs are equally valid has helped redefine the word tolerance.
The founding fathers used the Christian core value of equality as a foundation for our great country. And when embraced, it leads to a true definition of tolerance that says every person deserves respect and has a right to be heard. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept all beliefs as valid. Labeling all beliefs this way is not true tolerance, but foolishness; and only leads to a lack of critical thinking and discussion. In turn, this leads to a dumbing-down, instead of advancing our society through a rigorous acceptance of the best ideas.
But this is exactly what our postmodern politically-correct version of tolerance is today. Specifically, if you don’t agree with a certain point of view then you are a bigot; end of discussion. Interestingly, today’s most widely accepted litmus test for this type of tolerance is what one believes about gay marriage. Despite the plausible and sincere reasons one might have to justify his/her belief that homosexuality is wrong, you are unfairly branded as a hater and unworthy of expressing yourself. Sadly, this harmful and unproductive attitude is becoming more and more prevalent, and is due directly to our increased acceptance of postmodernism.
Some argue that this postmodern view of religion is necessary because well-defined religion is responsible for more wars and deaths than anything else. This is a true statement, but there is a difference between good and bad religion. For example, the atheistic/evolutionary worldviews of Stalin, Mao and Hitler led to the deaths of over 100 million innocent people during the last century. Today, radical Islam is responsible for war and tens of thousands of needless deaths. On the other hand, the Christian values used by our Founding Fathers led to the creation of the greatest country to ever exist. And through our influence, we have witnessed the greatest export of freedom and prosperity to more people and countries since the beginning of time. But a postmodern view of religion doesn’t allow us to see these distinctions between good and bad.
Absolute truth exists. And truth is not determined by the majority, but by the Truth-Giver. Most important, truth matters and consequences exist. We must be willing to discuss this so we can distinguish between good and bad ideas; or risk the consequence of being held back as individuals and/or a nation; or worse. If we don’t want to accept this, pray the pagans are right so that in the end it doesn’t matter.