M odern society at the begining of this 21st century accepts certain worldviews as 'a truth for our time,' however, these things are not necessarily truth according to the older biblical concept of propositional, eternal truth. Suddenly truth is no longer like a straight line, but is adjustable. Dan Delzell wrote of it this way:
Imagine a person getting ready to meet with a doctor to hear the results of a biopsy. Now imagine how ludicrous it would be for that person to say, "Hey Doc. Could you perhaps not get too literal in your explanation of my test results? How about presenting it to me in the form of an allegory? Or maybe you could make the results sound more like a "fantasy" than a reality? I don't think I am ready to hear the results just blurted out as a matter of fact. What do you think Doc? Can you help me out here?"
That hypothetical patient represents a dominant mindset in our world today. Many people have become extremely resistant to the idea of propositional truth, not in the area of medicine, but when it comes to God, eternity, sin, and forgiveness. You sound like an "absolutist" if you are overly dogmatic on religious assertions. That was actually the term someone used years ago when suggesting that I present God's Word with less certainty. In fact, people who don't believe that God's Word is "God-breathed" (see 2 Tim. 3:16) may even think you are arrogant if you present propositional truth with assurance and conviction. (Source: Opinion, The Christian Post. by Dan Delzell. March 26, 2013. http://www.christianpost.com/news/presenting-propositional-truth-with-conviction-and-compassion-92246/).
Dan hits on a valid point here. The decline of the belief that truth is an eternal, unbending concept opened the door for theories to be accepted just as long as those theories and worldviews served as 'a truth for our time.' Of course this started to happen even long before the postmodern age but the new age of postmodernism is especially open to 'interpretations' of truth.
What is Uniformitarianism?
Uniformitarianism is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in the universe now have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe in more or less the same manner. This is the opposite of Catastrophism which was the accepted geological doctrine for around 150 years. Catastrophism saw no valid reason to reject the concept of the biblical Great Flood since it explained rather a lot which was being discovered. But Uniformitarianism soon joined forces with Darwinism (they were both more or less contemporary 19th century theories) and demanded a billions or millions of years-old earth. Established science went along with it. These were the right combined theories at the right time for an enlightenment which was actively rejecting the influence of God and Church in increasing areas. Both Darwinism and Uniformitarianism are theories which are largely philosophically-based and cannot be proven.
How Science Has Changed
Let us commence by going back a long way.
If we look at the world of the early scientists, they believed that the world was created by a reasonable God whose ways were open to further investigation. Moreover they believed that Man was of primary interest since he was made in the image of God. Unfortunately, bit by bit this fine attitude became eroded and even truth - as an eternal proposition - was affected. The scientists who followed Newton began to develop the concept of the universe simply being a machine. At first God was still there but eventually it was just the machine. As Francis Schaeffer so perceptively wrote,
We are [now] left with only the machine. At that point we move into modern modern science....a closed system including sociology and psychology. Man is included in the machine. This is the world in which we live in the area of science today. (Shaeffer, 'He is There and He Is Not Silent,' p 308, Inter-Varsity, 1998 paperback).
So man can now only be concluded as being part of the 'machine' in a closed, physicalist universe with no God. This is where modern science - now heavily embedded with philosophy - is coming from. Man is in the 'machine' simply as 'the most highly-evolved animal.' Don't forget that man is now no longer thought of as being made in the image of God so this is now a human-denigrating worldview with little interest in human beings except as 'high animals,' yet far more in animals in general, evolution and in the physical environment. The fact that things like psychology and sociology are now included within modern science (despite many continuing to insist that neither are 'science' in any real manner at all), tells us of the effect of relativism on science, to say nothing of its effect on what constitutes 'truth.' Evolution, now accepted as a kind of 'holy mantra' which cannot be challenged, is the accompanying worldview and divine creation is dead and buried.
Okay, let us now look at how it is has now become fair and acceptable to interpret truth according to a particular society's view of 'truth' in particular areas.
The Age of the Earth
Take the typical modern 'scientific' concept that our world is many millions or many billions of years old. This is now pretty much sacrosanct everywhere. We are told that it is "a highly scientific view." But is it? Actually, as many have pointed out - including many non-Christians - this is really much more of a philosophical 'truth,' it was necessary in order to accommodate both Uniformitarianism and Darwinism which, back in the 19th century, were eagerly jumped on as a set of theories to replace Theism. It is too often forgotten today how many voices (especially from around 1840-1970) were so determined to replace Theism as the principal worldview of the West.
Actually it may amaze a few who are now so heavily steeped in the modern earth-age views but considerable evidence continues to exist that the world is only a few thousand years old; this however is both swept under the carpet and openly ridiculed and labelled as "unscientific" (despite the fact that an overwhelming number of the great scientists of the past believed in it). See the links at the bottom of this page for more information on the concept of a young-earth. Yet today Uniformitarianism is increasingly being viewed as being too simplistic as a theory and a form of catastrophe theory is making a comeback. Likewise the earlier Darwinism is now rejected in favour of 'Neo-Darwinism' which has rejected some of the earlier errors but Neo-Darwinism itself is still having bits chipped off it all of the time. Only the atheistic propagandists (like Richard Dawkins), continue to insist that evolutionary theory is in good shape. It is not.
The widespread acceptance of abortion is another example: the view that abortion might be regrettable, but is - nevertheless - 'medically and ethically perfectly fine' is a 'truth' of our godless age ruled, as we so often are, by liberals, socialists and atheists. According to eternal, propositional truth (the kind you will find in the Holy Bible), it is plainly and simply murder! Even most courts, and in many countries, up until something like 60 years ago would brand abortionists - and those submitting to abortion - as murderers. Why? Because it was still generally accepted at that time that truth equals truth - it was seen as non-negotiable: an eternal proposition. The taking of a human life was considered murder - plain and simple - unless it occurred in a nationally-recognised war or as capital punishment. Likewise, in a postmodern age which believes that truth is an adjustable commodity, many are now increasingly pushing for euthanasia. Make no mistake: it might take a few years but it will eventually be allowed. It is all about the new version of 'truth.' Once truth became a relative commodity we moved on to a very slippery slope indeed.
Now there have always been a few homosexuals; they did little harm. What has become new is in the re-interpretation of homosexuality as 'an acceptable alternative lifestyle.' This re-interpretation has come from mostly non-homosexual social liberals, society's 'movers and shakers.' Such people are often fervently busy but mostly behind the scenes. The result of the activity of these people is that: modern liberal society now seems to do everything possible to positively encourage homosexuality. This is because 'truth' no longer means what it used to mean. If 'truth' is relative, why not encourage gay men or gay women to marry? Could it also be the case that there is a subtle population control tactic included within this? This leads directly to our next point.
Population Control in General
We have already looked at abortion but we must not forget that liberal social planners, motivated by Marxist social theory (ever masquerading as "enlightened social liberalism," of course), have held a population-reducing agenda for many years. The encouragement of contraception has gone hand in hand with the facilitation of abortion and the encouragement of a more open and friendly attitude towards homosexuality. The United Nations (widely regarded as the most financially corrupt organisation on earth by many independent analysts who have looked at its financial structure), and its numerous internal organisations have been especially aggressively pushing these things forward for many years.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) and His Challenge to Relativistic Truth
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was an eminent Russian novelist, historian, and tireless critic of Soviet totalitarianism. He helped to raise global awareness of the gulag and the Soviet Union's forced labour camp system. While imprisoned for his beliefs he converted to Christianity. Solzhenitsyn claimed that one of Soviet Russia's biggest crimes was their teaching of plain lies as truth. Truth, in short, was relative. He railed at the lies which were taught everywhere by the Soviets and communists and took joy when he discovered that eternal and propositional truth was essential to Christianity. In 1974, Solzhenitsyn was deported from the USSR to Frankfurt, West Germany and stripped of his Soviet citizenship. He then visited many western countries and lectured and wrote extensively. In 1990, however, he returned to Russia and his Soviet citizenship was restored. The Russian Federation now firmly accepts the credentials of this great writer. Aleksandr's wife Natalia also returned even though she had become a United States citizen. Their sons stayed behind in the United States and they later became U.S. citizens.
Women At Work
I just watched two news programmes on two different channels. One posed the question: "How can we do more to get more women into the top positions in the careers market which men have dominated for too long?" Then just a few minutes later, on another news programme I heard the commentator say, "Child care is now costing more than mortgage repayments for some young couples." Nobody would even dream of asking: 'how can we do more to get women back into the home in order to take full responsibility for their own children?' Now this to myself, and probably to thousands of others, is the most vital question which we should be asking! But women's emancipation means that nobody even dare ask a very obvious question. Why? Because it is now deemed to be "sexist" - obvious or not! Here is another 'truth for our time,' despite it being damaging to society. Married women being in the home was one of the great stabilising influences of society for hundreds of years. In fact, this is one of the areas which the infamous leftist Frankfurt School intended to use to weaken Christian western society. Well, they succeeded.
Other Modern Grand Narratives Which Are 'A Truth For Our Time' - But Are They Literally True??
Okay, we have looked - albeit briefly - at such things as modern science, evolution, abortion, married women at work and homosexuality, but there could well be other examples of modern 'grand narratives' of our age which are based on the principle of 'a truth for our time' (despite simply being untrue in good, old-fashioned terms). Immediately two examples spring to my mind but I am going to be prudent here and go no further, but surely since most all of us have eyes, brains and investigative minds I will be one of many who will have recognised more than one highly dubious 'truth' which 'enlightened moderns' are expected to accept.
Christians Should Strive For Truth, and Nothing But the Truth
Christians must not be among those who deny that truth is an eternal property. As Ravi Zecharias has written,
Truth by definition is exclusive. If truth were all-inclusive, nothing would be false. And if nothing were false, what would be the meaning of truth? Furthermore, if nothing were false, would it be true to say that everything is false? It quickly becomes evident that nonsense would follow. In short, therefore, truth boils down to two tests: Statements must correspond to reality, and any system of thought that is developed as a result must be coherent... Therefore when Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me," He was making a very reasonable statement by affirming truth's exclusivity." (Zecharias, 'Deliver Us From Evil,' p 221. Word Publishing hardback. 1996).
Jesus did not teach a system of 'relative truth.' He did not teach that the Gospel might be 'true for you, but not for everyone.' On the contrary, He charged the disciples with taking this one message to the entire world. Pilate might have been unsure about what truth is, but the Holy Bible and Jesus uphold eternal, divine propositional truth. By this standard of truth alone, the whole world will be judged - whether they are 'truth relativists' or not.
Robin A. Brace. March 5th, 2014.