Truth: Word-Switching (Part 2)

Submitted by James on Thu, 04/24/2008 - 04:44
One of my friends who thinks truth is relative believes strongly in global warming. He is sure that if we don’t take drastic measures, the planet will undergo massive climate change; ice caps will melt, sea levels will rise, cities will be wiped out, species will go extinct, etc. I happen to disagree with this position; I think the idea of man-made global warming has been blown out of proportion, and that the measures taken to “protect our planet” are needlessly devastating our economy. My friend thinks that my position on the issue is dangerously irresponsible (hey, it’s mutual). But here’s the odd thing. Former Vice President Al Gore recently wrote a book about global warming called an inconvenient truth. In other words, it’s an inconvenient truth that we’re in danger of destroying our planet. We’ve got to do something about it! So, I must ask my friend, “Isn’t truth supposed to be relative?” I happen to disagree that man is causing global warming, or that he can even do anything about it. So, couldn’t I say that the inconvenient truth of global warming is, well, not true to me? After all, if nothing can be absolutely true unless every mind agrees on it (since truth is relative to the mind), then global warming isn’t absolutely true. In fact, we could just get rid of it entirely, by all changing our minds and denying that it exists. Seriously! It’s an inconvenient truth, right? Well, then, just forget about it and deny that it’s a problem; since truth is relative to the mind, it won’t be true any more if we all hold hands and deny it together.
If I presented this idea to my friend, he would likely argue that I’m playing some sort of word-switching game. “That’s totally different!” he would say. “Global warming is reality, not just someone’s opinion.”
“So global warming is true, then?”
When my friend says “Global warming is true,” he defines true as real, and truth as reality. But when he says that the Bible is only true to me, not him, he is defining true (to) as an opinion (of). But that’s not what I mean when I say that the Bible is true. I don’t mean that it’s just my opinion; I mean that the Bible’s claims are reality. So, we’re using completely different definitions of the word truth when we’re talking about my beliefs (the Bible), but when we talk about his beliefs, we can agree that truth should be defined as reality. So, whether global warming can destroy the world or not is a question of reality, but whether or not the world will be one day judged by a Holy God who will not tolerate sin is only a matter of opinion.
I think there is a double standard going on, albeit an unintentional one. Should I point out to my friend that he is actually the one who is switching his definitions in his words, by carefully explaining to him what I’ve talked about in these essays? If I did so, would he understand, or would he reject it out of hand and continue to insist that I’m the one guilty of word-switching? I hope we can come to a common understanding, but I’m not optimistic. You see, if he were to realize that he’s playing word-switching games, he’d be only one step away from realizing that the whole idea of relative truth depends on faulty semantics – and if that happened, his whole way of viewing the world would have to change.
That is not an easy thing for anyone.
Author's age when written


I get so sick of global warming...especially since we had snow on April 1st. That ain't global warming, people!
The Word is alive/and it cuts like a sword through the darkness
With a message of life to the hopeless/and afraid...

~"The Word is Alive' by Casting Crowns

May my words be a light that guides others to the True Light and Word.

Formerly Kestrel

Acutally, global warming (according to a scietific report I read) is often characterized by fluctuating temperatures. Whether or not that is actually true, I don't know.
btw, well written, James. Peoples' opinions of what "truth" really means is what the definition of 'is' is.
"I wish I could fly, like dandelion seeds
Following currents, floating in the wind
Leaving behind the old and tormented
Seeking a place to start anew
I wish I could fly like dandelion seeds..."

"Sometimes even to live is courage."

I don't know how on earth they define "global warming" by "fluctuating temperatures". Those two just don't go together. Nice one, James, although slightly confusing.

"When reality sucks, try insanity." - Unknown

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Two days short of a year, and someone finally commented on this post!
Kestrel: True, the weather we've all been experiencing around the world the past two winters has certainly not been warming.
Sarah: I can't help but be a bit skeptical of such reports; they seem a bit too recent, convenient, and after-the-fact to me. I've also been noticing that politicians (the big-government interventionist types) have been giving it the more vague title of "climate change" lately. I tend to be very suspicious of the elite in our country -- they all seem to want more government power; blaming any sort of weather problems on unregulated capitalism (whether it's warming, cooling, or fluctuation) seems like the perfect opportunity to grow government's power and reduce our liberty.
Bridget: Well, what can I say? The whole idea of relativism is confusing. Sometimes it strikes me as more of an irrational attitude toward life than a legitimate way of viewing things. Every false worldview contradicts itself somewhere, but the self-contradiction has never been more blatantly obvious than it is in relativism.

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

Now this post is a good deal more than just "two days over a year," but I FINALLY got around to thoroughly reading these (I'd skimmed them before and told myself they needed to be thoroughly perused, but never did it).
I have to say "Amen" to the whole thing, and then ask you if you've read Dr. Voddie Baucham's book "The Ever-Loving Truth." Cuz if you haven't, you should, it deals with relativism and such, and is REALLY good.:)

“The venerable dead are waiting in my library to entertain me and relieve me from the nonsense of surviving mortals.”
- Samuel Davies

I'm quite familar with Dr. Baucham; in fact, I keep up with his blog.  I haven't read any of his books yet though.

I wish we had more fearless preachers like him -- preachers who aren't afraid to confront false teaching and cultural rot head on with God's Word (especially on the issue of public schools).

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

I love Dr. Baucham's blog... I also follow his daughter's. I always find them very encouraging. But even more encouraging is that Dr. Baucham and his oldest son are coming to Dubai this month. :) (Some good friends of ours here went to his Church in the states). We're very excited for that.

Amen! I think he's so fearless because he knows that everything he says is backed in Truth. And that he's not, as he says, "writing the mail, just delivering it."