Living as a Christian in a Post-Christian World Tapping on Theology #2 Relativism 1. Reminder of Pope Benedict’s challenge 2. Goal for next two weeks 3. Various comments about relativism: a. “We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” Homily, 4/18/05 Ratzinger b. “Relativism’s favorite Scripture is ‘judge not’. The only judgment is judgment against judging. The only wrong thing is the idea that there is a real wrong.” Peter Kreeft c. “From the mere fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” Mussolini, Diuturna, p. 377 d. “Men and women of good conscience can disagree, and we suppose some always shall disagree, about the profound moral and spiritual implications of terminating a pregnancy, even in its earliest stages. Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principle of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code…At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life…A decision to overrule Roe’s essential holding under the existing circumstances would address error, if error there was, at the cost of both profound and unnecessary damage to the Court’s legitimacy, and to the Nation’s commitment to the rule of law…We are satisfied that the immediate decision is not the soundness of Roe’s resolution of the issue, but the precedential force that must be accorded to its holding. And we have concluded that the essential holding of Roe should be reaffirmed.” U.S. Supreme Court Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa v. Case (1992) e. “Relativism predominates. Whoever is not a relativist is someone who is intolerant. To think that someone can understand the essential truth is already seen as something intolerant. However, in reality this exclusion of truth is a type of very grave intolerance…” Ratzinger, interview 12/01/02 f. “Relativism…in certain respects has become the real religion of modern man” Ratzinger Truth and Tolerance, 8. 84 g. “Truth is replaced by the decision of the majority precisely because there can be no truth…This relativism, which is nowadays to be found…is the most profound difficulty of our age.” Ibid., 72 h. “The belief that there is a truth , valid and binding within history itself, in the figure of Jesus Christ and in the faith of the Church is referred to as fundamentalism.” Ibid., 120. i. “In recent years I find myself noting how the more relativism becomes the generally accepted way of thinking, the more it tends towards intolerance, thereby becoming a new dogmatism. Political correctness, whose constant pressures you have illuminated, seeks to establish the domain of a single way of thinking and speaking. Its relativism creates the illusion that it has reached greater heights than the loftiest philosophical achievements of the past. It prescribes itself as the only way to think and speak – if, that is, one wishes to stay in fashion. Being faithful to traditional values and to the knowledge that upholds them is labeled intolerance, and relativism becomes the required norm. I think it is vital that we oppose this imposition of a new pseudo-enlightenment, which threatens freedom of thought as well as freedom of religion. In Sweden, a preacher who had presented the Biblical teachings on the question of homosexuality received a prison sentence. This is just one sign of the gains that have been made by relativism as a new “denomination” that places restrictions on religious convictions and seeks to subordinate all religions to the super-dogma of relativism.” Ratzinger, Without Roots, 128 4. Some common slogans, buzzwords, and ideas: a. b. c. d. e. 5. Some definitions. a. Relativism: b. Four different types of relativism: 1. 2. 3. 4. 6. Why is this relevant? Who cares? a. b. c. d. 7. More clarity (I hope!) a. Absolutes, then, have three aspects: a. b. c. 8. Proposing not imposing. a. The “world’s” view b. Our Responses: 1. “the divine command theory”. c. As Robert George writes, “If reason has no sway in practical affairs, the sole question is who has the power?” 9. Quick summary a. b. Dialogue! 1. But what is dialogue? a. General view b. Literal meaning i. As defined by Marcello Pera. ii. This presumes 1. 2. c. Irony: 10. What does this mean for us? 11. A word, or two, on “tolerance” 12. A final thought going back to Benedict’s challenge. Why the fear?