U is for Universal

Is there such a thing as Universal Values or Truth? A topic for debate between the cultural relativism-ists and those who believe they answer to a higher authority.

In one camp, the thought is there are no absolutes, only opinions; what’s right for you may or may not be right for me; that all beliefs, values “truths” and lifestyles are equal. This worldview believes there is no Universal Truth because everything is relative to something else. I’m okay, you’re okay. Much of society today adopts this subjective position about right and wrong, creating situational ethics that change depending on the circumstances. If you ask if there are absolutes in the postmodern relativist’s life, they will answer “NO!”, which is odd, because, in saying that they just demonstrated an absolute statement.

If there isn’t any Universal Truth, then there is no benchmark for right and wrong. What’s right for you may be wrong for me and vice versa. Who is to say which value set is the best? In a world of pure cultural relativism, people would be free to do whatever they wanted. If there isn’t any Universal Truth, humans can live as they please, accountable to no one. There would be no desire for laws or justice, and societal chaos would surely result.

Of course there are absolutes in our world. If there wasn’t, we’d all fall off the earth because there would be no law of gravity. Laws of science and physics are full of absolutes. If there were not absolute truths in science, how would be know what was discovered to be true?

The other camp believes there are most definitely universal absolutes that define right and wrong. Absolute values and truths that have been set upon every human heart by a Higher Power since the dawn of time. And these values are what separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Why do humans have consciences and squirrels don’t? Why do we feel guilt, but cows don’t? Why do most of us think rape, assault, murder, stealing, suffering and pain are wrong? Traits that pure, naturalistic evolution cannot explain. (Let me be clear at this point, evolution and my spiritual worldview do fit together. But that’s a different post.) This position believes humans are much, much more than highly evolved animals.

The spiritual worldview camp believes humans were designed for more than just existence by a personal Creator. And if we are the product (by however means it happened) of that Creator, the standards for Universal Truth have been set upon our hearts and minds. And we are held accountable.

“…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” ~Romans 1:19-22

For more ABC Wednesday U-words, click HERE.

6 thoughts on “U is for Universal

  1. I would like to think that there are universal truths, but in all honesty- don’t know. I have lived on three continents and the values and ethics in various countries are SO different. The value of life is so different. How can people justify terrorist bombers sending kids to blow up others? What on earth justifies that? Maybe LOVE is a universal truth, but again, defining what, who, and how to love varies from culture to culture.

    I don’t know, maybe you just caught me on a bad day. But, this is a fascinating question and great post.


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