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Sabbath School for a New Generation

Among Seventh Day Adventists, Sabbath School is a time for discussion and learning. It is the belief of this site that Sabbath School should be an exciting venue for the discussion of new ideas, instead of rehashing old arguments. So welcome to a virtual Sabbath School, a Sabbath School for a new generation.

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I am an Electrical Engineer, working at Intel in the Portland area. I received my undergraduate degree from Walla Walla College and graduate degrees from the University of Southern California. The views expressed on this website are my own and do not reflect the viewpoints of anybody else. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point in time.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Truth and relativism

This morning I found a link on AdventistPulpit.com to the Adventist Theological Society's website. So I spent some time reading some of the articles. Many of the articles seemed to be attacking either post-modernism or science and after awhile they started to get repetitive. There didn't seem to be much diversity of opinion. This was especially true for Perspective Digest. It seemed that many of the attacks on post-modernism were based on a straw man view of the results of post-modernism. The worst example of this was in article by Francis Beckwith and Gregory Koukl. Their summary of the flaws of the relativism in post-modernism, states that

What kind of world would it be if relativism were true? It would be a world in which nothing is wrong, nothing is considered evil or good, nothing worthy of praise or blame. It would be a world in which justice and fairness are meaningless concepts, in which there would be no accountability, no possibility of moral improvement, no moral discourse. And it would be a world in which there is no tolerance.

Moral relativism produces this kind of world. The late Dr. Francis Schaeffer'’s remark could well apply to relativists, who "have both feet firmly planted in mid-air."

In fact, very few relativists are suggesting such a world. A fact that was suggested in a much better essay by Larry Lichtenwalter. He recognizes the common perception of post-modernism by many conservative Christians.
The postmodern approach to morality is all too often associated with the celebration of the supposed emancipation from moral standards and the disavowal of moral responsibility. We are witnessing, some assert, "“the demise of the ethical"” and the transition to an era in which we are placed beyond moral duty.

However this is not happening in reality.
But the collapse of belief taking place in postmodern society does not, it turns out, result in a collapse of morality. Quite the opposite. According to Anderson: "“The early postmodern years are bringing, instead of collapse of morality, a renaissance of searching for principles of life that we variously call morals, ethics, values."

This is what I have observed as well. Post-modernism recognizes that we are all creatures with pre-conceptions and biases. We recognize the limits on our ability to ascertain "absolute truth." Some would go so far as to say that there is no absolute truth. It does not negate the existence of a culturally-conditioned truth and following that truth is still important for each individual. Post-modernism at its best humbles us as we share our truths with others.


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