Postmodernism robs society of objective truth and reason. What will be the fallout?
One of the most popular phrases today around the globe is “You have your truth, I have my truth, and nobody knows the truth.” If one looks at that statement objectively, however, it is immediately obvious that as a guiding philosophy it’s a major fail. This supposedly inclusive view can only work in La-La Land, not in real society.
What is Postmodernism? Well, no one actually can agree, because it’s so subjective and slippery. But at its bare bones, postmodernism is a way of analyzing life. It rejects logic, fact, objective truth, and objective moral values. You might find this short overview video of postmodernism helpful.
Postmodernism says that truth is inaccessible, and that everything is interpretation. That no interpretation is final. That language only has the meaning we give it. That there is no absolute truth outside our own unique perspective. That there is no single origin of morality. That reality cannot be known nor described objectively.
Though society has been influenced by the sloppy reasoning and false narratives of postmodernism for more than 50 years, making inroads even in the Church, it is our young people who have fully embraced postmodernism as the correct lens through which to view life. Gone are black and white, replaced by an endless selection of grays.
You Don’t Get to Judge My Reality
In a 2000 article by Christianity Today, Postmodernism was defined as “anything, everything, and nothing.” Today, people are demanding societal respect for their desire to live in the “safe bubble” of their personally crafted identity. The list of subjective identities continues to mushroom, as society spirals deeper into individual focus and narcissism.
As Lonny S. Jarrett writes in his article Narcissism: A Postmodern Epidemic, “Einstein’s theory of relativity, that all perception is relative to the perceiver, has become distorted into the perspective that each individual is living in his own universe, a universe that is a projection of his own mind with no external reality having its own independent existence, validity, or truth.” He adds, “Narcissism is present when one’s attention is focused relatively more on the voice in his own head than he is on the words coming out of the mouth of the person he is listening to.”
In raising our kids with the message “Be YOU!,” we’ve paved the highway of endless subjectivity. And having bought into this view, many of us are subtly and overtly pressuring others to vigilantly monitor that their views don’t offend others. Free speech is then labeled “hate speech” when it offends someone.
Having been brought up to expect acceptance of their personal lifestyle choices, many college students believe it perfectly acceptable to verbally or physically attack anyone they feel is disrespecting or judging their subjective truth. Their rage (being easily triggered by self-perceived “micro-aggressions“), rather than the soundness of their arguments, has gained them ground. The media, heady on the sensationalism of these “Social Justice Warriors,” has happily amplified their antics.
Per the Urban Dictionary, a Social Justice Warrior (SJW) is someone “who uses the fight for civil rights as an excuse to be rude, condescending, and sometimes violent for the purpose of relieving their frustrations or validating their sense of unwarranted moral superiority.”
“No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or what they believe,” stated Paul Alivisatos, UC Berkeley’s executive vice chancellor, in defending the school’s decision to beef up security and offer counseling to students “offended” by the visit of guest speaker Ben Shapiro, a conservative political commentator and author of Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth. Yet, it clearly didn’t matter if Shapiro likewise felt harassed or offended.
Shapiro was asked, “Why does your right to free speech trump my right to be offended?” His response, “Because if it doesn’t, there is no right to free speech.”
Many SJWs believe a societal utopia can be achieved, but only through the removal of all judgements potentially lurking in objective truth and morality. “Subjectivity is comforting,” says Shapiro, “because you can never be wrong.” He adds that society — college campuses included — signal to all of us that there is virtue in being offended. That my being offended is enough for me to outright dismiss your view — and attack you for having it.
Postmodernism: Provocative Idea, Useless Model
Two mandates of Postmodernism are “openness” — which rejects reason — and “tolerance” — which rejects moral absolutes. It’s a reinterpretation of what is knowledge, and what should be viewed as knowledge. The standards of right/wrong and good/bad are just “social constructs” to be challenged or simply ignored.
Friedrich Nietzsche, the noted German atheist and philosopher, asserted that truth is just illusion. Ironically, Nietzsche, who was declared clinically insane the last decade of his life, had a huge impact on Western thinking and Postmodernist philosophers. It’s hard to understand why, when even his claim, “There are no facts, only interpretations,” gets instantly nullified because he states it as fact.
Living in a world fueled by subjective truth and subjective reality is going to end up being really frustrating. Real truth matters.
This blog post highlights Josh and Sean McDowell’s updated and revised apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict. We are certain this resource will be an effective evangelism tool for you, and strengthen your faith by answering the toughest questions tossed to you by skeptics. Know what you know, because it’s true.
If you’d like to start from the first blog post in this series, click here: Apologetics: Apologizing for Believing in God?.