07 Sep There Is No “Better” Without a Standard
C.S. Lewis wrote:
“Our ideas of the good may change, but they cannot change either for the better or the worse is there is no absolute and immutable good to which they can approximate or from which they can recede” (“The Poison of Subjectivism” in Christian Reflections)
Without a standard that stands outside of the observer, there can be no judgment as to whether something is better than another. It may appear better to you, but you will be caught in a swirl when you seek to tell your friend that vanilla is better than chocolate. Thus, what is so wrong with our current situation in dialogue with others of opposing views.
Someone who does not hold to a standard outside of their puny world (myself included) has no right, whatsoever, to tout what is good, better, best for anyone save himself. We are, indeed, walking amidst thorns with Tom who claims, “Your truth is good for you but not for me.” Well, what truth is good for you? I might ask.
At face value, Tom may seem open-minded and accepting. But when we pull back the layers, we find that Tom is just as bigoted as I am! We find that he thinks I ought to believe x. Indeed! Upon what grounds? Tom has no grounds to tell me what I ought to do if he does not appeal to an objective, outside authority. Because, I might say, “Your truth, Tom, is good for you.”
This is not a primrose path, however. What we find is that when my truth and your truth are antithetical. For example, I believe that all men are created in the image of God and owe obeisance to their Maker. You believe that we evolved from monkeys who, in turn, evolved from a protein solution over billions of years (or was it billions of millenia? or was it millions and billions of billenia? Is there any consensus on this, really?). Perhaps the outside standard is Science. Is not Science formulated in finite, geographically, and culturally-bound labs by finite, geographically, and culturally-bound scientists. Why ought the Easterner hold to a Westerner’s conception of what is observed? Johns Hopkins cannot possibly begin to give parenting obligations to the Bedoin who lives near the Aqaba Sea! Surely, our hubris cannot extend that far!
No, I believe based upon a objective, external, eternal axiom revealed in the pages of a Book by the Creator. My deontological claims do not rest in my assumptions and observations, but on the revelation of Another–who exists outside of my finite, geographically, and culturally-bound world.