I’ve been contemplating, lately, how one might think about the idea of absolute truth. Apparently the philosopher Rene Descartes had a couple of pretty firm ideas about it: he was sure about his own existence and also that of God. I guess, over the ages, religions have latched onto the notion, believing firmly in certain supernatural entities as well as applying the idea to morality. Unfortunately the irrefutable absolute beliefs of one group doesn’t usually translate to the absolute beliefs of those in the next church. The disharmony that arises from the differences isn’t simply friendly rivalry.
There are, of course, secular moral absolutes, too, having to do with murder and theft and other anti-social behaviors seen to undermine the greater social well-being. The trouble with absolutes, moral or otherwise, is that one can usually come up with plausible exceptions: taking a life to protect another, stealing food to feed the hungry and so forth. And then there’s God’s elusive nature throwing into question that particular absolute truth.
I guess such discrepancies are what encourage some hasty thinkers’ leap directly into the embrace of relative truth and morality. This, even though, given some thought, moral relativity will be found to be a poor position to support a thriving, well-functioning society (no matter what some crony capitalists might want us to believe).
So, maybe what makes the most sense is moral diversity and truth seeking rather than truth grasping. If we recognize that different people at different times are experiencing unique and varied situations that have led to ethical frameworks quite different than our own perhaps we need to cut them some slack. If their moral ground is embraced by the populace and provides a safe nurturing environment who are we to complain?