What is relativism and how do we refute it?

Article ID: DR504 | By: CRI Statement

Relativism refers to the denial of objective truths. The individual or culture becomes the standard of judgment, rather than an objective, universal, and eternal reality.

There are many forms of relativism. Common forms of moral relativism, for example, say that what is right and wrong amounts to the subjective preferences of an individual or culture. Thus, what is right or wrong for one person or culture may not be so for another, which usually reduces to “might makes right.”

However, the problems with this view are easily seen when we extend relativism’s precepts to their logical conclusions. As a case in point, the moral relativist has no basis on which to judge another’s actions as good or bad, just or unfair, since the standard adheres only within each individual or culture. Thus, the moral relativist cannot legitimately accuse Hitler of wrongdoing or say that torturing babies for fun is unjust. But this state of affairs contradicts our deepest moral intuitions ¾ it is simply absurd to think the torturing of babies is not an utter evil.

Relativism, then, cannot be true and basic morality must be objective, applying to everyone at all times. By the way, only the Christian worldview accounts for our moral intuitions, since a personal and good God has instilled within each of us a conscience (Rom. 2:14-15).