Wednesday, February 09, 2005



By Peter Fredson

Roaming through some blogs the other day I ran across the phrase “Absolute Morality.” Although I have read a fair amount of philosophy and science I still was not sure about anything entitled “Absolute.” The term “Absolute Zero” in regard to Temperature depends on oscillation of atoms and molecules in a media. If it be water, then as the water cools, oscillation of molecules slows and allows water to freeze. When all oscillations halt, the temperature is called absolute zero. The problem is that oscillations never come to a complete stop. If the media is changed, then the oscillation conditions change. Absolute becomes Relative to the medium.
I consulted GOOGLE for answers, and learned that there were about 4,550,000 entries for Absolute Truth [definition]. (0.07 seconds) I’m sure someone can calculate how long it would take me to access each article, and how long I would be dead if I could ever finish the never-ending stream of opinion about Absolute Truth.
I spent most of the day reading entries, trying to make sense of them. I was agreeably surprised to find that many entries fit into only a few categories. I was also surprised and delighted to find that many people have no problem in either defining Truth, or in attaining Absolute Truth, or in proclaiming that everybody can find THE TRUTH. In fact they have hundreds of quotations to show what the Truth is and how to attain it.

Philosophers can’t quite seem to agree on what Absolute Truth might be. They give long, complex, abstruse arguments, which undoubtedly give contemporaries much amusement concerning beliefs.

There seem to be two diametrically-opposed beliefs related to absolute truth:
Some believe everything is relative, that there is no reality, only perceptions and opinions, and no authority can possibly determine if something be ultimately true or false. Others believe in Absolute Truth, and that there are ultimate standards of Truth and morals and they have no hesitation in proclaiming that fact.

Religionists are the most opinionated of all. They all eventually adopt a stance relative to Truth in which their beliefs are Absolutely True, their Gods Absolutely Perfect, and their Morals Absolutely Correct. Muslims quote the Koran as their ultimate authority, Buddhists go to the sayings of Gautama, the Children of Israel unroll their sacred scroll, and Christians thump their bible. Each is convinced that they alone are Absolutely Correct in having possession of THE TRUTH, and that all the others are, relatively speaking, wrong in the measure to which they deviate from whoever is doing the opinionating.
If I take the time to look up the stance of other religions with sacred books, I would probably find that each devotee would coyly admit that their religion was best and that they alone had a monopoly on TRUTH. They are all convinced that Absolute Truth is singular, indivisible and they all have a recipe for finding it.

Stridency and aggressivity in voicing opinions seem to play a large part in getting points across. Several major religions originating in the Middle East assert that absolute truth is determined by a supernatural being, who is the ultimate authority, or maker, of everything, including reality. True Believers believe that a personal, all-powerful Intelligent Being exists and that absolute truth is derived by True Believers by properly understanding who or what God is and what His "will" might be.

The argument goes: There must be a "reality" somewhere. It defines what is and what is not, what is right and what is wrong. For absolute truth, there must be some authority that establishes Truth. “You cannot have a law without a lawgiver. You cannot have a design without a designer.”
The creationists and Far Right Evangelical Charismatics have come out in full force under the present administration with stridency and aggressivity to impose their opinions on the entire world, by hook or crook or cruise missile, or by sheer weight of web sites.

One web assertion sums up the modern Far Right Christian View reflected in many sites:
“Absolute truth is totally dependent upon the fact that "God" does exist and that the Universe was created purposefully. If there is no God, and everything was created on accident by something like evolution, then there can be no basis for absolute truth. Truth is beyond human control; "no mortal being can influence the absolute"

After perusing several dozen of these sites I find an essential sameness, remarkable conformity in wording, and a general consensus among True Believers. They appear to have a general direction imposed by modern legalistic dominionist reconstructivist Christians who manipulate semantics and logic, philosophy and religion, imagination and nonsense, into a fairly homogeneous story which satisfies the televangelists, priests, parsons, bishops, deacons, reverends and other people defending their livelihood which depends largely on linguistic dexterity in presenting biblical passages. This version has become dogma and is to be defended to the death. (To the Death of unbelievers?)

Thus TRUTH seems to be relative to whichever religion a True Believer believes. Each claims the FULL ABSOLUTE TRUTH, and each despises the others weak stumbling ignorant mistaken error-filled partial distortion of THE TRUTH.

Perhaps we can accept the Truth from a President who declared and continues to declare that the reason he invaded a sovereign country was that it formed an Imminent Threat to our Democracy, had innumerable terrifying weapons of mass destruction, and had Evil Intentions. After all, he says he speaks to God, who is, for him, the ultimate authority on Absolute Truth and morality. Would either of them misrepresent reality? Surely the belief of about 50% of people who voted should be sufficient to show where Absolute Truth, Honesty and Morality lies?

Finally, and you can breathe a sigh of relief, I found a site under this category that gives some Absolute Apothegms.

If you're too open-minded, your brains will fall out.
Age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than standing in a garage makes you a car.
Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
If you must choose between two evils, pick the one you've never tried before.
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
.A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.
Men are from earth. Women are from earth. Deal with it.
Middle age is when broadness of the mind and narrowness of the waist change places. .
There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.
Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. By the time you've figured out how to make ends meet, they move the ends.
.Someone who thinks logically provides a nice contrast to the real world.
Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself.
Doctors can be frustrating. You wait a month-and-a-half for an appointment, and he says, "I wish you'd come in sooner.

I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to present the opinions of the other 4,500,900 entries. But feel free to have fun searching for Truth, even Absolute Truth. Good luck!