Best of Both Worlds
In 2012 American bicyclist Lance Armstrong was outed for cheating in the Tour de France not once but seven times. Besides being publically disgraced, his championship titles were revoked and he was banned from the sport for life.
Think about how different things would be if relativists were correct and truth were only what each of us made it out to be. The reaction to Armstrong’s behavior might go something like this: “So he broke the rules of the competition. But who’s to say he did anything wrong? Your idea of truth is always to play by the rules. His truth is to do whatever it takes to win. So stop hating on him, people!”
If that sounds a bit far-fetched, it is not because I mischaracterized the relativist position. I didn’t. It is because such a defensive reaction doesn’t ring true. Something about it sounds wrong.
As we have seen, the universe gives every indication of revolving not around human opinions but objective truths — which both sci- ence and the Bible are in the business of bringing to light. That, I believe, is the first of two important practical lessons we should learn from this discussion.
I say “practical,” because this uncompromising devotion to truth is the chief reason we hold people accountable. Being the inhabitants of a truth-centered universe, we tend to come down hard on anyone who appears to violate certain objective standards of proper behavior, on those who lie, cheat, or bend the truth for personal gain. Just ask Lance Armstrong.
The universe itself punishes us if we thumb our noses at objective truth. Toy with nuclear energy in the belief that it is harmless and very quickly we will be set straight.
If we don’t respect it, objective truth will hurt us.
However, if we do respect it, objective truth will ultimately vindi- cate us and set us free— though not necessarily in our lifetime. That is the second lesson for us.
In science, many alleged heretics have not lived long enough to see their views justified by objective truth. Alfred Wegener for one. In the early 1900s, the German geophysicist was derided by colleagues for proposing that continents constantly shift positions. Now it is the mainstream view.
“The battle of the theory of continental drift is one of the clas- sic tales in the history of science,” explains Danielle Clode in her excellent book Continent of Curiosities. “Wegener did not live to see his work vindicated, dying in the pursuit of science on the ice cap of Greenland.”
In religion, Solomon, writing in Ecclesiastes, complains about the same thing. “In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: the righteous perishing in their righteousness, and the wicked living long in their wickedness” (7:15). Elsewhere in the same book, however, Solomon acknowledges that even if justice isn’t achieved in this life, it is in the next. Objective truth will out. “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed” (3:17).
How are you electing to live? As if objective truth exists or as if all truth is relative?
After Lance Armstrong was found out, Jan Ullrich, his chief rival, felt compelled to confess his own illegal use of the performance- enhancing substance EPO, short for erythropoietin. But did he admit he had done anything wrong? Was he contrite? No. Here is what he said: “In my view you can only call it cheating on my part when it is clear that I have gained an unfair advantage. That was not the case. All I wanted was everyone to have the same chances of winning.” For Ullrich, in other words, two wrongs make a right. That’s his truth.
Taken from Amazing Truths by Michael Guillen Copyright © 2015 by Michael A. Guillen, PhD.Used by permission of Zondervan.www.zondervan.com.