The Age of Relativism is Ending (In a Battle of Gods)

Zeus, center, parts Athena, left, and Ares, right, in this piece of pottery by Nikosthenes. The piece currently resides in the British Museum.

By Tom Gilson Published on July 27, 2017

The age of relativism is ending. Even Christians may soon look back upon it with nostalgia.

I wrote recently about the end of the post-Christian era. It was never destined to last, I said then, because no major era in history is long known by what came before. Indeed, a new religion of self-deification has grown up now to take its place.

Something very similar could be said about relativism, which was also about deifying the self. Its age could never have lasted long, either. The two periods are dying together, though relativism is ending for very different and more important reasons.

Understanding Relativism by Its Gods

Relativism was (and in its dying gasps it still is) essentially the view that every person has the right and power to determine his own truth — especially religious truth — as well as his own moral code. This is a very god-like power to claim, and it has certainly paved the way for today’s new religion of self-deification.

It was never the case that multiple competing “truths” could all be true. The whole idea was silly from the start.

But relativism makes for very small gods. Each relativist rules his own self-contained, isolated universe, and by general agreement we stay clear of each other’s. Thus relativists love to say things like, “That may not be true for me, but if it’s true for you, hey, that’s cool” — which amounts to, “You’re free to run your universe. I won’t interfere.”

Or, more defensively, “Who are you to impose your morality on me?” — which is tantamount to, “You can be your own god, but you’d better let me be mine.”

We call that mutual hands-off doctrine “tolerance,” and consider it a virtue, but in reality it’s a prickly, alienating, isolating manner of relating to one another. As such it’s a pretty poor excuse for a virtue.

Self-Contradictory, Therefore Unstable From the Start

It’s also inherently unstable, for two reasons.

First, it was never the case that multiple competing “truths” could all be true. The whole idea was silly from the start.

Take religion, for example. Religious claims are by nature about reality beyond human opinion. A relativist might say “Christianity may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.” The fact is, if there is one God, and if Jesus Christ is His Son, then that truth is true for all reality. Likewise, if it’s not true of reality, then it’s not true for anyone. As for morality, let’s be honest: we never thought it was all that relative in the first place. There have always been absolutes. Even the code, “You must not impose your morality on me,” was a morality we imposed on each other.

Relativism has always been hopelessly self-contradictory. It’s amazing it’s stuck around as long as it has.

Doomed to Die in the Battle of the Gods

Where there are many gods they will inevitably do battle, until a victor emerges to rule over the rest.

But there is a second reason the era of relativism was doomed to die a quick death.

All the ancient mythologies agree (and they are right in this): Where there are many gods they will inevitably do battle, until a victor emerges to rule over the rest. Cronos overthrew his father Uranus to become chief of the Titan gods. Cronos then gave birth to Zeus, who led all Cronos’s children, the Olympians, in rebellion, until the Titans were bound in Tartarus.

This parallels exactly what we’re seeing unfold in our culture today. The gods of relativism could never have remained equal for long — and they haven’t.

The Victory of the LGBT Gods

See for yourself. Try saying, “Gay marriage may be real marriage for you, but it isn’t real for me.” Or try this, when your biologically male co-worker asks you to use only female pronouns with him” “Who do you think you are? You have no right to impose your values on me!” Yes, actually, he does have that right. Or at least he has the power. He has it because the battle has been fought, and his side won.

Now, I was never much of a relativist, having received grace to know early in life that there is one God who rules in both goodness and truth, and whose reality is indeed reality for all. Still I can appreciate how freeing relativism must have seemed. Being gods meant being able to rule our universes as we chose. What could be better?

It turns out, however, that being a god is no great advantage for the lesser deities among us. Prometheus, the Titan god who jumped ship to side with the Olympians, later defied Zeus by bringing fire to humans. Zeus chained him to a rock for it, where an eagle came and ate constantly at his liver until Hercules finally freed him.

Use the wrong pronouns at your school or fitness club and you may not come out much better.

Why the Day May Come When We Miss the Age of Relativism

The gods on the LGBT throne have defeated all the other small gods. They did it under the banner of “equality,” but it’s really about naked, arbitrary and very unequal power. (Just ask the Greeks trying to take Troy whether Zeus could be arbitrary.)

Which is why I say the day may come when we look back nostalgically on the days just ending. Relativism was always wrong, irrational, even silly. It’s led to all kinds of immoral excess and spiritual death. But at least it didn’t push its way around like an unrestrained, immoral, arbitrary, rock-chaining, death-dealing Olympian god.

Still, we who follow Jesus Christ know there is a true and very good God in heaven,  who will remain as victor over all other would-be gods. Let us grieve for them, not for ourselves. It’s hard to be the loser. Apart from the true God’s grace, it will be even harder on the ones who think they’ve won. 

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  • I have never thought is such apocalyptic terms. Although I’ll never see it, and envy future explorers of Mars, and the people who establish a self-sustaining human presence beyond Earth.

    • Gary

      You’ll never see it no matter how long you live because it will never happen. Star Wars and Star Trek are fiction, and always will be.

      • justfeddup

        WHAAAAT??? Now you tell me.

    • Patmos

      I guess you’ve gotten over the disappointment of not having those flying cars that were said to be on their way.

      • Actually flying cars aren’t that great an idea. Air travel is much more energy-efficient the way we do it now.

    • davidrev17

      But your notion of a “self-sustaining human presence” – either on earth, or beyond, into an “exceedingly life-prohibiting universe” that’s hostile & sterile to “carbon-based life” as we know it – is utterly incoherent Chuck. Unless of course, we all just “popped-into-existence UN-caused, from literal nothingness”? Does that actually reflct your ultimate “faith-based” worldview belief?

      I’m emphasizing this, because current research in anthropic cosmology continues to demonstrate, that THE reason(s) all carbon-based life (i.e., we humans etc.) flourishes upon this planet alone – where astoundingly, ALL life is scientifically described as “precariously, yet exquisitely balanced on a razors-edge” – is because this entire universe, and all of its laws, were mind-bogglingly “fine-tuned” since its bursting-into-existence, so that we rational/moral “conscious observers” would be able to thrive ONLY here on this planet, during this perfect window-of-time in cosmic history.

      Maybe you’ve been watching too many science fiction movies, like Gary suggests, huh? But there is a Holy Bible, whose content beautifully coheres with reality as we rational/moral conscious observers experience it Chuck. Why not diligently check this out?

      And one last observation: in order for all of these (currently “more than 800”) scientifically established “Design features” to have converged in-and-around this planet alone, during this precise time in the universe’s history – thus enabling our “contingent-existence” to flourish here on earth – there absolutely must exist a SELF-existent omniscient/omnipotent, personal transcendent MIND behind-it-all, to have made this exquisitely “contingent,” carbon-based reality thrive in ONLY this particular location of the universe.

      (See astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross’ incredibly enlightening [2016] book, “Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity’s Home.”)

      • Establishing a self-sustaining presence beyond our homeworld is crucial to the survival and future of our species, and it CAN be done, despite what Hugh Ross says. If we resign ourselves this world and this world only, we will eventually reach an evolutionary dead-end. The dinosaurs could not have anticipated this. We CAN.

        • Gary

          Why is “the survival and future of our species” something that anyone should care about?

          • davidrev17

            Don’t you mean from a strictly atheist, evolutionary perspective?

            Because according to them, our extinction would just wind-up being a textbook example of Darwinian “survival of the fittest” in action, until no species are left…whether we pollute ourselves, or overpopulate ourselves into extinction. “Just blind pitiless indifference,” or “nature red in tooth and claw”!

            Yet they can’t seem to stomach the implications of the very logic of their own worldview – because of that ol’ pesky “imago Dei” (or Romans 2:14-15 “moral conscience”) within the hearts of all mankind; of whose presence, or existence, they tragically remain in fierce denial??

          • Gary

            I think Chuck has claimed to be an atheist, and he is an evolutionist. In his worldview, there is no reason to want any “species” to survive because their existence is purposeless and meaningless. I wanted to see if he understood that.

          • davidrev17

            Thank you brother…I wholeheartedly agree with ya! Looks like we’re both using the same approach with Chuck, but apparently from two separate angles. I’ll try and stay outta’ your way…and may the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” continue to bless you and yours!

          • Gary, ask an Atheist if he thinks existence is “purposeless and meaningless.” He’ll take issue with that. Life is its own purpose and meaning.

          • Gary

            If the universe was not created, how could it have a purpose? Atheists don’t believe the universe was created.

          • Push

            Please elaborate.

          • Don’t you care?

          • Push

            Evolutionism’s only destination is nihilism.

        • davidrev17

          Chuck:

          Thanks for the reply my friend; however, could we try and pursue this issue one-step-at-a-time? If so, would you please give me any hard-evidence whatsoever, of which legitimately affirms the tremendous breadth/depth of your sweeping faith-based assumptions; starting with, say, NASA??

          The reason I stress this is because NASA itself, Dr. Ross, and every other distinguished cosmologist, physicist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, geophysicist etc. intimately involved with this research, is acutely aware of the prohibitively vanishing options available to them re: these still-unknown/mysterious 20-or-so “exoplanets” that’ve been in the news of late. (BTW: Hugh Ross’ book is filled with cutting-edge peer review citations too.)

          You see, what I’m conveying here is almost common knowledge in the scientific community; in the way of their someday finding the “just right planet,” in the “just right location” – hence the standard astrophysical term “Goldilocks Zone” found throughout the scientific literature – somewhere in this universe, that’s PRECISELY suitable for the hoped-for “habitability,” thus the ultimate “survivability” of our well-recognized “Privileged Species”??

          You gotta’ realize Chuck, that the current (“more than 800”) recognized “Design features,” called the “constants and quantities” in the laws of chemistry & physics – plus all of nature’s laws, upon which this universe operates/functions – are ALL necessarily required to be SIMULTANEOUSLY present, thus in “interdependent-operation” at ANY location in this universe, in order for WE complex-creatures to live at all – let alone survive and/or thrive.

          Now, the real “kicker” to the scientific community at-large currently, is the well-established reality that if even just ONE of those (over 800) “constants or quantities” in the known laws of chemistry & physics was ALTERED by even a smidge, or the proverbial “hair” – ALL LIFE AS WE KNOW IT CEASES TO EXIST, and simply vanishes forevermore!!! Just let that sink-in my friend!

          (There’s an incredible [2015] 6-min video on YouTube, elucidating this very thing. Just search for “Fine Tuning” on YT, and it should appear associated with Dr. William Lane Craig’s ‘Reasonable Faith’ website. It reflects absolutely mind-boggling cutting-edge science too.)

          You see this ludicrous, ideologically-driven idea of of H¢%o sapiens’ simply picking-up, and moving to another interstellar neighborhood, unfathomable distances away at that; in order to hopefully colonize another perfectly suitable planet, in a perfectly suitable solar-system, located within the perfectly protected region of a “spiral-galaxy” ALONE – ain’t like when we humans move-around on planet Earth!

          That sort of fideistic faith in operation, would make even the most rock-ribbed Islamic homicide bomber green-with-envy Chuck. And even Stephen Hawking is acutely aware of just how desperately foolish this notion is at present; yet recently, he’s been resoundingly quoted about our collectively attempting to do just that! Kinda’ like the biblical equivalent of “thus saith Yahweh” – only this is thus saith Stephen Hawking???

          Here’s a quick short-list of some 21st-century secularized, scientific assessments re: the same issues with which H#@o sapiens is confronted, whose scientific conclusions, you’ll no doubt realize, are exactly that of Dr. Hugh Ross. Where they part ways however, is in the philosophical/theological implications of the “Anthropic Cosmological Principle.”

          Curiously, atheists et al. are woefully at an irrational loss at present, to provide any sort of credible competing theories, surrounding all the profound philosophical “implications” to this scientific evidence; of which are obviously saturated with those unsavory, very unsettling metaphysical “Inferences to the Best Explanation,” or (IBE).

          And pease check-out any these highly relevant, powerfully compelling books, if you’d like to wade-deeper into this stuff – by secular experts with no theological axe-to-grind either: (I look forward to hearing some of your thoughts on this factually compelling info Chuck!)

          * * *

          “Lucky Planet: Why Earth is Exceptional-and What That Means for Life in the Universe”; “The Eerie Silence: Renewing our Search for Alien Intelligence”; “The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life?”; “Alone in the Universe: Why Our Planet is Unique”; “A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos”; “Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe.”

        • Push

          Chuck, you are a faithful man. In fact, you are a man of great faith. Welcome to the party.

          Now that you’ve implicitly proclaimed your devout faith I trust you might start to refrain from the mantra-repeating and all too ubiquitous condescension employed by those in your strident sect and directed towards others whose faith differs from yours.

          ^ Otherwise known as “E’rybody believes in sumthin.”

  • Jones Howell

    Whoa! That hurt.

  • ImaginaryDomain

    Hey that was really well done. Bravo.

  • Hannah

    Excellent article, Tom! Normally, I’d be hesitant to feel joy in the downfall, but I find that this mentality offers a sort of promise – that the world will have to be engulfed in flames before Jesus sets all things right. It saddens me that many will not bend the knee willingly when the time comes, but I know He’s in control regardless.

  • Charles Burge

    I don’t think it’s necessarily time to concede defeat just yet. Forty years ago, the debate over abortion was supposedly settled. Guess what. The pro-life movement is now filled with young people. I happen to think that the hollow charade of the LGBT movement will be exposed sooner rather than later. The next generation, when it comes of age, will see the devastation exacted by today’s insanity over gender issues. How they react is anyone’s guess, but I think they’ll at least see the inherent bankruptcy of the ideology. God could send another revival though North America, just like He did in two previous Great Awakenings. We’re worse than fools of we rule that out as a possibility.

    • I agree there’s no need for Christians to give in. I described a battle among small gods. The real God will step in and settle it when and how He chooses. In the meantime we do our part, whatever it may be, to advance His truth and His rule.

      • Becky

        I agree. The darker the night, the brighter the light!

    • Becky

      I agree. This year marks the 500th anniversary to Martin Luther’s 90 theses. Also, it’s been about 100 years since the 2nd great awakening. Also, there have been prophetic words that Trump would win before he ever was even the RepublicN candidate and that he would be a “Cyrus”- the 45th president (see Isaiah 45) who would “build a wall” as Cyrus allowed Nehemiah to do. Also, I have seen a great revival is coming, as have many others who I respect in the Christian community. I believe God is bringing about a great harvest. I believe we will see a great revival. There is no stopping God when His army gets on their knees. So, what are we waiting for?!! Let’s pray like we’ve never prayed before! Strongholds, come down! Idols, be torn down! His Kingdom come! His will be done- on Earth as it is in Heaven!

    • Becky

      The darker the night, the brighter the light!

  • Gary

    I agree that everyone doing what they want is unworkable and has to end. I might die in a civil war against the forces of evil (lgbtq and their allies), but I have no plans to surrender. And, I believe God is soon to bring time to an end anyway, and when He does, He will destroy my enemies.

    • Chris Schene

      The LGBT community cannot win in the end: They are far too outnumbered.

      • Gary

        They have millions of heterosexual supporters. lgbtq and their supporters control the US Congress, the Federal Courts, almost all the colleges and universities, the public schools, many private schools, and the entertainment industry (films, music, TV). They also control most “Christian” religious organizations, including the Catholic Church and most Protestant churches. Those of us who oppose lgbtq control very little. More and more we are driven to the fringes of society. And it will get worse before it gets better.

        • Gary is right, as far as that aspect of it goes. If it were about numbers and cultural firepower it would be bleak, in my view. My hope comes from knowing there is a true God in heaven, and also that the LGBT system cannot hold; it’s grounded on contradictions and lies, so it’s not solid and stable enough to last, even being shored up by cultural props as it is now.

  • LX5000

    Well done Tom. Truth and logic are liberating.

  • senrex

    Beautifully spoken truth.

  • JP

    The way it stands now, the LGBT Gods will easily be vanquished by “Allah”. The Christian Church, at the moment, is too busy committing suicide to be bothered.

    Muslims, if anything are patient. They will continue in most cases to stand by and watch the West kill itself. In France, Churches that have stood since the Normans are being torn down due to no parishioners; in the US, clergy of all stripes are jumping on the LGBT band wagon

  • Eventually, Tom. Till then, hard days for us.

  • Chris Schene

    “Indeed, a new religion of self-deification has grown up now to take its place.” Dying together and replaced by what?

    Dying when ?

    • See the article linked under the words, “end of the post-Christian era”.

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