The biggest conflict of our times is not the conflict between Democrats and Republicans, blue states and red states, non-religious and religious, or liberals and conservatives.
Rather, the biggest conflict of our time is between two conflicting views of truth. One view, the classical view says that truth can be known. The other view, the postmodern view, says truth cannot be known.
The classical view says that ultimate truth exists independent of us and can be discovered, though not exhaustively, through reason and revelation. We use dialogue and persuasion to seek truth and respond to it.
But the postmodern view says that ultimate truth is up to the individual. No one is in a position to discover ultimate truth. The best we can do is “speak our truth” and try to get the power to compel others to see it our way.
The “truth can be known” viewpoint says the core elements of truth can be understood through facts and logic. The famous senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan put it this way: “You may be entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” The postmodern view disagrees with this. Professor Stanley Fish, a prominent postmodernist English literature and law professor says, “You are entitled to your own facts if you can make your version of them stick.”.
Fish’s argument is alarming. To say that facts become true if we can get enough people to see it our way is to replace the search for truth with a grab for power. Yet today it is the common view.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans believe that truth is up to the individual. Nearly half of church-going, born-again Christians concur.
Obviously, someone who believes that no absolute truth exists, that truth is up to the individual, will have very little respect for religious liberty or free speech or anything else guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. A 2019 poll says that 51% of Americans say the first amendment to the United States Constitution is outdated and should be rewritten.
Religious liberty is the foundation of all other rights. Baylor University professor Timothy Shah has shown that countries that protect religious liberty are those most likely to protect economic freedom, civil rights, political freedom, and women’s rights. To see how this is true, let’s first look at what the concept of liberty is all about.