These two philosophical movements rose to great heights in the twentieth century, and both are founded upon the Enlightenment philosopher Descartesâ€™ famous dictum, â€śCogito Ergo Sum,â€ť â€śI think therefore I am.â€ť Each of these movements, as well, is secularist. They must be, since there are no objective truths but what is contained a priori and experientially within each of us.
The product of these two philosophies is sometimes named moral relativism, which can be boiled down to a witty aphorism: â€śThere is nothing that is good or bad, but thinking makes it so.â€ť How often have we heard this in our lives?
The difficulty with a relativist viewpoint is that individual responsibility for oneâ€™s actions become diluted to the point of absurdity. The relativist point of view eliminates any objective sense of right and wrong. The statement â€śperception equals realityâ€ť is a metaphysicianâ€™s trick and has only narrow application: the speeding truck will wipe out the deaf and blind person if he walks before it regardless of his perception of the truck. The truck exists, the truckâ€™s movement exists, and the actions of the person have no impact on the truck In fact, because the truck is larger, it has the 'right of way, rather than the individual. Similarly, what I determine to be right and bringing happiness has no bearing on what you determine to be right and bringing happiness. If I am in a position to determine your happiness according to my wants and needs, I will do so. If I able to use coercion to force my determination upon you, that is so much the better.
There are so many situations we encounter in our daily lives in which this relativist coercion is displayed. For example, I have written about Terry Schiavo elsewhere in these pages. Terry Schiavo is in the position of having others determine her needs and desires, and her life is at stake because of it. One may state that the Schiavo case is an isolated incident, but that is exactly the point. She is the example that proves the point. Terryâ€™s husband and parents are negotiating, in conjunction with a board of medical ethicists (nihilists and utilitarians all), to determine what is Terryâ€™s quality of life. This quality of life will be weighed upon a scale, and if found in the balance to be lacking, according the beliefs and desires of others, her life will be terminated by allowing her to starve to death. That this societal evil cannot be seen by the many as such is appalling.
That these movements and philosophies are secular must of course be evident: there can be no higher moral authority within such a framework. If the authorities felt there were a higher authority, we would not be in this situation. This becomes problematic from an â€śestablish Justiceâ€ť perspective. Simply, if right and wrong do not exist external to and â€śaboveâ€ť mankind, if liberty and its blessings are not endowed by a creator, then it is other men who grant liberty, and governments become the tools for granting liberty. Liberty itself becomes something that is flexible and relative, and consequently it ceases to exist as we currently understand liberty. This is the opposite of what our country stands for.