What is Truth: Part 1 image. One Way.

Postmodernism and The Reality

In Tough Questions by Antwuan Malone

“…every man did that which was right in their own eyes.”  Judges 21:25 (KJV)

It’s crazy what gets my noodle going. One day when I came home from work, I slipped the wrong key into the lock of door. And when it didn’t open, my mind started thinking on this notion of exclusivity.

Earlier that day I was accused of arrogance for not only believing in one real “Truth” and path to God, but also in claiming that I’d found it! As I stood there in front of my door with the wrong key, it became oddly interesting that the lock on my door required one pattern of key to unlock it. I thought, Perhaps this door is arrogant for not letting me in!

Silliness, I know. Doors don’t have feelings, I know. They can’t be arrogant. Equally silly is the notion that someone could be angry at an “audacious” door that dare not allow me to get in with any key I choose to use to unlock it. How rude! If I were to lay a slew of similarly shaped keys on the ground, each of us might perceive a different key to open the lock on my door. But only one pattern will work.

And yet, the society we live in is a society that embraces the idea that anyone can decide anything is true. Any notion, any thought, any belief. Everything perceived truth and reality… is truth and reality. Any key can open any door, as long is I think it will. Any highway will lead me to any place in the world, so long as I believe it is so.

How we intellectually arrived to such a place, I have no idea. It’s the biggest slight-of-hand in history. It’s both baffling and frustrating. I can Satan telling his cronies with a slithery grin, “I’ve got a way to get them to believe anything we want them to.”

I think of those scenes in cop movies when a witness is standing behind a dark glass while a parade of suspects come walking in with little number signs held across their chest. Only one of those guys actually committed the crime. How the witness remembers it, who it thinks he saw, none of that changes the fact that of these suspects, only one did the crime. There is only one correct answer.

One. Correct. Answer.

This is the idea of exclusivity – the idea that a thing can be set up to have only one entry point, one key pattern, one combination for entry. One reality. One truth. And it is this idea that has turned off so many in what is an increasingly postmodern society – a society that challenges any notion of absolute truth.

PostModernism

Such a sophisticated, intelligent sounding word, Postmodernism is the opposite of exclusivity. And often, like the guy in my conversation, those who hold to a postmodern worldview attack throw around words like arrogant to describe those who are not. A postmodern worldview essentially says there is not one key pattern for my door, but many key patterns, as long as I think so. Postmodernism says the witness can choose the wrong suspect in that dark room, and still be correct simply because they believe they are telling the truth. Skepticism is at the heart of postmodernism. It fuels its rejection of exclusivity. It refuses to settle on any one idea as good enough for all. It says each person can reveal their own truths, their own realities.

And to that, I ask simply this. If there is not one truth, then how many are there? Infinite? If so, does that even make sense?

Listen, I know conversations surrounding postmodernism can feel intense and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. To debunk the ideas behind postmodernism, you need only think back five minutes. What were you doing five minutes ago? Watching TV? Reading a book? Perusing this article?  Now, what if someone said you weren’t doing that? They’d be wrong. Despite what they think, despite what they perceived, they’d be wrong. And there you have it folks, absolute truth.

Truth is not in the eye of the beholder (and I may be able to make the case that neither is beauty, for that matter.) There is only one reality. There is only one truth. And frankly such a notion is so easy to prove that I don’t understand why we have to engage in a conversation about it at all.

It doesn’t matter how many religions and dogmas exist in the world, there is only one true meta-narrative. Maybe we’ve found it. Maybe we haven’t. But because we can’t be absolutely certain, does it mean we should swing open the door and allow all comers? No. There was only one beginning, and there will be only one end. We should be careful not to, in the name of tolerance, invite and settle in on a pluralist worldview that borders on the ridiculous — that basically says any and every key will open any and every door. Such skeptical tenets of postmodernism shrink the needle of truth and tosses it into a haystack that never stops growing. It’s no wonder the real truth is so hard to find.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this. If we accept all answers as true then we can accept none of them as true. Your truth would cancel out mine, and ours the next man’s. And that is the trick of the devil. The greatest lies are not simply false, they also cast doubt on the one real truth. They set themselves so similar to The Truth that it becomes nearly impossible to tell the difference. In this, The Truth becomes invisible or indistinguishable from the other lies.

Our perceptions do not define The Reality, it only defines our individual, perceived realities. The Reality is much like time. It is a force that cannot be tampered with. Unchangeable, rigid, and unable to be manipulated. The Reality simply is. Truth is tied to The Reality. Thus The Truth, too, simply is.

Our perceptions are a matter of awareness, not reality. Very seldom are our knowledge and understanding products of the bird’s-eye view needed to understand reality as it truly is. So I commend postmodernism for its open mind to the awareness that we may have misunderstood, or have not fully grasped The Truth. But to take the stance that there are no absolutes kills the search for Truth before it begins. Or, it at least makes for a very short journey. There must be a process of elimination. There must be wrong answers. There must be exclusivity.

The Bible says that Jesus is the Truth. And while I have not yet made the case that He is, I hope to have at least laid the groundwork for the idea of exclusivity. The idea that all is not relative. That truth is an unalterable, unchangeable single force that we must become discover, not create.

What are your thoughts on the idea of exclusive, absolute truth?

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.