Updated: Aug 30, 2018
"I believe that everyone has the right to believe whatever they want without having their views challenged or contradicted by others."
The reader may have heard a statement similar to this in the past. What the reader might not know is that the person making such a statement is consciously or unconsciously advocating the philosophy known as "postmodernism."
According to the tenets of this philosophy, there is supposed to be no absolute truth, and therefore all truths become relative from person to person. When discussing postmodernism, it is important to keep in mind that its core thesis of "there is no absolute truth" is a self-defeating statement (as it is in itself a statement of absolute truth), and is consequently false. However, it is also important to keep in mind that many people and organizations in the contemporary culture knowingly or unknowingly embrace at least some facets of postmodernism. What does this widespread acceptance of postmodernism look like, and what are it's implications?
Postmodernist philosophies are visible in a great many places for those who are watching for them. For example, in some of National Geographic's articles discussing religions (such as Islam and Christianity), the fundamental premise is often that the religion is viable, but is valuable mostly (if not only) in its role as a cultural tradition. Even if they vaguely appear to recognize the viability of any given religion, in the end, such organizations are more likely to professionally advocate the view that science is ultimately true over religion, and that religion and science are incompatible (although I acknowledge that the views expressed in the articles on National Geographic are the views of the article's respective authors and not necessarily the professional views of National Geographic). This strongly reflects postmodernist philosophy and is exemplified to some degree in the final paragraph of the above linked National Geographic article on Christianity:
"At this moment I realize that to sincere believers, the scholars’ quest for the historical, non-supernatural Jesus is of little consequence. That quest will be endless, full of shifting theories, unanswerable questions, irreconcilable facts. But for true believers, their faith in the life, death, and Resurrection of the Son of God will be evidence enough."
This statement alone is heavy with postmodernism. According to postmodernist philosophy, as long as you sincerely believe something, it is no longer the business of anything or anyone else to challenge your belief. With that obligation put in place, tolerance becomes the highest of all virtues. Now, you may be wondering: "Is the principle that all faiths, religions, and beliefs are equal really that bad?" While a degree of tolerance is vital to any society, postmodernism, taken to its logical conclusions, holds all religions to be equally true...and thus, equally false. All religions are not the same. All religions are not compatible. By accepting all religions, postmodernism rejects all religions, making it an inherently atheistic philosophy. As is said in another National Geographic article "In Age of Science, Is Religion 'Harmful Superstition'?":
"There are thousands and thousands of religions and all of them make incompatible claims about the universe. The reason that that’s the case is because they don’t have any way of testing those claims."
As it tacitly denies the existence of a supreme god, postmodernism takes humanism to new heights, as man (and not only mankind as a whole, but every individual) truly becomes the measure of all things, the ultimate judge of all objective truths as well as moral truths. Once again from the National Geographic article:
"Once you believe in an absolute authority that tells you what to do, you’re heading down the road to perdition, I think."
This statement seems to support the postmodern thesis that the existence of an absolute authority depends on a person's own belief, or lack thereof. God's existence does not depend on whether or not humans choose to believe in Him. Our need for a Savior does not depend on whether or not humans choose to believe in God and repent of our sins. Despite what postmodernist philosophy may say, there is only one way to Heaven. There is only one ultimate truth. And there is only one way to gain eternal life in a world marred by death: Jesus Christ.
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" (John 14:6 ESV)
Sadly enough, as postmodernist philosophy attempts to undermine the truth of Christianity, naturalistic science fueled by evolution is happy to fill the newly created spiritual vacuum, and to set itself up as the only reliable source of truth. As the National Geographic article goes on to say:
"Science has an exquisitely refined series of methods honed over 500 years to find out what’s real and what’s false...I study evolution and every day I read something that strikes me as amazingly wonderful. If you call that spiritual, then, yeah, I’m spiritual."