A third and final way to kill debate is to deny the existence of truth. This makes debate irrelevant. If we cannot agree that certain claims are true while other claims are false, what is really the point of having a discussion? I might be arguing that something is truth, and you would respond to me, not by countering my claim, but by saying that it really doesn’t matter one way or the other.
This is difficult to do in a society that encourages graduates in commencement addresses to, “tell your truth,” like Sen. Cory Booker or Van Jones who encourages the students to, “lift up our own truth.”
After all, if you are telling your truth, and I am telling my truth, it is quite possible that those two accounts conflict. We are both different and imperfect human beings, and sometimes our perceptions on particular circumstances might be different. However, if we are labeling individual perceptions as truth, then the fact that simultaneously true truth claims can be contradictory points to the fact that reject the possibility of any type of absolute truth that is true all the time. After all, I would be willing to bet that with billions of people in the world, there is no belief or perception of any type that is universally held by every person, and if that is true, there will be competing versions of truth on every possible claim.
If there is this movement to deny absolute truth and if it is simultaneously true that there is no reason to have a debate if no answer is any better than any other, this seems to be perhaps the easiest way to kill debate. Echo chambers are hard to create sometimes. We can control things like social media and our TV viewing habits, but we cannot control the beliefs of our coworkers, customers, neighbors or random people we meet in the grocery store. We can try to create perfect echo chambers, but there are bound to be some cracks for most people.
Similarly, it can be a little bit difficult to dehumanize the opposition. Often times, attempts to do this fail miserably because the majority of society doesn’t go along with this characterization. I know that there are people who would like to dehumanize me because of my pro-life views, but I am pretty confident that even though many people do not agree with me, they do not think I am subhuman for believing the way I do. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but dehumanization is a difficult tactic to pull off with a large group of people.
The denial of truth altogether is seemingly the easiest way to kill debate then, and is it any coincidence that we are now members in what is labeled as a “post-truth” society? The path of least resistance is the one that is generally taken, and this redefinition of truth and denial of absolute truth is powerful.
We need to stand against this. We have communities as I talked about for the past few weeks. In order to have a successful community, we need to acknowledge that people are indeed different and disagree on various issues. Taking this approach to truth and denying the existence of truth entirely rips out that acknowledgment of difference. It creates a fake perception of everyone basically being the same, and that is blatantly false.
One of us is closer to truth than the other if we have divergent beliefs. If you believe the earth is flat, and I believe the earth is round, when one of us is right, the other is necessarily wrong. These cannot be simultaneously true even though your truth is that the world is flat. In this situation, it really does matter what your truth is.
If we are going to have communities that can live with each other’s differences, we can’t pretend that everyone is the same and everything that someone believes is just as valid as everything that everybody else believes is true. Truth cannot contradict itself by virtue of being true. Let’s fight for the existence of truth.
Don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter if you liked this article!