The following are excerpts from an interesting article written in the National Catholic Register (Aug 6-12, 2006 issue) by Donald Demarco, adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Relativism: A philosophy without a foundation
"...It may appear surprising to some that the Catholic Church, known primarily for her foundation in faith, is taking up the role of teaching people how to think. Yet the phenomenon of not thinking, especially about crucial matters, is pandemic — both inside and outside of the Church — and often goes unchallenged.
What, we might well ask, are those people who have not yet learned to think using as a substitute for thinking? In a word, they are reacting. They react affirmatively to the settled opinions of the day that they themselves have not settled in their own minds. They parrot ideas that are trendy, media-approved and politically correct. Not only that, but they bundle their collection of unexamined ideas and wrap them up in a package they claim to be a 'philosophy.'
One such philosophy, that cries out for an urgent reexamination is relativism. According to the tenets of this 'philosophy,' truth either does not exist or is unattainable. As a result, since there is no reliable anchor that can ground opinions in reality, all opinions have equal merit. What is assumed to be the democratization of philosophy is really its destruction.
Relativists, despite their rejection of any sure connection with reality, are not averse to referring to reality in order to buttress their position. Einstein’s theory of relativity is often called upon to substantiate the notion that 'everything is relative.' The media has been more than eager in promoting the contradictory notion that there is an objective basis for asserting that nothing is objective. For example, the Sept. 24, 1979 issue of Time carried a full-page advertisement that stated, in bold-faced letters and under a picture of Einstein: 'Everything Is Relative.'
While we cannot expect people in general to understand the intricacies and complexities of Einstein’s theory, we can know enough about it to be confident that neither Einstein nor his celebrated theory is the least bit relativistic. As the great physicist himself avers, in language that calls to mind Aristotle and Aquinas, 'Belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science' ...
Pope Benedict XVI has given some popular currency to the phrase 'the dictatorship of relativism.' The true relativist (if there could be one) would have nothing to dictate to anyone. He would be utterly deferential and completely respectful even of opinions that contradicted his own. The fact that relativists can aspire to the role of dictator is a good indication that it is impossible for anyone to purge himself entirely of his connections with reality...
For thinking rightly leads to truth, and truth is the only avenue to peace...
In his book, Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religion and the Unity of Truth, (Mortimer) Adler offers a crucial message to the world: 'A great epoch in the history of mankind lies ahead of us in the [current] millennium. It will not begin until there is a universal acknowledgement of the unity of truth in all the areas of culture to which the standard of truth is applicable; for only then will all men be able to live together peacefully in a world of cultural community under one government. Only then will world civilization and world history begin.'"