We find ourselves in very confusing and convoluted times. Our world seems to be experiencing a drastic shift in perception of reality. We seem to be moving from an objective to subjective society with the introduction of postmodernism. In turn, Atheism apologetics must first address this deviation to be effective.
What is Postmodernism Exactly?
But what is postmodernism exactly and how did it begin? What does it mean for us as individuals, or for society as a whole? What are the effects or implications of this philosophy on atheism apologetics?
First, let’s begin with a general definition. The concept of postmodernism can be nebulous and cloudy at times, as it calls into question everything we know about reality. Postmodernism is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as:
[A] Western philosophy, a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.
Essentially, postmodernism is a philosophy which asserts that our reality is made up of subjective rather than objective truths. This highly skeptical ideology is based on the assumption that objective reality doesn’t exist. Rather, all reality is subjective, differing from person to person. In turn insinuating that truth depends on individual perspective, interpretation, experience, etc.
We can observe many postmodern viewpoints and instances in our current world. For example, we see this philosophy highly prevalent in the transgender movement happening in the West. In these cases, individuals are claiming to be “non-binary”, or “gender fluid”, not associating with the standard male and female categories. In these situations, the individuals are declaring that their subjective truth holds precedence over their biological one.
1) The First Step of Atheism Apologetics: Establishing Objective Truth
Our current cultural climate in the Western world needs to be taken into account in regards to apologetics. Apologetics must adapt to be able to contend with current opposing philosophies. Hence, the very first step in modern atheism apologetics is absolutely crucial and essential, in order to establish a basis for discussion. Without laying this foundation for the discourse, any attempts from either party will render futile. If both parties do not accept the concept of objective and universal truth(s), then any debate will prove to be impossible.
The opening step for any debate is the establishment of objective or absolute truth. In order to debate anything, it is mandatory that you first presume there are truths which transcend the individual. Truths which are universally consistent, independent from individual interpretation or belief. Fundamental ideas, concepts and beliefs in which both parties in a debate contend to prove.
However, this is the exact opposite perspective of postmodernism. This movement argues a completely opposite philosophy, in which all truth is relative to the individual. All notions of any absolute truth are disregarded, being replaced with relative, constantly changing truths.
But in order to even facilitate a discussion, both parties must first accept objective truth before continuing. If one individual or group does not except this fundamental law of debate, then any discussion would be in vein. Without assuming there are absolute or objective truths, you can no longer assert or persuade any personal ideas and beliefs. For if all truth is relative or subjective as postmodernism claims, then everyone has their own truth, rendering any form of debate obsolete. You can no longer maintain that your ideas are right or another’s are wrong, because truth can bend and contort depending on the person.
Is Postmodernism Valid?
Still, the crucial question of whether or not the postmodern philosophy is valid still remains. Is postmodernism a legitimate world view? Is truth actually relative and not objective? Well if we observe this philosophy closely, many logical holes are revealed.
First, postmodernism immediately contradicts itself at the fundamental level. Postmodernism declares the absolute truth that “there are no absolute truths”. When we examine this concept, we immediately see it blatantly is at odds with itself. The statement that “there are no absolute truths” is in fact an absolute truth, thus undermining itself.
Additionally with the postmodern view of reality, no adherent can ever debate anyone on anything. If a person believes all truth is subjective, then their truths are irrelevant to everyone else’s. There is no longer a platform for debate as debating becomes futile. Hence, anyone which holds this view simultaneously forfeits their ability to debate or even discuss differing viewpoints.
Finally, postmodernism encounters some serious problems in regards to morality as well. If there is no meta truth, then that implies there is also no meta morality. In turn, morality becomes a fluid and flexible concept as well, depending on the individual. This is exactly what led to the atrocities we saw in the 20th century. Learn more about why subjective morality is illogical and dangerous.