That’s just your opinion

If you haven’t had thoughts like this at all, then don’t read on, forget about this and skip this page. However, if you’ve read a post of mine and thought at a certain point: “Well, all right, but that’s just nothing more than your personal opinion,” then this page is addressed to you.

Of course, I could just simply fling this very statement back at you (for it’s just your opinion that it’s just my opinion) or you could admit in fairness that you don’t like my blog, but I will be reasonable and address your point seriously.

First of all, I must admit that wherever I say I agree, it is my own humble opinion and it would have been rather absurd, if I hadn’t given my own. Everyone has their own opinions, interpretations, views, beliefs, convictions, persuasions etc. and we make these judgements and evaluations on a daily basis. We don’t have direct access to other people’s thoughts and can’t make observations without using our personal God-given power of reason and observation, so our considerations will always inevitably be personal.

So if a subjective evaluation of the facts is inevitable, are we left with nothing but opinions about truth? According to some extreme relativists, we have no access to objective interpretations of the truth; objective knowledge is impossible, they say. Scientists or theologians have no way of knowing whether one explanation is more true than the other. I, as a Christian, might not supposedly like other explanations, based upon personal preferences, but I could not show that they are false. Moreover, why would my view be superior to others’? People have different views about history, about nature, about the Bible, about God etc. In the end, it’s all just a matter of personal opinion: we’re left with subjectivity. Therefore, objective interpretations do not exist…

Yet the very assumption that objective evaluations do not exist is self-contradictory, for this assumption itself is an objective evaluation. And if this assumption were a subjective evaluation, there would be no reason to take it seriously anyway. The fact is that, having a personal opinion about something, doesn’t mean that the conclusions are (objectively) false. You can’t draw any conclusions without making a personal evaluation of the facts.

Moreover, such relativism makes communication and logical reasoning impossible. If you told me you got fired today, and I concluded you caught on fire, I must have misinterpreted you! Likewise, if despite all the evidence someone still had the opinion that the earth was a square flat surface, how could we show him that his interpretation is wrong? We could be tolerant and let this person believe to be true whatever he likes to be true, but we could also show him with dignity why we disagree with him and still respect his opinion.

However, without an interpretation that is objectively true, we couldn’t show anyone that their interpretation is false: we wouldn’t be able to distinguish between truth and falsehood. Since we know there are things that are true regardless of people’s opinion, we will have to conclude that an objective evaluation of the facts is possible. If your interpretation of the facts contradicts my interpretation, either of our interpretations has to be right: either God exists or not, it logically can’t be both ways.

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COPYRIGHT © 2009 Life put in perspective by Harry Buckley. All rights reserved.

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