23rd March 2020

Relativity and Relativism

“Jesus answered ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6 (NIVUK)

During what has been considered his annus mirabilis (wonderful year) of 1905, the scientist Albert Einstein published four ground-breaking scientific articles including his Special Theory of Relativity. It was some 10yrs later (1916) that he published a paper on General Relativity.

Sadly some have mistakenly interpreted Einstein’s theory of relativity as providing scientific justification for rejecting moral absolutes and adopting relativism. Einstein’s theory of relativity does not endorse relativism—the belief that there are no absolutes and that knowledge, morality and truth exist in relation to culture, society, or historical context. For Einstein, the physical laws underlying relativity are constant and universal; his theory affirms a regular universe governed by laws. Noting some cultural misunderstandings of his theory of relativity Einstein suggested his approach was better described as a “Theory of Invariance” rather than ”Theory of Relativity.”

The origins of moral relativism do not lie with Einstein. As Wikipedia states, “moral relativism has been debated for thousands of years.” The above also shows it is not endorsed by his theories. Some statements used to support the relativism of truth are in fact self-refuting. Take for example, the statements, “all truth is relative” and “there are no absolute truths.” If these are accepted as statements of universal and absolute truth, as they must be if they are applicable to everyone, then clearly not all truth is relative and it must be conceded that there are statements of absolute truth.

In the West we live in a post-modern society characterised by broad scepticism and relativism, yet in reply to his disciples’ confusion about where he was going and how they can follow, Jesus made the comment given in the opening verse which he intended to be taken as a statement of reality and fact. He was not a way to the Father and salvation, but the way as the apostle Peter asserted in Acts 4:12, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Jesus was not a truth but the truth—the word made flesh—he is the source of spiritual truth.

Jesus had not just a life, one amongst millions of others, but he is the life. We read in John 5:26, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” As the source of all life, Jesus was able to give the promise, “because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). We have the promise of eternal life through Jesus and all he has accomplished.

Prayer
Father, we thank you that we can build our lives on Jesus and the truth revealed in and through him.
Amen

Study by Eddie Marsh
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About the Author:
Eddie Marsh attends Grace Communion International in Sheffield.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Sheffield
Regus Meeting Rooms (Management Suite)
1 The Oasis
Meadowhall Centre
SHEFFIELD
S9 1EP

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