There are no facts–just interpretations.” Friedrich Nietzsche Part of a series on truth.
A bit of eccentric logic.
Especially since Nietzsche is presenting it as a fact…
The very thing he himself admits doesn’t exist.
What are we to do with that?
More importantly, what are we to do when people say, “Well, that’s just your interpretation?” when we present them with moral or biblical truths?
Let me show you an easy way to answer that challenge.
Two Problems with “Interpretation”
In the most basic sense, to deny objectivity is to assume something is objectively true.
In other words, the statement “That’s just your interpretation” defeats itself.
But let’s just accept the argument that morals or biblical truths are a matter of personal preference.
If that’s the case, then only two things can come out of such a stance:
1. Why believe ANYTHING if it’s just perspective? [We can never prove anything since “interpretation” becomes a circular argument.]
2. Or nothing makes sense if a person asserts everything is a matter of perspective–except theirs. [Leads to contradiction.]
As you can see, you’re not left with much of anything to cling to. And if you hold that position your world and worldview will eventually cave in on itself as absolutes make themselves unbelievably real to you.
Because in the end, whether we are talking about politics, history, theology, relationships, biology or literature–absolutes do exist.
Some Beliefs DO Come Closer to Truth
Now, we may never quite get things right.
And no doubt it’s difficult to get down to the nitty gritty–especially when we’re talking about morals or emotions or theology.
But that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task. Or objective truth doesn’t exist. In fact, as we’ll see in a minute, some sources come closer to the truth than others.
Take the Wall Street Journal for instance.
For the most part everyone will agree that you can trust it. The National Enquirer, on the other hand, is something most people disregard as hyperbole, exaggeration and bald-faced lies.
No normal person would quote the National Enquirer to prove their point. Quite a different story with the Wall Street Journal.
And the same is true for religious truths.
“Interpretation” Is Usually a Smokescreen
Now, it’s NOT intolerant or bigoted to suggest otherwise. It’s fair game to say, okay, here’s where you are wrong–and here’s why.
In truth, appealing to “interpretation” is often a smokescreen for pursuing one’s own agenda.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to see through this smokescreen. Paul Copan suggests you ask these questions:
1. Do you mean that you just don’t like my interpretation…or that you have good reasons for disagreeing with it?
2. Can a perspective ever be correct?
3. And are some things not a matter of perspective [like chess or abortion]?
Listen: The very fact that we can recognize that some perspectives are better than others indicates that not everything is a matter of interpretation.
After all, if everything is just a matter of interpretation, how can we tell the difference between plausible and silly ideas?
Truth is, we can’t. Give me your thoughts. Brutal and all.